Changing the way something looks changes the way it works from an end-user’s point of view. For example, confusion was the order of the day when Microsoft switched Office applications from the traditional pull-down menu structure to the ribbon menu. One of the big and certainly the first change you see in the beta 1 release of Ubuntu’s version of Linux is its new Unity graphical interface. I installed this beta on my netbook as soon as I learned about it over the weekend.
Its significance to mobile device users is that with version 11.04, the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) edition for, naturally, netbooks is going away. Everything is being unified under the desktop edition. Desktop and notebook users will be greeted with a look and feel that more closely resembles the netbook edition’s former interface. You can see what Ubuntu 10.04’s interface looked like on my Acer Aspire One netbook in the first screenshot here.
You can see version 11.04’s (beta 1) Unity Interface in the second screenshot. This will be the common interface for both smaller netbook displays as well as notebooks and desktops with larger displays. There are three main interface issues I faced after upgrading my netbook to Natty Narwhal:
1. The small icons on the sliding vertical bar on the left of the screen does not behave smoothly or consistently when attempting to see the compressed icons near the bottom of the bar. This led to annoyance as I tried to reach various applications.
2. The lack of a menu structure makes it harder to find things. If you’ve used the Gnome on the desktop PC, this is going to be very disorienting. It will be disorienting to netbook users who had a very simple, easy to navigate, and intuitive graphical view of applications in the old UNR (10.04) interface.
3. The interace, in general, is not intuitive for a power user. And, I can’t think of any Linux user who is not a power user. That’s the nature of that operating system.
Commentary like this one from UbuntuGeek.com and other Linux users appear to concur with my initial impressions.