Ubuntu 11.04 'Natty Narwhal': To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?

It's been just a few hours since the release of Ubuntu 11.04 'Natty Narwhal', and the buzz about it just won't die down. Even though it brings along a slew of new features and changes, the reactions have been somewhat mixed. There are a lot of users who'll switch to Natty, but there are some who absolutely won't. Here are some reasons why upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 is a good idea, and sometimes, a bad one too.

6 Reasons To Upgrade to Ubuntu 11.04:

1. Finally something shinier

For those tired with the plain and simple look of GNOME, Unity comes as a welcome change. The shell-based interface leverages the power of Compiz window manager to provide glossy menus and transparencies. The transparency of the top panel can also be tweaked, making the desktop look even more polished.

2. A Power User's dream

GNOME, which was more of a point, click-and-access type, was never that good with keyboard shortcuts. Moreover, it was lacking all the essential elements that should be there in a Power User's repertoire: files and applications searching, keyboard shortcuts, quick access lists etc. Unity however, comes with everything a Desktop ninja can dream of – keyboard shortcuts, searching, zeitgeist integration, quick lists and much more. This ensures a more productive and organized workflow not only for power users, but also for absolute neophytes.

3. Time for something fresh

It's been a long time since the Linux desktop received an overhaul of such proportions. While there are a few users who complain about the changes, there are many people who are excited about Unity and its new approach. In general, people are happy to see something fresh and new as far as the traditional Linux desktop is concerned.

4. Zeitgeist and Search

Windows 7 has it, Mac OS X has it and now Ubuntu will have it too. We are talking about Files and Applications search. It is one of those features that has been long overdue. Besides providing basic applications search, Unity's search functionality integrates tightly with Zeitgeist framework. This ensures that the recently used and the frequently used applications are much easier to find. If you know how to use it to your advantage, this feature will definitely provide a huge spike in your productivity.

5. New applications

Banshee, Libreoffice and Firefox 4, the lineup is enough to convince a Maverick/Lucid user to go looking for an upgrade button. Oracle's debacle called Open Office will now be replaced by its fork Libreoffice, giving FOSS enthusiasts another reason to smile. On the other hand, Banshee will steal the throne off Rhythmbox's head and will become the default Music player for Ubuntu. It brings along a lot of never before seen features that the Linux head-bangers were waiting for. And finally, don't forget the world's most popular open-source browser – Firefox. Firefox will be there in its latest incarnation – Firefox 4, which comes with a huge amount of new features, upgrades, and UI changes.

6. New Kernel

In November 2010, the Linux kernel received a small patch that radically boosts its performance across desktops and workstations. This patch has been incorporated in Linux kernel version 2.6.38, which will be a part of Natty. Thus, users upgrading from previous versions can expect a great deal of improvements in their overall performance.

5 Reasons NOT to Upgrade to Ubuntu 11.04:

1. My graphics card driver sucks!

Graphics cards are one of the biggest hurdles a user faces when migrating to Linux. Though open-source drivers are available for NVIDIA and ATI cards, they aren't as snappy as their closed source counterparts. Furthermore, the closed-source drivers aren't that perfect either; many of the drivers face a lot of bugs that don't get fixed for ages. Due to this, there's a huge chunk of users who aren't able to reap full benefits of their graphics cards while playing some Linux 3D games and performing graphic-intensive functions. Furthermore, the performance of Linux desktop in the graphics department is always a notch lower than its Windows counterpart. This issue coupled with the bagful of shiny new effects that Natty brings along, will make the switching experience troublesome for many. However, Canonical has done a great thing by introducing an option to revert back to the Classic Ubuntu desktop. Having said that, people with poor graphics support (especially ATI users) will anyway complain that- If I can perfectly run Aero effects on Win7 why can't I get Unity 3D to work smoothly on the same computer?

To understand what the state of proprietary drivers on Linux is like, do take a look at this bug:

click on image to enlarge

2. I like to keep it simple, stupid

Some people adore simplicity, they love the traditional Ubuntu desktop that provides a no-frills environment to work in. However, Unity, which brings along a slew of shiny new effects, may not be able to impress these desktop simpletons. Luckily for these people, Ubuntu offers an option to revert back to the GNOME desktop. However, these users might consider migrating to Mint, since it offers the traditional GNOME desktop and a lot more features that Ubuntu doesn't.

