Portland, OR: At OSCon, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company announced that it's adding a new feature to its Ubuntu desktop: the ability to use popular Internet services and Websites, such as Google's GMail and Facebook as desktop applications, Ubuntu WebApps.
This feature will formally appear in the next release of Ubuntu 12.10, Quantal Quetzal, in October. But, users won't have to wait until then for it. According to Jono Bacon, Ubuntu's community manager, the Ubuntu team has been working on this for some time and the feature will be available for Ubuntu 12.04 users in the next full days.
At this time, there are about 40 WebApps. This includes apps Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, and Google+. Ubuntu WebApp's source code will be available on the Canonical Launchpad (https://launchpad.net/) project management service. The new feature's functionality calls up a Firefox plug-in to achieve its results. The program also has an application programming interface (API) and an integration script engine for users to make their own desktop applications.
WebApps is more than just placing Web short-cuts on the desktop. For users this functionality is integrated with Ubuntu's Unity/Head-Up Display (HUD). So, for instance, you can use Last.FM from the audio controls. They are also integrated into into Ubuntu's APIs and programs. So, for example, Ubuntu's message indicator can be set to alert you when new mail arrives in your Gmail account.
This is another step forward in Ubuntu's cloud integration. Last year, Ubuntu incorporated its own personal cloud service, Ubuntu One, into Ubuntu. This was a natural progression. Indeed, what operating system these days, Windows 8, Mac OS X Lion/Mountain Lion, and Google Chrome, isn't incorporating the cloud and Web sites and services into its infrastructure?
A first look at Dell's 'Sputnik' Ubuntu Linux developer laptop
Assassins, Orcs, & Zombies, oh my! Valve brings Steam games to Ubuntu Linux
Has Microsoft opened the door to the Linux desktop?
If my mother-in-law can use Ubuntu Linux, anyone can
Ubuntu 12.04 arrives and it's great