Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Alpha 1 released

Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Alpha 1 has been released yesterday. Being only Alpha 1 there are a lot of packages and features in heavy development, transition or out-right not included at all yet. As such don’t take too much away from this overview – a lot of things are going to change between now and April! But since Unity received an update a couple of days ago, I though you might want to see a new video with Unity in action (thanx to Andrew from WebUpd8)

Unity Desktop

This is the big one. With work only starting on Desktop Unity in October it’s impressive seeing the amount of progress made in such little time.

Unity changes:
  • changing the icon theme will also change the icons in the Unity launcher (“dock”) – this wasn’t working in 10.10. Unfortunately the icons only change after a log out and I can’t do that and keep recording (and if I disable and re-enable Unity, it crashes).
  • the number of open windows is indicated by dots under the icon on the Unity Launcher. Clicking an icon for an application that has more then one window open will trigger an expose effect for the windows
  • right now, clicking the Ubuntu logo will launch Nautilus (applications folder) instead of Dash (about a week ago, this button did nothing). This should change in Alpha 2.


The switch to Compiz from Mutter was certainly a good decision, not only does Unity now feel much more responsive it also looks very, very good.

The panel can also be set to auto-hide and ‘float’.

Ubuntu 11.04 uses Unity by default, however if your graphics card is not supported, it falls back to the classic Gnome look:
Unity Ubuntu 11.04 - no 3d support
However, even if you graphic card supports Unity, you can still login to the classic Gnome because there are 2 sessions you can choose from in GDM: Ubuntu desktop will run Unity (if supported by your hardware) and Ubuntu Classic which is the old Gnome look that supports all hardware and video drivers (which were previously supported by Ubuntu).


Ubuntu ‘Classic’ Desktop

If, for whatever reason, you want/need to revert to the traditional Ubuntu desktop just select ‘Ubuntu Classic Desktop’ from the session menu before logging in.

Sound menu changes

The Ubuntu Sound Menu has had a few minor changes already including new player control buttons and an ‘indented’ cover art frame.


Indicator-datetime is back

My favourite indicator is back – Indicator-Datetime! I’ve absolutely no logical/sane reason as to why I love it so much but it’s there, rocking out with its calendar widget…


Panel applets

I suppose the biggest change most users would recoil in horror at when using the Alpha is the redaction of traditional panel applets; applications using the old system tray are now at a loss.

Network Manager

The Network Manager applet now wears ‘indicator’ clothes. It feels feeble to say that this makes a huge difference to the way the desktop ‘feels’ but it really does.



Download Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Alpha 1
(for testing purposes only!)
Some images and contents are taken from:
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