back to article Ubuntu republic riven by damaging civil wars

There's a popular misconception about open source: that it's democratic, that all users have a vote over its direction and development or even the running of the community around it. The users of Ubuntu, arguably the world's most popular Linux distro these days, are currently discovering that this is not how it works. The …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Since you didn't say it I will...

    Begun the Linux Desktop war has!

  2. A. Lewis

    Choice is good. Maybe Ubuntu needs to try and bring the rogue forks, K and X and L -buntu, back into the fold and brand them as just different flavours, but still Ubuntu at the core.

    Personally, I'm one of the number that ditched Ubuntu when they moved to Unity, in favour of X'buntu. XFCE is good and speedy and meets my needs perfectly.

    1. Ru

      You're a few years late, chief.

      Clearly it was a mistake to ever use anything more featureful than fvwm.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        that was more like the blockade on Naboo.

        Required SW quote: "I sense an unusual amount of fear for something as trivial as this destop manager dispute"

      2. Anonymous Coward

        THAT was more like the blockade of Naboo

        And the requisite SW quote would be:

        "I sense an unusual amount of fear for something as trivial as this destop manager dispute"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Choice is good

      Except when its windows, in which case everyone flames Microsoft for offering too many versions. But that's just an aside and maybe even trolling. I have been considering a more permanent move to Linux but I guess with all this going on I get to leave that move for another 5 or 10 years or so and just play with it on an old laptop that is used for nothing important. Seems I'll never run out of different versions to play with and delete.

  3. zenkaon

    I really like unity

    Very happy with unity. It's a bold move by Ubuntu, but a good move. They took a long hard look at gnome-shell and decided to go there own way.

    I find it very usable and logical (warning - my logic may differ drastically from yours - but we all know I'm right ;) and am looking forward to seeing where they take it. The dash definitely needs work.

    Ctrl+Alt+T opens a terminal. What more do hardcore users want?

    For the doubters (I used to be one), try it for a week. That way you can give it a proper scathing

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "What more do hardcore users want?"

      Slackware? :-) Or that distro where you have to compile everything from scratch?

      I'm not sure that anything *buntu could be considered hardcore.


      1. jake Silver badge


        MeDearOldMum (mid 70s) and Great Aunt (96 years young) use Slackware.

        Of course it helps that the installer (me) understands their needs. Support calls dropped from several times per month each with Windows to less than once a year between the both of them.

        Canonical's offerings are shovelware/kitchensinkware, and have exactly the same problems as Redmond and Cupertino ... and for exactly the same reasons. That reason? Glad you asked ... it's because they try to be all things to all people.

        Probably doesn't hurt that I started using Slack in 1994, when it was obvious that MarkWilliamsCompany's "Coherent" *nix clone was no longer being developed ...

        We need to get back to a surgical approach to computing. Shotguns clearly aren't working.

        Learn Ubuntu, and you know Ubuntu (RedHat, Mint, whatever). Learn Slackware, and you learn how Linux works ... and can easily build customized systems for the computer illiterate. As a side benefit, knowledge of Slackware translates to more industrial variations of *nix ...

        Ubuntu: Ancient African word meaning "Slackware is hard."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I really like unity

      I installed 11.10 on one of my computers and didn't like it or 11.10. But I installed 11.10 on a virtual machine and have played with it a bit.Although it would be nice to setup my desktop like in Gnome, but it became workable..Especially when I install Synaptic.

      I now think 11.10 is a really good distro of Linux and will install it on my other computers when 12.04 LTS comes out. Mark has done an excellent job with UBUNTU and I applaud him for that. I remember the earlier days of slack when you first booted, all you got bash shell and you had to figure out how to get xserver working! Linux has come a long way.

    3. Sergey 1

      Tried Unity for half a year

      I can work it, but it's association of running apps and launcher icons still drives me crazy sometimes. I don't want to switch to Term on Workspace2, I want a new one in the current Workspace3 !!!

      And how do I switch Term tabs without reaching for the mouse?

      And 4 workspaces aren't enough, clearly

      And they want to move away from synaptic, replacing it with whatever "software manager" thing. Back to apt-get times?! okay, can do apt-get too...

