Today Ubuntu version 11.04 got released.
Well, it came all of a sudden with the Unity Desktop, not as expected with Gnome 3. So which one to choose? Both are pretty easy to install and bring a some fresh wind into the working flow.
Unity is shipped with Natty, Gnome 3 can be installed as a addition. I tested both a bit and want to share my opinion with you:
Both are pretty easy to install. Unity, as said before, is shipped with 11.04, so no installation is required. On 10.10 it is also possible to install them:
sudo apt-get install gnome3-session does the job for gnome 3.
sudo apt-get install unity does it for unity.
Gnome requires just the Gnome3-Session package, Unity therefore installs some addition.
Gnome3 gets the Point here.
2. Use Them
Both can be activated the same way: Log out and choose from the sessionbar ‘Unity’ or ‘GNOME 3′, whatever you want.
2.1 General Look & Feel
In Gnome 3, the bottombar got removed, the topmenus with all the application stuff are gone and a clock glances at the center of the Bar. A new button called “Activities” got added to the top left site of the screen.. When hovering or clicking it, the Gnome Shell pops up:
The Shell is the first really new thing to gnome3. It bundles all the Stuff you need together. For example it gives you a nice searchbar and some menus including all your Applications. Also it lists you all recent used Files and gives you overview of all your available desktops.
Accessing the Settings (Systempreferences & Co.) is not included in the gnome3 shell. They can be found when clicking on the Username.
Unity is a bit more childish. A colorful dock glances at the left side of the screen. The bottombar got removed and the Topbar a bit cleaned up. It is now used as Globalmenu for all your Applications (like on Mac). At the top left site, like in gnome 3, a single button got added. When clicking it, a Application launcher pops up. Every Applicationsymbol is big and very colofull, like it’s optimized for a touchscreen.
Settings are not included in the overlay. They can be found when clicking the “turn off” button.
2.2 Working Flow
Well, both are very brilliant Desktop Systems, but when working with them, they aim different persongroups.
Due to the missing bottombar, you can’t see your active Windows. You always have to open the Gnome Shell. Even when switching between Applications, you need the shell (or just juse Tab + alt). Notifications (like new message) are shown on the bottom site of the Screen. Starting Applications became really quick: Just open the shell, type your Appname in the bar and hit enter. Done. As alternative, you can expand the application tab and just scroll through your apps.
Playing with multiple virtual desktops is brilliant: You can add as many desktops as you want (out of the shell) and delete them the same way. Just with a Plus and a Minus button. Moving windows to other desktops can be done with the shell too.
Unity has it’s dock. Open applications are marked with a arrow and clicking them brings them to the top. Applications can be started as easy as in gnome. Just open the overlay, type in your appname and hit enter. Done. Browsing through your applications is easy. Each app is sorted by it’s category which can be used as filter. When having a app in fullscreen, the dock hides itself. If the mouse hits the left site of the screen, it pops up again.
Unity comes with 4 virtual desktops, which can be switched, as in gnome2, with strg + alt + arrow. When using unity, you need to know lots of shortcuts. For example windows button + 1 will start the first application in your dock.
I’m a big fan of effects and beautiful designs. So this plays a big role for me.
Gnome 3 is made simple. Lots of the menus have rounded edges, the shell a nice design and applications are using a fadein animation (to popup). Minimizing them will make them fly out of the screen. When opening the shell with hovering of the button, a few waves popup.
Unity is built on compiz, so you can expect a bit more. Each window has some strong shadows (like on mac again). Minimizing make them fly to the dock, maximizing lets them pop out of the background. The scrollilng bar got really sexy. The overlay has a really nice design. Big symbols are great and the search bar feels pretty smooth (it has a loading icon!). You can maximize the overlay to fullscreen to give a bigger look of all your apps. Due to the global menu, everything looks cleaned up a bit more. Even the close button is (on fullscreen) on the topbar!
Both are really great desktop systems! Gnome 3 targets a bit more ‘nerdier’ people. You need to tab through your apps or using the shell again and again, which becomes pretty annoying. Having apps on fullscreen is a bit buggy, you can’t open some of the menus or rightclick (for example in netbeans).
When using just one or two windows, the clean environment takes advantage. No other apps can take your attention, because you just don’t see them (except the notification). A pity is, that you need you’re mouse a bit too much, for example when browing through your applications.
Unity therefore targets more the ‘basic’ users. It looks great and has lots of functionality. It nearly feels like your working with a mac! That’s great! The selfhiding dock helps you concentrating on your work. To take full advantage of unity, you need to know the shortcuts. But once they are learned, you can work really really fast and nearlyl don’t need the mouse again!
New Users will feel lot more comfortable with unity then with gnome3 and even professional users can take with shortcuts the full unity power.
I like both but unity is just more my thing. It looks great and does everything i want.
- Thanks for reading!