Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat is off to a good start with positive reviews everywhere. However the same cannot be said of the Netbook specific version of Ubuntu – Ubuntu Netbook Edition. UNE 10.10 is off to quite a bad start – because of the Unity interface.
Unity is a new interface introduced in Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. It was designed to free up vertical space on the screen by using the horizontal space, which is more abundant. This is a good move no doubt. But UNE 10.10 is not gaining any fans or favorable reviews because of it.
The problem with Unity is that it is not mature enough for everyday usage. In a netbook, you want the interface to be fast and responsive. Actually you want that anywhere; not just netbooks. But Unity is neither fast nor responsive. It still feels like a beta or alpha product.
I have been using it for some time on my system with 2GB of RAM. Frankly, the desktop interface feels faster. The search feature in Unity is very unresponsive and quite unusable for everyday usage.
Another problem with Unity is that it is confusing. This is what Carl Richell, the President of System76, said regarding the confusing interface in Unity:
Searching for the word “Update” displays Gwibber Social Client, Update Manager, as well as Adept, Akregator, and sometimes Amarok. Sometimes installed applications are visible. Sometimes only available applications. It's difficult to tell what's going to happen when an icon is clicked. Will an application launch? Will Ubuntu Software Center prompt to install software? Will a separate category open?
And incidentally, System76 will not ship with UNE 10.10 because of these problems. It will continue to ship with UNE 10.04 LTS.
It seems like this is not the end of Unity’s problem. People have been complaining that it does not work with ATi graphics card.
This is the first release cycle with Unity. So, these problems are not entirely unexpected. Hopefully, it will be better in the upcoming releases.
For now sticking with the desktop interface seems like the best idea.
If you have used Unity, do let us know your experience.