      I'd be really pleased if they concentrated on adding new stuff rather than replacing things that worked perfectly


  4. mrmond

    Mountains out of molehills.

    While I'm not a fanboy (I use win 7 as well) most people in my LuG don't give a hoot, let alone being angry about Unity,KDE or Gnome 3.

    You either like it or you don't. Just use a different window manager or a different distro.

    Same happened with Win ME and Vista, that's why so many stick with XP.

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    A couple of points

    GNOME Shell is actually a lot more extensible than GNOME 2 was. Instead of writing applets you write extensions in JS and CSS and much like extensions in Firefox they integrate straight into the GUI and appear like part of the experience. However the user-land tools which are needed to install, update and remove extensions are not there but the framework is which may be why it looks so spartan. Extensions are why GNOME applets not supported in GNOME 3 - there is something better there already.

    Also lacking from GNOME shell are configuration options to modify the experience. For example I actually do like maximize & minimize buttons and icons on my desktop but there is no easy way to add them without installing an "advanced" tweak tool. This sort of thing needs to be part of GNOME shell, in a dialog from the control panel. Despite these deficiencies I am still very confident about the way the project is going. GNOME Shell is a is highly usable experience, but it needs a few more iterations, some of which need to take note of criticism from people moving from GNOME 2.

    Now regarding, Ubuntu. Someone really needs to give them a hard slap. Unity has obvious failings and I was surprised and disappointed to see that 11.10 didn't bother to address them. Unity is actually reasonable for netbooks since it is a compact desktop but it sucks for larger screens. Where is the configuration dialog so I can set the edge that the launcher bar appears on? Where is the checkbox that I can disable the risible global menus from? Who in god's name thought that stupid floating scrollbar was ever a good idea? Why is Unity UI peppered with recommendations from the online store and doesn't bother to show the bloody app I'm trying to find. And where is the switch to disable this store promotion?

    Ubuntu is turning into Lindows / Linspire and it's a crying shame. Older releases "got it" and pushed the usability envelope. Since Unity turned up it's all been in freefall. I still use Ubuntu but it's running GNOME shell these days with hacks around the other things.

  6. Richard Wharram

    I don't see the fuss

    GNOME3 and UNITY phobes can just use the XFCE or LXDE editions which are both official Ubuntu spins and quite similar to GNOME2. Easy for Windows migrants too.

    Maybe power users and developers would have more of a problem. I dunno. But for most people this seems a lot of fuss over nowt much.

    1. Martin
      Thumb Up

      Who in god's name thought that stupid floating scrollbar was ever a good idea?

      Just repeating for emphasis.

      If Ubuntu had got everything else right, that is still a complete show-stopper for me.

      There are some applications which just do not work any more. FFS, why should the developer suddenly have to dig into his window handling just to check what subtle mistake he's made which means the app no longer works? Or perhaps he's strictly right, but just using something a bit unusual, and it's actually the stupid vanishing scrollbar that's wrong.

      Scroll-bars have worked for twenty years or more. Why change them?

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Scrollbar can be disabled

        I can't recall the details but there is some file you can change to disable the floating scrollbar and the global menu.

        The floating scrollbar is such an extraordinarily bad design that I do not understand why it's there at all. You'd have to go back to the days of Openlook to find a scrollbar so abysmal. Both implement the same "elevator" style scrollbar. The difference is that the Openlook one at least stayed visible all the time and didn't have 20 years of hindsight to say what a bad design it was.

        Global menus are also bad design, not least because some apps don't support it (not surprisingly) but also because it increases the amount of mouse travel and needless clicking to discover stuff which shouldn't be hidden in the first place.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your misuse of the word "experience"...

      ... indicates that you need to be slapped with the Salmon Of Correction.

      I agree with the rest of your post, however.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did try to like it, honestly I did. I stuck with it for a couple of days at work but in the end I just can't love Unity, it just feels so unnatural.

    The classic start-button, menu-at-top design is popular for a reason. It works well and it's very efficient to use. All this trying to copy and better OSX business that Unity seems to be trying to do has so over simplified things, it hampers usability. When you're managing over a hundred servers and as many Oracle databases you need something that is solid, reliable and not something that seems to insist on picking fights with you every time you try to use it.

