So the good news for Gnome classic users is that we'll have a non-Unity option in future releases of Ubuntu should we want it. It's fascinating, though, that it's such a well-kept secret. But at least the option to side-step Unity 2D exists.
Exploring new desktop environments
At this point, the obvious question is: why should Ubuntu have to cater to my wants or desires? Couldn't I just use an alternative desktop environment instead of complaining about Unity?
Yes, I could do this. However, it's worth noting that others might not wish to do so or even realize that it's possible.
On the other side of the coin, most new Ubuntu users from 11.04 on will be selecting Ubuntu because they accept the Unity desktop as the default. And existing users will be facing the choice of trying another desktop environment or throwing their hands up and dumping the distro completely. It's a choice that quite frankly, could hurt the Ubuntu project in the long term if it isn't done with great care.
Ubuntu trying to emulate Apple
Anyone claiming Ubuntu isn't trying to emulate Apple needs to pay closer attention. This is exactly what they're trying to do, and they're doing a really terrible job with it.
Rather than attacking issues that I've listed so many times before in previous articles, the Ubuntu team is trying to reinvent the wheel with a new UI. I'd rather see work with the following:
-Branded dongles for wifi – no interest there.
-Avoiding really obvious regressions with key software included in the distro – again, not happening.
-Re-thinking their bug reporting system into something new users don't feel completely dismissed with – this isn't happening either.
But hey, at least Ubuntu was interested in spending lots of time rebuilding an interface that wasn't broken in the first place.
I realize that Gnome 3 isn't the direction that Ubuntu wanted to go in, but I honestly fail to see how Unity is any better. It's clunky, locked down and frankly needs a lot more time in the proverbial oven before it's ready for the mainstream.
However if Ubuntu felt the need to try something new so badly, why not spend some time addressing the issues I listed above? There's so much more to the Linux desktop than simply trying to make it pretty. Stability and functionality can also attract new users, you know.
I’m not trying to bash Ubuntu or the choices the developers are making in desktop environments. It's their distribution to do with as they see fit – my opinions be damned. And Ubuntu will likely remain my desktop distribution of choice thanks to the well hidden Gnome Classic alternative in Ubuntu 11.10.
Despite my choice to stick with it, I believe Ubuntu will lose some valuable users in exchange for appeasing new users who'll likely bounce back to Windows anyway.
But it doesn't really matter what I think. The greater volume of Ubuntu users have spoken. Ignoring its shortcomings, this progressive distribution has what appears to be an unstoppable user following. And it's this feature that will serve as Ubuntu's saving grace.