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Do you hate Ubuntu’s new interface, Unity? Do you think Ubuntu is making a huge mistake by changing things, and will inevitably crash and burn because of this?
You’re wrong. Ubuntu can’t go back to Gnome 2, and Unity’s a great step forward for Ubuntu and Linux in general.
It’s not that you’re alone in your opinion. No, every Ubuntu-related article I’ve printed in the past ten months invariably drew heckles from the wider Internets. The comment section is full of haters, without exception.
Scroll down; you’ll probably find some right now.
The untold part of the story, though, are the many people perfectly happy with Unity. I like using it more than any user interface, including OS X. It’s a great balance of usability and flexibility, and I’m glad it’s around.
There are good reasons to dislike Unity and the new Ubuntu. It’s not yet ideal on multiple monitor setups, and some inevitable bugs came up.
There are some wrong complaints out there, though. Here are three.
1. Ubuntu Should Stick With Gnome 2
People hate change. It’s why your Facebook feed is full of complaints every couple of months.
Do some people have legitimate complaints regarding Unity? Yes. But it’s important to keep everything in perspective.
That’s why I found a recent conversation on Reddit to be enlightening. In it, many longtime Linux users shared stories about interface changes in Gnome. They said it’s too hard to customize, and too Mac-like.
The problematic product of discussion: Gnome 2, the very thing users want to go back to today.
Similar protests erupted over KDE 4, and will erupt next fall regarding Windows 8 and its radically different interface. It’s just a fact of human existence.
Ubuntu needed to move forward. Unity is, in my opinion, a path forward in line with the future of computing. It gets things done quickly regardless of whether you favor the keyboard or the mouse, and looks great too.
2. People Want A Windows-Like Interface
This one drives me nuts. Why should Ubuntu, or any operating system, strive to look like Windows?
“Because it’s intuitive that way,” you might be thinking. And you’re wrong.
Windows isn’t intuitive; it’s familiar. And there’s a difference.
I’ve sat down with several non-computer savvy people in front of a computer running Unity. They had no problem using it. Canonical’s user interface testing reveals the same pattern. Unity is easy to use, particularly for non-computer people.
Besides: soon Windows won’t have a Windows-like interface. Better to innovate than to cling to computing’s past.
3. It’s Too Tablet-y
It’s another common criticism: Ubuntu’s Unity interface is too “tablet-y”, and users want a desktop interface.
First of all, I’m not sure what about Unity makes it tablet-y. Is it the dock with icons? The dash and it’s large button?
Okay, so that might look tablet-y. I always type the name of the program I want and hit “Enter”, so maybe I’m not browsing the menu enough to notice.
But the future of computing seems to be a blur between the tablet and the PC. Windows 8 certainly seems to be a bet, by Microsoft, on this future: the starting interface and the bundled apps all seem designed to run on a touch screen. Apple’s latest release, Lion, is also heavily tablet influenced.
Sometime soon tablets and computers will merge into one device, so operating systems better be able to function in both ways. I can only speculate regarding hardware, but I think most laptops will soon come with detachable tablet monitors.
Simply put: all computers are going to become more tablet-y, and Ubuntu is smart to get ahead of this trend instead of playing catch-up the way most Linux distros do.
I could go on, but let’s hear what you think. Is Ubuntu making the right moves? Do you hate Unity, and now by extension me? Leave your thoughts in the comments below; I’ll be around to talk.
Oh, and don’t mention that Linux Mint is above Ubuntu on Distro Watch now. those numbers don’t mean anything.