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11 Killer Features That Make Ubuntu 11.04 Worth the Wait

Updated on January 9, 2014

Ubuntu 11.04 dubbed Natty Narwhal will bring some major changes to the traditional Ubuntu desktop. As the conventional desktop gets a major overhaul, the spanking new Unity interface is busy preparing itself to replace the time-honored Gnome interface. Furthermore, some well-known default applications are getting replaced by newer and more feature-laden ones. While many users have welcomed these changes with open arms, a few disapproving nods have raised doubts over their success. Nevertheless, Natty promises to bring a burst of freshness to the Linux desktop along with a slew of new users. Note: Ubuntu 11.04 release date is 28th April 2011, here's a link to the official release schedule. 

Here are 11 features that will make Ubuntu 11.04 worth the long wait.

1. Unity Desktop

Unity is the most conspicuous change to the Ubuntu desktop till date. To new users this means that they’ll be able to get their hands on a completely new form of desktop, replete with features competing head on with major operating systems. The UI is built upon Ubuntu’s netbook interface called UNE, and Gnome early adopters will find it quite similar to Gnome Shell. However Unity, unlike Gnome3 and UNE, will be using the Compiz window manager instead of Mutter(which many users found to be slow and buggy). Also, many new and useful indicator applets are being developed which will help users add more functionality to a fresh installation. With Unity, Ubuntu 11.04 takes a completely new direction that will surely grab attention of desktop and netbook users alike.


2. Banshee as the default music player

For a long time Rhythmbox has been the default music player for the Ubuntu desktop. However, to match up with the features provided by competitors like iTunes, Windows Media Player and even Amarok, Canonical has decided to make Banshee the default music player. Banshee offers Bookmarks, Amazon Mp3 store support, Video support, Audiobooks support for library, Metadata fix up and a few more features that Rhythmbox doesn’t. However, the decision to include Banshee has left a few users frowning as it brings along mono libraries to the Ubuntu code pool. Also, questions have been raised whether or not Banshee’s stability will match up to Rhythmbox.  Even though the outcome of this move can’t be predicted as of now, the addition of several new features to the audio department will certainly help Ubuntu catch up with competitors like itunes and Windows Media Player.

3. Office gets more libre

Since Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, many doubts were raised about the future of Openoffice, as Oracle is a name which the Free Software community was reluctant to trust. This polarization led to forking of, thus giving birth to a new project called Libreoffice. This newly created or rather forked office suite offers the same features as Openoffice so old users won’t have any trouble switching. Additionally, the Libreoffice team is working assiduously to clean up code that dates back to 20 years. In fact, Libreoffice’s first stable release(v 3.3) was made public recently, clearing any fears about it being a hasty inclusion.


4. Firefox 4

Firefox stays as the default web browser despite facing stiff competition from the lightweight Google Chrome. Mozilla will be releasing Firefox 4 somewhere around February and its inclusion in Ubuntu 11.04 is very certain. Not only will Firefox 4 be faster than its predecessor, it will also come with a host of new features that will make the year long wait a worthy one. 

5. 2.6.38 kernel

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

6. 2D unity interface

Ubuntu is known for its ability to run on PCs with even the most outdated configurations. However, with the introduction of some compiz eye-candy in Natty, achieving that becomes a problem on low-end graphic cards. This is where Unity 2D steps in. A few days ago, Bill Filler, a developer working for Canonical announced a new project called Unity 2D. According to him ---“Unity 2D’s main goal is to provide a Unity environment on hardware platforms that don’t support Unity’s Open GL requirements. Many ARM platforms fall into this category, so Unity 2D expands Unity’s goodness to a whole new set of platforms.".In short, if you’re running an Ubuntu pc with an outdated graphic card, you have no reason not to upgrade to Ubuntu Natty as it will come with all the features the 3D version offers except of course some fancy animations. To find out more about this project please visit this link.

7. Improved Ubuntu One interface

Ubuntu One is the Ubuntu’s attempt at integrating the desktop with the cloud. Like Dropbox it provides an ample 2GB of space for keeping one’s files on the cloud; however, it is meant to do much more than that. Ubuntu One aims at providing a seamless experience for users so that they could access their contacts, notes, or bookmarks from any computer with an internet connection. Though the current version of Ubuntu comes with Ubuntu One, its user interface is in need of an overhaul. Keeping that in mind, developers are working on simplifying the UI and giving the users more control over their account without any need of the web interface. Starting Natty, users can expect a completely redesigned and more user-friendly interface for Ubuntu One.

