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I allowed the OS to upgrade to 10.10. (The only choice visible (to me)). That seems to give me what I was looking for. One major thing was getting VLC media player to allow random track selection on playback. It works!
I'm going to hunt down the 10.10 .ISO distro and burn it to a CD. I don't recall seeing it in "publications", but it must be out there somewhere. Since it gave me what I wanted, I'll stay with 10.10, unless you can give me better reasons to go with 11.04? Will I "gain" much by doing so? Better support etc? I have the 12.04 distro, but I haven't used it because of the above reasons. I simply get lost with the "menu" structure. I can't find anything. Plus I don't like the left side being occupied with all those icons/places.
Ok, some comments. 10.10 is unsupported and will get neither bugfixes nor security updates. I can't recommend to use that. The problem is that 11.04 and higher no longer have Gnome 2 available, they use Gnome 3, which somewhat resembles the look of the Unity interface.
Maybe the best option for you would be to change to a distro that uses XFCE as their main desktop, like SalineOS. XFCE somewhat resembles the look of Gnome 2.
Thanks very much for your help and advice. (I just noticed your title of "GURU". I certainly support that.) SalineOS-1.6-i386.iso is downloading as I write. Never heard of it, so it's new territory for me. I've tried Mint, Pinguy, Puppy Linux, openSUSE, Ultimate Edition, but always returned to Ubuntu 10.04. (Now 10.10.)
I'll come back and let you know what happens, if I've been "converted" etc.
Again, thanks very much for your help and advice. It's appreciated.
Distribution: OpenSUSE 13.2 64bit-Gnome on ASUS U52F
You can safely install Ubuntu 12.04 and log in using the Fall back mode in Gnome shell, also in Unity you can hide the launcher on the left side of the screen and bring it up only when you move the cursor around it. you can also just bring a little box in which you type the name of the application you need to run by pressing the left alt key. just like the Gnome Do thing.
If you wish to use Xfce instead you can install it by issuing on terminal the following command (you can copy and paste it from here)
sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop
in the log in screen you can switch what graphical interface you want to use each session
so you dont have to switch distro just to use another desktop environment.