3 Reasons Why Gnome Shell Is Better Than Ubuntu’s Unity [Opinion]

Danny Stieben 28-01-2012

There’s absolutely no denying the fact that there has been a lot of bickering between people about which desktop environment is the best. However, in more recent times, the discussion has been expanded and refocused, from not just Gnome vs. KDE but now Gnome Shell vs. Unity Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux It's here. The newest version of Ubuntu sports an entirely new user interface: Unity. It also includes a much-improved Software Center, alongside the usual updates for the thousands of free programs Ubuntu offers. Canonical decided... Read More , two desktop environments that are both dependent on the Gnome framework.


The difference between the two is simply the desktop shell, which is much more a difference in looks and functionality than a technical one. However, Gnome Shell has finally started to build itself a place in my heart, while Unity has not.

Here are three reasons why this is the case.


This may come as a major surprise to many, but my first point is all about speed. From personal experience, I’ve always found Gnome Shell (especially when version 3.2.1 came out) to be faster than Unity. The Activities screen in Gnome Shell loads as fast as the Dash in Unity, but the dock launcher on the left side in Unity is somewhat slow and sluggish. This is especially noticeable on my netbook, whereas Gnome Shell runs smoothly.

It’s quite a surprise to myself, actually, because Compiz, the window manager framework of which Unity is a plugin for, was touted to be the better and faster alternative to Mutter, the window manager framework on which Gnome Shell runs. Although I have to admit that Gnome Shell at it’s first release was a little sluggish too, it has improved quite a bit. Now that Unity is the default desktop shell for the second straight release in Ubuntu, it has only gotten slower.

Organization and Design

3 Reasons Why Gnome Shell Is Better Than Ubuntu's Unity [Opinion] fedora16 activities
The organization and design of the desktop environments is also a major factor between the two. Unity tries to be organized, but with lenses, the Dash, and the different categories inside the Dash, things quickly get confusing. I know when I looked at Unity that it took a while before I understood what everything is for.


As for Gnome Shell, everything is better hidden and organized. You see nothing but the desktop until you go into the Activities screen, where inside you’ll be presented with favorites, different open windows, and the different workspaces for each application or task. In the applications view, all you get is a list of applications and the different categories for each. That’s it. It’s simple, clean, and works well.

Extras in Unity like the ability to search your music collection is a cool idea, but I find it unnecessary. It’s not any harder to just go look around in your Music folder or to open up your music player and easily find and play your music through that.

Unity for Ubuntu Only

3 Reasons Why Gnome Shell Is Better Than Ubuntu's Unity [Opinion] 11
While this isn’t a major reason, it’s still worth mentioning. For those that do enjoy Unity, they are forced to use Ubuntu in order to get that experience. With Gnome Shell, that isn’t an issue, as it’s available on any distribution in existence that has moved up to Gnome 3. The world of Linux that we currently live in is very well used to being able to put any desktop environment that they like on their distribution.

Unity is the only desktop environment out of all the major players that is specific to only one distribution. I’m sure that Canonical has their own reasons for doing this, but in the spirit of free software I don’t believe that their choice goes in the right direction.



Say what you like, but those are just my opinions on the matter. I simply find Gnome Shell to be a little more usable with its clean look and design, unlimited workspaces that automatically get created or destroyed, and overall ease of use. The Gnome developers definitely changed the desktop as they had hoped, and I find it to be enjoyable. For those who don’t think the same, you still have to admit that some pretty innovative ideas are presented in Gnome Shell.

What’s your own opinion on this? Do you agree with me or am I just an idiot? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: GNOME Shell, Linux Distro, Opinion & Polls, Ubuntu.

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  1. Anonymous
    August 27, 2016 at 9:00 am

    About Unity being Ubuntu can still compile it.

  2. Morten E. Lund
    July 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Ubuntu is great, but I prefer Gnome Shell. Unity is not bad, but Gnome shell is far better :-)

  3. Razzy101
    June 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I wonder if there is truth to what I'm hearing. Since ubuntu made unity the default program they have lost some users. I see all my programs when I use unity but I'm still not sold on it. I use gnome 3 and I like it since it combines a bit of unity or gnome.

