Shared publicly  - 
The new Ubuntu is a disaster. They've apparently switched their focus from "Just Works" to "Shiny Untested Things". In a few hours:

* Multiple crashes on two different hardware machines (after upgrade)

* Wrong wireless networks auto-inserted into /etc/network/interfaces during the upgrade, which caused the boot sequence to have a scary incomprehensible prompt about network configuration failure. This was apparently an "Ubuntu server" improvement which screwed up Ubuntu Desktop. Not a good sign.

* Unity is pre-alpha quality, regresses on many UI issues:

* Title fuses with top panel, can't right click it

* No useful minimize gesture (except a tiny button)

* No window-list at a glance (This regresses to pre-win95 usability). As long as keyboard window switching is useful, this will remain relevant.

* When title is fused into panel, general window title gestures are flaky/don't always work

* Alt-f2, "emacs", enter --> executes xchat! (unless I wait ~300ms for emacs to be "found" into the completion list)

* Windows are placed a couple of pixels too much to the left, making an awkward gap almost enough to put the unity panel in.

* Workspace switcher requires two levels of window selection, useful when you have many windows, slows down when you have a few.

* Workspace switcher cannot move windows between desktops

* In 2D mode, can't have Alt-f10 be bound to both maximize and restore!

* Gnome fallback (installable as a package) does not work. Panel is not configurable, pretty much nothing works.

* CCSM -> Preferences -> Plugin list -> Entire UI is stuck. Reboot comes back without the unity panel (Switch to 2D seemed to work around it).

One of my machines was pretty broken after the Ubuntu upgrade, I decided to do a fresh install:

* I haven't done that in a looong time, so I was surprised I can no longer browse the web or do anything useful while installing.

* Download time estimates are based on the last 2 sec of throughput, which is ridiculous and quirky. Why doesn't anyone use long-running averages which make so much more sense?

I think Ubuntu in 2009 was much much better than Ubuntu in 2011, I'm considering replacing the install with some older Ubuntu version.

Anyone has any recommendations for a GNU/Linux distribution focused on "Just Works", less tinkering, and GUIs are nicer than editing config files? I think I've had it with the direction Ubuntu is taking.
Nickolay Ribal's profile photoDan Aloni's profile photoUri Barenholz's profile photoEyal Lotem's profile photo
I just loaded two systems with Ubuntu 11.10 64-bit, and they are working great from what I can tell. Maybe it's time for better hardware?

I'll have to see if I can duplicate some of the issues you raise in your post.
I haven't ever used Unity, but running with wmii 10.10 seems really stable... except for the new bug in acpid that fails to sleep on the lid button closure!
The panel in the fallback mode is configurable. They just made it obnoxious by requiring you to press Alt + right mouse button to modify anything. Tried to undo that, but the sourcecode of gnome3-panel is a clusterfuck. It's apparent a lot of effort went into making it hard to use. Without the System/Settings menu it's pretty much pointless anyway. (And don't get me started on frigging Gnome emulating the Windows registry but with an even split onto dconf / gconf.) -- The real screw up with Oneric however is that Canonical refuses to tell people to avoid such very-non-LTS releases.
It turns out there's a simple answer for the panel not being configurable in gnome fallback session. In the gnome 3 version of gnome-panel, you need to hold down ALT while right clicking it in order to add or move applets. Before I found that out by asking in #gnome on IRC, I was raging at the obvious regression. The solution is simple but non-obvious, but once you know it, gnome-panel works almost the same as it did before (although it lacks some settings, and it now has a weird new snapping behaviour where you can align applets at either left, right, or center).

I agree that, for various reasons (I got the same weird network autoconfiguration hang at boot, for instance), and not just the UI, this upgrade has not been the smoothest.

EDIT: oh, derp. someone already commented with that little gem.
install only LTS versions..
+אלון חורב If I want to use 3-year old software I might as well use Debian :-)

I said "Just Works" but for Ubuntu's newer software I'm actually willing to hit a quirk or two. But with every Ubuntu release, the number of bugs has been increasing, and now I've hit multiple show stoppers...

The recent copying of Mac behavior is terrible... My pad is slow so the menus-on-top slows me down. The Alt-Tab behavior is terrible and now I need multiple key strokes to get to a window instead of simply Alt-Tab. When switching to any Terminal, it jumps all the other terminals up as if they must be related because both are implemented by the same executable. The Mac UI is terrible. I really don't want it.
Well... why not use debian? Sid is pretty sweet, really. 
+Matan Peled Well, Debian made a conscious choice to support every architecture known to man, a bazillion software packages, and stability. This necessarily means that they have very long release cycles.

Since I use a PC, and can afford to manually install some niche package here and there -- I have little to gain from Debian's choice there. So it makes little sense to pay for Debian's choices here. Ideally, a Linux distribution focused on PC's could give better results with less effort than Debian could.

Before Ubuntu, I used Debian (up to around ~2004 I think), and I remember having to choose between very-unstable and very-old.

If all else fails, I guess I'll give sid another spin.
Note that the current Debian "cascading packages" model goes like this:

experimental => unstable (sid) => testing (next release's codename) => stable (current release's codename) => oldstable (previous release's codename)

Meaning, that Sid is a bit less likely to get seriously broken, as that happens in experimental. Except for proprietary drivers, since they're not shy in the slightest about ABIs in Sid - most recently, they moved to driver ABI 11 for which there are currently no binary drivers.
+David Gibbons I only say check the hardware requirements because I've run into issues with my onboard video chipsets recently when I tried to install 11.04. Also, I didn't say "new".
Eyal, I've switched to Xfce (in the form of Xubuntu) because of the Unity crap introduced in the previous release. You might wanna consider it.
+Dan Aloni xmonad is nice but the layout engine annoys me greatly in many occasions (giving huge gray areas to windows that request to be small). Also, it throws aesthetics away altogether, which is somewhat of a shame.
The defaults are bad, but once you customize and configure it (and there are sure plenty ways to do so), it's very convenient.
Let me know when you reach final conclusions...
I tried Kubuntu now but KDE has also grown to be unbearable (I liked it a few years ago, it was much simpler&nicer then). Slower and very loaded with visual noise and a very quirky UI.

Now installing and configuring xmonad, as one last shot before I give up and replace Ubuntu with Mint.
Cool! Put your config on github
What about Xubuntu that was mentioned above?
+Uri Barenholz I'm using xfce4 with xmonad now.. so it's sort of Xubuntu with a nicer window manager (hopefully).

Seems alright so far.
Add a comment...