    I like Ubuntu, it's solid, dependable and exactly what you need when you don't have time to faff about with your O/S. I don't want to stop using Ubuntu but I don't want Unity when I need efficiency. I am sticking with 10.10 for the moment and I'll have to have a dip in the distro pool, see what else is about. Oracle RHEL clone might be a better bet, although I hate RPM with a passion!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    a slightly lighter-weight desktop

    "Xfce is ostensibly a slightly lighter-weight desktop than GNOME, but the difference isn't dramatic."

    Nor should it be. A shell shouldn't consume significant resources, so it just shouldn't be possible to build an alternative that consumes dramatically fewer. (That said, I've switched from Kubuntu to Xubuntu and the difference is measureable, even if not dramatic.)

    Perhaps that really cuts to the nub of the argument. There are those who want the shell to be everything they do on the computer. Then there are those for whom the shell's main task is to get the fsck out of the way so that they can do some real work. I suspect there is no love lost between these two camps, so it is natural that there should be more than one shell.

    And as a final thought, is XP the get-out-of-the-way shell for Windows and Vista/7 the product of the everything-you-do-is-done-through-me camp?

    1. keithpeter


      @Ken Hagen

      "Then there are those for whom the shell's main task is to get the fsck out of the way so that they can do some real work."

      Yup. Can't beat dwm/dmenu with Thunar. Does all that press-mod-button-and-type-the-program-name stuff. Makes good use of the idiotic letterbox monitors we have to use now (why?).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        The excuse: better to watch movies (and play games?)

        The fact: who cares about movies (and games), it is a tiny niche. Letterbox is a pain to *work* with below 1600x1200.

        The reason: a 24" 16/9 monitor uses a lot less glass than a 4/3 one. Less area = more profit.

  9. KevinLewis

    But I am a Linux Novice...

    I am a bit of a novice when it comes to Linux. I am mainly a Windows user, and have used OSX.

    I installed Ubuntu 9 on a laptop we had, and liked it, and upgraded to 10 and used AWN for the menu, then 11.04 and 11.10...

    I just don't get GNOME3. It makes no sense. I can't find anything, it runs terribly slow on my laptop - yes it's a few years old, but 10 worked fine. I may give it a few more weeks to see if I get used to it.. but I reckon I am going to downgrade for the better...

    1. jbuk1

      if you're on ubuntu 11.10 you're not using gnome 3, I know you said you're a noob but at least try and make sure you bash the right product.

      1. Goat Jam

        Irony Alert!

        Commentard accuses other commentard of n00bness while getting his own facts wrong!

        News at eleven!

        I don't know what idiot upvoted this moronic post but the OP "noob" was quite correct, 11.10 does use Gnome 3.

        11.04 was the last Ubuntu with Gnome2, 11.10 is the latest and greatest and the first one that forces users on to Gnome3.

        I expect that you are referring to Gnome Shell in your snide put down. Gnome Shell is the presentation layer of Gnome 3 which Unity replaces but irrespective of which shell you choose on 11.10, they are both running on Gnome 3.

        Now, I accept that the OP may have been using Unity on Gnome 3 (as is the default) and then gotten confused between the Gnome Shell and Unity but at least he didn't compound his error by choosing to phrase his post like a lecturing school master.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All is not well in UbuntuLand then?

    I can't say I'm surprised.

    First, let me say that I'm not a Ubuntu user. I did try (honestly) but in the end, I didn't like it.

    However, a good number of my Linux buddies are or rather were Ubuntu devotees.

    Now they are not so sure.

    Several have gone off to Mint.

    A couple have returned to Debian

    One have even wiped his Thinkpad and installed Gentoo (he is the really wierd one...)

    Only three remain and one of these is secretly using KDE (shh Kevin)

    The reason they all give is 'Unity. I'm not a blithering Idiot so why treat me like one?'

    Canonical make no claims to be democratic. The Will on Mr Shuttleworth has to be obeyed much like that of Mr Gates of the late Mr Jobs. Without his leadership, Ubuntu would not be the force it is today.

    Personally, I think that is is his (M.S.) goal for Canonical to be profitable that might be his undoing. I'm sure he sees the growth that RedHat posts every quarter and would very much like some of it, if not all of it.

