Today at Computex, Canonical announced its Ubuntu Netbook Remix today. This version of Ubuntu 8.04 is optimized for the small screens and limited performance of the emerging class of netbooks. For those who have used Ubuntu before, it's clear that this provides a really compelling alternative to Windows XP Home, as well as to some of the less polished distributions available from Asus and other netbook OEMs.
Engadget has some nice screenshots posted. Since actual machines based on this distribution aren't going to be available until at least July, the question is can we wait long enough to have them in place in classrooms by September.
However, I'm inclined to believe they will be worth the wait. Given the basically indefinite extension of Windows XP Home for netbooks and nettops, it doesn't appear that Microsoft will be pumping much new life into this segment any time soon. While many *nix distros work well with limited hardware, a distribution optimized for screen size and using Intel's Moblin technology to fully exploit the Atom hardware is certainly welcome for educators seeking inexpensive, easy-to-use netbooks.