To my surprise, I saw that Ubuntu’s “Oneiric Ocelot” was released, which I decided to let go through via Ubuntu’s Update manager. I ended up double surprised when I found out that, from version 11.10 and on, only the Unity shell will be part of Ubuntu. I despise Unity (earlier). Despise is a hard word: lets say I can’t get used to that fixed launcher. I found it also very disk-intensive, sort of defeating the purpose of making a light shell. Going way back to Gnome was easy, though:
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell
Wherein I ran into the third surprise of the week: Gnome 3 is now part of 11.10. Gnome 3: it reminds of Unity, that is: without the bloat. Everything now centers around the “Activities” panel, which is sort of an overview of what is active and what is currently running. There are a bunch of nice tricks you can do but it leaves me still mixed: Since there is no real task bar, it’s really hard/impossible to find particular process messages (like the file copy windows). Gnome 3 seems also geared towards hot-keys and short-cuts: you’ll find Gnome’s Cheatsheet handy (location). There are definitely improvements: Screencasting is now built-in using the hotkey CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+R (output in WebM format!), effects are used sparingly and geared towards a uniform experience. Do I like Gnome 3? So-so. But, it just has a slightly better feel than Unity.
10/22/2011: I ended up installing the Gnome Shell extensions + an external Dock program (“Dockie”) to take care of the missing features I was looking for.