Ubuntu to move to Unity as default desktop for 11.04

6:19 pm community, gnome

At this stage, most people will have heard the news: Ubuntu 11.04 will ship with Unity as the default desktop shell. This raises a few questions: what does this mean for GNOME, and the adoption of GNOME Shell? Will this further affect the relationship between Canonical developers and others working on the same problems?

First things first: what Canonical is doing here is not new, by any means. Novell developed the slab on their own, based on their user testing and to their own design, before proposing it for inclusion in GNOME once it was released in Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop. Nokia have developed custom user interfaces on top of the standard Linux desktop shell for the past 5 years, built with GNOME technologies, and have actively participated in the development of core components through the GNOME project – they are now developing a custom interface based on Qt, for smartphones, using the same standard desktop stack. OpenMoko did the same thing with the Freerunner. Intel built a custom shell for netbooks in the Moblin project, which is now the netbook interface for MeeGo. OLPC built a custom designed user interface for educational computing devices. GNOME allows and enables this kind of work, because of the great platform and infrastructure we have provided over the years to all Linux software developers.

In such illustrious company, forgive me if I think that Canonical’s management has seriously underestimated the difficulty of the task in front of them.

At the time, the slab further damaged the relationship of Novell developers and the GNOME project – Dan Winship wrote a scathing mail to a GNOME list when asked why Novell had not worked in the open on such a significant development, saying in short that it was impossible to work in the open in the project – the logical conclusion of the siege mentality bred by the negativity around Mono development and the numerous acrimonious debates at the time.

Nokia have had repeated issues coming to terms with open development, and reconciling the need to differentiate and the desire to create an open collaborative project. Their conclusion – to increase the openness of their software platform and collaborate in the MeeGo project – bears witness to the difficulties they have had over the past five years developing a high quality, innovative mobile user experience alone.

OpenMoko repeatedly ran into performance and flexibility issues, and frequently changed software strategy, to the point where the project was no longer viable. Their success was in creating a vibrant independent developer community, which has allowed their dream to live on in projects like Hackable Devices, and its distribution Hackable:1.

Intel have followed a similar path to Nokia – creating an independent vendor-let user interface project, having trouble getting a high quality product out the door, and they are now in the process of opening up and collaborating on the netbook user interface through the MeeGo project.

OLPC had many teething problems with the Sugar desktop environment. Bugs, stability and performance issues plagued the project for many months, to the point where they abandoned the development of the stack as the primary target platform for the devices. The project lives on in Sugar Labs, thans to a broad and vibrant developer community.

There is not one out-and-out success story of a company building a great high-quality custom user interface on the standard Linux stack, except Android, which is hardly a model of collaborative software development.

Is this because of problems in out platform? A lack of developer tools? Insufficient documentation? Perhaps – but if that’s the case, don’t all of the aforementioned have a shared interest in improving those raw materials?

There is another possibility which seems to me more plausible: building a rock solid and functional desktop is hard. Really hard.

So why do people do it? Because working with old code is painful. After years of use, and bug fixes, and nasty hacks, the code gets to look ugly. Really ugly. I’ve been in the situation myself – you’re working on crusty, crumbling, slow code from 10 years ago, and you say to yourself “I could write better than this in a weekend”. And you do get to a decent proof-of-concept in a few days. And then you have to harden it. And you spend months and months fixing bugs until finally it does everything the old code did, better, and a few new things, but it took you 2 years of development. And it looks just as hairy as the old code did. As Joel Spolsky wrote: “there is absolutely no reason to believe that you are going to do a better job than you did the first time”.

Astute readers might notice that I did not include Red Hat and GNOME Shell in the list of “custom user interfaces” in my list. That is because of the way this project started, and is being developed. The project grew from the ideas of the Pyro Desktop and the Online Desktop & BigBoard, both show-cased at GUADEC back in 2007 in Birmingham, the core design grew from a User Experience Hackfest in 2008 which happened during the Boston Summit, and has evolved in a public wiki. The source code has been public from the start, with a public mailing list, and a designer who has been openly communicating design thinking, and crying out for outside contributors.

I have been telling people for a while that transparency does not equal democracy, that it is possible to have a coherent design in a community-developed project – all you need is a designer that the developers trust who can communicate what is important about his design, who is not afraid to adapt his design based on feedback, but who has the last word on what gets written.

Canonical, and other vendors, do this by appointing a designer, and basically forcing developers to implement what he comes up with. But there’s no reason it can’t be done in the community – as it has been in the past (Seth Nickell’s design of the desktop file chooser, mostly implemented by Federico Mena Quintero, comes to mind).

