One of the (great) trends that browsers are doing these days is “getting out of the way”. That is, less “chrome” more space for content. I was curious to how we’ve been improving in this area, so I asked Jason to do some math, and here’s what we came up with.
So, given a desktop that you log in, how many pixels do we consume and how much do we leave for apps? Well, by default here’s how GNOME 2.x, 3.0, and Unity consume your pixels. These are the amount of pixels (broken down by resolution) that these three desktops use:
I measured Unity twice here. By default if there’s nothing in the way, we show you the launcher, if you move a window there or maximize, we get out of the way (the green bar). So, GNOME 2.x takes up a given amount of space no matter what. Unity takes more but gets out of your way once you start using it to about the same level as GNOME 3.0. Notice how both GNOME 3.0 and Unity are already giving the pixels back where they belong, to applications. :)
Next we have how much space we take up when working, for me I maximize my applications. We maximized the window in GNOME 3.0 by dragging it to the top bar to measure it but didn’t take into account the window decorations and stuff. Still, much better across the board. I only measured Unity once because the launcher in this state goes away.
But wait a minute, doesn’t the application menu belong to the application? Let’s measure how much UI Unity consumes if we give the menu back to the application. So when you maximize an app the only UI Unity uses up is the home button, the window controls, and the indicators. There could still be dead space there in the menu, but that really depends on the length of the menu and per application, and I’m not going to go measure half the archive.
Caveats and Conclusions
a) GNOME 2.x is fat… :)
b) When you use them GNOME 3.0 and Unity are trending towards giving real estate back to applications. (I think this is good)
c) Unity does give the most space back, but remember that’s really all I’m measuring, this doesn’t imply that it’s better (or worse), and it also doesn’t take into account how we actually interact with the desktops, it’s just a raw measurement of pixels. Sorry guys, no flamebait here.
d) We didn’t measure how much space ayatana-scrollbars save you. This would be nice to know.
e) We didn’t take into account overlay-ish things like the dash or the overlay thing that GNOME Shell does. It could very well be that those UI interactions mean that you don’t have to care about those pixels (or care more), but that’s for an expert to figure out, my goal was just to figure out “Is it just me or are desktops following browser chrome trends?”
f) We didn’t take into account full screening applications.
Here’s the spreadsheet if you want to mess with it, or add your favorite desktop. (I didn’t measure KDE)