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When I look at them, their functionality seems to overlap so much that they could almost be merged:

  • The MA is used to open Gwibber, but the MM is used to set the accounts and broadcast messages.
  • The MA is used to open Empathy, but the MM is used to set the accounts and set a status (available, busy...).

All these could well be in different sections, either in the MA or the MM:

  • Chat (set status, accounts).
  • Mail (send mail, contacts).
  • Broadcast (send message, accounts).
  • Ubuntu One.
  • About me.

So, why the decision to split them in two different indicators, thus taking extra space in the panel?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Answered by MPT in the Ayatana mailing list:

Only because no-one has done the design work necessary to work out how to merge them.

So, hopefully, they can be merged at some point.

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I think the merged one is available
run this:

sudo apt-get install indicator-applet-complete 
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Thanks for your reply; my question does not address a particular need but just an interest about why a certain default is the way it is, though. – Bou Nov 2 '10 at 11:48
@Behzadsh Installing indicator-applet-complete won't get you a "merged" version - it's just a metapackage. – 8128 Jul 17 '11 at 9:09
@fluteflute I remember in ubuntu 10.04, installing it add a "complete menu applet" to panel applets, since I remember it wasn't a metapackage. maybe I'm wrong!! – Behzadsh Jul 24 '11 at 19:17

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