What is the relationship between Unity, Gnome, Gnome 3, Compiz, Metacity, and LightDM?

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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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That's interesting, I've always found Unity to be zippy at first and then get fairly sluggish a few months on.

I'm on Ubuntu Gnome right now and I'm gonna stick with it long enough to see if the same thing happens. So far I'm greatly enjoying Gnome, it's given me very little trouble so far. I used to be a strong hater too, which is a bit embarrassing now.

Right off the bat the gnome dash is FAR better than the Unity dash. This is what a dash should feel like--instant. Files and applications appear instantly or nearly instantly, unlike Unity where there are several seconds before anything appears, and several more seconds before the icon appears. Plus that extra button press on the down button to select something from the search results is mildly annoying.

That being said, I've always been able to stick to unity for months longer than any DE out there (and I've tried nearly everything, except Trinity and the current Solus DE) and I'm excited for Unity 8 to...

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what are the differences between Gnome 2 and Gnome 3? And what is the Gnome Shell exactly, and is it possible to use Gnome 3 without the Gnome Shell (or are they the same thing)? And if so, would it be possible to maybe develop another shell similar to Gnome Panel?

What are the differences between Gnome 2 and Gnome 3?

GNOME3 is the next major version of GNOME with lots of changes. It features a new desktop shell, libraries with new API, deprecation of a few libraries, rewritten applications like power-manager, introduction of gnome-control-center etc.

GNOME 3 was like - "GNOME2 was released years and years back, let's start working on the next generation GNOME desktop and hence you find GNOME3"

What is the Gnome Shell exactly

Gnome shell is a desktop shell for GNOME. It is the UI part of the desktop. Like in Windows you have a taskbar below, with a start button on the bottom left side and icons on the desktop. The thing which you encounter...

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You may have heard of the


about the Unity 8 development has stopped and Ubuntu is switching back to Gnome. If you have switched back to Gnome on your current desktop or planning to then here is good news for you. United Gnome can make your desktop feel like Unity but not exactly same. The idea behind this theme is a while back there was a concept what Ubuntu

would look

like in the future but that never happened. Then Aaron stepped in and tried to give concept a real look on the desktop using Gnome Shell desktop.

United Gnome theme uses Flat-plat theme as a base, it is intended to use on Gnome 3.24 but it is also compatible with Gnome 3.22 and 3.20 versions. This theme offers three GTK variants United(white version), United Dark(complete dark) and United Darker(White with dark titles); and five gnome shell variants allows you to choose what fits your needs.

Beside theme you can install these extensions to make desktop look more like Unity.

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In the latest GNOME 3, changing the theme isn't as easy as you're used to. Using Gnome Tweak Tool you can change the GTK theme but how about the titlebar (Mutter/Metacity theme)? Read on!

How to install GNOME3 GTK themes


change the GTK theme in GNOME 3 (with or without GNOME Shell)

, you can use

Gnome Tweak Tool

which is available in the GNOME 3 Ubuntu PPA, official Ubuntu 11.10 and Fedora 15 repositories, etc. If you're using Ubuntu 11.04 and the GNOME 3 PPA or Ubuntu 11.10, run the following command to install it:

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

To be able to use a GTK theme, extract it under /usr/share/themes (for all users) or ~/.themes (if this folder doesn't exist, create it).

Then, to change the GNOME3 GTK theme, open Gnome Tweak tool and select the theme you want to use on the "Interface tab":


in newer GNOME Tweak Tool versions you can change the window titlebar theme...

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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.


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

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I have ubuntu 12.04.02 and I always use kde 4.10.1. Sometimes I need to switch to unity or gnome classic (with effects), the problem is that when I log in with one of them I can't access "settings menu" or other menus because they do not appear. I think I have messed up some time ago but I don't remember. Maybe it is a problem related to compiz.

I have tried to use unity --reset and rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity commands to reset gnome2 and unity but still the same thing.

So is there a way to reinstall compiz or gnome classic and unity in order to clean them like when I have installed ubuntu first time? (I just would like to reinstall them without making any changes to kde...

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