In some of my other other posts I gave some real criticism towards Unity in Ubuntu 11.04.

However, I retract all that after getting a glimpse at Ubuntu 11.10.

Here I hope to give you some insight into the upcoming new release of the Ubuntu OS.

Unity redefined

A lot of changes have been made to Unity since it’s earlier release and these changes have definantly made a difference.

The icon in the top left hand corner has been replaced by an Ubuntu launcher at the top of the Unity bar which acts the same as before.
Because of the Compiz integration working nicer than ever, it allows for transparency of both the Unity launcher bar as well as the top bar, which is a nice change and allows customization once again.

Launching the Ubuntu menu shows sharper transparency and looks far more professional as a pose to it’s predecessor.

The most noticeable difference has to be the new additions to this menu.
It now has three small icons at the bottom of this window:
One for searching through files shown by a file icon, One for searching applications, shown by a rather confusing icon depicting drawing tools.
And the last is for searching through your music collection which, when Banshee is open, clicking on the song you searched for will automatically play, or the album will play the entire album.

Global overview

The same global overview




Searching through music, songs or albums

Search through Applications

Searching through installed and suggested apps


Tray changes

The same icons are still there in the tray, except for the power button changes, which I will discuss soon.

One change however is the messaging icon which is much longer and boasts all the possible messaging applications. You may wonder why there is both an option for Evolution and Mail, this is due to the replacement of Evolution mail for Thunderbird, while calenders are still handled by Evolution. More about application changes in the App changes section of this post.
Unfortunately I cannot provide a screenshot for this as it won’t allow me to take a screenshot of a tray icon.

There are the usual options for changing chat status, although this doesn’t seem to correspond to the actual status at the moment.
The usual option to launch Empathy chat is also listed below there.
Underneath that you have Evolution along with the options to write a new message and contacts (eventhough Thunderbird has become the standard email client?)
Directly underneath is the Broadcast option for Gwibber which has been completely re-written and the option for broadcasting a new message now comes up with a handy box in the center of the screen (you either love it or hate it)

Broadcast a new message

Broadcasting a new message to Twitter, Facebook and

Underneath this you have Thunderbird along with another option for creating new email and contacts.
Following that you have the Ubuntu One account overview which now looks better

Ubuntu One

The Ubuntu One window

And finally the Clear option, which to be honest I don’t know what it does, but the menu looks good and I don’t want to clear anything.

The power button icon has now got a lot more options and looks very good to be fair.
The first few options allow you to change display settings, System Settings, Startup Applications and Checking for updates.
It also lists your connected devices. In my case it also lists a printer which I don’t have connected (perhaps it shows it by default), but having inserted a USB it did not add it to the menu.
And below that you have the standard options for power off, log out, suspend, hibernate and restarting.

Ubuntu Software Center

For those who payed attention to the screenshots, they may have noticed a different icon for the ubuntu software center.

That isn’t the main difference though.
Although the software center does exactly the same as it did before, it now looks much better and professional.

Ubuntu Software Center

All new Ubuntu Software Center


This is the default backup tool for Ubuntu 11.10, and for those who already use(d) it, it needs no introduction, for those that haven’t, read on.

If you have an Ubuntu One account, this backup tool is amazing. You can select which folders you wish to backup and when. It backs it all up to a folder in your Ubuntu One account and you don’t have to worry about a thing. I never backed up my information due to a partition I have for that very reason, but with DeJaDup, that is a thing of the past.

The backup utility

The backup utility

Software Changes

Here are the changes in software with Ubuntu 11.10

  • Evolution has been replaced by Thunderbird for main email client
  • Banshee has replaced Rhythmbox as the default music player
  • Dejadup is the default backup tool
  • LightDM to replace GDM login screen (not implemented yet to my knowledge)

My thoughts on Ubuntu 11.10

I installed Gnome 2 and then Gnome 3 on Ubuntu 11.04 in order to like the OS.

Ubuntu 11.04 looked childish, unprofessional and rough around the edges.
You needed to really do twice as many things to get something done than with previous releases and I hated Unity.

Ubuntu 11.10 has totally changed my perception on the matter.
It looks slick, professional and everything is within easy access. Unity really is a love or hate thing, but having been a serious hater, I actually love it now.
From the menu’s to the tray icons, to the professional apps, it’s a major improvement.

I will be using this as my main OS and I couldn’t be more pleased. A great job

One thing I need to say however, Beta 1 is just that, a beta version. And you notice it. There are a lot of bugs that still need straightening out.
Some are error messaged about an unexpected close of an application when it hasn’t closed. Banshee will hang often, and I mean OFTEN.

But considering this is a beta release, it’s actually very smooth and I am able to do exactly what I need to do, sometimes I may have to kill Banshee but I’m sure this will be straightened out when it’s released to the public. And if you happen to try the new Beta release, then it’s probably wise that you start Banshee, and minimize it right away, then use the music search and it shouldn’t give you any problems. If you need to kill it, simply go to System Monitor and kill it there.

If you are uncertain of using an unstable system then wait for the release, and trust me, it is well worth your wait.
If you want to try it however, make sure you have Ubuntu 11.04 and have all updates done.

Then hit Ctrl+F2, and type in ‘update-manager -d’ (without quotes) and you will get see a message saying that a new version of Ubuntu is available, click that and let it’s do it’s work.

Great job Ubuntu, great job!