I fear, however, that this is just another step in a pattern which has been coming for a while. Jeff Waugh said it well today on Twitter: “Unity as default shell == brand before community, differentiation before collaboration.” Canonical values the Ubuntu brand, as they should – but in recent times there has been a move to favour that brand over a better core product that all can share. Unity and Ayatana are merely the most recent in a chain of projects pointing in that direction. Canonical has long had to defend a relatively low contribution level to upstream projects, preferring to position themselves as an integrator, adding fit & finish. Even for public projects like 100 paper cuts, I have been told that there has been limited success in getting patches integrated upstream – I have heard anecdotal accounts of patches that were “evil hacks”, or fixes which were expeditiously made to Ubuntu or worked around a symptom without fixing the root cause. I can’t attest to this – a spot check of 5 paper cuts showed me one Ubuntu-specific fix, one “CLOSED INVALID”, one fix which was rejected, and two fixes integrated upstream.

Back in July, when the GNOME census came out, I commented on Jono Bacon’s blog entry on the subject:

Canonical’s strategy is to develop new features for the desktop, which have not (yet) been included in GNOME.

This is a strategy which has back-fired on a couple of people in the past – it’s not enough to work on something and then propose it for GNOME as a “take it or leave it” choice – the GNOME developers often have feedback on design decisions and request some changes which you mighht not be prepared to make in developed software, but which might be OK to make in a spec [...]

One thing I really want to avoid is the creation of a siege mentality of “Canonical vs Rest of the World”, which is counter-productive to the goal of increasing the contribution of Canonical to core GNOME. It’s good to be aware that Canonical are not maintaining core modules, and look for easy ways we can help that happen. Proposing new modules is one path toward that, and contributing to the maintenance of some modules which need it is another.

Unfortunately, this choice of Unity as the desktop user interface, instead of supporting the steadily progressing GNOME Shell project and trying to influence the direction of that project, is another step on the path to the siege mentality. This move will inevitably garner some support from within Ubuntu, and much criticism from the rest of the GNOME ecosystem, further isolating Canonical and the Ubuntu community from the rest of the free desktop development community.

The best possible outcome I can see is that one of the two projects will become an obvious choice within a year or so – and at that point either GNOME will adopt Unity (if Canonical drop the copyright assignment requirement) or Canonical will adopt GNOME Shell (if, as I expect, Canonical struggle to get Unity to the quality standard their users expect). A worst case scenario would see both projects suffer from the competition, putting the free software desktop another two years behind in its quest to beat Apple & Microsoft on features & functionality.


http://twitter.com/jdub/status/28694608944

59 Responses

  1. Jean Says:

    and a designer who has been openly communicating design thinking, and crying out for outside contributors.

    Ah! Is that supposed to be a joke? Every week or so since gnome-shell became barely working a new user pops up on the mailing list asking for a better single workspace experience in gnome shell (that is, don’t always switch to the overlay just to change from the foreground application to the background one). EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

    And the answer is always the same; someone arrogantly states that “it has been decided” (when? where? who?) that this is the ONLY RIGHT WAY and if you don’t like it install a third-party dock.

    Every single week, always new users, and it’s not like there are millions of them, testing an alpha-grade software and bothering to find out how a mailing list works.

    And this should be an “open project”?

  2. Torstein Says:

    Thank you for writing this blog post. It was very enlightening.

  3. misGnomer Says:

    As a seasoned Gnomer, I’m impressed by neither Gnome Shell nor Canonical’s “Unity”.

    Xfce is becoming more fleshed out (albeit not much slimmer than the current Standard Gnome), but I’ve seen people pining for the combination of current Gnome HIG but built using the Qt toolkit (now free)… and the idea is intriguing.

    Then again I also like the Debian cosmos so even Qt- but also rpm-based (!?) Meego – although the mobile UI could no doubt quickly be rejigged to suit a full desktop experience – wouldn’t feel quite right.

    Anyway, this Canonical© Ubuntu© Unity© branded thing is going to heap even more disunity on the Gnome user and developer community than the ???-driven Gnome Shell plan could on its own.

    While I respect _all_ Free Software communities, I wonder if this is a good time to take stock of what’s been learned, take the best ideas and plumming, port and recreate the rest and build a new Qt-based reference platform on top of Debian Linux principles while keeping KDE and GTK compatibility around for as long as needed.

    Freedesktop.org?

