The first alpha of the Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal development cycle has been released.

What’s new?

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!

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.


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 ‘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.

Which means that…

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.


Obligatory Video of Alpha 1 in action


If you’re feeling brave you can grab Natty Alpha 1 – as well as see a comfortingly long list of known issues – @

natty Unity