October 29, 2010 · News · Email This Post

Many Ubuntu users will undoubtedly have strong opinions on Canonical’s recent proposal to replace the GNOME desktop with Unity in the Ubuntu 11.04 release.  But for the programmers behind GNOME, one of the open-source community’s most important projects, the announcement might prove to be even more upsetting.  Jon McCann, lead designer for GNOME Shell, recently shared his thoughts on this topic with us–and he was none too charitable in his comments on Canonical.  Read on for details.

GNOME Shell, of course, is the new desktop interface on which GNOME developers are currently hard at work as the next big step for one of the Linux world’s most popular desktop environments.  GNOME Shell introduces a number of innovative interface concepts that, if successful, could truly redefine the way users interact with their operating system.

Unity, meanwhile, is an interface developed by Canonical that borrows many of its ideas from GNOME Shell.  Canonical began work on Unity last spring, and introduced it as the default interface for Ubuntu Netbook Edition in the Ubuntu 10.10 release, which debuted a few weeks ago.

Canonical’s Leap Off?

Ubuntu developer Jono Bacon was quick to point out that Unity will still depend heavily on GNOME’s software stack, even if the interface itself break away from GNOME.  That may be true, but GNOME developer Jon McCann nonetheless views this move as a fundamental break between Ubuntu and GNOME.

Not that McCann was surprised.  “Canonical has been pulling away from the GNOME project for about two years,” he declared.  “So, this was inevitable.  I suspect that the timing probably has a lot to do with Mark’s jealousy of the recent OS X Tiger announcement.”

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16 Comments to “GNOME Developers Attack Canonical’s Ubuntu Decision”

  1. Kevin says:

    Correction: The recent OS X announcement was NOT OS X Tiger -it is OS X LION….

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  2. Tarek says:

    What I don’t understand is people ranting about either Unity or Gnome Shell.

    We’ll just end up having more choice. Why would it be bad? Isn’t it the open software philosophy?

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  3. drewsus says:

    And so why exactly would Mark be JEALOUS of OS X Tiger?

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  4. 6205 says:

    GNOME will be NOT replaced. Unity _IS_ GNOME. It is basically only a replacement for default gnome panel + menu applet with new unity panel + global app menu and a new OSX like dock launcher also with some file management features..

    I am sure it will be great :)

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  5. Ruben says:

    GNOME Shell developers should’ve listened more to thei userbase then.

    [Reply]

  6. jkl says:

    This is called competition. What’s so bad about it?

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  7. Jimmy says:

    Are you sure all your facts are correct?

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  8. John Ortiz says:

    @Tarek, I agree with your comments! The GNU/Linux philosophy is open! open mind!

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  9. I am sure it wont make much difference because at the end of the day users can setup whatever desktop they want on a desktop OS from skinny blackbox, light lxde to bling, bling KDE, Enlightenment and slick Gnome.

    I really like Gnome and it is what I use at work and home.

    Also am sticking with the stable Ubuntu release cycle… so will not be affected much.

    It may not be too wise for Ubuntu to move away from the new Gnome because I bet the next release is going to rock and there are bound to be stability issues bending the Ubuntu Unity desktop to a changing new Gnome.

    I hope Ubuntu and Gnome devs will continue to complement each other as I like both projects and believe that Ubuntu and Gnome are helping the Open source community. Also I have seen Distros come and go and Gnome has been there for them all.

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  10. Carles Sentis says:

    There will be an Ubuntu version called Gubuntu based on gnome, just like the one we have now.

    Freedom of choice

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  11. Mel says:

    Ubuntu is by far tha most popular Lunux distro. They are crossing the chasm, they have and should do things differently now.

    Last time I checked Gnome Shell was unusable crap, Unity maybe slow (thank’s to the crappy Mutter window manager Gnome devs came out with) but thanks to Canonical it will be way faster because they are porting it to Compiz.

    Gnome Shell and Unity share many characteristics but it seems that Gnome Shell is trying to catch up with them.

    Oh and I don’t think Gnome Shell will be ready by March.

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  12. @Carles Sentis
    Do you have any source of that? I don’t think the name Gubuntu would be so appropriate since Gnome won’t look like that (it will use gnome-shell), and Ubuntu will still use Gnome. I would rather call it Ubuntu Traditional or something like that.

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  13. Carles Sentis says:

    No I don’t, it was just a thought that pop to mind. As the main Ubuntu branch will be using Unity it just seemed obvious to have one using Gnome Shell and calling it Gubuntu, just like all the other Ubuntu distros starting by the Window managers first letter added to the start of the Ubuntu name.

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  14. But Gnome Shell isn’t “like the one we have now”. And the other ones actually includes completely different desktop environments. This isn’t a new desktop environment, just another shell.

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  15. Buzz says:

    This is OSS in which anybody can do what they damn well please with it. If canonical wants to change a default option in Ubuntu so be it. I still use fluxbox a lot as I desire low memory. That is my choice. I don’t expect Ubuntu to make it a default option.

    [Reply]

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