  4. Tweets that mention Safe as Milk » Blog Archive » Ubuntu to move to Unity as default desktop for 11.04 -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jrb, Fabian A. Scherschel, Robert Marcano, Ubuntu Feed, scaroo and others. scaroo said: RT @nearyd "building a rock solid and functional desktop is hard. Really hard.http://tinyurl.com/2fefc9m [...]

  5. Matthias Says:

    I do have exactly the same attitude towards this decision.
    I’m sure Canonical will revert this decision soon or later. Not to stay with upstream was always a big fault, many examples prove this.
    I was a long time supporter of Canonicals strategy, but the recent behavior shows some kind of “arrogance” (maybe a too strong word) which wasn’t that obvious before. (For example Mark wants to stay with Notify-OSD, which is IMO broken by design instead of using (or contributing to) the new G3 technologies.)
    To switch to Unity and to perform the switch that early (unity is a completely NEW project, designed for _Netbooks_. It will for sure need lots of changes) is a bad decision from all viewpoints and a fatal signal to the Ubuntu and GNOME community.

  6. Malaria Says:

    Well Gnome-shell openness is quite relative.
    Out-of-date documentation, no clear design guidelines…

    I’m absolutely convinced that Gnome-shell will miss Gnome 3.0 (or Gnome 3 will be delayed *again*).
    Currently, GS trunk just can’t build and the design has changed *again* quite recently. And still no easy way to switch windows easily…

    Right now, to me Unity just seems in a better shape than Gnome-shell.

    I don’t know if Unity-desktop (definitely not the current Unity netbook in 10.10) will be better in the end, but Gnome-shell need competitors to progress.

    Well, the FOSS desktop might indeed loose some time in the process, but if it all ends with a better *-shell, I will just be happy.

  7. robsta Says:

    “””Canonical, and other vendors, do this by appointing a designer, and basically forcing developers to implement what he comes up with.”””

    “Force” as in pay?

  8. Safe as Milk » Blog Archive » Ubuntu to move to Unity as default … Says:

    [...] is the original post: Safe as Milk » Blog Archive » Ubuntu to move to Unity as default … Рубрика: Разные рубрики | Метки: 11-04-will, default, few-questions, [...]

  9. Chris Blount Says:

    I think you forgot another possible outcome: Shell & Unity will be equally good in a year or so because of the competition and each will borrow from the other. Free software is not a zero-sum game.

    But i do think the community gets a little too freaked out about Canonical’s supposed evil, anti-community ways. As you pointed out, ‘evil deeds’ have a way of backfiring on projects anyway. The free software community will ultimately decide which way to go. And isn’t that how it should work anyway?

    Anyway, a really great article. Thanks.

  10. Jon Nordby Says:

    I think Kwin/KDE4 has also shown that getting a hardware accelerated shell to work for all hardware is quite challenging. It is easier for Ubuntu of course, having full control of the distribution, but still.

    In addition, potentially falling back all the way to a totally different UI (the traditional gnome experience) does not sounds like a “graceful degradation” to me.

  11. Lucas Rocha Says:

    Nice article. Just one quibble: I think it’s slightly inaccurate to say that Maemo, MeeGo, OLPC, and OpenMoko are all examples of the same phenomenon than what’s happening with Unity now.

    Maemo, MeeGo, OLPC, and OpenMoko are/were developed with a particular type of device form factor in mind, with specific hardware constraints and requirements (smaller screen, touch screen, smaller RAM and storage size, mobility, etc). In those cases, it makes sense to create custom UI that better matches the target hardware. Those are cases in which the GNOME desktop just doesn’t work well. For instance, I find it totally understandable to have Unity as a netbook UI for Ubuntu.

    (There’s still a point that we should do a better job at collaborating around UI for specific types of devices inside GNOME but that’s another story…)

    What I find sad here is to see Canonical decide not to use GNOME desktop UI when there’s already a clear/open effort inside the community to revamp the whole desktop experience from scratch (i.e. GNOME shell). And, as you said, it’s not a small effort and it’s fucking hard to get it right.

    It’s now almost certain that Canonical will not contribute anything to GNOME shell and the upcoming GNOME 3 platform because they will be busy writing their own desktop shell virtually from scratch. GNOME 3 would benefit a lot from contributions coming from Canonical engineers and the valuable feedback from Ubuntu’s large user base. But apparently that’s even more unlikely to happen from now on.