    I'm not sure where the Ubuntu team will go from here. They have to be careful or they will piss off many more of their fans. However, this might be a price they are willing to pay to be profitable.

    As for me, I use Fedora or CentOS. Gnome 3 is a POS as far as I'm concerned. Thankfully CentOS 6 will keep Gnome 2.x for sometime to come.

  11. Mage Silver badge


    Yet again the promising Linux has shot itself in the Feet. Removing both legs.

    Not everyone uses a Tablet / Mini-Netbook.

    Debian + Ice Window Manager for Older HW anyone?

    It doesn't make sense that newer versions of OS need new HW unless your partner(s) are AMD or Intel.

    Essentially the only bit of PCs that wear out are the keyboards and Mice and on Laptops/Netbooks additionally the Battery.

    Of course HDD or SSD can fail any time.

    1. Adrian Challinor

      Foot shooting for beginners

      Mage is correct, unlike previous posts of the form "Unity, live with it".

      One of the unspoken goals for Ubuntu was to create a credible alternative to Windows. I run Ubuntu since I had one too many crashes that wiped a complete disk partition under XP. I move the wife to Ubuntu since Vista was just too damn unstable. She is not a fan, but in her mind it is less hassle than Vista was (or "my first computer" as she liked to call it).

      If you're a geek, then Unity or Gmome 3 is great. A whole new raft of desk top tools to play with. Personally, I hated Unity and went back to Ubunto 10:04. Some of the device management packages just did not work under 11:04 and Eclipse was a real nightmare.

      What would this do in a business? Well, cause chaos. Why have most companies stuck with Win XP? The main reason is the cost of upgrade in terms of retraining. Changing 300 desktops over a weekend and having 300 users complain on Monday is not good for business. Some of the places I know are still on XP. Windows 7 is possible late 2012. They stay on an old OS because they are in business to make money, not to play with some muppet's idea of a new paradigm for a desktop.

      Canonical have gone the same way. Unity is too big a change. And with no fall back alternative for Gnome 2 users, who would want to put this in instead of XP or Windows 7? There is a backlash against Unity - its not good on large screens. So will Canonical change again? Many hope so, but its far from a pleasant thought. So business will stay away. IMHO what Canonical should have done is let you choose whether you run the new, super, flash Unity, or the old boring but familiar Gnome 2, or for the uber-geek, you can have Gnome 3. Their problem is that they have forced a change on to their user base, and that has broken the trust.

      Some people (eg, my wife) just want to run a computer, do their work, browse the web and send emails. They do not want to have to learn something new. These people simply won't upgrade until something makes them. Like having a new PC. And then, if they have to learn something new, why not go to Windows 7?

      I have moved to Ubuntu 11:10, but with Cairo-Dock, not Unity. This means that I am in control of how my desktop works. The family hate it, because they can;t find anything (this is a "good" thing!)

      I do agree with the first poster - let the desktop wars begin.

  12. Ray 11

    I quite like Unity too

    as does my brother-in-law who is just a user and does not do anything technical.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some errata and thoughts

    You failed to mention Fuduntu and Fusion Linux. Both are Fedora 14 remixes. Fusion is unahsamedly pro-Gnome 2.3 and the chief developer talks of wanting to find a way to use one of the Gnome 2.3 forks in order to keep the familiar 2.3 UI.

    The situation with KDE is not really like the current one with Gnome.

    KDE 4 was a departure. It took some of the configurability away, but kept to the basic Taskbar, right click, etc, accepted UI standards. That's that main argument with Gnome 3/Unity - they have thrown most of the UI standards out of the window - a monumental act of hubris.

    If Shuttleworth thinks Ubuntu is going to attract hordes of new users he is mistaken. The point of UI standards is that they held true across OS's. Pretty much everything was in the same place whether you used Windows, OSX or Linux and anyone with half a brain could find their way around. This has now been abandoned. Many people disliked OSX because of the contextual top bar on the screen (easy to use once you'd got the hang of it), but, regarded as unnecessarily tricky by new users. So how will these same people cope with Unity/Gnome 3 that has done away with so many more of those standards?

