The new Ubuntu version 11.04, Natty Narwhal, that was released on April 28th, has a new Unity desktop. The new desktop forces you to change the way you work from the previous Gnome desktop. For some users this will give them additional capabilities, but others may prefer the old Gnome desktop.
Gratefully Canonical, the maker of the Ubuntu distro, left us the ability to switch the desktop back to the Gnome desktop, and back to Unity if you prefer. I've done this a couple of times now, in testing out the new Unity desktop. I thought it would help to document how to switch desktops in pictures.
Here's the new Unity desktop:
From the Unity Desktop if you click on the icon all the way over on the upper right toolbar to the right of "dale" in the above image, you get this:
Now if we click on the System Settings menu choice, we get this:
The Control Center has many icons, and you'll need to move down the Control Center screen with the scroll bar until you come to the "Login Screen". If you click the Login Screen, you get this:
We need to Unlock this screen with our root password to change anything. After we unlock the screen we will click on the "Select Ubuntu" drop down, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the Unlock password screen.
And here's what happens after you authenticate your right to change the desktop, and then click the drop down menu of the "Select" box at the bottom of the Login Screen. Here's what the Drop down looks like:
Ok, here's where you make the switch. If you click "Ubuntu Classic" you'll get the Gnome Desktop, if later you want to go back to Unity, you'll repeat this procedure and then click "Ubuntu".
We have one more thing to do after Closing the menu. We need to restart our system, by clicking the upper right icon that we used when we started this process, like so:
And presto the Gnome Desktop appears when the system boots up. Here's the Gnome desktop:
Some words of wisdom, Canonical has stated that they may not give you the option to switch desktops in future releases. They would standardize on Unity.
Because of that, I think you owe it to yourself to give Unity a fair shake before returning to Gnome, so you have a good opinion on what desktop you'd like to use, and why. If that desktop turns out to be Gnome, and Canonical does not allow you to switch desktops in future releases, there are other Linux distros available, like Mint, that would provide similar drivers and functionality to Ubuntu, and use the Gnome Desktop as their standard.