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22 October 2012, 12:28

Ubuntu less Unity: A first look at Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10

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Zoom Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 in action.
For users who want GNOME 3 rather than Unity, a group of developers has now made the first GNOME 3 desktop remix of the Ubuntu Linux distribution available. Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 is based on the recent release of Ubuntu 12.10 and even uses a GNOME package management tool.

Since Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal", Canonical's standard desktop has been its own desktop, Unity. Traditionally, through a combination of remixes and official derivatives, the development community has also provided different versions of the distribution with various alternative Linux desktops and software collections. With the arrival of Ubuntu 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal", one group of developers has released the first unofficial variant of Ubuntu with GNOME 3.6, the Ubuntu GNOME Remix.

Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 includes version 3.6 of GNOME. The distribution's default browser is Epiphany, and its email client is Evolution. For multimedia tasks, the GNOME Remix uses the same default software as Ubuntu: Rhythmbox is the standard music player, and Totem is used for video playback. The Cheese application is used to capture images and videos from webcams, while Shotwell is the default photo manager. For office tasks, the developers have included the lean AbiWord word processor and the Gnumeric spreadsheet program. The more extensive LibreOffice productivity suite can be installed manually from the package repositories.

Instead of Ubuntu's Software Centre, the Remix uses Gnome-Packagekit, which offers a dedicated component for installing updates. The developers have not included the Ubuntu One client by default as "it doesn't feel like a GNOME app".

The desktop can be configured with the Tweak tool or the dconf editor. Empathy is the default chat client and social media services (Facebook,, Twitter and Flickr) can be accessed via Gwibber. The GNOME Disks Utility, a Palimpsest derivative, is included for managing partitions and removable storage devices. The remix also has the complete GNOME games collection built in.

The developers have included the older version 3.4.2 of the Nautilus file manager, which they prefer over version 3.6 as various features have been removed from the newer version. Whereas the Linux Mint developers created a fork of Nautilus, Nemo, for their distribution, the older Nautilus version for Ubuntu GNOME Remix has only been adapted enough to make it functional with the more current GNOME environment. GNOME Classic is available as an alternative desktop session, but the default is the GNOME Shell. Further information about GNOME 3.6 can be found in a comprehensive feature article at The H Open.

Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 is available to download for 32-bit and 64-bit systems from the Ubuntu wiki. Ubuntu also allows users to manually install alternative desktop managers such as Xfce, LXDE, KDE or GNOME 3, but a derivative offers the chosen desktop environment as standard, complete with a suitable theme and a well-coordinated range of included software. The official Ubuntu variations receive the distribution-specific packages for each desktop with Canonical's update guarantee via the official Ubuntu repositories. Other official variants of Ubuntu include Kubuntu (with KDE), Xubuntu (with Xfce) and, since Ubuntu 10.04, Lubuntu with an LXDE desktop.

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