Oct 282010

Shuttleworth’s recent announcement that Unity will be the default shell for Ubuntu 11.04 may have just tipped the scales in Fedora’s favor.

I’ve been a very happy Ubuntu consumer for several years. But as Canonical moves away from just being a fantastic integrator and tries to muscle its way into UI design, I find myself less and less content with their distribution. The recent themes and blurred graphics of the last two releases are far too garish (dark gray, purple, and orange – really?) to have general acceptance (just flat-out-dog-ass ugly in my opinion).

The windicators push has never made sense to me. Moving the window controls to the left to make room for the windicators…. uhm… what’s wrong with the space on the left? Are you too good for the left? I’ve also not heard of a single use-case for windicators that makes any sense at all. A shopping-cart? Really? Do you plan to get ebay, amazon, and the other 50 billion internet retailers to hook into it? If not, you’re left with yet another inconsistent user experience.

And now Unity. I blogged on my initial experience with Unity and am sad to say that things have only gotten worse. Part of the problem is clearly that it simply wasn’t ready to be part of an official release. The file-manager is useless, infuriating my wife as she tried to copy a file to her USB drive (requiring my intervention). The family has announced their dislike for the shell and a downgrade to 10.04 is on my todo list until such time as MeeGo gets multi-user support.

And how about quality? With all the attention on UI design, it is my opinion that the 10.10 Maverick release fell significantly shy of Canonical’s fairly stellar integration and QA standards. Since the upgrade to 10.10 both my ThinkPad x201 and our family Toshiba NB-305 netbook must have the nm-applet manually killed and restarted after a resume as the icon disappears from the panel, and it won’t reconnect to the wireless access point. My x201 suffers from some dbus error which I avoid by running the Lucid kernel.

Come on Canonical, you’re better than this! Your consumers expect better from you. By all means, expand your horizons, apply your vast resources to innovation, improve the Linux Desktop user experience, but please, don’t neglect what made you great – a polished distribution that brought Linux to the masses.

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