Ubuntu’s Bad Choice of Unity Over Gnome

Ubuntu has been my distribution of choice for the last few years. I have been part of the community and even did tutorials on how to use it. But my frustration with Canonical, the company that sponsors Ubuntu, has grown with each new release.

Recent Bad Choices
Canonical has had a history of ignoring its user base. Take the replacement of Pidgin with Empathy. I did not like Empathy. Then they decided to move the maximize – minimize – close controls from the right side of the window panel to the left. Now in the next release 11.04, code-named Natty Narwhall, they are dumping Rhythmbox for Banshee.

Dumping the Gnome Desktop
All these changes I could tolerate and fix. But the dumping of Gnome as the default desktop for the Unity desktop environment in the next release is unacceptable. I gave their Unity Desktop a try, and I hated it. I could have gone to Kubuntu which runs the KDE desktop, but I like Gnome. I even seriously thought of saying goodbye to Ubuntu. I even tried Fedora 14, Linux Mint 10, and Debian 6.0. Each of which gave me different problems, the worst being Debian. I actually managed to crash my Debian system by trying to install driver’s for my video card.

My final solution was to go back to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. Their long-term support (LTS) releases are supported for three years on the desktop. That means that that version is good till April of 2013. By this time either another distro will become good enough to switch to or Ubuntu will have developed to the point where an Ubuntu alternative is available.

Restore Gnome with a Few Clicks
I recently read in Linux Format that Unity is a shell that runs on top of Gnome 3.0. And according to Marco Fioretti the full-blown traditional Gnome interface “will still be available and you’ll be able to restore it with a few clicks.”[Linux Format, 64] But the point is that Gnome will no longer be the default desktop. And since most people just download and use the default desktop, that is what people will get. That is why I can only recommend the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS for most desktop users.

It appears that Ubuntu will continue to lose desktop users as they focus on touch compatibility. They should have kept Unity on the netbook edition and not moved it to the main distribution. This is a mistake that will cost them more than one long time follower. They have also done a poor job at communicating the changes, which has made more than one user upset. It appears that they are too focused on touch, netbooks, and mobile devices and are leaving the desktop user behind.

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Jay Forrest

Jay N. Forrest is an IT professional, an ordained Humanist minister, and a Certified and Accredited Meditation Teacher.