    It's alarming, to say the least, to see how Linux is diverging. Each distro suddenly seems to be going off in its own direction. This is not going to be good for Linux, because the end result will be several distributions, each incompatible with the other, each with its own set of tricksy methodologies and idiosynchrosies and the only winner will be Microsoft. One wonders how much MS have to do with this sudden divergence and enthusiasm for abanoning good design and anoying thousands of customers, many of whom have proved loyal over the years.

    In the end, arrogance and stubbornness might just be the undoing of Linux.

    And the winner will be Microsoft and everyone else will be the losers.

    1. Ru

      "You failed to mention Fuduntu"

      Perhaps because no-one has heard of it, or perhaps because no-one cares.

      "It's alarming, to say the least, to see how Linux is diverging"

      It has always been this way. There is nothing new here, it is merely better publicised and the userbase is larger.

      "the only winner will be Microsoft"

      Really? I'd say that Apple would be the primary beneficiaries. But ultimately, who cares? This "Linux" you speak of isn't a coherent entity or corporation. "Linux" does not care whether you like it or not. It will still exist if half the userbase poof out of existence. There's no share price to lose here, no army of devs who need paying. Arrogance and stubbornness? On whose part? Linus? Redhat management? the KDE project? How about Xorg? How about IBM? How about Android? Do you somehow believe that they're all working together with a common goal and agree to synchronise their stupidities? You're looking at the action of one player in a very large system. There is no one true "Linux", and it most certainly isn't embodied by Shuttleworth's creation.

    2. Old Handle

      Fortunately for Linux, MS is also abandoning good UI design, so they won't really have an unfair advantage.

    3. Asgard
      Big Brother

      @"One wonders how much MS have to do with this sudden divergence"

      What a sick underhanded thought. I have to congratulate you AC (@13:23), for spotting this.

      @"One wonders how much MS have to do with this sudden divergence and enthusiasm for abandoning good design and annoying thousands of customers, many of whom have proved loyal over the years."

      I've never given that a thought before, but you could very well be right. Unfortunately financially it makes huge sense and its a terrible thought if true, but given how deeply underhanded, two faced and frankly Machiavellian a lot of bosses are, I wouldn't put it past companies like Microsoft and Apple hiring full time developers via 3rd party companies to disrupt major Linux distributions without even the developers knowing they have been hired to disrupt the distribution, by steer these open source projects away from what the corporations product goals, like undermining good usability and consistent user look and feel between Linux versions.

      Screwing up the usability of popular Linux distributions would pay Microsoft (and Apple) hugely. For example, Microsoft are talking about wanting 500 million users on Windows 8 so work out how much that will earn Microsoft and then workout how much it would cost to hire a few hundred programmers via 3rd party companies to disrupt and misdirect open source projects that are in the way of their multi-billion profits per year.

      Its a really sick thought, but sadly its all to plausible because unfortunately its an extremely financially viable method to undermine any Linux distribution that looks like it'll get popular enough to challenge companies like Microsoft or Apple. (Considering how much money these companies throw at lawyers each year, to take down competitors, its small change to hire hundreds of developers to overwhelm independent developer opinions on open source projects).

      I'm sure some will deny its ever possible (as they usually do), but its unfortunately hugely financially viable which makes it highly probable and profitable.

      What a depressing thought. :(

  14. John Goodwin 4

    Patience is a virtue, or so my Nan told me

    I've given it a whole month and 11.10 still annoys me every single day. Looks like it will be either Linux Mint or 10.04 when I rebuild my PC this week.

    Ubuntu on self-destruct mode.

  15. Hayden Clark Silver badge

    "It works in My Dorm-Room"


    As Linux gets more useful, this kind of tech-utopianism starts to seriously impact on serious, business use of Linux. While, having not paid for it, I can get that I have no control over it. But if the avowed intent of Shuttleworth and crew is to make me like it so much I might actually pay for it, they're going the right way about p***ing my right off.

    All this "kewl new way of working" UI stuff is very Silicon Valley, very College-Kid.

  16. Ian McNee

    A good roundup...

    ...but why end with the usual "Linux world more fragmented than ever"?

    This perspective panders to the "One True Virtuous Linux" tendencies and has its ultimate expression in Stallman/Gnu and their tiny list of niche distros deemed pure enough to be endorsed.

