So Ubuntu Natty is just around the corner and its a big release for ubuntu. Natty comes default with the unity desktop. So I grabbed the beta and installed. The unity interface was not something I would call revolutionary. To me its just a dock parked to the left of the screen. The dock is very well made, it has some great features, but its still a dock. I know people will disagree with me, but desktop docks in linux have come a long way and almost everything unity can do can be achieved using maybe awn + plugins. It may not look the same, but in my book unity does not score any points for looking good anyway. To be honest getting used to the new interface is not a problem at all. The new interface is just not revolutionary.
Desktops on all platforms have evolved to a great deal, Windows 7 dock/start bar has some great features. Mac has improved on its beautiful desktop and dock. KDE took the plunge with KDE4, Gnome and its default desktop Gnome were beginning to feel old school. To me Canonitical should have taken Gnome Shell and modified it to their taste.
Why Gnome Shell ?
Gnome Shell is gnome developer community thinking out of the box. It ditches traditional ways to get around the desktop and brings a fresh new interface. The desktop is clean, only a small panel on top and I get to use the whole desktop for my apps. I am not aware of any desktop that uses CSS like theming. The possibilities are endless. However initially when I tried out the beta, it was ugly (First image) . The panel on the left was stupid and it was something that others had tried and failed. However to my surprise, just like KDE4 later versions of gnome 3 improved tremendously. The second and third screens below are the new screenshots from my desktop.
Gnome 3 takes out the minimize and maximize buttons from the title bar. It was hugely debated and in the end I think its a great move. Search is everywhere. it even has a unity like panel to the left (when the desktop is in expose mode ). Gnome 3 is built upon GTK3 which has been in development for 3 years. It has support for CSS theming and its building on the stable and tested GTK2 engine. Check out what GTK3 + HTML5 canvas tag can do. The below video is actually generating the desktop gtk interface as html served via http. Amazing!