Thanks to growing user-interest, it looks like there is going to be a GNOME Shell flavor of Ubuntu to satisfy those who aren't fond of the direction of Canonical's Unity desktop.
Being discussed on the final day of the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Oakland was "GNOME Flavor" with the point being to "Discuss what demand there is to make a GNOME flavor of Ubuntu, what it would contain and if it would have patches over upstream GNOME and what work needs to be done to make it happen." The developers agreed that there is certainly user interest and they'll now be working to make this happen. "Yes, we think there is demand for users."
The purpose of this yet-to-be-named Ubuntu derivative would be to push the latest upstream GNOME packages as the default desktop. This is in contrast to the normal Ubuntu desktop with Unity where it's shipping with whatever GNOME packages are compatible with Unity -- e.g. it's not until Ubuntu 12.10 that Clutter and some post-3.0 GNOME packages are being added to the archive. However, as said during the session, "Unity would have priority as it is the primary distribution in Ubuntu."
It was also said, "We have an opportunity to be the 'most GNOME distribution' but shipping as close to upstream as possible."
The developers are also still debating some particular packaging conditions like Evolution vs. Thunderbird and Mozilla Firefox vs. Epiphany for the web-browser. This GNOME Ubuntu flavor would bring in GNOME Boxes, Abiword/Gnumeric rather than LibreOffice, GNOME Classic support, the Adwaita theme, and other alterations compared to the stock Ubuntu desktop.
This likely Ubuntu flavor has yet to be named. Unlike Xubuntu, Kubuntu, and Lubuntu, this mix isn't likely to be called Gubuntu since Google's internal Ubuntu mix is already called "Goobuntu
", which the developers feel is too similar. Other possibilities thrown out there for the name were GNObuntu, GNOME OS, GNOME Ubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, and UbuGNOME.
The notes in full about GNOME Ubuntu can be found on this EtherPad page
This new desktop flavor comes at a time when Unity 2D is looking to be dropped
from 12.10 and the Unity desktop is further distinguishing itself from upstream GNOME by doing things like forking the GNOME Control Center