Hello Ubuntu 11.04

Today is the big day. A new release of Ubuntu Linux is out. Version 11.04 or “Natty Narwhal” is the first to ship with the Unity desktop and I’m very impressed! If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Ubuntu website or this handy guide.

I like:

  • The auto hiding sidebar of icons. When a window is maximised it hides. Long click on an icon to move it around, and right click for a context dialog to remove it.
  • Control Center is 2 clicks away in the top right where there appears to be a light switch. That menu also has a lock screen item and various session controls.
  • Apps with multiple windows show a corresponding number of dots next to their icon on the sidebar. Click on the icon and you see all the windows of that application.
  • Application menus are in the top toolbar ala Mac OS. Some, like Chrome, aren’t however.
  • Long press Windows key and the sidebar icons are highlighted with numbers 0-9 to quick choose them.
  • Click the Ubuntu logo in the top left and you get a nice applications dispay.
  • Speedy alt-tab previews of each Window.
  • Left and right maximising of windows like in Windows 7. I think you need to drag it a bit further than in Windows 7 however, no bad thing. Full screen maximise on dragging a window to the top of the screen.
  • Painless upgrade from 10.10.

And what I didn’t like:

  • The window display for multi window apps requires you select a window. It’d be great if I could click the app icon again to return to the same window. ESC does the job though.
  • GIMP tear away menus are still broken, but this is likely an issue with GIMP. It was present in the last release of Ubuntu too and I just found a work around this evening.
    The menus you are looking for are no longer part of the drop-down menus, but rather part of a right-click menu visible when clicking on the canvas.

    I found using the space bar after clicking the menu option worked on torn off menus. This may be a bug.

  • The lack of formal application menus is off putting initially but it’s actually easy enough to find things with the new launcher.
  • I doubt I’ll ever like the thin scrollbar. There is a way to change that, must find out how.
  • Why does Ubuntu keep installing Evolution every time I upgrade? I’m fairly sure I uninstall that each and every time ..

In previous versions of Ubuntu I always felt the eye candy was there just to make things look pretty. With Unity they’re actually putting that graphical horsepower to good use. If you haven’t tried Ubuntu yet, give it a spin! You can even try it without installing anything simply by booting from the install disk (or usb drive) and opting for that. Check out the download page for further details.


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Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

12 thoughts on “Hello Ubuntu 11.04”


  1. Hate it, hate it, hate it! Already replaced by Fedora on my laptop. I just couldn’t deal with that /awful/ UI.

    Did I mention that I hate it? I hate it. :)

    adam


  2. I am a relatively new convert to Linux, having installed Linux Mint 10 about six months ago. A month or so ago, I came across Natty and installed the Beta release (in a separate partition). I upgraded to the final this morning.

    There are a lot of things about it that I like. I like the general look and feel, though I find that it can be a little tedious when trying to find a programme, as it only shows the top five (?) programmes in a category, and a further click and scroll is required for the rest of the category. There may be some way of adjusting the number of top programmes displayed, but I haven’t found it yet.

    Given the choice between Mint 10 (Gnome) or Natty, I would tend to roll with Mint. The two are fairly similar in that Mint is based on Ubuntu. However (and here’s the rub) I believe Mint are running with Gnome 3 on their next release. I tried out the latter today and found that it apparently has a steeper learning curve than Unity.

    Could they have reinvented the wheel and produced a square one?


  3. Application menus are in the top toolbar ala Mac OS.

    Man, how is that a good thing? More mouse travel!

    I like the idea of supporting frequently-launched applications, but that video you linked to made me cringe. “With the new version we’re trying to rip off certain Mac interface conventions . . .”

    The improved package management sounds nice.

    -danny


  4. Heh, I was impressed too, until I upgraded my home PC as well. 11.04 didn’t seem to like my ATI graphics card, so everything’s now super slow. My work PC works like a charm with Nvidia, although I’m now getting tired of this Unity panel and the Mac OS-style titlebar, but can’t get rid of it because I promised myself I’ll give it a go for a couple of weeks.

    Did somebody above say Fedora? Screw Fedora, if you don’t like Unity get CCSM and disable the Unity plugin, voila! ;)

    ~ @kovshenin


  5. Ah, totally forgot about that, yeah that works like a charm too! Thanks for pointing it out. I know where I will go now when two weeks are over :D

    ~ K


  6. Nah, my laptop was the only machine left with Ubuntu, everything else runs CentOS or Fedora, so I’m glad to see the back of it. Good riddance Ubuntu.


  7. I changed back to “Ubuntu Classic”. I had to because my machine would crash at least every 2 days, and sometimes a few times a day. I think it’s related to my external USB drives spinning down but I really don’t know.

    What I do know is the crashes only happened when I upgraded Ubuntu and started using Unity. Now I’m back in the familiar world of Gnome 2 and so far no crashes. Fingers crossed.


  8. Apparently Fedora 15 has moved to Gnome 3, which is very restrictive and immature, so it suffers from a similar problem. Haven’t actually run it yet though.

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