The previous times I said no, I was busy doing other things. This time, like an idiot I said yes. The result was catastrophic - previously I was told the "unity" desktop wouldn't work, this time it installed it but it wouldn't work properly on the netbook's small screen; I couldn't seem to get rid of the top bar, and the side menu thing is grotesque. Every program started off small and narrower than it should be.
So I tried to get rid of unity, and suddelly nothing worked - I was in terminal mode and couldn't get out of it. I've just wasted two hours trying to sort this mess, with total lack of success.
So I'm reinstalling 11.04 again, and will resist any attempt to update. And the last week or so of tweaking and installing software is completely wasted.
Meanwhile, I'm open to suggestions on alternatives to Ubuntu that work well on netbook-sized screens and do not do this sort of thing...