Beware of Unity?

A lot of people got mad at me when I complained about the upcoming switch from Gnome to Unity. (And yes, I know Unity is based on Gnome but it is not Gnome. It is Unity). And yeah, I had some things wrong and some of the comments contraindicating my concern were valid, but many were more like “They know what they are doing, so just accept it” which is a little to Microsofty for me. And, for that matter, for the Linux Community in general, I would have thought. And now we have disconcerting reports that the new desktop which is coming out in a couple of weeks, in a late (but not final) Beta stage, crashes during roughly half the user tests it was subjected to, all on a single install. Now, I admit, failing just under half the time on some randomly chosen hardware is a lot better than Windows, but we’re not really comparing Unity on Ubuntu to Windows. We are comparing it to Lucid Lynx, which has already become a bit too Windows Like in its performance and deployment.

So we’ll see.


  1. #1 Ralph
    April 17, 2011

    First off, I’m a frequent reader and as this is my first comment here, I just wanted to say how much I like your blog.

    However, I don’t think this post is correct. Especially, the claim that unity “crashes on roughly half the installations it is tested on” is simply false as I think only one installation was used. You can see the test results and the set up they used here:

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    April 17, 2011

    Ralph, I’m referring to the information in this source: “5 Out Of 11 Participants Crashed Unity In Canonical’s Study” in which it is said:

    “The most startling revelation from the study was that five out of the eleven participants had Unity crashing on them during their test.”

    In the source you give, which is very interesting (and thanks for that) it says:

    “5/11 participants (P2, P3, P5, P9, P10, P11) crashed Unity during their hour of testing. And towards the end of her test, P11 opened a zombie quicklist that stayed on top of everything and didn’t respond to clicks.”

    I think you and I may be disagreeing with the word “Installation” and that’s my fault. I’ve adjusted the post.

  3. #3 ralph
    April 17, 2011

    Exactly, my disagreement was with the word “installation”. Sorry if I wasn’t clear on that, English is not my native language.

  4. #4 Rolandl
    April 17, 2011

    Getting the X server out of the way is the idea behind Unity. It’s a good idea, poorly implemented. Rule of thumb: avoid version 1.0 of anything. As for the look-and-feel of the thing, the market will decide. I gave up on Gnome long ago-not configurable enough. I was a fan of KDE3.5, but I’ve dropped KDE4 for similar reasons. Others feel the same way. KDE3.5 is still around, it’s been forked. See

    Bottom line: I expect 2 years of chaos in the linux application arena, before it all gets straightened out. It’s too bad, it will discourage lots of new users. For now, I’ve switched to XFCE, and like it.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    April 17, 2011

    Just out of curiosity, can you give us a couple of examples of things you could not configure (or not configure easily, or whatever) in Gnome that KDE or XFCE let you configure?

    For myself, I don’t even use the desktop much. I should probably just use an x-server so I have gui-ness and call stuff up off the command line, which is what I do much of the time anyway. Except when I’m teaching I use two apps most of the time plus file management, etc.

  6. #6 Alan
    April 19, 2011

    “Now, I admit, failing just under half the time on some randomly chosen hardware is a lot better than Windows”

    Please stop with the O/S fanboy-isim, if I wanted that level of immature hyperbole I would go to a script-kiddie forum.

    OTOH, if you really do have that much trouble installing windows then why would anyone take your opinions about any other O/S seriously?