  12. Links 25/10/2010: Mac OS X Lion Allegedly Copies GNU/Linux, Clang Builds Linux 2.6.36 | Techrights Says:

    [...] Ubuntu to move to Unity as default desktop for 11.04 First things first: what Canonical is doing here is not new, by any means. Novell developed the slab on their own, based on their user testing and to their own design, before proposing it for inclusion in GNOME once it was released in Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop. Nokia have developed custom user interfaces on top of the standard Linux desktop shell for the past 5 years, built with GNOME technologies, and have actively participated in the development of core components through the GNOME project – they are now developing a custom interface based on Qt, for smartphones, using the same standard desktop stack. OpenMoko did the same thing with the Freerunner. Intel built a custom shell for netbooks in the Moblin project, which is now the netbook interface for MeeGo. OLPC built a custom designed user interface for educational computing devices. GNOME allows and enables this kind of work, because of the great platform and infrastructure we have provided over the years to all Linux software developers. [...]

  13. Adam Williamson Says:

    jean: malaria: you folks, um, know that alt-tab works in GNOME Shell, right?

  14. Alistair Says:

    Please re-read Jean’s comment. The first one on the list.

    Please re-read it many many times. I’ve been one of those users. Malaria makes some nice points also.

    Just because it’s “yours” does not mean it’s better. Of all the discussion going on around this latest kerfuffle, how many people are arguing that gnome-shell is actually a better choice? A better UI?

    Ah, but I can step in and help shape it can I?

    The project that chose mutter as a core when compiz was doing everything better already, because of the leftover bitterness about how that came out of a code drop? At least that’s my guess – trying to understand how the window manager famed for its straightforwardness and minimalism became a compositing javascript-enabled dohickey that’s slow and crash-prone is kind of difficult.

    Seeing the kind of reaction this is getting, I think I understand why Ubuntu is avoiding dealing with the Gnome community: people care more about which repository things come from than how good it actually is.

    There is not one out-and-out success story of a company building a great high-quality custom user interface on the standard Linux stack, except Android, which is hardly a model of collaborative software development.

    It is a pretty good example of success, though.

  15. John Says:

    It’s their right to fork. That’s what this is, a Gnome desktop fork. Good luck to both projects.

  16. Alistair Says:

    jean: malaria: you folks, um, know that alt-tab works in GNOME Shell, right?

    Seriously? I would never have thought of trying!

    Last time I tried, I had to use the down arrow to switch from the list of programs to the list of windows of that program. Switching between terminals used to easier than this. I wasn’t told why this was supposed to be an improvement.

    At least, that’s the way it was last time I tried: 2.29.something. Now, it just doesn’t build.

  17. Anton Rehrl Says:

    But what if it actually works. Seems to me that they have every right to try and fail/succeed as anyone else does.
    :P

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  20. nicu Says:

    What you see as worst case scenario for me is best case scenario: both the Shell and Unity fail miserably, GNOME goes back to the panel and I can use again my desktop the way I like.

  21. iain Says:

    Dave, I’m not sure your moblin/openmoko comparisons are valid.

    Moblin on the netbook didn’t fail so much as was chopped off at the knees by the whims of corporate redirection.

    Openmoko failed not because they tried to make a separate shell (I’m not sure what you expected they should do, put vanilla gnome on a handset?), but due to poor management decisions. The original GTK based handset was going well, but the technical lead liked Qt better so he decided to rewrite it all from scratch, and then when they couldn’t make it work correctly in Qt, they got in Raster who said their problem was obvious – it wasn’t written using the E libraries – so he redesigned and rewrote it all from scratch again for a 3rd time, creating something so slow it took 9seconds just to get to the splashscreen.

  22. Sim Says:

    I don’t like Gnome Shell or Unity, but Unity got to its sad state faster than GS did.

    I that this rate I’ll have to move to KDE (arghhhh) because Gnome left the planet with its users wondering what happened!

  23. jc Says:

    I think the biggest risk from the change has nothing to do with technology – Unity exists, Canonical were going to work on it anyway since they want to make money putting it on netbooks – but from bruised egos.
    Frankly I forsee a lot of stupid arguments – like the Novel/slab/mono issue you mentioned. People became anti mono not because it was a bad idea but because they decided to be offended. Which is a stupid reason.

    But as to criticisms of Canonical, really people need to look at what they’re demanding. Basically people first complain that Canonical are making their own changes, saying that they should work upstream. But then they reject the changes proposed to upstream because they didn’t “work with the project”, or don’t follow Gnome’s plan for how everything should be. Which is basically demanding Canonical only work the way you want them to. Which isn’t exactly software freedom, in fact its a childish turf war over who gets to say what.