3. If I want something shinier, I’ll switch to KDE 4

For a long time, Ubuntu has been perceived as the simplistic, no-fuss and easy-to-use desktop. KDE 4 on the other hand, has all the features a modern desktop must have – eye-candy, multiple desktops, polished applications, desktop widgets etc. A valid argument a seasoned Linux user will make is that- why should he switch to a relatively new Unity interface, when he can switch to a much more seasoned and polished KDE 4? Also, it takes a bit of time to get used to Unity, whereas KDE 4 desktop is a bit similar to Windows 7 in look and feel.

4. I’m a GNOME loyalist so bye bye Ubuntu

The GNOME foundation has had a huge number of contributors over the years. This list includes many Ubuntu users too, as GNOME was part of the Ubuntu desktop till Natty. When Canonical decided to part ways with GNOME project, some GNOME loyalists were not so happy with the decision. Also, GNOME 3 came out before Unity, giving users another reason not to wait for Ubuntu 11.04 and start using GNOME Shell instead.

5. Awww its so ugly!

When Ubuntu decided to go with Unity, the reactions were mixed. There's still a sizable amount of users who find the new interface, just plain ugly. There's nothing much to be done here as everyone's entitled to their own opinion. And, since it was such a big decision, it is obvious that some people would not approve of it. However, it remains to be seen whether these aesthetic fanatics will adopt Unity purely for its functionality.

P.S: The 'it's so ugly' comment can be found on many blogs, forums and videos which have discussed or promoted Unity.


If you're one of the users who are raring to switch to Natty, then head over to and download it now. No matter what kind of connection you're using, do make sure that you use torrents while downloading the files. This makes sure that the servers won't get overloaded if in case Ubuntu gets too popular -- like it did when Lady Gaga went gaga over it :-) .

For the lazy ones, the link to the torrent file of Natty 32-bit can be found HERE. However, if your connection is too slow, then you can also purchase the official Ubuntu CDs from the Canonical shop.

For those folks who aren't switching to Natty, they have a lot of options to choose from. They can either switch to GNOME 3, KDE 4 or stick with the classic GNOME desktop. Moving to GNOME 3 will be swift once Fedora 15 releases. If unsure, take a look at a deep review we've done before, comparing Fedora 15 and Ubuntu 11.04. Finally, if you want to switch to KDE4, just type in the command: sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop and a KDE option will show up in your GDM sessions list.

Join the fun!

Go to the comments section and tell us your own reasons for loving or hating Ubuntu 11.04. If you're not upgrading, also tell your excuses for doing so.


  1. Finally a decent well balanced article on about Natty and Unity!!

  2. I'm definitely going to try it. Unity looks like an interesting approach.

  3. So hang on: All the negatives except point 1 are 'It doesn't use GNOME by default' repeated over and over.

    Anything else?

  4. Looks like it's time to leave Ubuntu. In Unity way too much features are missing and it is very bad when it comes to flexibility and personalization. And GNOME 3 is not much better. So at this opportunity I have extensively tested KDE and that's what my future desktop will be. As you say, it is very very shiny and not only this, it is also extremely powerful and customizable. Now I only have to find the best KDE distro for me. Any suggestions?

  5. I tried Ubuntu 11.04 I hate the interface the navigation and on top of that can't find a thing that i want to navigate to and proformance dropped . Its worse than Winblows I will never understand why Ubuntu would wreck them selves like this. Until now they strived to be easy to use and proformance was great. Sorry to see the day i down Ubuntu

  6. I upgraded to Natty and am now desperately trying to figure how to revert. If I wanted 'dumbed down' I'd be using Windows.

  7. ew ... looks and feels too much like Apple ... it seems that to simply get to the preferences you need three times as many clicks. Usability has shot right down the drain. Let's hope there's still a 'Kubuntu' ...

  8. AnonymousMay 02, 2011

    Choose "Classic Gnome" at login and you'll get a classic Gnome 2.x. desktop.

  9. I ran Natty from my USB to test, LOVED it! So on Sat I upgraded, unfortunately my Dell did not like the wireless drivers (Dell has issues with Ubuntu wireless drivers), so after three hours I gave up and did a fresh install of 10.10. As soon as the driver issue is fixed I will move up to Natty.

