Difference between Unity and GNOME

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I often come across the terms Unity and GNOME while reading about Ubuntu. I understand that Unity is the default desktop environment for Ubuntu. What is GNOME and how is it related to/different from Unity?

There exist a lot of different desktop environments and window managers for Linux. Gnome used to be the default one for Ubuntu, but in recent versions this has changed to being Unity.

l3dx
August 16, 2013 06:41 AM

What is GNOME?

GNOME is a lot of things. Usually, GNOME refers to GNOME Desktop Environment. Quoting the Arch Wiki:

A desktop environment bundles together a variety of X clients to provide common graphical user interface elements such as icons, toolbars, wallpapers, and desktop widgets. Additionally, most desktop environments include a set of integrated applications and utilities.

It is created and maintained by the GNOME foundation. They are the driving force behind a large number of popular applications, as well as...

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I often come across the terms Unity and GNOME while reading about Ubuntu. I understand that Unity is the default desktop environment for Ubuntu. What is GNOME and how is it related to/different from Unity?

What is GNOME?

GNOME is a lot of things. Usually, GNOME refers to GNOME Desktop Environment. Quoting the Arch Wiki:

A desktop environment bundles together a variety of X clients to provide common graphical user interface elements such as icons, toolbars, wallpapers, and desktop widgets. Additionally, most desktop environments include a set of integrated applications and utilities.

It is created and maintained by the GNOME foundation. They are the driving force behind a large number of popular applications, as well as the providers of a set of libraries such as GTK, GObject and even a language called Vala, which are used to build the applications in the GNOME DE, and are part of the GNOME project as a whole.

There are two relatively well known...

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I was thinking about the difference between Gnome and Gnome Shell. The screenshots of Gnome that I have seen on their website were different of what Gnome I got in Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity.

I found Gnome Shell is not installed on my Ubuntu 11.10. I upgraded from Ubuntu 11.04. Why was it like that? The reason is, Gnome Shell is not shipped with Gnome 3.


tahir@StoneCode:~$ gnome-shell --version
The program 'gnome-shell' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing: sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

And why I need Gnome Shell? When I am using Unity. I have seen many people who are not using Unity and are using installed Gnome Shell. Actually I figured it out, Gnome Shell is a separate component. And you can not use Gnome Shell when you are using Unity interface. If you are happy with Unity interface, then there is no need to use Gnome Shell. Gnome Shell means a different UI than Unity. It’s like a Gnome Classic.

If you guys are...

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Here are a few things - I'm recycling this answer from a previous discussion.

Unity is Ubuntu's alternative for Gnome Shell. Canonical didn't like the direction Gnome was going, I think partly because they prioritize new users and the intuitiveness of the interface. Also, Canonical hopes to make future versions of Ubuntu tablet-ready, while Gnome Shell is, I think, moving in a touch-unfriendly direction. You can't run both shells on the same system, (because at present) they depend on different versions of Gnome, 2.x vs. 3.x.

Although its development is being managed by Canonical, Unity can be run on any distro that meets the requirements of Gnome and Compiz and is slated to be included in the repos for future iterations of Debian.

Unity and Gnome Shell both depend on Gnome and are simply applications running over a Gnome session (minus a few ordinarily required sessions and services) so there's always the option of logging into a Classic session. This isn't to be...

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if you think of gtk4 as being the latest version of gtk, then it was deprecated and removed

if you think of gtk4 as a completely different api (as in a fork/new) then gtk3, then it was never there to begin with

if you think of gtk3 as gtk3 and it was not removed in gtk3, then it was not deprecated nor removed (in gtk3)

presenting things as something specific in a vague/no context just to make a point against something is dishonest.
even more when it's false

calibration questions:
do you know what "removed" and "deprecated" mean ?
do you think that they are mutually exclusive (or inclusive)?
note that "deprecate" has a completely different meaning in literal english then it does in programming

edit:
in the programming jargon "deprecated" means "made obsolete".
another way to look at these versions is as a whole (gtk == gtk[1..4]). only then could something be deprecated but not removed. in this case it is removed and...

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Until version 17.04 Ubuntu was delivered with the Unity 7 desktop environment as default, as of versions 17.10 and ongoing it is delivered with the Gnome 3 desktop environment as default of which gnome-shell is a part of.

But there are a lot more Flavors of Ubuntu, namely Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu and those have all different desktop environments. Unity7 is as of now still available in the repositories for 17.10 but might be dropped in further versions of Ubuntu due to the fact that Canonical stopped developing it.

Short overview of the flavors:

Ubuntu: before 17.10 with Unity 7 desktop environment, since 17.10 with gnome environment Lubuntu: has the LxDe desktop environment Kubuntu: has the KDE Plasma desktop environment Xubuntu: has the Xfce desktop environment GnomeUbuntu: has the Gnome 3 desktop environment and is discontinued as flavor since version 17.10 where it became the default.

