Canonical Ubuntu splits from GNOME over design issues

Liam Proven lproven at
Fri Oct 29 02:51:23 UTC 2010

On Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 12:05 AM, Cristopher Thomas <crisnoh at> wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 00:58, Bill <beau at> wrote:
>> After how many years with Gnome being almost like M$ but still different
>> enough to be better than M$...
> Yep, that's exactly what I thought the first time I booted into a
> Gnome environment.  "Wow, thank God.  This looks exactly like the
> Windows shell I've been using all this time."
> Dual-panels, completely different menu system, virtual desktops,
> point-to-focus...  Outside of basic design principles that virtually
> every desktop environment has used since Xerox Alto, what part of
> Gnome is, as you claim, designed to imitate the Windows desktop shell?

The launch menu - either the single one or the Ubuntu triple
Programs-Places-System one - is significantly like the Explorer Start

(OK, so, OS/2 Warp 4 and BeOS and other systems copied it too, but
still, it originated with Windows. The classic MacOS Apple menu is
often held up as inspiration but that was primarily supplementary, for
"desk accessories", not a program launcher, although you could use it
as one.)

The bottom panel with its buttons to switch between running programs
is /very/ Windows-like.

Until 10.04, the button placement, window system menu with
minimize/maximise/close/resize/move etc., was also very Windows-like
(although Motif, too, copied that, 15 or 20Y ago).

The keyboard shortcuts are in most places the same as Windows -
Alt-F4, Ctrl-W, Ctrl-S, Ctrl-P, etc.

There are quite a lot of elements. Really only the split between top &
bottom panels is different - and I often undo that to save space &
make Windows migrants feel more at home.

Interestingly, trying to get not-very-techie friends to try Linux 7 or
8Y ago, they didn't like it. No keyboard shortcuts worked, it all
looked "weird" or "funny" and they felt ill-at-ease. Ubuntu is a /lot/
more palatable to such people because it looks reasonably familiar (&
can quickly be tweaked to be /very/ familiar) and keyboard
combinations in muscle memory still work as you'd expect.

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