I'm marking this as solved, although I don't think I have found peace yet. The path, for me at any rate, seems to be mostly in getting used to things and finding the tricks and tips... teher's a good number of links and ideas in this thread for getting started with it. Many thanks to all!
i've installed 11.10 recently and the performance are ok enough compared to 10.04 on my machine that I'll stick with it. However, the desktop is starting to drive me mad and I can't quite get used to a few weird things after a few days. I don't mean to rant (too much) but it feels like I should have intuitions about how Windows may work those days and that really is not helpful.
I don't want to revert to something that will grow unsupported and I would really like to get the hang of how to live with this. I haven't been able to find straightforward ways of configuring the behavior and it's obvious I must be missing something. Any tutorial / documentation I find seems to lead to installing further things which all promise more struggles (Compiz?) and I haven't been able to find the right place for configuring the thing.
For the sake of illustration, and also on chances of fishing for kind nudges in the right way, here are some of the basic little things I'm struggling with:
- I can't really make my way through the Dash home. I'm not sure why it closes when I do, for example, Dash home --> More Apps --> Customization --> Appearance
- it's a struggle to resize windows
- it's a struggle to switch windows or instances of the same app (e.g. when I have 2 Firefox windows open, I struggle to get to the right one.
- I can't find a way of opening more than one instance of an app (e.g. FireFox or terminal) across desktop spaces other than opening another window and dragging it to another space. But then, it's a struggle to switch between instances
- the left hand side MacOS like bar comes up when I don't want to --- e.g. when trying to hit the return arrow in Firefox --- or it doesn't come up, ot it doesn't react (e.g. it won't go to a running instance if i click on the icon)
- i can't find a way of force quitting an application --- e.g. skype
- is the absence of panel in the upper bar by design or have I missed a configuration option?
thanks for any suggestion that does not involve reinstalling a desktop app