What do I like in Gnome Shell and Unity?

Following my earlier post on what it means for a power user to move to Gnome Shell or Unity, I’ve been playing around a bit with both Unity and Gnome Shell alternatively and here is what I feel about what either does well and neither does not do well.

Gnome Shell:Likes:

1. Clean user interface
2. Hot Corners
3. Snappiness compared to Unity
4. Workspace view (activities)


1. Less than desirable integration with Gnome shell for alternative software. For example, Unity lets one use Pidgin instead of Empathy with fine integration. No qualms at all. Gnome Shell just considers Pidgin as another stand alone application and clicking on close just quits the application (I had uninstalled Empathy since it doesn’t have certain features I need) leaving me offline. I need to run around finding an extension which will do it.
2. Ubuntu 11.10 has Thunderbird as default email client. No integration for that either.
3. Less than usable indicator/systray. Very static and irritating to see it doesn’t show what you want. Why is tomboy notes in the bottom ribbon? I need to see in top right corner damn it!
4. No quick launcher.
5. No global app menu (+1 for Unity)
6. No task bar. What am I going to do seeing the time all the day in top center where my task bar was earlier? Would rather see paint dry.



1. Clean user interface. Real Estate used better than in Gnome shell.
2. Messaging menu is a top notch idea.
3. Systray works !
4. Better integration for alternative essential software (Pidgin etc.,)
5. Global App Menu is real good (only wish everyone adopts this design so one doesn’t have to deviate when using some non adopting software).
6. Clean separation between Messaging, System Settings, User Details applets in the indicator area.


1. No task bar. Ubuntu dev, please trust me when I say I’m not going to lose focus by having multiple windows open/listed at once. In fact, it increases my efficiency as a developer/test engineer. Don’t on one hand say Gnome’s philosophy sucks and follow the one-task-at-a-time BS that they are gung-ho on.
2. Workspace management. What’s with the cyclic right->down->left->up workspace sequencing? Gnome Shell’s activities beats this hands down. I’ll have to use either right/left arrows or top/bottom arrows. Making me use all is like asking me to exercise so I can take rest. Trust me, I can rest as well without exercising.
3. No ‘show desktop’ button or shortcut. Alt-tabbing to get desktop really really is not a good idea for the functionality. Shortcut is there but doesn’t really work.  (alt+ctrl+d works).

In all, I’m inclined towards using Unity if it comes to moving to Gnome3 rather than Gnome-shell. Every time I spent time to get used to gnome-shell, I was pushed to logout in no more than 2 to 3 minutes back into Unity.

If Unity takes care of the dislikes mentioned above, I think it will be an innovative approach building on top of exisitng UI experience rather than being agnostic to users needs. Yeah maybe, in the end, it looks like a Mac clone but that good things can be replicated. Gnome/KDE/Xfce/Windows all had the task bar concept which was what users needed rather than wanted.

Ubuntu, we are willing to adapt to Unity.. please make us want to use it rather than stick to Gnome2 or move to alternative DE or god forbid, M$ or Apple.

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