8. Improved Software Center

The Software center was one of the major highlights of Ubuntu Jaunty. Also, it was a feature that no other Operating System possessed; well not until recently when Steve Jobs announced the Mac app Store. Apple’s Mac App Store comes with features like ratings and reviews, which Ubuntu Software Center does not yet possess. Therefore, keeping up with the competition, ratings and review will be a part of the Software store in Natty. This will help users choose better applications based on reviews and ratings submitted by other users.

9. A Qt beginning

As mentioned before, Ubuntu will feature a 2D interface for better compatibility with low-end graphic cards. The UI part of the 2D desktop is implemented using Qt/Qml. Qt(pronounced cute) is a cross-platform application framework that is used for developing application softwares like KDE desktop, Google Earth, Skype, Vlc player and Virtualbox. As Qt is much more powerful than Gtk+, users will be able to see more cross-platform applications on their Ubuntu desktop. Moreover, users can expect Qt-based applications with multi-touch capabilities on platforms like ARM, Android and even iphone. 

10. Papercuts Project

During the development of Karmic Koala 9.10, the Canonical team along with Ayatana Project introduced a new project called The One Hundred Paper Cuts Project. The goal of this endeavor was to fix 100 small usability bugs that an average user would encounter in a default application. After successfully improving the Karmic’s usability, the project has been brought back to make Natty the finest version ever. Users can expect more polished applications, without those tiny usability bugs that are easy to fix but never get any attention. To find out more on how to contribute to the 100 paper cuts project please visit the following link

11. More Indicator applets and applications

Indicator applets are a great addition to the Ubuntu desktop, not just because they de-clutter the notification area, but also because they provide a common interface for the user to interact with many applications at once. Since their introduction, they have received an overwhelming response from the Linux community, so much that even OpenSuse is considering incorporating them. This popularity motivated the developers to come up with simple indicator applets like cpu frequency monitor and weather indicator that are lightweight and consistent with the rest of the desktop. Furthermore, since Natty will not be supporting the traditional Gnome panel applets, users will see more and more indicator applets being developed, thus giving users more to choose from. Apart from indicator applets, many new applications are popping up in the Ubuntu Software Center, many of which are free and some are paid. Indie developers are coming up with new games, and a horde of different music players has sprung up.

Is it worth the wait?

Well, with the amount of work the Canonical team has put in, Ubuntu fanboys are in for a treat this April. However, with so many bold changes, many users are skeptical about its reception amongst new users. Despite the skepticism, Ubuntu has successfully managed to create a buzz in and out of the Linux community. What do you think?


Take the poll

Are you excited about the changes in Ubuntu Natty?

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    • profile image

      Johng714 3 years ago

      I value the post.Thanks Again. Awesome. fcfdddfkafkg

    • ilikegames profile image

      Sarah Forester 4 years ago from Australia

      I remember that new desktop! One of the best features.

    • weekendrockstar profile image

      weekendrockstar 5 years ago from SE Pennsylvania

      I am using Ubuntu 12.XX and just loaded it onto my system. The only 'problem' that I've run into thus far is with compiz. My video card isn't cutting-edge these days but it's only a few versions back and would have no trouble at all with compiz however there was a problem when I selected the drivers for my nVidia card which lead to me having to reinstall Ubuntu again because while technically usable, I couldn't see anything. I tried it all again assuming that there may have just been a problem with the set up of the nVidia drivers. Problem happened again. So I gave up on it, re-installed again and didn't try to use the nVidia card and just go without using compiz. At some point I may get it to work properly but right now I can't justify the risk in rendering my installation unusable for the sake of some eye candy.

    • profile image

      Mark 6 years ago

      Like Ubuntu but having serious problems with LibreOffice. Just reloaded a document created in their word processing application. Unfortunately it came up with a blank screen. I can't find any way to recover it. I dare not waste time writing with it again. Maybe I'll use emacs or scrap paper going forward. Ugh!

    • profile image

      Avinash Pradhan 6 years ago

      Random freezes problem with Natty Narwhal Ubuntu 11.10.

    • profile image

      Christopher Cover 6 years ago

      I have used nothing but Ubuntu since 2005. But, since 11.04 with its ridiculous Unity UI, I will not lift a finger to use it or to change it to my liking. Goodbye Ubuntu; Hello my oldest and most consistent friend, Debian! I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Debian. Ubuntu is foolishness by default.

