Natty Unity

So I’ve been doing some ISO testing of the Natty Alpha 1 release and have had one or two problems [see previous post iso Testing Natty ] but my main problem with it has been the decision to replace the default Gnome desktop with Unity. Unity is a 3D replacement for the 2D Gnome desktop which Gnome are about to replace anyway with Gnome Shell. Ubuntu seem to have decided Gnome Shell is not the direction they want to go so are replacing the desktop with their own. Unity brings the notebook and desktop versions of Ubuntu together with only minor differences which will be detected and applied during install. The standard approach will therefore be a notebook type display on both desktop and notebook. The main difference will be the loss of the bottom panel, the replacement of the top panel with a more interactive menu and a Mac style icon dock down the left hand side.

When you install the Ubuntu default now you will need a 3D enabled graphics card to run Unity or you will be presented with a pop up message currently;

Information:
Sorry you don’t have 3D support, install it for
your graphic hardware to get Unity or please
reboot and select “Classic session” at startup.

Not a very helpful message in my opinion, basically you can go into [System], [Administration], [Login Screen] and change [Ubuntu desktop Edition] to [Ubuntu Classic Desktop] then log out and back in again to 2D Classic Mode but this is not obvious from the message. The other option would be to add the 3D driver [if your card supports 3D] and log out and back in again for Unity to display, Nvidia owners beware! The message is particularly unhelpful if you are running a Live CD version or USB stick with persistence not enabled because you will not be able to install the driver as a restart will wipe the changes, noobs will be confused.

Personally I don’t like Unity, it’s more Mac like styling, I don’t have 3D effects turned on and don’t want them, the dock on the left is unnecessary clutter but if I wanted one there are plenty of docks available without this being the default. We are told we can use the Classic 2D Gnome desktop if we don’t like Unity but that this will eventually disappear when Gnome Shell arrives and Gnome 2 is depreciated. My thoughts for Gnome Shell are much the same I just don’t want to go there so the hunt starts for an alternative. I’ve already tested Lubuntu with it’s LXDE desktop and although I like the styling it’s still a bit basic. So for now Xubuntu with it’s Xfce desktop is becoming my test o/s. I’m currently running Natty Xubuntu testing and loving it.

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