    Really, just let Canonical do their thing, be objective and don’t reject contributions just because they come from Ubuntu. If code is good, who cares.
    And yet people criticize projects for merely being hosted on Launchpad, which is like rejecting projects because they’re not written with your favorite text editor!

  24. Safe as Milk » Blog Archive » A modest proposal re. Unity Says:

    [...] slept on it since writing my initial reactions yesterday I now have a proposal for Canonical & GNOME, which I hope the people concerned will [...]

  25. Mary Says:

    But what if it actually works. Seems to me that they have every right to try and fail/succeed as anyone else does.

  26. urfe Says:

    I can’t understand why Gnome Shell forces users to use a lot of clicks and animations for basic actions. I really, really don’t think that changing the entire screen (size of the windows, displaying all the workspaces and covering half of it with that ‘activities’ menu) is a sane thing to do.

    Just imagine that you’re sending your mother some instructions about how to perform a certain task (how start a ssh or vnc daemon): she won’t be able to read your e-mail and perform the steps you describe because Firefox/Thunderbird will be resized every time she has to open a new application (like a terminal). It’s a nightmare… the window manager shouldn’t stop you from keeping focus on a certain text/window/workspace.

  27. Dietrich T. Schmitz Says:

    I really like what GNOME has done.

    I hope that there is an orderly process to bring Canonical and GNOME back to the table to discuss what should be done to make ‘accomodation’ to a few design changes which Mark Shuttleworth has tendered for consideration.

    Is not a GNOME Global Menu a good idea/feature to include?

    It would appear that this specific feature was the ‘fly in the ointment’ that tipped the scale in favor of Canonical working with their own UI to replace GNOME.

    I would agree that hardening a UI takes a long time.

    Let’s show the rest of the world that we can work together as community and avoid fracture.

    GNOME: please merge Global-Menu.

    D

  28. links for 2010-10-26 « Wild Webmink Says:

    [...] Ubuntu to move to Unity as default desktop for 11.04 While I have no problem at all with Canonical innovating, I fear that part of their motivation in developing in isolation from the GNOME community is becuase otherwise they would be unable to maintain ownership of the resulting code – presumably this is one of the drivers for them initiating Project Harmony. So I'm interested in Dave's analysis that suggests they may have failed to learn the lessons of history from other before them who have tried the same thing. (tags: Ubuntu Unity GNOME desktop GUI OpenSource Community Development ContributorAgreement Harmony FOSS) [...]

  29. Dave Neary Says:

    @jc I appreciate the sentiment. But time and again, “over the wall” code proposals have not been well received. The slab was mentioned already. Google’s Android patches to the kernel, the release of OpenSolaris, Nokia’s GTK+ patches in 2005, … A module submission is one thing, and I certainly think that SimpleScan, the Computer Janitor, and even quickly could be useful contributions upstream (if we could make them less distribution-specific, in the case of quickly & Computer Janitor). Infrastructure is different – when you’re working on something like desktop notifiers, the main menu, the file manager or the window manager & shell, then getting buy-in from others is important before submitting your work upstream. The best time to do it is at the design document stage. The worst time is when your position is “take it or leave it”, when it’s done.

  30. Aaron Seigo Says:

    “A worst case scenario would see both projects suffer from the competition, putting the free software desktop another two years behind in its quest to beat Apple & Microsoft on features & functionality.”

    In this worst-case scenario, the free software desktop will not fall behind further because there are other projects racing ahead even as we speak.

    KDE’s Plasma Desktop, Netbook & Mobile initiative is one of them.

    While I don’t think this is a good turn for Canonical or GNOME, it isn’t a long term risk for Free Software in general because we have maintained multiple healthy projects instead of putting all our eggs in one basket.

    I was speaking with some of the Webkit devs the other week while visiting various people in Europe and the topic of Gecko, IE, etc came up and one of them said, very sagely, (paraphrasing from memory) “I think it’s great if there continues to be multiple engines. It keeps us all honest, innovating and safe from failure.”

    I feel the same way about Free Software user interfaces in general.

  31. benQ Says:

    Honestly, you apply double standards.

    On the one hand, there is GNOME and the vision of GNOME and the design decisions of GNOME.

    These decisions are “good”.

    If you have a different view/design/feature you should just try to get it upstream, have your different view adjusted by the GNOME design team feedback and then hope for inclusion of your view/design/feature (or whatever remnants of it).

    If I, however, decide to implement my view/design/feature “in house” I’m “bad”. Hence, if I decide what is best for me (or what I consider best for “my” users), this is a bad decision, while when GNOME decides on the very same issue, it is a good decision.

