I use the word "potential" because I still do not like Ubuntu 12.04 out of the box with the Unity desktop, install Any Other desktop and Ubuntu 12.04 begins to shine. I won't go into all the reasons I dislike Unity and the default Ubuntu setup, enough to say that in its default state for classic desktop paradigm fans like myself, Ubuntu 12.04 with Unity makes me feel like I have a wall between me and my computer.
Installing Ubuntu 12.04 was unremarkable, easy as always, but when I went to boot my netbook I found no Ubuntu 12.04 listed in grub despite the fact I had installed grub to the mbr. Luckily I had other Linux installs on the machine and was able to boot into the last Linux install and update grub, which finally picked up Ubuntu 12.04. After this major hiccup everything else went fairly smooth.
Using the instructions in the Gnome Classic Mega Thread at Ubuntu Forums I installed Gnome-Panel, removed the overlay scrollbars, moved the close/minimize/maximize buttons onto the right side of the screen, and other tweaks to create a useful desktop for myself. After installing some must-have programs such as Synaptic Package Manager, Restricted-Extras, Gdebi, Dropbox, Psensor, and other applications, I had an Ubuntu install that I felt comfortable with.
I will say this, if you install the myunity app and unfreeze the Unity dock so it auto-hides, and make the thing small enough to not be intrusive, then set the sensitivity all the way up, Unity is much better than its earlier iterations and approaches being almost usable. Just need to move the window buttons to the right and get rid of the hiding menu bar and I could almost live with the thing.
It is a bit of work to give Ubuntu a makeover to create the kind of desktop I'm happy with, but all the work is definitely worth it on two counts, the first is that Ubuntu gives you a solid base to build upon, with the needed drivers and other tools to lay a good operating system foundation, the second is that unless you get the itch for a different operating system you can leave Ubuntu 12.04 on your computer knowing that it will have five years of support from Ubuntu.
Having Ubuntu now the way I like it, and having used it for a couple of days, I'm rather impressed at how stable it feels at this point. There is no "bugginess" common with some new releases. You get the feeling that Ubuntu understood this release in particular needed to be as stable as possible, and the result shows it. More than this, for the first time I feel confident running Ubuntu on my netbook without the Jupiter app in the background to bring the temp down a few degrees so it isn't running hot as with previous releases. In fact it is not only cooler, it is faster, I almost can't believe this is Ubuntu on my netbook. Of course I'm using Gnome-Panel without effects, but I've done that with previous Ubuntu releases and had neither the speed nor the cooler temp--five out of five stars to Ubuntu for this!
This all bodes well for the other Ubuntu spins including the upcoming Linux Mint 13. It is worth noting that Xubuntu 12.04 is looking good as well on my desktop computer. Other than some over-active crash notices it also is feeling pretty solid. I spent just a small amount of time with Kubuntu 12.04 and it also appeared very solid and polished. Didn't have such good results with Lubuntu 12.04 which felt buggy and froze every time I stuck a usb stick in a port, causing me to finally abandon that spin. A LXDE desktop install onto Ubuntu 12.04 gave much better results, it was both fast and stable, and adds to my positive impression of the new Ubuntu overall.
My conclusion is a positive one, despite my disapproval of Ubuntu chasing the tablet/phone market, and making a difficult interface with Unity, I know that those who like Unity will love this release. Even those of us who have no love for Unity can be pleased that we have a good foundation for other, more usable desktops, and that other spins based on Ubuntu 12.04 should prove impressive. For all my bitching about Ubuntu I have to give them credit for the Long Term Support release of Ubuntu 12.04 which in its final form is both solid and reliable.