Is the Narwhal Natty enough?

I’m currently installing Ubuntu 11.04 beta (Natty Narwhal) on VMWare player, and I thought I’d note down my initial impressions. The first test for Natty is that it has to install and be configured in under an hour, as that is when my baby will wake up. Popping in to replace a dummy I noticed a rather grotesque smell, so when that time comes there will be no opportunity to play with Linux.

The biggest change in Natty is the new Unity interface, which replaces the default Gnome interface. I’m particularly interested in this, as I never liked Gnome. The default settings were ugly and confusing. I liked KDE as it was sexy and different, and I’m hoping Unity will be that, but easier to use. I don’t have the time these days to spend hours tweaking my system, so it has to be good out of the box.

The install has just finished – took about 10 minutes from an ISO image. Pretty good! VMWare Tools took another 5 minutes or so, but that’s not really Natty’s fault.

First impressions – err… where’s my desktop?

Wait a minute…That’s Gnome! A quick Google search later reveals the answer. Unity is a modern desktop so it expects a 3D graphics card. VMWare player does not do 3D acceleration. Ipso facto – no Unity. Doesn’t explain why my Gnome desktop is blank, but, as I previously said, I don’t have time to spend monkeying about with Linux.

EDIT: Apparently the above is actually wrong. Unity will drop down to a 2D version if 3D acceleration is not enabled. I think the screenshot actually is Unity. No idea why it had no menus or anything though.

Ok, let’s see if I can get it on a thumb drive and installed before the baby wakes up…

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