Gone is the brown, in comes the auberginey-purple. It’s actually quite appealing and obviously takes a lot of cues from OS X (the file manager windows) and iPhone (the menu bar and its plain white icons).
Reaction among Ubuntu users has been mixed. On ZDNet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes asks Can Ubuntu out-sexy Apple?:
“To me, the UI does indeed look … well … a bit Mac-like. But that might not be a bad thing. One of Mac’s major selling points is simplicity, and while Linux has a long way to go before it’s ready for the computing masses, giving the OS a more refined look might help people feel at home with the OS.”
He also points out that window controls in this theme have moved from top-right to top-left, another OS X-like feature. Some users aren’t terribly happy about that. But Ubuntu is very flexible – if they don’t like the default theme, they can easily switch to another.
I’d say it’s less of an attempt to “out-sexy” OS X, and more of an attempt to just bring things up-to-date. The brown theme served Ubuntu well for many years but it looks old-fashioned compared to Snow Leopard and Windows 7. It needed a fresh look and this one is smart, yet subdued.