Gnome Shell vs Ubuntu Unity ? DIY with Cairo-Dock Session

After Gnome2 a big diaspora of Linux Desktop users migrated towards a moltitude of desktop environments: Cinnamon (Linux Mint), Mate (ex-Gnome2 fork), Unity, Gnome 3 Shell, XFCE, Kde,.. this fragmentation is confusing for first-time users and third party software which have to integrate with the DE but the apps which "do the things" on Linux are the same.

How much RAM should waste a Desktop Environment to be cool?

The problem is that a wrong DE could really degrade your user experience on Linux (gray windows, slowdowns), Unity/Mir are targeted towards the future an a convergence Desktop/Tablet/Mobile, Gnome3 is targeted to a non-existant tablet, the truth is that unfortunatly the most mainstream  distros abandoned a lot of netbooks with 1Gb RAM or ex-accelerated-PCs-by-broken-proprietary-3D-drivers for the progress (Consume more Ram or need Gpu == better)

Cairo Dock, a modern minimal eye-candy DE for everybody

Cairo-Dock is a Dock. It more lightweight in terms of RAM than Unity and more useful / extensible than Gnome Shell.

The Opengl support is optional and if you want the transparencies you just need Metacity with composite or xcompmgr.

Some tests on a netbook with a 1Gb of RAM.

  RAM wasted
unity (without fats) ~ 180 mb
cairo-dock + openbox + xcompmgr ~ 172 mb
cairo-dock + metacity composite ~ 146 mb
gnome3 shell n/a completly broken

~ 40mb of difference may be nothing on a modern 8gb Ram pc but are a huge benefit on a 1gb PC.

Installation of Cairo Dock on Ubuntu 13.04

You can install Cairo Dock Session from Ultimate Ubuntu fork N+1, or just with:

apt-get install cairo-dock metacity

Change the window manager from compiz to metacity

# /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/cairo-dock.session
[GNOME Session]
Name=Cairo-Dock Metacity Session
RequiredComponents=gnome-settings-daemon;
RequiredProviders=windowmanager;panel;
DefaultProvider-windowmanager=metacity
DefaultProvider-panel=cairo-dock
DesktopName=GNOME

Enable the compositing on Metacity, after you log-in type in the terminal:

gsettings set org.gnome.metacity compositing-manager true

More info on: Cairo Dock Wiki.

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