Ubuntu 11.04 and Beyond

Ubuntu 11.04 was released in late April, so this is not so much new news as it is belated news (I did not get around to updating my desktop until just recently). Ubuntu 11.04 is probably the most controversial release of Ubuntu to date, just do some quick Google searches on “Unity sucks” or “revert to classic Ubuntu desktop” or “how to remove Unity” and you’ll see what I mean. Indeed, Unity is the big news with 11.04, and talk about Unity far overshadows discussions of all other features.

Here’s what Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity looks like.

Now, I’m not one to scoff at change, but I personally do not like Unity. I only used it for a few minutes, and knew I could live with it if I had to–but that’s a sorry excuse. Why should I force myself to “just live it” if I don’t have to? With Ubuntu 11.04, I can still select to use the Classic Gnome desktop, which is what I did, and then proceeded to re-enable all my Compiz effects. What’s Compiz you might ask? Well, Compiz is a Linux window manager that has a whole pile of built in 3D effects. Here’s a video of Compiz effects…

Now, which looks better? Unity, or the Gnome desktop with Compiz? Yes, that is a rhetorical question.

The sad news is, according to Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu 11.10 and beyond will not support the classic Gnome desktop option. Users must use Unity. Must. As in “We give you no choice, you must comply.” That attitude naturally ticks off a lot of Linux users. Even if Unity was the most awesome desktop interface every conceived (which it is not) forcing everyone to use it is simply the wrong attitude.That’s the way Microsoft and Apple do things. Does Canonical Software want to be another Microsoft or Apple? (Oh, wait, those companies do make billions of dollars, so never mind.)

Even so, it appears that it will be possible to switch off Unity and use new Gnome 3 Shell, which is also very controversial but still much better than Unity in my opinion. Check it out.

Another downer is the fact that Ubuntu 11.04 now comes with LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.org. In another blog post I discussed how much I think the name LibreOffice sucks, and I still think the name sucks. On the other hand, the community seems to have shifted to LibreOffice, so who knows what the future of OpenOffice.org will be. I’ve switched to using LibreOffice now, as much as dislike the name.

But let’s not dwell on everything that suck. Instead, consider the improvements that Ubuntu 11.04 brings to the table. The Ubuntu Software Center is easier to use, and finally has user rating (1 to 5 stars). And… well… it comes with Firefox 4. And… let’s see… the kernel and all software packages are fully updated… And I guess that’s about it.

I won’t go into any more detail, as Tom’s Hardware site has an excellent in depth review of Ubuntu 11.04 which you should check out.

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