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User interfaces, the new generation. Gnome3 and Unity

You may have heard some of the ruckus about Canonical dumping the Gnome shell in Ubuntu for their own Unity. One of the better discussions about the features of the latest generation of desktop shells is by Bruce Byfield on Ubuntu Unity vs. GNOME 3: Which is Better? at Datamation.

because both are informed by recent design principles — and possibly influenced by each other, since they were designed at the same time — the look and organization of GNOME 3 and Unity is often surprisingly similar. In particular, both have more in common with the interfaces for music players and phones than with desktops for workstations.

These desktop shells are a significant change from previous designs. That will require some time to adapt and figure out how to fit the new methods and presentations into established habits. That change is why there is such a brouhaha about what Canonical is doing with Ubuntu as some folks just aren’t into the effort needed to adapt how they do things to this new paradigm.

Part of what is driving these changes is hardware. Widescreen displays are more common for computers and laptops. That is like a page size change in a publication. It means that the layout needs to be changed in order to communicate better with the viewer. Other changes are a part of the ongoing experimentation in the WIMP (windows, icons, mice, pointers) usage by people to do what they want to do on their computing device.

As always, fasten the seat belts and hang on to your chairs as the storm is just starting!

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