I was upgrading to Ubuntu 11.10 the other day, after sticking to the pre-Unity, Ubuntu 10.10. Now I thought the Unity stuff would have gotten better, and sure it has, but still I couldn't stand it ... so, switched to Xubuntu (sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop), which uses XFCE as desktop environment instead of GNOME.
And after some tweaking ... Wow! ... so snappy, so beatiful, so fast, so consistent! just wow ... It's definitely my distro of choice from now on ...
Have to throw a screenshot at you (sorry, haven't got the Lightbox up working yet):
For your referece: