Thoughts on Ubuntu 11.04 (with Unity)

MacBook, coffee mug, and cactus

Last updated on December 10th, 2021

Earlier tonight, I gave Ubuntu 11.04 (“Natty Narwhal”) a go. This was “beta 2”—which actually booted, unlike the first beta.


  • Unlike GNOME 3, Unity seems to keep some of the same aspects and customization, as GNOME 2/previous versions of Ubuntu.
  • Window-shading is present, as is spatial browsing.
  • Minimize and maximize buttons are still present.


  • Ubuntu 11.04 feels like it wants to ape OS X badly… the windows now take on the Mac OS style (the top menu bar contains the menus for the open windows). A bit of a throwback to how I was used to working on my old Mac days.


  • Unity’s interface being geared toward the netbooks it was originally created for (and probably for some future tablet version as well).
  • As noted before, Ubuntu 11.04 feels like it wants to ape OS X badly. A particular example of this is 11.04 now adds a Dock-like launcher that can’t be turned off/deleted. Making it worse is that it doesn’t work as well as the real OS X Dock does. Trying to drag a folder to the Ubuntu launcher to create a shortcut (like in OS X) didn’t do anything.
  • There didn’t seem to be an option to add applets or otherwise easily customize the top (and now only) menu bar.
  • Like GNOME 3, a lot more mouse movements are required to do things that were simpler/less eye-candy-laden in previous versions of Ubuntu.
  • Merging the applications menu into the launcher and the resulting new menu layout didn’t do much for me.
  • Like in GNOME 3, some of the icons that appear in the new menus don’t seem very polished (blown-up versions of small icons).

Overall, I while I liked Unity more than GNOME 3, that isn’t saying much. I appreciated some of the previous customization being kept, but I still don’t like the Dock-like launcher, nor the interface feeling more geared toward netbooks/tablets than my laptop. All in all, I think I’ll be moving to XFCE, probably with the release of Xubuntu 11.04, which will have the newest version of XFCE (4.8).

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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