    • profile image

      XYZ1 6 years ago

      I am new to Ubunutu

      I was wondering about the softwares that are running in windows form my work like drafting and structural analysis software. Will it run on Ubunutu???

      Can anyone help me with this???

    • profile image

      Bill H. 6 years ago

      An unnamed individual told me that there would be issues with multiple monitor support for people who have more than one graphics card. Is this true?

      I have two very modern NVidia graphics cards and three (soon to be 4 I hope) monitors. Can I upgrade to Ubuntu 11 with Unity and expect this to work seamlessly, or at least close to seamlessly?

    • profile image

      A boy named SUSE 6 years ago

      Took me about 2 hours to give up on unity, on a brand new I5 processor/ 6gb of RAM, Asus laptop. I've used Ubuntu/ Gnome for the last 5 years or more.

      I'm off to learn how to deal with SUSE/ KDE, thank you very little.

      NOTE TO UBUNTU: Give us a choice We do NOT like UNITY and want it off our damn computers!!!

    • profile image

      EUGA 6 years ago





    • profile image

      zx 6 years ago

      unity is awful. where did my usability go?

    • Dave Powell profile image

      Dave Powell 6 years ago from Winchester, MA

      Hi fossmaniac, Great hub! I'm new to both HubPages and Ubuntu... and just published my own first Ubuntu hub here. I'm linking yours to it to help my readers! The article describes how I brought my dead notebook back to usable life using Ubuntu 10.04 to slash the project's costs... and it worked quite well! The machine is fairly old though, and though I upgraded both its disk and RAM to their max, I think that Ubuntu version 11.04 might be too much for it to handle. What do you think about that?

      Thanks again, fossmaniac!



    • profile image

      Pippus 7 years ago

      Ubuntu 11.04 seems really terrible for a desktop pc. For an Ubuntu or Linux user it's like to go back in the past..

      I've the impression to play with a children's Pc.. I can't use it for work especially because I have to perform many passages to find a programm. Also You have less freedom and configuration's possibilities considering the previous version of Ubuntu! And Linux users need maximum freedom of configuration..

      Maybe it's good for a tablet-pc but I didn't test it.. I'm going to reinstall the old version of Ubuntu and I hope for a real change in the philosophy..

    • IWantFroyo profile image

      IWantFroyo 7 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Browsing from the Narwhal right now. Amazing!

    • profile image

      7 years ago

      The desktop is unusable - what's wrong with working and useful menus that hold apps? Everyone that contributed to that unity desktop monstrosity should have their hands chopped off.

    • profile image

      kgas 7 years ago

      I like the changes (It is common to resist changes first, takes some time definitely to adopt) .Mostly aims to attract new users to Linux based system. For advanced users there are plenty of other choices.Gnome3 default interface also nice.

    • profile image

      ruiming 7 years ago

      Banshee is bad move

    • profile image

      svenal 7 years ago

      Changes are always a little scary, but we get used to and love them after a while (mostly) and Banshee maybe a mono app, but why use it anyway? I never used Rhythmbox either. Thats one of the wonderful things about Ubuntu, It's almost infinitely customisable. looking forward to the 28th of April

    • hatimyal profile image

      hatimyal 7 years ago from India

      I have used ubuntu and dint like it.

      I mean for some it could be a great browser but I am used to windows and it is more userfriendly.

      Anyways nice post.. you almost made me install ubuntu again.. hehehe

    • profile image

      Bthegeek 7 years ago

      I haven't really tried Unity interface and Libre Office. But I am looking forward to them. Firefox 4 is seriously a cool feature and doesn't get installed very easily in 10.10.

    • profile image

      Isthmus 7 years ago

      "The Software center was one of the major highlights of Ubuntu Jaunty. Also, it was a feature that no other Operating System possessed"

      What??? Can we say Linux Mint 9? Linux mint not only introduced the software center before anyone else, but they still do it better than Ubuntu. Fossmaniac should check his facts before making nonsense claims.

      I am excited to test drive the new Ubuntu though, especially now that Gnome 3 shell has been deleayed another 6 months.

    • profile image

      Chip 7 years ago

      I've spent a lot of time trying to give Unity a fair shot. However, it just sucks! It is just not as flexible and customizable as other desktops, which is a show-stopper for me.

    • profile image

      ubufan 7 years ago

      as long as they provide a way to log into old good GDM, we'll be fine. i don't like unity and kde is not an option.

