To be Unity or not to be Unity. That is the question.

Posted in:Rationale

In 18 days from today, Canonical and the Ubuntu community will ship Ubuntu 11.04 Natty with their new baby - Unity! Developers are very confident about how people will perceive it. Still some are apprehensive about the usability of the new Desktop Environment. Even at this later stage there are discussions going on in Ubuntu Desktop mailing lists. Check out some of the arguments by a few users:

An user named 'NoOp' said:


“As a longtime Ubuntu user, I highly recommend that Unity *not* be the default, and instead be an alternate to the standard Gnome 2 DE. Unity is an 'experimental' DE at best and should not be forced on 11.04 users as a default anything.”

He also desribes some usablity issues like switching between various open windows. He admits that we can multitask by the key combination 'Alt-Tab' but unlike classic Gnome 2, it isn't possible to know how many windows are open.

Another user 'Sean McNamara' supported ' NoOp' s argument by the following comment:


“As a long time Gnome2 user (and prior to that Windows), I agree that not having the Windows-style "taskbar" is rather jarring for someone used to having it. Changing between windows in Unity is a mystery, and if you are running more than 2 applications it becomes unmanageable and takes way too much time for multi-taskers.”

In his opinion Gnome 3 + Gnome Shell would be a better option for Ubuntu 11.04 instead of Unity and interestingly he compares the Screen space and usability of different Desktop Environments and scores it.

“Gnome2: Real Estate = 5, Usability = 10
 Gnome3+GS: Real Estate = 7, Usability = 8
 Unity: Real Estate = 9, Usability = 4
 KDE 4.6: Real Estate = 3, Usability = 8 ”

Finally one Canonical employee and community member 'Jorge Castro' replied well to the above Unity usability myth. He also made a screencast of his desktop running Natty to demo how Unity will do multitasking well.

Meanwhile Ubuntu fans have created another Ubuntu derivative. Unlike other Ubuntu based distros which are painted with some other theme flavor, this one sports the DE most of the community wants. It is an unofficial Ubuntu derivative which is going to ship with the stock Gnome 3.0. So, users now have the choice to use the official Unity Ubuntu or unofficial Gnome 3 Ubuntu.

Download Ubuntu Gnome Remix

So what's your take on Unity. Should they ship it at this point?

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