    How about "Linux world more diverse than ever"? I speak as someone who only really got to grips with Linux via Ubuntu and have since moved on because Unity and some other aspects of the distro don't meet my needs. No drama necessary, simply the opportunity to change the tools one uses because one's knowledge and goals have outgrown the old tools.

    It may have been inevitable that a figure like Shuttleworth would behave like he is now doing and alienate a section of the Ubuntu community. That's unfortunate but it might also be what is required to maintain Ubuntu as a well supported off the shelf distro for new users and enterprise desktops.

    For the rest of us the Linux community (and I think it really is a community in the way that an operation funded by a single wealthy individual cannot be) will provide as circumstances change. I've not yet settled on Gnome 3/KDE or DEB/RPM but I'm confident that the tools are out there to allow me to do what I need to do effectively and reliably.

    It would be great to change the world with Linux/FOSS but only the zealots have the luxury of waiting until that time (and inevitably they will never be the people who contribute to it happening). In the meantime lots of people are doing so much cool and useful stuff, let's go play!

  17. A J Stiles

    And the worst of it is .....

    ..... KDE was *already* released under the GPL *long* before Ubuntu chose GNOME.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed: Register fact check...

      "Both Perens and Ubuntu chose the GNOME desktop, for two main reasons – firstly, it was completely free, unlike GNOME's principal rival, KDE, based on the at-the-time-non-GPL Qt toolkit."


      "September 05, 2000

      Trolltech announced today that it will license the upcoming free version of Qt/Unix 2.2 under the GPL (GNU General Public License)."

      And no, it didn't take three years for them to get that release out.

    2. jotheberlock

      The argument at the time was that Trolltech hadn't realised Qt under the LGPL (so people could write commercial apps with it). Not that that was what people actually objected to, of course; what they really meant was 'I hate C++ and everything to do with it' but 'Gnome is more free than KDE!' (because you can write closed-source software using it, forsooth) was a far more acceptable rallying cry.

      Now, of course, Qt is under the LGPL so it's exactly as free as Gnome/Gtk. And I've been a happy Kubuntu user for many years so I don't give a flying fuck about this Unity/Gnome 3 mess.

  18. Nigel 11

    Why the fuss?

    It amazes me how many people don't get it.

    It's not because Gnome 3 exists. If they'd taken the Gnome 2 code-base, forked it, announced that Gnome 2 needed a new maintainer because they wouldn't be working on it any longer, then the world would be a happy place. The maintainer would have been found. Some of us would stick to Gnome 2. Others would enthusiastically embrace Gnome 3. System managers could install both on multi-user systems, and let their users decide when they log in.

    This is the strength of open-source. Diversity, choice, and no-one forcing us to use new software that we don't like.

    The Gnome people broke the "rules". They developed Gnome 3 in such a way that you couldn't choose. They pretended it was an upgrade, when it was a brand new interface with little if anything in common with its predecessor. They did to us for the sake of ego-building, what Microsoft did to us for the sake of making more money for Microsoft. And frankly, compared to the gulf between Gnome 2 UI and Gnome 3 UI, the jump from XP to Win 7 is across a mere crevice.

    That's why the fuss. If the open-soure community had any laws, Gnome would have broken a lot of them. Thank heaven that XFCE exists. It feels like a step backwards, but only a step. And now it's attracted a whole lot of new users including Linus, it might even get improved.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      +1'ed for truthiness.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        ++ indeed

        Fork the Gnome!!!

    2. AdamWill


      Sorry, but that's just ridiculous. So the difference in your head between the world being a 'happy place' and 'broken a lot of' laws announcement?

      Because that's what your post boils down to. It's not GNOME's job to create a fork they don't want and don't want to maintain, and since _the code is freaking open_ it's not as if they've somehow made it impossible for anyone to do it. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that two other groups have already done it (and then pretty much died of neglect, but that's hardly GNOME's fault, is it)?

      So apparently you think GNOME not 'announcing' that GNOME 2 'needs a new maintainer' is some sort of heinous crime.

      They don't owe you anything. It's their project. They did not do anything 'for the sake of ego-building' (what? how do you build ego by writing a desktop?), they decided that they just didn't consider the GNOME 2 interface to be the right way to do desktop design any more and decided to change it. That's their right. You have no right to demand that the GNOME project fork their code or make specific announcements about it. All these 'rules' are entirely a figment of your imagination. They made no guarantees to you, you bought no service from them.

