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I know most computers nowadays have access to decent graphical cards capable of running Compiz/Clutter. However, there may still be some users with old hardware.

I know gnome panel will be supported for at least a few years, but what happens after that? Will you 'recommend' (force) everyone with old hardware to use Xubuntu or Lubuntu?

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Indefinitely, hopefully. There will always be video cards that either aren't powerful enough or just aren't supported. And there'll probably always be users (like me) who have both powerful and supported graphics but that don't want Unity or Gnome Shell.

Moving to a scenario where you're forced to use a UI that requires accelerated graphics would be a dark day for Ubuntu.

It's important to note that this doesn't just apply to old graphics hardware but also new hardware that doesn't have a Linux driver (or at least one accessible in a given release of Ubuntu).

I suspect the actual kill-date will be determined when Gnome announces it'll stop supporting the 2.x interface.

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sadly the gnome-3 page they setup looks bleak live.gnome.org/GNOME3Myths –  RolandiXor Nov 4 '10 at 16:02
    
Not sure I'd say "bleak". It does say "So, the official plan is basically that people can still use the GNOME 2 shell with GNOME 3 applications and libraries, if necessary, but this is a transitional state, and to get the GNOME 3 experience, you need hardware acceleration." That, to me, suggests a degree of choice for some time. –  Oli Nov 4 '10 at 16:47
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3D will not be a requirement for Ubuntu, for a very long time. We have no plans to drop 2D environments at all. In 11.04 we'll have the standard Gnome panel 2D environment, and we'll maintain a 2D experience as long as it's in widespread use. –  Mark Shuttleworth Nov 4 '10 at 17:36

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