    I hate to reuse the term “interface-nazi” as was used by Linus Torvalds once when he came to the way GNOME “predecides” for the user, but I would say that every “interface-Nazi” should have the same rights, no?

    Hence, if I don’t like the design decisions of GNOME, I should be free to follow my own vision (or choose another DE). At the end, it is the user that decides what he likes best.

    From the users perspective, it is good to have options it is good to have choice, it is good to have features features features, as long as they come with sane defaults and are easily accessible.

  32. Don Kongo Says:

    So what should they do, if they don’t (currently) believe in GNOME Shell, whether it’s in it will deliver a good experience, or performance, or on time, or whatever, or all of the above? It’s apparently a given that Canonical will not be able to affect the course of the project a project which they apparently do not agree is doing the right thing, nor in the right direction.

    What to do, what to do… either do something else, or just shut up and take it? FWIW I’m not a user of either, but it’s getting really tired to see how the one-and-only road is the only one allowed and everyone who wants to try something else is something of a traitor.

    Maybe it’s epiphany all over again, the browser where also everything “has been decided” with no further reasoning and it’s mostly the unscientific experiment of the few. And unusable and unused.

    The best example I recall is the fixed size tabs that DISAPPEARS when they get many, defended vigorously by the two opposing facts that a) if you have more than five tabs you are doing it wrong and b) it’s easier to CLOSE many tabs quickly (not a common use case) while all other use cases were admitted to be worse than flexible tabs.

    So Ubuntu and others switched to Firefox and maybe in the future Chrome. What would be the alternative, pray tell?

    Of course GNOME Shell could benefit from Ubuntu and Ubuntu devs, but only, in that case, in the “wrong” direction, in Ubuntu’s view.

    Mutter is also apparently not even close to being ready performance-wise for lower end, while not being able to scale back gracefully, which Compiz is. Again, what to do?

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  38. David "Lefty" Schlesinger Says:

    It’s hard. Let’s never do it.

    As someone who really doesn’t need to be told how difficult shipping any operating system platform is—I’ve been involved in shipping multiple releases of Mac OS, Palm OS and others—I have to admit to finding myself quite bemused at the wailing and gnashing of teeth around this.

    Having managed to actually accomplish what community members claim they’ve wanted—getting a Linux-based desktop into the hands of “regular folks” in reasonably significant numbers—it seems that Canonical/Ubuntu are increasingly finding themselves a target for various sorts of attacks.

    If Unity is a success, good on Canonical. If it’s a failure, you can always fall back on the GNOME shell again, I suppose. The shell is not a great user experience, and trying out different replacements shouldn’t, it seems to me, be treated as some sort of sin or declaration of war.

    It’s a little ironic to me with all of the “freedom” we enjoy here that we tend to go a little nuts when someone makes an actual choice.

    Okay, one by one:

    “It’s been tried before. It’s hard.”—A good reason for never trying anything at all.

    “It’ll upset people.”—We’re past that point. It’s worth noting that the “bad feelings” toward Novell pre-existed the slab and were exacerbated by the strident shrieking of some elements in the community combined with the usual unwillingness to point out that they were being unfair and unreasonable. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

    I’d say folks over the last day or two have managed to drive things pretty close to the “siege mentality” point. On identi.ca, it’s seemingly “the world”—or, more properly, “the community”—against Canonical, led (apparently) by people so skilled in “reading between the lines” as to be able to pre-accuse Mark Shuttleworth of post-retro-active duplicity, or something, around “Open Core”.

    So, what do you expect?

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  41. Glen Turner Says:

    I own a EeePC 901 running Ubuntu Nextbook Remix. The Unity interface is installed with the upgrade to 10.10. The lack of usability polish is very apparent, and makes 10.10 a much more difficult operating system to use than the previous version. For example, I had to use the command line to rename a file.

    Do I feel like I’m having something half-baked thrust upon me for corporate reasons. Ohh yes.

  42. kikl Says:

    This is just another fork in an open source software project. Nobody would give a rat’s ass if it weren’t ubuntu making the move. Ubuntu owns about 50% of the linux desktop. Therefore, it has considerable power in defining the standards.

    If your goal as a company is to provide the best linux desktop experience, then you are going to have to control the appearance of the desktop itself. Therefore, this step on the part of canonical was inevitable.

    How should gnome react? Compete! Create the best desktop experience with gnome shell! So far, it hasn’t won me over.

