So of course I downloaded Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal at my earliest convenience, which ended up being 9:30 this morning. I got incredibly fast download speeds for the computer science building (1100 kBps), which is strange for a network that usually kicks me off once every twenty minutes. But yeah. I downloaded it, and I’m using it now, and I like it, for the most part.
Good things about it include the new docking and window sizing options in Unity: you now have the option to automatically size a window by dragging it to a side of the screen. Docking on the left or right edge maximizes the window vertically and gives it half of the total screen width, so it’s easy to place two halfscreen windows next to each other. Also, docking on the top of the screen now maximizes the window, which I so far find alternately annoying and convenient. I find myself accidentally maximizing windows when I just wanted to move them up. Despite that, this is a great new addition to the user interface, because it provides a number of intuitive ways to do the same thing, none of which are confusing. This means that if you’re just meeting Ubuntu after using a different OS for a while, it’s more likely that you’ll have an easy time getting used to the interface.
The fact that the upper menu bar doesn’t really exist anymore is awesome. It bothers me to have “fullscreen” applications that don’t actually use the whole screen size, and this problem is diminished significantly with the consolidation of the global menu bar and the application menu bar. The new Firefox does something similar, doing away with some of the older default menu buttons in favor of a more streamlined, functional design. I like it.
I’m not so sure about the new applications dock menu thing. I’m having trouble finding the view settings for it, which I want to change because it looks too fisher-price with the huge rounded square buttons. I don’t know if there are other settings, but I’d like to use one if there are. The trash, desktop, and dock are all gone now, which makes me think of Mac OS X’s UI: everything is contained in the dock, with open applications indicated only there, instead of the older, Windows-esque tray method that contained an entry for each window. I’m ok with this, but it’ll take a little bit of getting used to.
Of course I think it’s awesome. I don’t have to tell you that. You knew that already. I love Ubuntu right now. This is the best interface it’s had since at least Intrepid (which I mention only because that’s the oldest distribution I’ve ever used). Download Ubuntu. It’s free, it’s awesome. Go.