I've recently started with Ubuntu 6.06LTS, which I think is equivalent to Dapper Drake, after cutting my Linux teeth on old versions of Red Hat. I must say I found my first sight of the Ubuntu desktop distinctly offputting. All the things I'm going to gripe about are alterable and I have altered most of them. The point I am making is that default settings govern the look and feel of the system for newcomers and I think these ones have serious disadvantages.
1. The system boots up with a dark brown splash screen on which the startup messages appear in dark red. This makes them virtually illegible and illegible messages cause stress. It must be even worse for Windows users because they aren't used to getting startup messages unless something is going wrong! Either Ubuntu should go the Windows route and not have startup messages at all or they should appear in a contrasting colour - say white or cyan. Or get rid of usplash (which is what I did in the end) and start with a nice legible text console.
2. I hate the default colour scheme and standard wallpapers. Who decided that that faecal shade of brown was a good colour for a desktop? I can understand that you don't want to use the Windows sky-and-clouds motif but there must surely be some less nasty alternatives.
3. A completely empty desktop looks really unfriendly to a newcomer. There should at least be a home folder and a wastepaper basket, perhaps also a preferences tool. According to the "Ubuntu Book", icons are not placed on the desktop by default because they get covered up by windows. But the Ubuntu desktop has a "desktop recall" button (top marks for that!) so that you can get back to your icons with one click - not to mention that in Linux you can usually get a pristine desktop simply by switching to a different workspace.
4. That tiny wastepaper basket on the taskbar is ok for people who use right-click/delete to get rid of their files but it's not so easy for those of us who like to use drag-and-drop deleting. It's mechanically difficult to steer files into it and it's a long way away from the files themselves. A full size wastepaper basket on the desktop is easier to use.
5. I really like the menu bar compared with the traditional main menu/start button. One click less to get to your target! But having the desktop recall button at the extreme left of the taskbar where the start button used to be is very confusing. I thought it was a start button and couldn't understand why nothing happened when I clicked it!
6. Having the workspace pager appear as a linear array instead of the more familiar 2x2 matrix makes it look like a normal button bar whose legends have somehow failed to appear. This is also confusing (it certainly confused me!) Again I think this must be even worse for people coming over from Windows who have never met a paged desktop before. It's also easier to pull apps over from one workspace to another when they are grouped around a point rather than stretched out in a line. I found that changing the pager to 2x2 required a deeper taskbar to make it look right but I don't see this as a problem when you have the amount of real estate that Linux makes available.
Little things but they make a big impression. Are the later releases any different?