It's just under two months before the "Perfect 10.10" release of Ubuntu, Maverick Meerkat, will be released. I've been running the alphas on my Netbook since the first official alpha release and have been pretty happy with it, even though I had some configuration problems when I first attempted to install Unity, since some parts that I consider pretty important are listed as merely 'recommended' instead of 'required'.
However, it's been installing Maverick on my desktop finally this week, that's made me really excited about the coming release. I'd been using GNOME Shell since earlier this year, when Lucid dropped. It's exciting how GNOME themselves, and Canonical are both working to push the envolope in UI design on the desktop, something which has not been done in quite a long time. It would be nice if Canonical was working more closely with GNOME in some of their work. The seperation between the two has made it quite difficult for some of Canonical's innovations to make it upstream, and I can't blame GNOME for that, since Canonical has chosen to work outside of GNOME's normal processes. Nor do I blame Canonical, since they are able to innovate without having to run everything through all the rest of the GNOME Foundation.
I guess that's part of what makes GNOME Shell so exciting. It doesn't seem to have the same problems with lack of cohesion among the GNOME ecosystem.
With two months to go, there are still a few problems. If you're using an nVidia chipset for your video, you'll need to update your Xorg.conf. I had a small problem with a mis-named library to run Shell. But there were easy workarounds for these problems, and they should both be addressed before the release.
Maverick is still updating regularly, and for most users, I still wouldn't recommend upgrading. It took me a little while to address these issues on my desktop, and more than once this Alpha, X has completedly refused to start after an upgrade on my Netbook. It's alpha, but this is shaping up to be an excellent release.