From the ‘How Far Can We Stray from GNOME 3‘ files:
The latest development release of Ubuntu 11.10 is now out, once again pushing Ubuntu into different territory than its Linux peers.
The 11.10 alpha 2 release is now out, and includes a few things we haven’t yet seen in other Linux distros (yet). At the top of the list if the Linux 3.0 kernel (rc5) which will likely already be an ‘old’ kernel by the time October and 11.10’s general release comes out.
The other shift is the move away from GNOME Evolution as the default email client. Instead Ubuntu 11.10 will be using Mozilla Thunderbird. Evolution users don’t need to worry too much though, it’s still supported by Canonical, it’s just not part of the default ISO.
Also in contrast to a ‘stock’ GNOME distro, Ubuntu 11.10 is using the lightdm login manager instead of gdm. Somewhat ironically, lightdm is tagged by Ubuntu at this early stage for having some missing icons from the main login screen(796793).
This is an alpha after all – so no one should expect this distro to work in a stable fashion (yet). The 11.10 alpha does show progress and change and it will be interesting to see how the next 90 days of dev work unfold.
The 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot release is currently scheduled to hit general availability on October 13th.