  43. Rob Posey Says:

    Here is a suggestion. Supply a basic linux distro with the command line interface on one CD and on another CD provide however many different desktops for the user to decide which to include as his/her own desktop. That way it is the user who ultimately decides the issue.

  44. Anders Feder Says:

    Wise words by David “Lefty” Schlesinger.

    Come on, GNOME folks. You had it coming. The endless arrogance and resistance to change. It was about time that someone not running on sheer ego stepped in to take the reins. Bottom-line desktop Linux FTW!

  45. Sobre Canonical y Unity, su “nuevo shell” para GNOME | MuyLinux Says:

    [...] proyecto “Unity Desktop”, y tomar las decisiones “puertas adentro” no es algo nuevo que solo a ellos se les ocurrió [...]

  46. Raul Says:

    I started using Linux about two years ago (with ubuntu 8.04).

    Thanks to Ubuntu, GNOME has been my default desktop since I became a linux user and, if it wasnt for Ubuntu, maybe I’d still be a windows user today without even knowing about gnome’s existence.

    I’m not an ubuntu user anymore (I use arch linux today), so don’t take what I’m going to say as some “fanboy nonsense”.

    I’ve been increasingly FRUSTRATED with GNOME, to the point that I am looking for alternatives and preparing my departure from it.

    IMHO, as was said before, GNOME had it coming, for not LISTENING to the users and “outside” contributors.

    One of the major advantages of gnome, when I started to use it, was its increased compatibility with Compiz, and its great resources (I’m not talking abou “fireworks”, USEFULL stuff like scale, expo, zoom, grid, etc).

    Nevertheless, GNOME has “ditched” Compiz in the same way they accuse ubuntu to be doing with Gnome-Shell now.

    Each new release of gnome brings bigger incompatibility issues with Compiz. Even the CURSOR ICON requires a “hack” to be customized with Compiz running nowadays (not reproducible with other DEs)…

    Aside from the increasing number of unresolved bugs & incompatibilities (not just Compiz related), the constant reduction of options & customizability in each release is REALLY frustrating (GDM comes to mind, and when you look to Gnome-shell where you cant even put applets in the panel, it gets SCARY!).

    And, as we are speaking about gnome-shell, so far, IMHO, it is a HUGE step back (and I’m certainly not alone in this).

    It has less usability, performance, flexibility, functionality, and stability then most of the options out there, INCLUDING a simple “nautilus/panel/compiz” combo and I dont foresee great improvements until the release of GNOME 3.0.

    I’m not a developer, and I dont work with technology, I’m just a user.

    I DONT want to “hack” the DE to change the looks of my system or to add an applet to the panel, but it seems GNOME guys think its okay to give me LESS options and flexibility in each release.

    So, why would Ubuntu be “forced” to use gnome-shell? Its not going the way they want. There are many “design choices” discrepancies between gnome-shell and ubuntu, that have been pointed out before.

    So, I guess there is a lesson for the GNOME guys: Start LISTENING to users and outside people!

    Oh, and save your other users, because me you have already lost.

  47. Pandora Says:

    As a Gnome user, I think the idea will help to develop a really user-friendly desktop. Gnome is moving slowly in this area…

  48. Ciudad Caracas | Sobre Canonical y Unity, su “nuevo shell” para GNOME Says:

    [...] su nuevo y arriesgado proyecto “Unity Desktop”, y tomar las decisiones “puertas adentro” no es algo nuevo que solo a ellos se les ocurrió [...]

  49. Denis Says:

    For everyone who thinks Gnome devs are arrogant: the canonical isn’t any better. They are the same. Their Unity isn’t any better than Gnome Shell as well as Gnome Shell vs Unity does.

  50. Ubuntu and the price of Unity | Says:

    [...] Dave Neary recalls that the GNOME Shell “grew from the ideas of the Pyro Desktop and the Online Desktop & BigBoard, both show-cased at GUADEC back in 2007 in Birmingham. The core design grew from a User Experience Hackfest in 2008 which happened during the Boston Summit, and has evolved in a public wiki. The source code has been public from the start, with a public mailing list, and a designer who has been openly communicating design thinking, and crying out for outside contributors.” The Unity applications view from Ubuntu Netbook. The inference is that the Canonical developers have not played well with the upstream community. This matters to the GNOME developers because Ubuntu is the most popular Linux on the street, and the success or failure of the GNOME Shell may raise painful questions about the future direction of GNOME and the GNOME community. [...]