    • Danny Stieben
      June 28, 2012 at 3:32 am

      The Unity desktop is still actually Gnome. Unity only replaces Gnome Shell as the desktop shell.

  4. topyli
    May 14, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Just a quick note. Unity is unique to Ubuntu as of now, yes. But this is not something dictated by Canonical. I'm sure they'd be very happy if another distribution adopted it (or at least added it as an option). It's still Free Software and any distribution can build and distribute it to their users. I wouldn't be surprised if it showed up in Debian some day.

    There is another problem however: Canonical's Developer Agreement whereby they ask you to assign copyright to any modifications you make to Canonical. This may hinder outside developers' interest in hacking Unity. Granted, it's no worse than the FSF requiring copyright assignments, but then again Free Software hackers probably feel better about the FSF and trust it more than any profit-driven company.

    • James
      May 19, 2012 at 6:08 am

      If I install ubuntu for someone the first thing I do is change to gnome 3 and they all prefer it. Is this the reason for Ubuntu's fall in popularity?

    • Chow Loong Jin
      June 16, 2012 at 8:53 am

      The Canonical Developer Agreement no longer asks you to assign your copyright to Canonical. I signed it some months back after noticing that the terms had reversed -- instead of assigning your copyrights to Canonical and being granted a license to reproduce, modify, display and distribute the changes, you now retain your copyrights and grant Canonical the license.

      • Danny Stieben
        June 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm

        If it used to be an issue, then licensing surely wouldn't be one anymore, right?

  5. Marcus
    May 10, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Canonical = big company with lots of $$$
    They design Unity and force it on Ubuntu.
    Then they stop financial support for Kubuntu and others.
    So they are trying to monopolise.
    Just like Microsoft did.
    Canonical = Microsoft = enemies of free software.

    • Danny Stieben
      June 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Unity is never forced. It's simply the default. If you want Gnome Shell, for example, you can install it. Done.

    • Jacob
      March 22, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Even though this is old, I did what Danny said. I installed Gnome 3 and left Unity in case I ever wanted to use it, which I do time to time.

  6. yoowman
    May 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    My favorites are Unity and KDE over Gnome Shell... Why? It's simple: Unity and KDE are consistent and they listen to their users. KDE for more powerfull desktop and Unity for simple, fast, good looking desktop. Gnome Shell is retarded. If you want something to switch off you need to switch on an extension! Is it logical? I dont think so. New Unity is much more faster than Gnome Shell. I tested it on my both computers. On desktop both runnig at the same speed. On my laptop Unity wins. KDE on both runnig slick and fast. Very very stable! Unity also basis on good old Compiz they do not waste work that had been done earlier. Gnome Shell every new release 3.0, 3.2, 3.4 they have to rewrite the extensions because there are incompatible. Thats sick. Wasting resources, time, and not listening for users make me kept away from GS for a long time. Thank You

  7. fresser
    May 6, 2012 at 12:55 am

    i used both interfaces, and i like both. gnome shell is indeed faster (at least in my PC) and with fedora 15/16 my computer would boot really fast. with gnome shell i could change the applications windows easier, just should move my mouse and all the opened windows would appear to me. i didn`t like that i couldn`t create a folder/file on my desktop. i had to do some configuration with fedora, but that was somehow easier to me to have problems with fedora. or sound, videocard...(the last observations belong to the OS actually...) opensuse has gnome shell by option, but opensuse is nicer with kde (that i wouldn`t use because was too slow in my pc...)
    the new ubuntu (12.04) has improvements in unity, and you can make use of very easy shortcuts. it is faster than ubuntu 11, but still slower than gnome shell here. in some aspects ubuntu looks better than gnome, for example the fonts are smoother. you still have by default minimize/maximize buttons. and in ubuntu 12 you can stick the launcher on the side, it wont hide. this is great because makes it closer to the way we are all used (a bar with minimized applications).
    ubuntu is maybe the most famous linux distribuition. opensuse and fedora are maybe the most famous gnome shell distribuitions. ubuntu by the other hand has a bigger community and support...and is easier to troubleshoot.
    you have to do almost nothing after installing ubuntu (anyway it may do too much without asking you, different of debian or fedora. you must configure a lot, but at least you know what the system is doing. but this is known that ubuntu is focused on end-users). ubuntu one is great, and gives you 5GB for free. i couldn`t find it to download when i used fedora, just for windows (and ubuntu of course).
    all the computers of the computational physics laboratory of the university i study use ubuntu, and debian as server. some softwares used by us are easier to configure if you are running them on ubuntu. again, they made ubuntu so popular that when it happens some software being avaliable for linux, the first thought is ubuntu. (curiously, a specific software won`t run on debian, although is THE .deb distro...)

