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A long time windows user, I am totally new to linux/ ubuntu, and have just finished installing version 11.10 on my laptop side-by-side windows7. Although I have read about all the uses of linux and stuff, and I am an experienced web developer, I somehow feel that the UI is a big let down.

In version 11.10 - the only linux/ubuntu I have used so far - the 'task bar' over the left side seems too clunky. And something else that is irritating is the notifications that appear, for example when a new mail arrives, there is a semi transparent message displayed over the top right of the screen, and this thing is displayed for nearly 5 secs with no option to close it manually, as a result it blocks that much of the screen for couple of seconds. I went to see the screenshots of various other distros, and found openSuse to be slick and friendly though I have not used it.

Could you please let me know - a) for a newbie, not looking into too advanced features of linux, how openSuse fares with ubuntu - in terms of UI friendliness. b) should i tryout a previous version of ubuntu, say v10.. does v10 also have such issues? how does v10 compare with v11 over user friendliness?

As i said, i am new to linux, maybe there are features that let me change all these issues and customise as per my liking, but as of now i have no idea as to how to go about with it. Appreciate it if you could guide me to resources on that, if available.


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closed as not constructive by Bruno Pereira, fossfreedom, Jo-Erlend Schinstad, James, Marco Ceppi Dec 6 '11 at 12:44

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Welcome to Ask Ubuntu and the Ubuntu community. Unfortunately, this kind of question isn't a good fit for the Ask Ubuntu format, when asking questions try to stick to questions that are objective and have a clear solution which won't solicit subjective answers. One such way to rephrase this: What different Desktop Environments and Shells are available or How do I customize my appearance these can be reasonably answered with facts. – Marco Ceppi Dec 6 '11 at 12:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Welcome to askubuntu!

operating system:

it is an opinion, not a fact!

for a new user of linux, UBUNTU is the most user friendly distro for you. so i suggest you go with ubuntu or an ubuntu derivative at the moment for lot of reasons:

  • easy to install and manage and good community and support. (ubuntu forums and askubuntu).
  • easy to get codecs and other stuff
  • the .DEB packages are more common than .rpm packages used in opensuse and fedora.

However, linux is about choice, and in fact if you choose ubuntu, you have a lot of Desktop environments to choose from, which can change the feel of your ubuntu desktop, gaining customization and maintaining the benefits of ubuntu.

Desktop environments

you can try:

  1. unity: the default ubuntu DE. (shell above gnome 3)
  2. gnome shell: you can install the package by openning a terminal, and type the command: sudo apt-get gnome-shell .or by going to the software center, search for gnome shell and install it. then log out and choose GNOME and enter your password.
  3. KDE: you can install it by typing in terminal sudo apt-get kubuntu-desktop, or by going to the software center and search for kubuntu desktop and install it.
  4. XFCE: you can install it by typing in terminal sudo apt-get xubuntu-desktop or search for xubuntu desktop in the software center.

you can change the desktop enviroment by selecting your choice in the login screen (the wheel of options).

so my suggestion is to try all of these DE's for a week or two. and find out which you like the most. and then if you like KDE you can full install kubuntu distro instead. or if you like XFCE you can re install the whole system using Xubuntu distro. and if you like unity or gnome shell, you can keep the ubuntu install you have with both of them on, like i do. :)

you can search more info about each one here in askubuntu. how to customize, and how to reach and do things.

  • unity: you can mainly customize it by installing ccsm (compiz manager), and customize the plugins in there. lot of stuff.
  • gnome shell: you can customize it mainly by extensions. take a look at this site (alpha), or go here or there to get it going.
  • KDE and XFCE are mainly customizable per se. feel free to discover them well.

good luck

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thanks... your reply was quite an eye-opener for a linux newbie like me. i just tried out unity, gnome3 and kubuntu11... out of them, i guess gnome3 looks good, but kde is more windows like. well, i ll keep experimenting a little more to finalise on what i want to use. once agian, thanks for the pointer. – arun nair Dec 6 '11 at 17:46
you are welcome! if you have further questions, search this site, it has a lot of Q/A and a lot of useful info. and if you don't find it searching, ask a new question and the great community of people here will help you including me. enjoy using linux. – suli8 Dec 6 '11 at 18:12

I don't really know what answer you are looking for, if this is even a question. There are about fifty different taskbars available in Ubuntu. You don't have to replace the operating system in order to use other programs, and the desktop is just a program like any other. Indeed Ubuntu has all the desktops that all other GNU/Linux distros provide.

The notifications doesn't have to be closed. It is just a notification. You don't have to do anything with it, and you don't have to close it. It does not block anything. If you move the mouse pointer on top of it, it becomes more transparent so that it doesn't block the view. If you click, the click is handled as if the notification was not there at all.

You ask for a recommendation, but you don't say anything about what you want. «I don't like Ford Fiesta. Which car should I buy?» Difficult question. Perhaps you might want to try KDE? You can install it in Ubuntu by installing the kubuntu-desktop package. It's in the archives, so you can just click the link to install it.

In the future, you should say what it is you want and not what you don't want, and if you do say what you don't want, you should say why.

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There really isn't a definitive answer to your questions, it's highly subjective and depends a lot on your tastes and how you like to work.

a) In my opinion, openSuse isn't quite as user friendly as Ubuntu, but I've spent much more time with the latter than the former. Compared with Ubuntu 11.10 however, OpenSuse is probably a little more like other distros than Ubuntu, which might result in less wasted efort should you hop top another distro.

b) If you're going to go back, you could go back to 10.04, the LTS version, which has it's own advantages, and doesn't have the unity interface and menus.

There are also ways to use Ubuntu 11.10 with other desktops/interfaces, if you want to go down that route a quick google search will bring up plenty of results.

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Pardon? In what way is Ubuntu different from other distros? – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Dec 6 '11 at 11:10

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