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Canonical has stated an interest in providing a way for Ubuntu users to gracefully switch over to Gnome Shell, disabling Canonical specific technologies to give the user something as close to the intended Gnome experience as possible. Maybe through an environment variable setting, or some other easy to use means. First I want to say this is commendable attitude.

My question is, is Unity engineered such that when other linux distributors, who are shipping nearly stock gnome, may want to provide Unity as an alternative interface to their users to choose from among many other options, will that be possible using stock upstream gnome technologies? Or are there a set of yet-to-be-upstreamed patches developed by Canonical to existing gnome components that would also need to be integrated by other linux distributors for Unity to work as anticipated?

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It is possible to use stock upstream GNOME technologies with minimal changes to Unity (but you'll lose things like indicators.)

There are patches that improve the Unity experience, however they are not a direct requirement for running Unity. There is a GIO patch (submitted upstream), a GTK patch for appmenu support (which are not upstream), so you would lose the global menu.

Most of the patches in Unity today are for mutter/clutter, but porting Unity to compiz will remove the need for these. We are working very closely with Compiz upstream (Canonical has hired one of them) to basically make Unity a compiz plugin.

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Excellent. Thanks for answering. I assumed Canonical would be working more closely with the Compiz guys. (Actually, I like Compiz even though I seldom use any effects, so I think this is a good move). –  NightwishFan Oct 28 '10 at 0:26
    
Thank you for the answer. Regardless of my difference of opinion with Canonical on many fronts, I don't want to see otherwise avoidable problems keep people from being able to use Unity if the want to. Please think about keeping track of the additional Vendor patches to other components somewhere in the Unity code tree. This way individual linux distributors can make a judgement for themselves as to which additional patches they'll feel comfortable applying to stock components. –  Jef Spaleta Oct 28 '10 at 4:45
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We have no desire to, and are making no attempt to, lock folks into Ubuntu or Unity. That's why we've worked with FreeDesktop.org on key things we think should work for all apps regardless of shell, and why we proposed our bits as external dependencies in GNOME. –  Mark Shuttleworth Nov 4 '10 at 14:35

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