Monday, May 3, 2010

Ubuntu Netbook Remix's New Look for 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)

Mark Shuttleworth had talked about putting the application in the top panel for Ubuntu 10.10 UNR, and now the first mock-ups have arrived. In addition to that change, the status panel is gone and status messages are transient overlays a la Browser. Application-specific notification icons ("Windicators ... ahhhh) appear in the titlebar, which is now drawn by the application.

I think this is a lot of work. Ubuntu and Canonical haven't been big on diverging heavily from GNOME or Debian. Since GNOME is moving to Shell and the Mutter window manager, this appears to mean that Ubuntu will be forking. Do the Canonical devs have the dedication to make this happen? How buggy will the first version of this forked window manager be? Will the windicators (I grimace even writing it) provide true benefit.
That was the negative. Now for the positive. If Ubuntu sticks with panels and doesn't move to the GNOME Shell, I think it will be a good decision. Scrapping everyone's understanding of an interface and completely starting again will only hurt Ubuntu adoption where Canonical wants to make money -- the enterprise. As I've said in previous articles, "Don't change the UI." These indicator additions seem like smart and intuitive additions to the WIMP desktop model.

If Ubuntu diverges from GNOME (and probably Debian, since it rarely customizes upstream projects more than necessary) by ditching Mutter and the Shell, does it have the chops to keep up? For Canonical, that seems to be the $20,000 question.

See the full story from Mr. Shuttleworth here: Mark Shuttleworth: Window indicators (


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