Ubuntu 11.04 – But is it Ubuntu or MacOSX?

I just took the time to download the latest version, 11.04, of Ubuntu Linux, burn a the image to a CD and boot the live CD – which is where I’m writing this from.

What I’m seeing and using really disappoints me. To simplify this post in a single line, I only need to say:

If I wanted a straight copy of Apple’s Mac OSX operating system user interface with the predominance of purple and orange, I would buy a Mac or at the very least hackintosh a PC then install a purple theme on it.

But let’s start from the beginning. The CD booted into a purple (an horrible color that Canonical keeps on choosing since version 10.04, to contrast, perhaps, with the orange of the default theme) screen with just two icons at the bottom, a keyboard and an accessibility one. This was the boot manager, who would say? – not only a single line of text. I was trying to figure out how to work with that screen (keyboard left, right, up, down, enter, escape and even tried the mouse with no success in any of these inputs) when, from nothing, the system starts booting: first the usual cursor blinking at the top left corner, then the cursor gets smaller because the resolution of the screen was increased, and the bootsplash is shown.

The bootspash keeps being very, very similar to the one used in the two previous versions of Ubuntu. A purple background with the Ubuntu in white at the very center with five white dots below, blinking into orange sequentially. One thing new in this bootspash might be, and I say “might” because I can’t remember very well the latest version’s splash, a little white glow around the Ubuntu logo.

The bootsplash doesn’t go away in the traditional way, that is, disappearing the Ubuntu logo and then appearing the login screen. First, the background fades into a purpleish image, keeping the Ubuntu logo fading even more slowly… after some time, the logo has completely vanished, a black bar at the top appears with some icons (network, clock and shutdown options), and I call it black bar, because it’s not a panel anymore, since it’s not Gnome anymore, but yes Ubiquity. Then a window appears asking me if I want to Try Ubuntu or Install Ubuntu.

I chose to Try Ubuntu: the window disappears, and the screen goes into the old white on black Linux system log (saying things about filesystems and etc.) for about a second and a half and then a black screen with the mouse cursor in the middle appears – it looks like X server had been restarted. Just a note for the guys at Canonical, this is not a really polished approach to “Try Ubuntu” option, leaving users waiting on a black screen with a mouse – if users should wait at all, but hey, I understand the CD has to be loaded sometime.

Finally, the purpleish background image appears again, the top black bar appears too, but now with more icons, some icons in the desktop appear and a kind of dock with a bunch of icons appears on the left. Get ready: this will be the base for the Ubiquity desktop. I took a screenshot, but note that this is after I was running Firefox, but it lets you have an idea of what I’m talking about:

[Image not available due to data loss, during a server change that forcibly took place on 1st December 2011. You can find images similar to the one that was here by searching for images about “ubuntu 11.04 default desktop”]

I played around a bit just to get to one conclusion: this is almost MacOSX with a dock on the left. By the way, the dock appears if you move the mouse to the top left corner of the screen, and also if you move the mouse to the complete left of the screen and let it there for some time – I hate this approach.

Ubuntu, years ago accused of trying to implement Windows UI and feel on Linux, in my opinion seems to be trying to bring MacOS UI to the Linux kernel since some versions ago – but in a much more shameless and obvious way. I don’t like Linux this way, I liked Ubuntu the way it was before: with Gnome and the windows closing, maximizing and minimizing icons on the right and not on the left. So, I’m sticking with Ubuntu 10.10 for now, and when it gets too outdated, I’ll switch to some distro with Gnome (even KDE is better for me than Ubiquity, even if I don’t like KDE as much as Gnome).

It seems my Ubuntu days are ending. In my opinion, version 11.04 of Ubuntu by Canonical was like Vista version of Windows by Microsoft: too much focus on the looks and few productivity.

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