  8. Wabble
    April 29, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Gnome Shell looks better, because Unity really only comes with those god awful orange themes, and it has better workspace management.

    Unity has the better search, because Gnome Shell search shows only folders that are bookmarked anyway) and it is generally better to use with only the keyboard.

  9. Parto
    April 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Unity is on top. To launch an application you just click on the icon. On startup, I launch firefox, gedit, terminal, banshee, home folder. And its all so easy coz its just there by the side. For anything else, I use Synapse.

  10. John Linux
    March 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I have used Gnome 3, Unity, KDE. And the winner is...Xfce modified in 5 minutes to look like Goneme 2.

  11. Yooozy
    March 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Of course Gnome is lot better it's been here for years! I think it's unfair to judge a new kid on the block against old ones

    I think Unity is gonna revolutionize the os concept for it pioneering idea and flexible perspective


    • jhpot
      March 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      I think so too. Ubuntu for Android is terribly exciting...

  12. Astrotrain
    February 25, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I must admit that I`ve had no problem with neither GS nor Unity. I think the reason for that is that i am a "keyboard guy" (more than 90% of the time). I defined my keyboard shortcuts, and it simply makes my workflow DE-subvariant-proof, at least with GNOME DE-subvariants, and that`s why I never liked KDE in the first place.
    I am switching between windows using Super+one of the arrows, I switch desktops by using Ctrl+Alt+arrows, i start apps almost exclusively by typing in Activities (GS), or Dash (Unity), so...
    No problems for me there!  :) 

  13. Mike Lee
    February 24, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    First of all, WTF is with the fuzzy/horrible system fonts with gnome-shell?
    Totally amateurish looking (unless you're into a "ghost" theme). Seriously, how do they even release something that looks that bad? Totally unacceptable.

    Next...both Unity and gnome-shell each have some positives and too many negatives. Launching apps, window switching between open apps, workspaces, and panels/notifications. In order to launch a program, Unity is faster. (Especially since I moved the dock to the bottom). It autohides. You move the mouse to where the dock is, the dock pops out, and you click once on the app icon. With gnome-shell, you have to first move the mouse pointer to the upper-left corner hotspot  (horrible location!), watch as open windows and workspaces fill the screen, and then move your mouse to the proper icon. Workspaces are better on gnome. App grid is better on gnome.

    But the WINDOW SWITCHING, the thing I do the most, is far better on Unity (though both aren't good). UNity's combining of the launcher and the switcher is a bad idea, because you still have to hunt/scan for your running app icons. With gnome-shell, you have to go to the upper left corner, wait for the app windows to be drawn, and then scan the windows and choose one. This is ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY INSANE! That is the one thing I detest about gnome-shell and is the reason I cannot use it. If I'm using the keyboard, then it's fine. Using gnome-shell, switching back and forth between running app windows (which I do constantly) is an extremely frustrating and annoying experience.

    Gnome-shell notifications at the bottom right of an otherwise hidden panel is laughably bad. Who thought of this? And those outsized notifications at the center/bottom look awful and are unnecessary.

    I know. We can tweak and extend, blah, blah, blah. That's not the point. There's no reason for them to have done such a poor job. Hate to say it, but I think Unity/Ubuntu has done a better job. If they cleaned up their dash, it would be the clear winner between these two.

    What a mess.

    • jhpot
      February 24, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      Dash will be cleaned up for 12.04. Stay tuned...