      Remember that GNOME is more than a shell. GNOME 3 is clearly a natural progression from GNOME 2, with many of the same components. It has a new shell, but hey, the shell is only one of several dozen GNOME components.

  19. Bruno Girin

    Irrespective of whether you like Unity or not, I think its effect will be the same as all disruptive technology: get the incumbents to re-think what they've been doing for so long.

    From my point of view, the Linux desktop has (visually) stagnated for several years. KDE has always looked like Windows but with a funny icon instead of the Start menu; while GNOME 2 looks like Windows but with a second panel on top because we didn't have enough space to put everything we wanted in the bottom panel. And neither of them is very good at being efficient for the user out of the box. Prior to any customisation, you typically need 3 clicks in GNOME 2 to start an application (Applications menu -> Category sub-menu -> app you want to run). Both have the potential to be customised in a way that is very efficient for a particular user but are just very average on first use.

    So Unity and GNOME 3 ask the question: can't we really do any better than that? Can we create something that is efficient and easy to use out of the box? Neither of them has all the answers but now that the status quo has been questioned, I hope we will see a lot of innovation in this space in the next few years from Unity, GNOME 3 and KDE (and possibly others). Hopefully, the end result will be a Linux desktop that is more productive for users out of the box.

    In practice, this is exactly why I like Unity: I can't be asked to customise my desktop, I just want to use my computer rather than tinker with it and all in all I am more productive with Unity than I ever was with GNOME 2. Of course, a non-scientific sample of 1 doesn't make a statistic but I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    I, for one, welcome our shiny desktop UI overlords.

  20. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

    Ubuntu: No.

    I gave up on Ubuntu when, the very first time I tried to install it (from a magazine cover disk, if you must know), it gave me the big finger and stopped halfway through the installation because it couldn't find the Internet to download up-to-date versions of the packages.

    Dudes! Let me install the (bad word) thing first, then go looking for upgraded components once I have it properly installed and configured. The purposes for which I wanted to set up a machine didn't include having it go out to the Internet for anything.

    1. Bruno Girin

      I don't know what version was on that CD but recent releases will give you the option to either download package updates as you install or to do it later. So I suggest you try again.

    2. Microphage

      re: Ubuntu: No

      @Steve the Cynic: "the very first time I tried to install it .. it gave me the big finger and stopped halfway through the installation because it couldn't find the Internet to download up-to-date versions of the packages"

      This is not the case the installer explicitly asks if you want to go online and download updates, else it installs the CD version.

  21. Joe Burmeister

    Mint is going MATE and Gnome3

    Very selective quoting. It is moving to have MATE and Gnome3 and is involved in work to ensure MATE can live along side Gnome3. What I'd like to see is MATE moved to GTK3 because I don't think there is any debate that GTK3 is an improvement. I'm quite interested in trying Gnome3 with MGSE, though I still think Gnome3 needs a slim fast diet. Mint seams to be taking the best approach yet.

  22. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Who is in charge - you or the window manager?

    I found KDE 4 very irritating until I found Trinity. With KDE 3.5/Trinity I could disable almost everything (like the panel/task bar/start button/kicker and icons), set up keyboards short cuts for things I do regularly, and put a different customisable menu for each type of mouse click on the desktop to access everything else. When I tried KDE 4, nepomuk trashed the machine's performance. All the off switches for nepomuk did not work. Luckily I found Dovydas's solution at

    There was plenty more in the new KDE that I hated and could not get rid of at all. I could not set up my keyboard shortcuts. KDE 4 was telling me how to work instead of the other way around. I was extremely angry that I might have to buy a graphics card louder than a tornado just to switch between tasks. When I found KDE 3.5 was alive and well with its name changed to Trinity I calmed down and now I do not care what the KDE 4 developers do. The only fly in the ointment was the intense boredom that set in waiting ⅕ of a second for the web browser to smooth scroll. (In the [KDE] section of ~/.trinity/share/config/kdeglobals, add: SmoothScrolling=false)

  23. Bassey

    I've never met a group more resistent to change than IT types :)


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