I am settled in and the view is fine from here. There has been a desktop display war going on and a lot of Ubuntu users are effected. I don't have a pimped out machine so I can't test all the eye-candy and new "Shells". Canonical's Unity desktop has proved to be too much in the way for me and my video card has a hard time with the Gnome Shell. I think that says all that needs to be said.
I hate screens full of icons. You don't really remember what is behind them or at least you aren't really sure. Then there is too much space between them, you have to scroll down a page to see them all, plus sometimes two layers deep of search. This all equals too much thought between the first icon and the app you want to use.
I am going to add to what Linus T. said about operating systems. The OS should not get in the way of the user, neither should the desktop interface. So to that end I am not using Unity nor Gnome Shell. I have the standard Ubuntu 11.10 and added XFCE desktop. Here's a pic:
Just like Unity and Gnome shell I have a panel of favourites on the left side that hides when not needed. On the top the file manager is very handy, then on the bottom the menu, task-bar, work space, clock, etc.
Pretty much everything is one click away and faster than the shells. I don't want to work through desktop layers to get things done. This is a hybrid solution that works nicely for me. And I can change it around to look and work differently. I haven't even added tweaky-geeky stuff to achieve this, simple is cool.
I am also starting to play with the graphic tablet more to get the feel of it. This old mouse masher is used to doing vector type drawing. I'll have to work on some project to push my practice of digital freehand.