Ubuntu 11.04 Review - Day 1

I think my run with using Ubuntu as the default distro on the machines around the farm is done.  I upgraded one of the 10.10 machines and wasn't pleased with what I got out of it.

I understand what Canonical is doing.  There seems to be a trend toward simplification of user interfaces as a way of making them more able to scale upward from small mobile devices.  Unfortunately, I don't think that sacrificing flexibility on the high end is going to win me over to the new interface.

I recently turned in my MacBook at work because, after two years, I could not make peace with the deficiencies of the Mac OS/X User Interface.  I'm dismayed that Ubuntu is following Apple's lame user interface, warts and all.

One of the most important features to me is the concept of workspaces.  I treat each one as a different room in my home.  I have a workshop with hand tools and an office for paperwork in the same manner that I've got separate desktop workspaces for software development and accounting.  Some tools are present in multiple rooms of my home, like, for example, scissors.  Imagine the confusion if while in the workshop picking up the scissors meant that you're suddenly teleported to the sewing room.

In effect, that's what Ubuntu has in its new implementation of workspaces.  If I select a tool from within a workspace that hadn't originally opened the tool, I find myself suddenly transported to whatever workspace did open it.  That is the same broken behavior that Mac OS/X does by default with Spaces.

The second way that Ubuntu has copied a questionable Apple "feature" is the use of a single menu bar at the top of the screen.  The main menu for the app that currently has the focus is at the top of the screen rather than the top of the window.  I can see that this would be acceptable if the screen were really tiny.  It just doesn't scale well for large screens.

I often keep several apps open and tiled on the screen.   For apps that happen to be near the bottom of the screen, having to move the mouse all the way to the top on my thirty-one inch screen just slows me down.

I recognize that I am not a typical user, but I'm still not pleased to see Ubuntu rush to the least common denominator.  Hopefully, they will introduce, or reintroduce, some features as the new Unity interface matures.

I'm going to leave Ubuntu 11.04 on this secondary machine.  I'll comment more as I use it.  However, I'm really grateful that I didn't upgrade my main workstation.