So Unity is based on Gnome and gnome was up until 11.04 the default...

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Jef Spaleta Says:
October 25th, 2010 at 9:37 pm

How is this about gnome exactly?

How is what is Canonical doing any different than what Nokia did when it produced hildon for the N810/N810 tablets…years ago now?

Even if Gnome Shell didn’t exist Canonical would still feel the need to differentiate in the marketplace. The were already differentiating their GNOME 2 based offering prior to Unity.

Hell man, this is like their 3rd differentiated netbook interface attempt. First with UNE then with the fEnlightenment Foundation Libraries based interface for ARM specifically…now Unity. They’ve been marching down the differentiated interface road for quite awhile now.

-jef

Sergey Udaltsov Says:
October 25th, 2010 at 9:51 pm

@Jef: So far, Ubuntu DE was very much similar to vanilla gnome 2. Yes, there was patching, it became more intensive and more visible lately – but still, after Ubuntu, user would be generally “at home” with...

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Often new Linux desktop user get confused about KDE and Gnome Desktop system. This guide tries to provide the basic differences between KDE and Gnome.

From the article:
This is not, by any means a comprehensive look at the differences between KDE and Gnome, but it should give new users a small taste of their different strengths and weaknesses and their philosophical approaches to usability.

The focus is particularly on Ubuntu and Kubuntu, but aspects of this comparison can apply to other Linux distributions as well.

VS

=> Read KDE and Gnome Comparison – KDE and Gnome Comparison [psychocats.net]

In case if you don’t know – You can have both installed together and switch back and forth whenever you feel like it...

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By contrast, Unity remains oriented towards a single screen unless you use virtual workspaces. For light usage, this setup is less confusing and tiresome; in GNOME 3, it can sometimes seems like you are changing screens every few seconds. However, on a netbook in particular, Unity opens many windows full-screen -- or near enough to make no difference. If you work with more than a couple of windows open at the same time, the effect is not much different than working in GNOME 3.

Where most people are likely to notice the differences between GNOME 3 and Unity is in their implementation of similar features.

For example, if you add applets to your desktop's panel, or application launchers to your desktop, one of the first things you will notice in both Unity and GNOME 3 is the difference in work flows. GNOME 3 does not include the option of icons at all, and, while Unity does allow desktop icons, its design steers users away from them. Both interfaces feature uncustomizable...

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As you’re probably aware, the latest Ubuntu version looks very different. This isn’t a coincidence, they’ve changed from Gnome to Unity. Since Ubuntu started to build their own shell Unity, they have ditched Gnome shell entirely. You won’t even find Gnome 3 on the official repos! Many people within my industry and within the Linux community have felt like the latest Ubuntu was a downgrade. This is largely in part to Unity. There are a lot of people who don’t like Unity. Many don’t like it because of how it works, the look and feel, or that stupid vertical launcher bar that always seems to get in the way.

Well, rest assured. I’m one of the many who attempted to embrace Unity, and gave it a fighting chance. I’m here to declare today, it sucks. Great concept, and certainly a huge amount of potential — but for me, it’s just not a viable solution.

Here’s how to install Gnome 3 on Ubuntu 11.04

CAUTION : The actions listed here may very well break your...

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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 GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop vs. Unity Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux , 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.

Speed

This may come as a major surprise to many, but my first point is all about speed. From personal experience,...

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What is GNOME?

GNOME is a lot of things. Usually, GNOME refers to GNOME Desktop Environment. Quoting the Arch Wiki:

A desktop environment bundles together a variety of X clients to provide common graphical user interface elements such as icons, toolbars, wallpapers, and desktop widgets. Additionally, most desktop environments include a set of integrated applications and utilities.

It is created and maintained by the GNOME foundation. They are the driving force behind a large number of popular applications, as well as the providers of a set of libraries such as GTK, GObject and even a language called Vala, which are used to build the applications in the GNOME DE, and are part of the GNOME project as a whole.

There are two relatively well known versions of GNOME: GNOME2, long since obsolete and dead, and GNOME3, the current version. Ubuntu have tracked GNOME (whichever version was current) for as long as I can remember. You can see GNOME2 in action in...

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2017)

Today Skip writes…

I’ve been using Ubuntu (with a NVIDIA card of some sort) for ten years now, but I’ve NEVER understood the difference between Gnome (I thought I liked that), Unity, and MATE(THREE thumbs UP!). Is there a simple explanation?

Boy Skip, this is a tall order. I’ll do my best though.

MATE and GNOME are considered desktop environments. Unity…and this is where it gets confusing…is a graphical shell running on top of GNOME Shell. Confused yet? Okay, bear with me as I break this down.

