Although I have been impressed with Gnome 3.0, after fiddling with Unity’s 2D implementation using Parallels for Mac, I’ve got to say it’s not easy to pick which one is the better amongst the two different takes on a similar user interface paradigm.
The one major benefit to Unity, as I mentioned before, is that it features both a 3D and 2D version so that computers, ranging from workstations with the latest AMD or Nvidia graphics card to the lowest Intel GMA-equipped netbook could use the interface.
This is good news for users who are running older hardware or are perhaps using a netbook which in general have lower end hardware specifications. I know in my experience with using Unity on my Asus eeePC netbook that although it ran sluggishly when using the 3D version however upon switching to Unity 2D it ran like a high speed performance car.
Unfortunately, in the case of Gnome 3.0 there is only a 3D-only version which poses a problem for users who want to experience the new interface but they don’t have a graphics card that is capable of rendering the 3D graphics that makes up this new Gnome interface.
There is a sort of 2D version of Gnome 3.0, however it is simply a fallback mode for cases where the hardware of the computer that is trying to run Gnome 3.0 does not meet the hardware requirements. This fallback mode uses the same colour scheme as Gnome 3.0 however the interface that is used resembles the classic, traditional desktop of Gnome 2.0.
This is one of the major stumbling blocks for Gnome 3.0, as it pretty much precludes laptop owners who might not have a good enough graphics card and are left unable to run Gnome 3.0 in any mode besides fallback mode which defeats the purpose of wanting to use Gnome 3.0.
It’s sad that The Gnome Foundation has decided to go about their new interface this way and leaving users who can’t handle Gnome 3.0 to simply use the Gnome 2.0-like fallback mode.
If anything, Canonical’s decision to offer Unity, which in many ways is mimicked by Gnome 3.0, in a 2D and 3D mode gives users more choice in being able to experience the sort of look and feel that The Gnome Foundation was hoping to have with Gnome 3.0.