  51. Ubuntu and the price of UnityNetbook | Netbook Says:

    [...] Dave Neary recalls that the GNOME Shell “grew from the ideas of the Pyro Desktop and the Online Desktop & BigBoard, both show-cased at GUADEC back in 2007 in Birmingham. The core design grew from a User Experience Hackfest in 2008 which happened during the Boston Summit, and has evolved in a public wiki. The source code has been public from the start, with a public mailing list, and a designer who has been openly communicating design thinking, and crying out for outside contributors.” [...]

  52. Kiernan Holland Says:

    I’m willing to bet that 9 out of 10 linux users have never used a iPad before..

    Use it, for a month, and see if you still agree with your pre-iPad self.

    This is the wave of change that is hitting the world right now.

    And this is why Canonical is pushing for this.

    I have an iPad, and I am not a Apple fanboy. I fucking hate Steve Jobs, that SOB. But this is the first thing they’ve done right. And I don’t feel like a hypocrite for supporting this direction.

    Also much of the push for Wayland is to push the device drivers into the Kernel and out of the UI abstraction.

    BTW, everyone knows you can’t have more than 5 core coders on a project, without chaos. Canonical is trying to get away from that for good reason. The iPad gets away from that by preventing direct collaboration between technologies, and moving back to a time when people hacked apps quickly on Commodore 64′s.. It going back to the one app does all.. And you know what?

    ITS SUCCEEDING..

    Only in a commercial constrained environment doe you get this creative freedom and excitement. In open source, you get random code contributions, and excitement, but where does it go? What can it do? Who controls it? How can it continue? Is it really working?
    What apps can you point at and say “these have a consistency of experience”.

    How many apps make full use of the hardware available to them?

    What the iPad will do to the app developement environment is force developers to consider developing for completely detailed and simplified computing environment, without the confusing/complexity of a hovering window interface where things can get messy and lost. “Out of sight, out of mind” can be a bad thing.

    You may think that is gay.. But again, get a iPad and use it as much as possible for a month and see if your old self agrees with your new.

    Kiernan

    PS- Are you democrats or conservatives? Open source conservatives? Is that a oxymoron?

  53. Kiernan Holland Says:

    BTW Gnome was a knee-jerk response to Windows COM environment.. I understand the concern for reinventing the past, but consider CORBA has been dumped and that was GNOME’s COM environment, where is it now?

    I think GNOME is a speed bump, and the future needs to be about making a better working environment. By getting away from distracting interfaces.

    It’s a necessary change..

    And for the conservative christians (I know a lot of you claim to be atheists and agnostics, but deep down you got some Christian past)..

    As it says in the bible, recall what the pharisees said about the Christians, paraphrasing

    “if these guys aren’t real, it will fall apart. But if they don’t fall apart, God’s on their side”.

  54. Kiernan Holland Says:

    All one needs to do is look at the iPad sales.. And see who is buying them. I had heard 40-something men!! Let me see, that’s the Commodore 64 generation!!

  55. Dave Neary Says:

    > PS- Are you democrats or conservatives? Open source conservatives? Is that a oxymoron?

    What does being democratic have to do with being conservative? Conservative = attached to the past, resistant to change even? Democrat = supporter of democratic (or representational democratic) electoral systems. And what does the availability or not of source code have to do with conservatism? Have you forgotten that Linux is a clone of a 40 year old operating system?

    Dave.

  56. Ubuntu: Kill your Darlings « 2 Cents for the World Says:

    [...] Future In the near future Gnome will be replaced by Unity and the truly bloated X-Window-System (about 20 years old) will make way for a newly developed [...]

  57. Safe as Milk » Blog Archive » Where do we go from here? Says:

    [...] – on a par with abandoning the GTK+ work which had been done before moblin 2 to move to Qt. Rewriting user interfaces is hard and I don’t think that Intel are ready to run the market risk of dropping Qt – which [...]

  58. Where do we go from here? | Maemo Nokia N900 Says:

    [...] – on a par with abandoning the GTK+ work which had been done before moblin 2 to move to Qt. Rewriting user interfaces is hard and I don’t think that Intel are ready to run the market risk of dropping Qt – which [...]

  59. Canonical Vs Gnome: Já foi longe demais | Cleiton Lima Says:

    [...] processo de distanciação do Gnome de uma forma geral. O ponto alto de tudo foi o anuncio de que a versão 11.04 do Ubuntu não viria com o Gnome-Shell e sim com o Unity. Enquanto o restante do mundo livre se preparava para o Gnome 3 de uma forma geral, a Canonical [...]