      • Mike Lee
        February 25, 2012 at 1:57 am

         I'm glad to hear it. I'm usually against the 6 month update cycle, because the changes are minor. But in this case, because of the radically new desktop introduced with 11.04, each subsequent update should be a major improvement.

        I've seen references to 12.04 all over the net. I would like to learn how to download and test it now. But I was wondering if I go ahead and do a 12.04 alpha (or whatever) install, will that installation update all the way to the actual release of 12.04? Or will I have to separately install 12.04 when it is released? (Hope I'm explaining myself well enough).

      • Mike Lee
        February 25, 2012 at 4:47 am

         Alright.Playing with the 12.04 daily build. Yes, the dash is already getting better. I'm even getting a bit used to the global menu bar. Eek! But the min/max/close on the left I will never get used to. lol. (Easily modified).

        You know, if they just put back the Appearance/Font stuff, and made a few other now-hidden things available, it would be ok. Shouldn't have to d/l gnome-tweaks to change the bloody fonts! (I use my own font config anyway).

    • Vladimir
      March 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      Gnome shell is less ergonomic than other alternatives.

      1) if you want to control programs with your mouse you need to travel across your wide-screen from the right border (launching) to the left one (previews). After my first minute I felt like an idiot - apparently designers of this poor layout cannot from some reason.

      2) Notifications at the bottom right when you otherwise do not need to look there from other reasons - only another stupid distractor and eye muscle exhauster ...

      • Vladimir
        March 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm

        Sorry for exchanging left and right ... :-)

  14. Joshp1
    February 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Gnome-shell is really good but the reason I mostly use Unity is for unity lenses if Gnome-shell would adopt that it would probably be able to beat Windows

  15. Hedi Bensaid
    February 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Well I tried unity, KDE and Gnome3
    and the one I like the less is Gnome3

  16. Christian Hagen
    February 2, 2012 at 2:23 am

    I don't like Unity at all. Just too little possibilities to make it "mine". Lenses and scopes just don't give anything to my computing experience. However, it's the only DE on my main laptop in lieu of confirmation that my ATI card works with it, and a friend and his girlfriend using it over Christmas went completely bonkers and had me dual-boot their laptop with Ubuntu and Windows. Her words was that "it's just so simple, unlike Windows". So I guess there has to be some reason why Canonical is improving (Not that *I* can see) on it.

    As soon as I hear ATI cards work better with Gnome Shell, I'll ditch Unity. Have GS on another machine, and when I used it for the first time, "it just worked". I instinctively knew where everything was, no need to fuss over anything. First time I used Unity I had NO idea where anything was. NOTHING was intuitive. Much of it still isn't.

    That's pretty much the same reason I don't use KDE; I don't find it intuitive.

    I'll allow for 20 years of computer experience, and say I've probably developed habits, but GS was, and still is, very far from most of my experience, and that just "clicked".

    • Danny Stieben
      February 11, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      Same experience here, Christian. Everything was fairly intuitive for me, and I just had to get used to moving my mouse to a different corner of the screen.

  17. Anonymous
    February 1, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Meh.  Don't like either.  Limping along with KDE until Cinnamon is ready.

  18. Shelly
    January 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I love the new desktop "Cinnamon" from Linux Mint....It is the best desktop currently available for Linux...

  19. Ramif 48
    January 31, 2012 at 11:03 am

    4. Ugliness.  Everyone who has studied a bit of art will conclude that GNOME was and still is one of the ugliest desktop environments out there.

    • Xose M
      February 1, 2012 at 6:21 am

      thanks God for not studying art! Excuse me mate, WTF are you talking about? It seems that you can not see beyond some icons, wallpaper and dock. I respect anyone who prefer some desktop manager which fits better to him, but bashing some DM being some kind of "art" master... umm. Sounds crap to me, sorry.

      • Ramif 48
        February 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

        Well what normal people think about a DM is not how modular the piece of software is or what algorithms it is made of, but on how it looks.  Give them a crappy software with a brilliant UI and they will stick with it.

        Gnome is unbelievable ugly.  Not just the icons (which are horrific), but also the way it looks, the spaces between icons...etc.  You should never let a programmer design the actual UI.