    • profile image

      looking4alt 7 years ago

      I'm looking around for alternative distros... experience of unity on notebook has been less than impressive. I'm thinking the decisions Canonical are making here aren't the best for the community. Time will tell I guess.

    • profile image

      Motosuna1982 7 years ago

      Tried installing unity on 10.04LTS and found it to be buggy and unfinished. Still, I think canonical know what they're doing and I trust them to have a FULLY working D.E by the time they release 11.04, even with the addition of Wayland.

      I will stick with Debian and Debian based distros, they know where it's at. :)

    • profile image

      Andy 7 years ago

      I actually think Canonical should try improve the UI performance, for some reasons, it gives me feeling of sluggish, not as smooth as Mac. Other than that, Ubuntu is my pick.

    • profile image

      note 7 years ago

      I agree with moot. Besides, Ubuntu has consistently been producing not-to great releases. I still miss those stable days of 8.04

      Just moved to Debian 6. Great improvement.

    • profile image

      Repetitious 7 years ago

      Hooray, more indicator applets to kill and delete.

    • profile image

      Moot 7 years ago

      Ubuntu autumn released was NEVER good (at least for me) so always looking forward for 04 release.

      also having qt is a smart move and i hope to see startup speed improvement in Software Center.

      and for Canonical design team please, pweety please make a theme that smooth and FAST dont just include half-baked theme, if it's not ready don't evar include it. your user aint no guinea pig.


    • profile image

      Andrew 7 years ago

      How are they going to list updates to a bunch of other software as if they were features of Ubuntu? The only things on the list that should be are Unity and Ubuntu One, and frankly Unity has gotten so much bad press that I don't know why anyone would now pretend it's worth getting excited about...

    • profile image

      KRM 7 years ago


      if 11.04 does not address the right click of Synaptics trackpads then my feeling is a lot of effort wasted.

      Ubuntu 10.10 works perfectly on my 2 Asus Eee900PC

      But on my HP 210-1100 I have to use an external mouse.

      This is more to do with the poor ie: non existent backup from the manufacturers not Ubuntu



    • profile image

      John 7 years ago

      I've recently tested the latest versions of Qt and Gtk to decide which one to use for a new project. Also did a bit of literature research. Both indicated there are no significant performance differences. Unless your using old compilers, then gtk seems to have a slight advantage.

      Qt seems to be more populair these days and more suitable for crossplatform development. Qt offers more features and "feels" better on different platforms. I've decided to go with Qt because of my future cross-platform wishes, but gtk seems to be a solid choice for Linux oriented apps.

    • profile image

      vital 7 years ago

      Since when and in what bizarre world a new application version is a "killer feature"?

      Until Linux desktop gets a usable application installation (go to your flee market with your "package managers") feature it won't be on my desktop.

      On my desktop I want the best platform for running MY applications, with MY choice of their release numbers (how come that is not freedom?).

      I am already running FF4 and LibreOffice on my WinXP.

    • profile image

      Raine 7 years ago

      Ubuntu 11.04 will just rock!

      2.6.38 is a big win for performance improvements, not just over Desktop interactivity but also on VFS layer.

      Can't wait!!!!

    • profile image

      jrdls 7 years ago

      About openSUSE considering the inclusion of indicators, that is not quite true. Nelson Marques, an openSUSE member, decided he would package indicators and unity for those who were interested. However after 11.4 is released, openSUSE will ship a vanilla GNOME 3.2 with GNOME Shell (11.4 will ship GNOME 2.32 with openSUSE's traditional look and feel).

    • profile image

      Keith 7 years ago

      I think it's great they continue to try and improve the user experience. I don't agree with all the UI or software choices they make. But in general they continue to make things better.

      In case anybody forgets, the default software doesn't really mean that much. If you don't like Banshee, Firefox, LibreOffice or whatever there are plenty of alternatives in the software repository to use.

    • profile image

      CiscoPixie 7 years ago

      The Unity desktop screen shot looks very much like the Netbook remix of Ubuntu.. I think while it'll help new users, it might frustrate old users..

      Banshee as a media player is an interesting move.. i've tried out 90% of media players available for Ubuntu and i must admit i liked Songbird and Amarok the most..

      Libreoffice looks like a good choice but OOOrg remains the best for me :) I'd just replace libre with OOOrg.

      Firefox is the ultimate though :) i'd be highly upset if we had to use a different default browser.. Chromium isn't bad, but it's not Firefox!

