With Ubuntu 11.04 you will notice some big changes from 10.10, namely the Unity interface will now be default (as opposed to Gnome). But if you don’t like Unity, don’t panic! 11.04 will come with 3 different options for your user interface:
Ubuntu: it runs Unity. It requires 3D driver support.
Ubuntu Classic: it runs GNOME with gnome-panel. It supports all video hardware and video drivers.
Ubuntu Classic (No Effects): it runs GNOME with gnome-panel. It is in 2D mode only.
These are easily selectable from the login screen. When I get a chance, I’ll put a quick post up with some screenshots for those more visually inclined.
There are also some nice updates to the Software Center (allowing user rating/review!) and also some nice updates to Ubuntu One!
Since my laptop has been sitting in its case doing nothing for several months, I think it’s about time I break it out and do something with it. I’ve had a triple-boot on it, with Ubuntu (originally 8.04, but upgraded all the way to 10.10), Windows XP, and Windows Vista (which I NEVER used, never even activated). Since I rarely used the XP partition, I think I might wipe the whole hard drive and just install Ubuntu 11.04 and maybe do XP through VirtualBox… If I do that, maybe I’ll put up a guide…
Mark Shuttleworth announced (back in May) that Ubuntu is going to begin phasing over to a new user interface called “Unity”. There seems to be a lot of talk about it now for some reason — probably because it is starting to become a reality with Ubuntu 10.10 going official just weeks ago and in less than 6 weeks 11.04 will go official, which is when Unity will become the default GUI for Ubuntu.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention… Unity will work with multitouch gestures… that’s kind of a big deal 😉
Why is Unity such a big deal?
Well basically it is taking a new approach to how users interact with their operating system. Instead of following in the shadow of Windows and Mac (as Linux has for so many years), Ubuntu is taking a bold step to break free from that shadow and go a new direction.
Fanboys will love it, Haters will hate it — that is to be expected right?! But the real test will be with the rest of the world (and especially newcomers who are curious)…
What’s My Take On This?
I think it is a gutsy move and I really hope they do this right. If they really focus on getting it right, make it polished and smooth, then I think great things will follow… But if they botch this it’s not going to be pretty at all… Here’s hoping for the best!
I tried it out on my Netbook (running Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition) and I think it has a lot of promise, but as-is needs a lot of work before I will accept it as my main/default GUI…
After Further Review:
OK after playing around with it some more, here are a few more thoughts on improving the Unity experience… (I actually wrote this section to Ubuntu devs on Facebook in response to their asking for feedback on it, hence the “you” refers to Ubuntu Developers)
1.) Whatever you do, make sure it is absolutely polished before you make it default. Any bugs or issues with it may kill any momentum you might otherwise have built…
2.) Allow some customization and make it easy to access. Make a “Unity Settings” program/app/whatever and make it easy to find.
Allow adjustments for:
– sidebar position (left/right)
– icon size in/on the bar
– icon size in the shell (or whatever you are calling the overhead menu interface)
– color / theme
– which file manager to use
– and etc.
3.) Give some options to show/hide all windows for an program/app using the launcher (perhaps double-click to show/hide, or some other method).
4.) Make sure users can easily manage the launcher — i.e. allow us to drag/drop programs to the launcher and to move them around (to change their position/order).
5.) Make sure users can view multiple windows at once without hassle and without messing up the menu. When I tested Unity it would mess up the menu bar if the window was not maximized…
I’m not sure if this last one applies or not (I have only tested Unity on my Netbook, and I have Maximus disabled because I can’t stand it)….