    • Danny Stieben
      February 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      Personally I find Gnome to be pretty dang elegant (more than Gnome 2 anyways). I admit the icon set isn't very exciting, but that's quickly fixed with a new icon set. :)

      • diski
        March 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

        Make Faenza the default, and you're really onto something.

  20. Xose M
    January 31, 2012 at 7:00 am

    gnome-shell user here!  extensions are basic for better user experience in GS because they allow you to build your own "enviroment" and make it work in the way you want to use it. On my laptop GS works and looks great. I came to GS AFTER Unity release and Unity was a non sense to me the way it managed "my" desktop. It's just MY opinion too ;)  I felt comfortable from the first moment on GS

  21. MichaelADeBose
    January 31, 2012 at 6:29 am

    User environment and the resulting user experience are hard to get right. It's been hard to even decide Unity or KDE, but I do applaud KDE and Canonical for working towards incorporating other user experiences into their core. I'm not a Gnome user so I might not be in the "know" but most of what I've seen seems to indicate that Mint is reworking modern Gnome to emulate last gen Gnome behaviors. From a user familiarity standpoint this will net a lot of happy users, yes!

    However, the overall computing user experience is being and will continue to be worked over for some time as users rework their own computing use patterns and device preferences for their common cloud pervasive content. This is why Apple is pushing iOS computing behaviors into OS X while Microsoft is also doing same for Windows. Why because they want to have as similar a computing experience across their computing interfaces? Ultimately this enables users to know what to expect not just from the iPod to the iPhone and iPad but eventually to the iMac or Mac Pro. Clearly this is what KDE and Canonical are moving towards and it goes without saying that you have to break a few eggs to make a cake. Most people don't think of the "Tissue Box" G4 Macintosh, the "Gum Drop" G3 iMacs or even Apple moving away from its own Human Interface guidelines as part of an evolving Apple and contributing lessons for the iPhone and iPad. Yet if Steve Jobs believes in art classes to develop a great font system then its clear all of Apple's mistakes ultimately contribute to their successes.

    Yes, KDE and Canonical may be screwing up and ticking off a lot of current users, which doesn't feel good but in time they will have a consistent interface and user experience across computing devices and that's what their shooting for. Gnome is also a community release and as long as their community is happy with the experience that's fine too, but they will be significantly behind the curve on other form factors, if they haven't already decided to move forward. Get the experience right and then fine tune and optimize.

  22. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 4:44 am

    I prefer gnome-shell as well because the overloaded meta key functionality for launcher, search, expose, and desktop management is brilliant, and I find Unity lenses of little use and a waste of screen space. However, gnome-shell's notification system needs major work. Many notifications/states are hidden, the pop-up bar interferes with full-screen apps, and it is very awkward to click on those damn icons.
    For me also, gnome-shell mutter stutters (!) when showing the expose (activites) view whereas Unity compiz shows the expose (ctrl-w or launcher click) view very smoothly. This is true on my nvidia based pc, and my old and new intel laptops so it must be a common experience.

  23. None
    January 31, 2012 at 12:02 am

    I prefer unity over all DE's but in my opinion. I think logically unity, gnome-shell lacks customization and fimiliarity. KDE is the best theoritically and is a really thorough DE except its stupid performance and rescources consumption unlike gnome-shell and unity wich is very effecient in this criteria. gnome-shell and unity is very elitist and is not possible to be used by a variety of users unlike KDE.
    regardless my logical opinion I prefer to use unity over the rest DE's.

  24. Linux Canuck
    January 31, 2012 at 12:00 am

    This sounds like and argument about who has the least ugly dog. BTW, I am using KDE 4.8 and loving it.

    I have run Unity and GS for weeks at a time and every time I return to KDE, I realise that it is faster, more flexible and has way more toys. You can configure it to work any way that you want. You are not locked into working like someone else decides. For the most part it has better apps, although you can run Dolphin, K3b, Digikam and Kdenlive in GNOME they just feel right in KDE.

    I have not given up on Unity or GS, but it is hard to go anywhere else as long as KDE keeps producing a great UI and apps.

