Differences between GNOME, MATE and Unity

unity-gnome-mate-logos

You will know, there are many desktop environments for GNU / Linux and other operating systems, some of the projects have given rise to derivatives or forks that take the basis of one of these large projects and modify it to have a different result thinking of a series of qualities or characteristics that developers want to achieve and that they do not it satisfied the parent project, as in the case of Solus Project, elementaryOS, Unity, MATE, etc.

This wide variety in the free world can sometimes lead to confusion among end users. Although I consider that it is fun to have several alternatives to choose the most appropriate one, it is true that I do not see with good eyes that there are so many alternatives or forks of the projects, causing the developers to disperse and not focus their efforts on a single project . But this is not new, we have already talked in this blog on numerous occasions about this grandiose and at the same time blissful fragmentation.

Well, in this article I will try, in the best possible way, to explain what is the difference between GNOME, MATE and Unity. As you know, GNOME is a well-known desktop environment, along with KDE Plasma, the largest project in this area. But lately forks such as MATE have emerged, which is also a desktop environment based on the GNOME 2 base code that was intended to alleviate the discomfort of users with the changes of the new versions of GNOME.

Y on the other hand we have Unity, which is not a desktop environment, it is somewhat confusing, but it is a graphical shell that leans on GNOME. Unity as you know is developed by Canonical for Ubuntu, thus replacing what the developers of the GNOME project provide to give your Ubuntu a distinctive touch. But while MATE and GNOME share the GNOME Shell, Unity replaces this shell with its own. That would be the difference in broad strokes and explained in a simple way ...


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  1.   Vicente Coria Ferrer said

    I have tried both and I like unity better. But in both gnome and unity I use a MacOS-style dock. The Unity launcher is very practical, but since it is only on the left side, the screen lacks symmetry. However, the dock at the bottom of the screen acts as a "floor" and gives a sense of balance. My preference is the launcher that is hidden and when I need it I activate it with the mouse or super key. The dock at the bottom of the screen. It is a very aesthetic and practical way. The result obtained with gnome is the same, but the top panel of gnome does not show the widgets of psensor, dropbox, my-weather etc. And it has a panel at the bottom left that is very ugly. It looks like a patch. If you add the classicmenu-indicator to unity you have a drop-down menu like in KDE or Gnome. Then configuring Unity properly you get a very satisfactory result that improves gnome. With KDE you can do something similar, but it is very difficult to make the super key work and those that launch files, mail clients etc, which work by default on other desktops. Also KDE is very heavy and quite ugly,

  2.   Jorge Aguilera said

    Me too, in use I prefer Unity better manages the space I have on my Notebook screen. I love unity. I use it since 11.04

  3.   anon said

    What a shit article. You don't delve into their differences.

    1.    eleazarbr said

      I thought the same xD

  4.   Shupacabra said

    It may be little explained, but yes, I really like unity, also mate is very good, gnome has become something really ugly and uncomfortable for my taste (purely personal opinion)

  5.   nassssss said

    piece of idiot you don't explain anything

  6.   leoramirez59 said

    There is no need to offend.
    By the way, I use Mate.

  7.   Gregory ros said

    Does using one or the other change something at the application compatibility level or do they only modify the desktop environment? I use Cinnamon, I don't quite like Unity and Gnome Shell has not laid hands on it in a long time, but last time it gave me a better impression than Unity.

  8.   Halos said

    I like Apricity Os which I think uses Gnome, if we could choose a distro, Ubuntu for example and put exactly that desktop on it it would be just perfect, because I don't like Arch.

  9.   Vicente Coria Ferrer said

    Well, with ubuntu and unity, if you install the unity-tweak-tool application to configure it, together with classicmenu-indicator, and docky you can configure it so that it can look like a Mac, an Elementary Os, or an Apricity, but even more elegant. Naturally changing the desktop background for a high definition image.

  10.   Xavi Rubio said

    Hi, testing various desktops these days, I have put Unity back on. I have solved the plymouth problem, since I kept getting the kubuntu one (if anyone is interested, I'll write how I solved it) but there are certain things that have remained with the kde style, such as firefox or the damn icon of the language that appears next to the clock in the upper right, where a prohibition symbol appears. Does anyone know how to fix it? Thanks.

  11.   Vicente Coria Ferrer said

    I think that by making hidden files visible, that is, those whose name begins with a period, a folder with the name .kde will appear in the home directory. That folder is deleted and all kde settings will disappear. On the other hand, by installing unity-tweak-tool, Unity can be configured by changing themes, icons, giving transparency to the panel, etc. Those who say that Unity or gnome can't be configured is because they haven't bothered to figure out how.

  12.   Vicente Coria Ferrer said

    In fact, I have never liked either Unity or Gnome, but configuring them with tweak and installing classicmenu and a dock, like docky or cairo-dock, I give them the appearance of an Elementary Os iMac, and many others.

  13.   mantisfistjabn said

    Quite loose the article. It does not explain anything.

    1.    George said

      The truth is. Pretty lazy. honestly as if it were the first time I saw these "flavors" because we do talk about these I would have also included "Cinnamon" (which is also a derivative of gnome3) that was born in front of the discontinuity of gnome 2, and passing the latter to become matte. And good! I add something to the article.

  14.   kahuna said

    For me the gnome 3.20 is much more elegant and useful I use it in Kali Linux and it looks explosive!

  15.   Antonio said

    This seems like the typical exercise that they send you in Systems class and that you want to finish soon to do the xD programming exercises. Quite concise and does not clarify anything for me.

  16.   carlock said

    Well, seeing it from the user theme, unity is slow, graphically beautiful, but heavy, surely due to the amount of effects when opening sub processes and that, genome in my opinion uses a more classic desktop environment, such as gnome flash back which is the environment of classic desktop, and mate, well now I am using mate and from what I have been able to see it is not very compatible with compiz for example, it has some problems with unity tweak tools, although mate tweak works well but does not give 100% of the functions, I have installed a docky called plank and the top bar in the classic style a good background and ready to go, otherwise it uses the same apt-get that everyone uses and if something is missing it is installed as aptitude or others ...
    with ubuntu unity I had no problems to change the appearance to that of a mac 100% with all its effects, but with mate I only have the docky and the bar without changing since compiz does not work and the icons are not installed, I have investigated but not I know why it does not work, I have used mandrake, redhat, centos, among others but ubuntu I feel that it has more support regardless of the branch of ubuntu whether it is unity or gnome or mate, they use the same command code, except for those little things that I still don't know how to solve it, I use the latest version of mate now 17.10 I think and boot from an external hard drive so as not to affect the factory windows that comes with the jar, it works wonders for me

    Regarding the explanation of the shell it is only graphical since the kernel is supposed to be the same between the 3 ...

  17.   pepper said

    I prefer Windows, it is silly to waste time choosing which colors to use for an operating system on a computer that only you are going to use and that only you are going to see. Not that it was something so important. What a way to waste your life !!