Ubuntu dumps Unity, returns to GNOME Desktop Environment

Unity is history, GNOME desktop environment is back in Ubuntu

Ubuntu is the most popular Linux/Unix based operating systems. Canonical, the company that has built and maintained Ubuntu distributions has switched from their flagship Unity desktop environment and decided to focus on the default GNOME desktop environment for their desktop flavor.

Ubuntu debuted with Unity in the netbook version of their 10.10. This was way back in 2010. The netizens were divided about it. There was a group that loved it and the other said that Ubuntu was diluting the solid work being done on the more common and existing user interfaces and environments that already existed (like default GNOME).

The pros and cons of Unity is not something that I would like to discuss here. But I did find it to be a direct copy of the MacOS, which included the dashboard and its plugins. It was and is difficult to customize the settings of the panels and there are unsupported patches that are done to GTK to get things running. Going back to the time tested GNOME environment is reassuring. True, Ubuntu will lose its trademark look and feel. In fact there is little difference between Ubuntu GNOME and Fedora’s GNOME based offering. But that does not bother me.

From next year, Ubuntu will stop offering Unity altogether and switching to the GNOME desktop environment as its default offering. But that does not mean you can’t enjoy a GNOME version today. You can install the KDE or GNOME desktop environment in any case. But to get a pre-configured GNOME desktop environment  (as default) Ubuntu operating system you can head over here. It is fully supported by Canonical and offers Long Term Support too.

Here is how it looks.

Stock GNOME 3.8 in action image
Stock GNOME 3.8 in action – Source Wikipedia

I am glad that the regular GTK themes are now going to work out of the box on Ubuntu 18.04 onwards (by default).
For those with slightly older PCs, you may be forced to switch to other more light weight operating systems or lighter versions of Ubuntu. Lubuntu, Xubuntu or other distributions come to mind. You may install the MATE desktop environment as well. If you wish to dump Ubuntu and still be blessed with their repositories and regular updates, you anyway have Linux Mint.

What I wish…

I was never a big fan of Unity, but I did like it. It was better in my opinion than stock MATE or Cinnamon. But that was all. Unity Tweak or GNOME Tweak did add in a few bits here and there but customisation was a problem that remained. With GNOME Desktop Environment Version 3 back, that is no longer going to be the problem. But here is the thing. GNOME 3 is not very friendly to tweaking either – not without some serious tweaks.

I hoped KDE to make a an entry here. In fact, fusing the regular Ubuntu project with Kubuntu can reap major benefits. The team can offer an additional MATE or Cinnamon Desktop Environment flavor as well. That will reduce the development burden and better share Canonical’s resources. But I guess Ubuntu will still remain an attractive option for those users (mostly) who are unwilling to tweak too many appearance or other settings anyway.

I will perhaps gravitate towards KDE Neon. But that’s for another post.