  25. The Fault
    January 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Lets compare gnome shell and unity after few more releases. The development of gnome shell started way before unity was even planed and yet, unity seems to be prettier and more functional.

    • Dexter M
      January 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      I disagree. Unity is retarded. I mean, take the Applications menu for example.. the app categories should be shown by default instead of going throw the whole lens thing. Its confusing and not at all intuitive. Not saying that gnome-shell is, but its definitely easier to use than Unity.

    • Wasif Hasan
      February 2, 2012 at 12:32 am

      Unity is really over-rated

  26. Reference2myself
    January 30, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    How about 100 reasons why gnome2 with compiz is better than both?

  27. Dany
    January 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm


  28. dovahkiin
    January 30, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    cinnamon is wastly superior to both of them though

    • Chris
      January 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      Definitely, I just installed cinnamon today and its wonderful.

  29. Jon Jahren
    January 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Gnome-people never listen, so I'm not going to support Gnome purely because of them being interface nazis and defending their bone-headed stupid ideas. Case in point: No shut down option by default from the system menu in Gnome 3. Anyone who argues that logging out before shutting the computer down is logical needs to get a reality check.

    The issue itself isn't a big deal, but it's arguing with these people is impossible and makes it really hard to contribute.

  30. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    A very long time ago i used KDE. These days I only use Gnome and it fits me like an old leather jacket. As others have said, that is the beauty of linux, you can choose which bests suits you. My personal observation about Unity are it is still not ready for prime time. I am not the only one. Ubuntu was on top of distrowatch for a very long time. They were way out in front of every other distro. Since Unity, Mint (still using Gnome / MATE) pasted Ubuntu and now has a commanding lead.

  31. Blind Tiger
    January 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Gnome is better than Unity.  But a headache is better than a gut wound.

  32. Youcef Mammar
    January 29, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I never really liked Unity. Back to Gnome 2, I had a bunch of features and customizations and I've never could find a replacement I would consider in Unity.
    It has always seemed to me that it was more made for tablets than desktop and laptops. Gnome shell doesn't feel that way to me.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      A lot of people complain that Gnome Shell feels like it's made for a tablet as well, but I have to agree with you. If I would make my own DE for a tablet, it'd be more like Unity than Gnome Shell.

  33. Chris Hoffman
    January 29, 2012 at 4:32 am

    I actually find GNOME Shell much more polished than Unity.

    But Unity seems to have better fallback support for systems that don't properly support 3D graphics, so that's one point for Unity.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm


      Ah, Unity 2D is pretty good, I have to admit. Better than fallb...err, I mean classic mode for Gnome 3.

    • furiat
      January 31, 2012 at 12:23 am

      That will change because GS will not require graphic acceleration in the future as I heard. 

  34. jhpot
    January 29, 2012 at 2:45 am

    So weird...Unity is quite a bit faster than Gnome shell for me, and I find Gnome Shell downright confusing. I guess I should play with it more. 

    • Danny Stieben
      January 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      Always worth a try. Might just be that I've gotten too used to it now. Or that I understand what's going on. Should click in your mind at some point. :)

  35. Akim
    January 29, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I really wonder : is Gnome shell robust ? My main concern about Unity is stability : it's full of stupid bugs, sometimes really annoying (on my three computers i have various symptoms : full Unity locks (need to reboot), sessions sometimes logged off when launching something like chrome, minimized windows not restored full screen, and son on. Most of them are reported for months but still not corrected, so i have to say that there is really not a good unity support these days) 

    • Danny Stieben
      January 29, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      Yeah, for a 2nd gen product (Ubuntu 11.10 was the second release with Unity as default) it's still quite slow/bug-ridden IMO. 11.10's implementation of Unity is definitely better, as Unity in 11.04 was a downright shocker for me.

  36. RichieB07
    January 29, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Unity 5.X is a HUGE improvement over the older version.  On my netbook, it runs way smoother that Shell does, and having a Launcher on the main screen is more efficient to me.  If the two DEs combined, you'd have an unstoppable DE.  But that's just my opinion.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Hmm, I wonder what the combination would look like. Great that Unity is actually faster on your netbook, but I can't say the same. Who knows what's up with that.

