While my main computer is out of action, I’ve been trying beta 2 of ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal). The biggest change in this version is the introduction of unity, but there are also a number of other UI changes. Here are some of the bad bits:

  • The new scrollbars break a few interactions that I am rather fond of:
    • Sometimes the grabber is inside the window, sometimes it’s outside.
    • If you scroll up or down by pressing the buttons a few times, and then pause to read, and then try to click the arrow again, it may have disappeared - leading to awfully surprising results.
    • You can’t use the neat trick of middle-clicking anywhere in the scrollbar pane to immediately bring the scrubber there (instead you have to find its current location, then drag it to where you want it to be).
    • If the orange scrubber is taller than the pair of arrows and you want to hit one of the arrows, it remains a moving target until you actually leave the window’s boundary.
    • After scrolling with the mouse wheel, the orange scrubber turns practically invisible, making it impossible to tell how much scrolling remains.
  • The new terminal theme makes it really hard to tell which tab is active.
  • Whenever I press alt (for example, when starting alt-tab or another keyboard shortcut) I get really distracted by the global menu flashing in and out of my peripheral vision.
  • Alt-tab raises windows but does not focus them (bug).
  • Focus-follows-mouse (my preferred setting) is incompatible with the new global menu. You can remove the global menu, but that didn’t work for me. For now, I’m having to get used to pressing F10. There’s a proposal to fix the global menu behaviour when using focus-follows-mouse, but nobody seems interested in implementing it.
  • There’s no way to make “fullscreen” mean “everything but the dock”, as it does by default for other non-auto-hide docks. I do like the combination of titlebar & top-bar though.

Given my progress on a tiling window manager for gnome-shell (more on that when it’s working, I hope), I may well end up switching to gnome-shell soon. I’ll probably try out fedora 15 in the process, I wonder how much of ubuntu I’ll miss.