Think of a car

So we have car. This car has stuff like an engine, a radio, a gas pedal and the brake pedal. The GNOME desktop is basically your car radio, heater/AC, gas pedal, brake pedal, steering wheel, seat belts…stuff you would use to start, drive, stop and generally click buttons/turn knobs to make stuff happen in your car. The same exact thing would apply to MATE, as it’s the same brand of car, but a slightly...

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GNOME is one of the oldest desktop environments. Up until Ubuntu 11.04, it was the default desktop environment for Ubuntu but then the Ubuntu developers created a new graphical desktop called Unity.

Unity was a new and modern looking desktop environment whereas GNOME was beginning to look old.

A lot of changes were then made by the GNOME developers and the change between GNOME 2 and GNOME 3 was huge. GNOME 3 is now every bit as modern as Unity.

Whilst Ubuntu ships by default with the Unity desktop there is another version of Ubuntu called Ubuntu GNOME.

This article compares the flagship Ubuntu which utilizes the Unity desktop with Ubuntu GNOME.

The underlying architecture is the same and so most of the good bits about Ubuntu are available in both the Unity and GNOME version. Of course, this also means many of the bugs are the same as well.

Navigation

The main benefit of Unity over GNOME is the launcher down the left side of the...

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GNOME 3 and Ubuntu's soon-to-be released Unity are the first GNOME desktops designed from the start with usability principles in mind. Not that releases in the GNOME 2 series ignored usability, but in GNOME 2, usability was an addition to the desktop, comparable to adding the foundation after the house was built.

Whether you use GNOME 3 or Unity will probably depend on your distribution's choice. But assuming you have a choice, which should you use? Suggesting an answer is hard, because in many ways the two are distinctly similar in design, with the differences largely in the details.

Which you prefer will have little to do with the applications available. Contrary to what some imagine, both are shells -- different interfaces that interact with mostly the same GNOME backend and applications. A few utilities, like Unity's Main Menu editor, are specific to the shell being used, but most of the software will be the same regardless of the interface with which you...

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Unless you’ve lost all network connections over the past couple of weeks, you know the big news: Canonical announced it was dropping Ubuntu Unity and returning to its GNOME roots. Whether you think this is good or bad news, it’s happening. When the official Ubuntu 18.04 is released, it will be all GNOME. For those that have been happily using Unity for years, will this translate to a lesser experience and a learning curve for the new Ubuntu desktop?

Not completely. Yes, there will be features missing (some of which you may have grown to love), but the GNOME desktop has become an incredibly solid and user-friendly experience, one that can go a long way to help you be productive… and do so in style.

I want to compare some of the similarities (and differences) between Unity and GNOME, so anyone concerned they’ll soon be on the market for a new Linux distribution can be rid of those fears. Hopefully, by the time you finish reading this, you’ll be excited for the upcoming...

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Disclaimers

This is not, by any means a comprehensive look at the differences between KDE Plasma and Unity Gnome, but it should give new users a small taste of the two desktop environments' different strengths and weaknesses and their philosophical approaches to usability. The focus is particularly on Ubuntu and Kubuntu, but aspects of this comparison can apply to other Linux distributions as well. Since this is not a comprehensive look at the differences between KDE and the various versions of Gnome (Gnome 2, Gnome 3, Unity), you should just pick one arbitrarily based on what's presented here... or you should just try both and see which one you like better....
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Development Priorities

Composed entirely of free and open-source software, GNOME focused from its inception on freedom, accessibility, internationalization and localization, developer friendliness, organization, and support. It is supported by a large development community that generally aim for six-month release schedules.

The GNOME Logo

KDE focuses on configurability and an attractive graphical user interface. These goals make it one of the most aesthetically pleasing, consistent, and integrated Linux environments with a high capacity for user customization.

KDE Logo

User Experience

In its default configuration, GNOME utilizes a top panel containing an activities button, clock, system status area, and user menu. The overview allows for quick access to and switching between open windows and applications. GNOME strives to utilize as few system resources as possible and offers a simple-to-use interface that may be more friendly to novice...

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Gnome vs KDE

KDE and GNOME are two desktop environments (collection of software that provides certain functionality and a look and feel for operating systems) that run on operating systems that use X Window System (mostly Unix, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X). A desktop environment is usually made up of a Window Manager (WM) which creates a certain way of presenting the windows to the user, file manager which manages all files/folders and presents them to the user in a convenient way, and some other utilities to set wallpapers, screensavers, display icons, and perform administrative tasks. Furthermore, there could be applications for word processing, disc burning, browsing and emailing tasks. Both KDE and GNOME contain many applications dedicated towards all tasks mentioned above, and they will be listed outseparately in detailbelow. Both GNOME and KDE include configuration tools so that the user is spared of many configuration headaches. All installed...

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