  37. Anonymous
    January 28, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Danny Stieben why not review KDE 4.8?

    Gnome always gets all the attention! KDE deserves to be in the spot light more often. :)

    • Danny Stieben
      January 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      I probably will once I get a system up that runs KDE 4.8 nice and stable. Considering which distros even have it, I'll probably have to go with Arch, which could take a while.

    • Hedi Bensaid
      February 3, 2012 at 11:26 am

       Just a question what is the distribution you are using?

      • Anonymous
        February 3, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        Ubuntu 11.10 with the KDE Backports PPA.

  38. Anonymous
    January 28, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    This is the beauty of Linux.

    Of the 3 mayor DEs I prefer KDE. I was using Unity since it came out, but I got tired of Gnome 3 and decided to give KDE 4.7 a try. I saw the light. KDE's flexibility and consistency made me switch.

    -Dolphin is a great file manager, I've never used something like it.

    -With KDE's flexibility you can have a typical desktop or a minimal desktop.

    -Kwin is an awesome and smooth window manager, my favorite part is the 'expo' plugin. Nothing comes close to it.

    Unity and shell both have great features, both are great DEs. Jn my opinion Unity is better than Shell. I'very tried Unity 5.x and it's way faster than older versions.

    Nowadays I use KDE and will stick to it. Its flexibility is so much greater than Gnome (they keep killing features) and I love having a flexible desktop.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      KDE is a good DE, I give it that. I used it as my default for a while, but then somehow I switched back to the Gnome side of things. Honestly, I kind of forgot why I went back.

      • Anonymous
        January 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm

        I go back and forth between Unity and KDE. I love both DEs. Gnome Shell is the one I don't get, I don't like having things hidden all the time, Unity's launcher is right there when you need it, Shell's launcher is hidden, making the user use an extra step to launch "favorite" apps and it wastes a lot of screen real estate with its huge padding. Another thing I don't like is the way you create desktops, too mouse intensive. Unity and KDE both have a simpler way to handle multiple desktops (KDE blows all other DEs out of the water on this front).

        I'm not saying Shell is bad. I'm just pointing out why I don't like it. I know many users who swear for Shell! ;)

    • Guest
      January 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      Concerning Expo-Plugin:

      Have you seen the native-window-placement extension of gnome-shell?

  39. Miggs
    January 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I agree but you forgot two great Shell advantages: extensions and the interactive notification system.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm

      Yes, I did forget about those, especially extensions. I remembered them a while after I finished my article, but I couldn't change it anymore and it was still solid as-is.

      Gnome Shell's extensions do triumph Unity's Compiz settings.

  40. Guillaume Font
    January 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm


    II totally agree with two points of yours : speed and Ubuntu specific. The design is more subjective and I really liked the screen space saving features of Unity. Nevertheless, I have been using Ubuntu for a few years now but Unity got me to change...

    • Danny Stieben
      January 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Yeah, the design aspect is more subjective. I find Gnome Shell's design a little more logical, but then again it's only my taste. If people are happy with Unity, use it.

      Since you said "Unity got me to change", what have you changed to?

  41. murlidhar
    January 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    thanks for pointing out that it is just an opinion.
    well choice is what makes linux great :)

    i don't agree with you that it is the better than unity but that certainly does not mean that you are an idiot : )
    it is just a personal choice .
    and this is not coming from a die hard ubuntu fan. : )

    • Danny Stieben
      January 28, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      Yay for Linux! :D

    • Lazza
      January 29, 2012 at 11:27 am

      I agree with @murlidhar:disqus. :)
      BTW Unity is not just for Ubuntu, as Free Software is not just for Linux. Unity can be compiled for other distros, and in some cases it's already available:

      • Danny Stieben
        January 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm

        It used to be Ubuntu only because developers we struggling with getting it to run on other distros. I'd kind of expect Arch to get it first, but it's still the AUR. Meaning that so far it's not officially supported by Arch like Gnome or any of the other common desktop environments are.

        Not trying to disagree, just food for thought. :)

        • liam
          February 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm

          I imagine it's a bit like Launchpad: technically OSS but so opaque and with so little documentation that it might as well be closed source.