Note: I’ve done some edits to this review after getting feedback from readers. The initial version was too skewed by my own lack of enthusiasm for GNOME 3. I’ve added some content and bumped up the score to better reflect the overall value of Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 rather than my own feelings toward GNOME 3. Thanks to my readers for sharing their thoughts, my apologies for the earlier take on this distro.
Unity has caused an enormous amount of controversy in the Ubuntu community, with many hating it and some loving it. Fortunately, we are blessed with other desktop environments to use on top of the Ubuntu base. In addition to Lubuntu, Xubuntu and Kubuntu, we also have Ubuntu GNOME 13.10. That’s right, you can simply opt to run GNOME on top of Ubuntu instead of Unity.
GNOME 3 is definitely not my cup of tea. It is probably my least favorite Linux desktop, and it has gotten a lot of flack from various people including Linus Torvalds (who switched to Xfce but then switched back to GNOME 3 later). This guy sums up well some of the reasons why GNOME 3 has garnered such criticism.
However, I understand that GNOME 3 has those who appreciate it and prefer it. If you’re one of them then you will most likely enjoy Ubuntu GNOME 13.10. It blends the GNOME 3.8 desktop with Ubuntu very well.
My preference in this release is GNOME Classic. GNOME Classic is more or less GNOME as it used to be, and I found using it to be much more enjoyable than GNOME 3. Your mileage may vary, however.
Whatever your preference, it’s easy to switch between GNOME 3.8 and GNOME Classic by changing the session at the login screen.
What’s New in Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:
Most of GNOME 3.8 is included
GNOME Classic included
Ubuntu Online Account no longer included (you have to install it if you want it)
System Requirements for Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:
The Minimum System Requirement for Ubuntu GNOME is 1 GB of RAM. It is recommended to have more. If you have an old machine, you may consider other alternatives like Lubuntu.
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Download
You can download Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 907 MB. You can get Ubuntu GNOME 3.10 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I opted to use the 64-bit version for this review.
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Installation
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 obviously uses the Ubuntu installer, which means it is very fast and easy to install. I had no problems installing it. It’s also a live distro, so you can run it off a disc before doing an install. Be sure to click the check boxes during the install to download updates and install third party software.
The Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Desktop
Since this release includes most of GNOME 3.8, you should be aware of its new features. Here’s a brief list of some of what you’ll find, you can see the GNOME 3.8 release notes for more details (I recommend reading it as there’s much more than I can cover in this review).
New application launching views: Frequent and All tabs
New search results and settings in Activities Overview
New privacy and sharing settings (including screen lock, name & visibility, usage and history, and temporary files and trash purging)
Clocks core application
Better animation rendering
GNOME Classic mode
When your desktop loads, you’ll see the Activities link on the top panel. Click that and you’ll see the Favorites panel appear on the left. Firefox, Evolution, Empathy, Rhythmbox, Shotwell, and LibreOffice are all available on the panel. So it’s easy to do most typical desktop tasks right away. You can also access your files, help information and the Show Applications button on the panel.
If you click the Show Applications button, you’ll see two tabs: Frequent and All. The Frequent tabs shows your most used applications, while the All tab lists everything. After you’ve used Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 for a while, your favorites will start appearing thus making it easier to find the applications you use most often.