Is Ubuntu becoming more like Windoze by implementing a prescriptive desktop-usage policy?

In Ubuntu 20.04 (Unity) my desktop became inactive, i.e. I cannot place files or folders there like I used to. After battling to find a solution, I eventualy came across some posts that indicate that this has been done with intent, the developers having decided that it is “not good practice” to clutter your desktop. To me, this is a Microsoft-type approach: developers wanting to prescribe to users how they should be acting and what they should be doing on their computers.


The more you become a big player, the more likely it is you act like other big players. This is absolutely no surprise to me. Ubuntu is the #1 Linux distribution in terms of popularity. So, they can afford being like that and people will continue to use their distribution…

I’m 100% behind this change… can’t stand icons cluttering my desktop…

But - they’ve (Canonical) sort of turned it back on again - after you install gnome-tweaks (I agree new users may not know how to do this) and the tweak-tool - annoyingly - THEY PUT ICONS back on your desktop! And you have to enable (unselect them all) then disable the desktop icons tweak to remove them again!

I really have no idea how they impact GUI performance on Linux/X11, but on Windows - every single icon on the desktop chews up more GDI heap stack memory / resources… I have to RDP to a bunch of Windows servers for my job, and the desktops are polluted with desktop icon clutter, but, they’re put there by the system, I cannot delete/remove them…

I think you could use a different DE on your Ubuntu, as there are other flavours too.
You are not tied to default Ubuntu desktop (GNOME I think, isn’t it?).
I don’t like huge lots icons on my desktop either, but the very few I wish to be there: I would hate if I could not place them where I want them to.

As I have indicated, the problem is not in the Gnome DE but in Unity.

Thanks for the feedback but the problem is not in the Gnome DE, it’s in Unity.

1 Like

Second time today I’ve not read ALL of the information…

Kinda missed that “Unity” bit.

The Unity respins of Ubuntu are non-canonical (pun intended)… in fact I think it’s some 14 year old kid isn’t it? i.e. it’s not something Canonical are doing…

Yeahhh, unfortunately it is not just Unity as I have Kubuntu which some might argue is just a DE, and while it is almost correct, the DE would only be the KDE (not being a smart aleck, but note the DE of KDE) whereas Kubuntu has a lot more than just Ubuntu with KDE traded in to replace Unity. And, I have to say also, though, that I initially mistook Unity to be just a Desktop Environment but if it was a Gnome problem only that is supposedly the problem with the above subject then there would not be any reason to drop Unity in order to make Gnome the…flavor, if you like, which is to me more than just a DE. But that’s the awful thing about opinions everyone has one. The great thing is that nobody has the exact same one as anyone else. Take it FWIW.

1 Like

I really don’t see the comparison - Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 happily let users clog up their desktops with icons, and slow down the whole GDI of the GUI…

I’m all in favour of banning desktop icons - doesn’t bother me in the least - and in fact - it kinda cheeses me off when something sneaks through the cracks and plonks a shortcut on my desktop…

Microsoft Approach : merrily and happily let users (almost encourage them) to clutter their desktop :

Ubuntu Approach : discourage the practise, haphazardly enforce it, but then sometimes allow it :

Note : that’s ubuntu 21.04 on a Pi4 - I can right click on the desktop and create a folder, if I so choose… But I mostly choose not to… and I kinda hate apps that try to, and succeed…


Interesting comment. I used to use my Ubuntu desktop as a handy extra folder for to-do items that I wanted to be reminded of by having them stare me in the face, but since 20.04 I have adapted to their disappearance and like the writer, it no longer bothers me. What I did not know and have now learnt, is that cluttered desktops can slow down the GDI of the GUI. Thanks for that.

I don’t use any desktop icons. My desktops are always completely covered by windows, so I don’t see the background anyway.


In the end it’s not a difficult principle to adapt to and live with.