      A new kernel is certainly useful.. i do hope that it does improve dramatically performance wise.

      Ubuntu One i love.. it's easy to use and I can access my documents wherever.. similar to Windows Live's SkyDrive.

      Software Center was a real pain for me.. but i've gotten so used to it that i dont think i'd like it if it was changed back.

      Finally a 2d interface! Maybe now the old pcs and laptops around the house can kick Microsoft XP and move onto Ubuntu :)

      I liked One Hundred Paper Cuts.. it certainly made a difference to the small things.

      Indicator applets are awesome :)

      So well done for writing yet another awesome Hub! I see some of the comments posted above mine can be rather critical, but I guess everyone has a different opinion..



    • profile image

      Paul Hubert 7 years ago

      Will it upgrade successfully over a 64 bit 10.10 install? Things BROKE after I upgraded from 10.04 to 10.10 and I've not been able to fix them since!

      I'm also using an Nvidia card on a Dell Optiplex 360 with dual 24" monitors.

      Computer Janitor REMAINS COMPLETELY broken and Update Manager will not update.

      Not eager to try backup of my stuff and reinstall though I suppose I may just have to bite the bullet and try that.

    • profile image

      carl 7 years ago

      Unity is still not working 100% of the time, and the new Xstack spent the weekend on vacation (it was fixed this AM). That's why its Alpha, I like it anyway.

    • profile image

      Tom 7 years ago

      I started using Gnome only because I dislike the changes found in KDE 4.x. From what I've seen so far, I have an even lower opinion of both Unity and Gnome Shell. So, I will wait to see if there's a way I can upgrade my system while keeping the "old" interface intact. In the meantime, I'm quite satisfied with Ubuntu 10.04 and can afford to wait until all these changes shake out. "Act in haste, repent at leisure", right?

    • profile image

      cmcanulty 7 years ago

      I hope googleearth will work in 11.04. I have tried every suggestion & fix with no luck in Maverick. Worked fine in 10.04

    • profile image

      dandellion 7 years ago

      I don't see why change of default music player (or any default app for that matter) is considered a big step. It's something that each user can do on their own. Even win users are savvy enough to choose their default apps for certain tasks. What's the big deal?

    • profile image

      Hutch 7 years ago

      The Software center was one of the major highlights of Ubuntu Jaunty. Also, it was a feature that no other Operating System possessed...Apple’s Mac App Store comes with features like ratings and reviews, which Ubuntu Software Center does not yet possess. Therefore, keeping up with the competition, ratings and review will be a part of the Software store in Natty.

      Erm Linux Mint had this feature before Mac or anyone else but because people think it's an Ubuntu respin they think it has no new features or original tools.

    • profile image

      Morley 7 years ago

      How is a Banshee as the default music player a "killer" feature? That is just silly. Not because it is a bad program, but because it is an incredibly minor change, and something that takes ~5 seconds to change in 10.10 anyways.

    • profile image

      bob 7 years ago

      Some of these features are very controversial. From the little I know:

      1. Unity-looks busy, though can probably be changed-opinions overall vary.

      2. Banshee-a mono app, which I simply won't use.

      3. Libreoffice-"clearing any fears about it being a hasty inclusion"-I'd have to disagree here. I installed the deb package from the LO site on a LMDE machine and found it slower than OO-O 3.2-and hit a bug immediately, so changed the default back to oo. I'm looking forward to using LO in the future-but will now wait a bit.

      7 & 8-I don't use Ubuntu One nor the software center (Synaptic is fine).

      9. This may work, but does bring in more lib files, and I'd be curious to see how much difference it makes in performance on some of my older machines.

    • profile image

      chrisa 7 years ago

      Not sure I like the unity desktop but most of the other features are briliant

    • profile image

      Børge / forteller 7 years ago

      Important thing you forgot: Big improvements to the Software Center, including the ability to rate and review software.

    • fossmaniac profile image

      fossmaniac 7 years ago from Earth

      @WalterCool Including Qt in Ubuntu will hugely increase portability. Suppose Canonical develops a new default app like Ubuntu one, it can easily be ported to a platforms like Windows and Mac(looks more native than Gtk+),Symbian,and even Android. Also, performance wise they are almost the same.

    • profile image

      WalterCool 7 years ago

      Qt more powerful than GTK+ ??

      You are being subjective, i prefer GTK+ on my apps than Qt,


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