  10. Stephen MMay 03, 2011

    Upgraded from 10.04 on an old compaq nc6000...random re-boots and poor video performance. Back to 10.04 which worked a treat...except that now it won't read my ext3 usb hd. oh well, that's another matter.

    I also upgraded my machine in the office (Dell Precision, dual Xeon, NVidia QuadroFX). What a mistake. Now it doesn't boot past the screen with dots under the Ubuntu wording.

    I've been a big fan of Ubuntu for a while now after switching from openSuse. Now I'm thinking of going back.

    Nice one, Canonical. NOT!

  11. Classic Desktop included in Natty, exactly the same as before except updated and bugs fixed... why should I not upgrade again? Im lost the only argument that makes slight sense is the kde one, in which case their is kubuntu, which anybody can still upgrade to fine... I enjoy your blog but your "not" to upgrade reasons don't add up at all.... at all.

  12. AnonymousMay 11, 2011

    Once trying Unity. Ubuntu lost me as a user. I went on a new OS hunt, OpenSuse, Fedora, Mint XFCE Debian(two thumbs up!) Then I found how to default load classic gnome 2.32. now i'm back, for one my graphics driver works great(though not as good 3D as windows...) and the upgrade treated my laptop very well. It out of most OS's tried finds all of my hardware and extra buttons and all without effort. and back to gnome is fast and clean and simple.

    For One the lack of categorisation in the unity menu is ridiculous. I am not a TV watcher, so my brain is intact. I find it impossible to remember names of apps i have installed on my computer esp when so many linux app names have no relation to their function or facility, so if the apps are not categorised and i dont remember the name of it, How am i supposed to search for it? open a list of all apps and scroll through all 200 apps my A@@.

  13. Yaro KasearMay 11, 2011

    I'd say the fact that Unity is a pile of shit is good reason not to upgrade. Fortunately I use Arch, where the developers actually have common sense, unlike the Ubuntu devs, who seemed to have checked their common sense back in at the door way back in 8.04.

    But, on the other hand, with GNOME 3 being an even bigger pile of shit than Unity, one has to wonder what the Ubuntu devs would have done anyway.

    If I was in charge, they would have jumped to KDE SC 4 and called it a day, for various reasons:

    1. KDE SC 4 kicks ass since version 4.3 onward. It's still an actual DESKTOP-based environment.

    2. KDE SC is actually usable like a standard desktop should be used. You have a main menu, a taskbar, and an actual DESKTOP.

    3. The entire thing is built on the Qt framework, which is fast and powerful as hell, and its UI toolkit makes GTK+ look like bland and plastic by comparison. Did I mention Qt is fast and powerful?

    4. The KDE SC devs have been in the game a lot longer than the Unity devs. They know how to make a good desktop.

    5. The KDE SC team also fully supports KDE upstream, and maintain it impeccably.

  14. "However, Unity, which brings along a slew of shiny new effects, may not be able to impress these desktop simpletons."

    Um, unity fans are the simpletons. It's been appleized.

  15. KillswitchOverrideSeptember 02, 2011

    WOW. I must admit, Unity has a very clean UI, clean desktop, good addons like the Screenlets widgets, and an overall appearance that I can honestly say rates at the same level as Mac OS X Lion from the previews I've seen. But, I must be brutally honest in saying that it is hell on my computer and if I cannot revert back to GNOME, even upgrading to 3, I'm going to cry at the fact that I must reinstall all five OS's to get it back to my previous set up.

    Why all five? Since upgrading approximately eleven hours ago, I am unable to view, delete, resize, or edit any of my partitions. When I try to view my partitions in Disk Utility or GParted, it says my entire drive is unallocated space. I understand this is still a beta-because it is still-but this issue should probably be looked into before more work goes into Oneiric Ocelot. I like the Gnome UI, AND the Unity desktop, but the issue with Unity is that it seems based on an old idea (albeit a decent one; ref. NeXSTEP) and offers an uncomfortable experience to users of the "simplicity" mindset of Gnome.

    If the average end user is interested in some really good eye candy, they can upgrade to Natty, they can take the time to learn to customize their installation, or make the change to KDE4. In any case, I want it known that if you are comfortable with the interface and the look and feel the desktop, I recommend you to upgrade or fresh install this edition of Ubuntu. However, if you are worried about the potential issues you may encounter and do not wish to help Canonical with the fixes, please, stay with your Gnome or KDE or Xfce or even IceWM. You may be happier with it if you have doubts.