Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. On Unity and Gnome-shell


So I screwed up my maverick install, and had to start from scratch. The problem is, I didn’t have the CD (and the .ISO file) with me, and due to electricity problem, my attempt at downloading the image stopped when it reached 80%. ARGH! . And to make it worse, I need to bring the laptop with me to work the next day, so I had to fix it that night

So I look around my drives, and found an .ISO for Natty. I was planning to skip Natty, since the review for Unity is so bad, and Maverick provides everything that I need. But It can’t be helped. So burned the .ISO to a DVD, and away I.. went.

Anyway, on my fairly-specced VPCEA36FG, Natty installed smoothly. Everything is automatically detected and just work. And to my surprise, hibernate works perfectly. On the negative side, operating feels a bit sluggish and everything seems so slow. And I just can’t stand Unity. I can’t stand that the launcher bar hides and reveals ever so slowly, and sometimes refuses to show at all. I can’t stand how it stutters when shifting between workspaces, and I can’t stand Firefox needing a full 5 seconds to launch. To sum up:

Improvement from Maverick:

  • All of the VPCEA36FG peripherals are detected
  • Hibernate works perfectly
  • …that’s about it

What I hate:

  • Unity sucks. Or maybe require more that a lil bit of getting used to
  • Slow. Frustratingly slow
  • Battery life down from more than 3 hours to over one and a half hours. I managed to bump it to a little over 2 hour by installing laptop-mode-tools package (which remove acpi-support and pm-utils) from Synaptics
  • It seems that the laptop run hotter that it used to. The fans are almost always active
  • Lot’s of tool that I use extensively on Gnome2 such as the global proxy setting tool are missing

So, finally, I was able to restore my Maverick install, but then decided to keep Natty to toy around. Since I hate Unity,  and since Gnome 2 will stop receiving updates, I think it’s time for me to explore the alternatives. My first choice went to Gnome 3’s Gnome Shell.

Equally despised just like Unity, I’ve read a lot of bad things about the dumbed down interface of Gnome-shell. To my surprise, I quite like it. Yes, it’s not as versatile as Gnome2, but it has it’s own charm. One major problem though. Currently Gnome-Shell does not work with FGLRX, so I need to use the open source ati drivers, which admirably works quite well for Google Earth and a few 2D games that I throw at it.

Gnome-Shell's Activites
Gnome-Shell's Calendar

I like how everything seems to work together and behave in coherent manner. It didn’t feel like someone took desktop components from here and there and created a mash-up. Yes, currently it lacks a proper configuration tool like Emerald theme manager or CCSM, but that didn’t keep some people from making customization in the form of Gnome-Shell extensions.

I think I’m going to keep Gnome-Shell for a while, and went to XFCE next.

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