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Innovation

Ubuntu Unity Netbook Edition

As I mentioned yesterday, l have now downloaded and installed the packages for the current very early pre-release of the Ubuntu Unity Netbook Edition. The good news is, it looks very interesting.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor on

As I mentioned yesterday, l have now downloaded and installed the packages for the current very early pre-release of the Ubuntu Unity Netbook Edition. The good news is, it looks very interesting. There are lots of good ideas, even at this early stage, and I like the user interface a lot more than the current Ubuntu Netbook Edition. The (moderately) bad news is, at least on the two notebooks I have tried so far, it is extremely finicky and incredibly slow. I would strongly recommend that you don't try it yet, unless you have some serious masochistic tendencies.

What's good about it? Well, think about the normal Ubuntu Gnome desktop, and then add the kind of vertical menu that UNE has, but compressed into icons instead of being spread across a third of the screen space. Windows seem to open maximized, as under UNE, but they have "normal" Ubuntu Gnome window decoration, rather than having the window title merged into the panel as it is under UNE. The whole thing looks like a better approach than UNE (to me).

What's finicky about it? When I tried it on my HP Pavillion dv2-1010ez (AMD cpu, ATI graphics), it installed but didn't work well at all. The top and side panels were blinking on and off, apparently in an infinite loop, and I couldn't do anything on the screen. The only way out was pressing either the power button or Ctrl-Alt-Del, and selecting Reboot.

What's slow about it? When I installed it on my Lifebook S6510 (Core2 Duo cpu, Intel 965 graphics), it installed and seemed to work correctly. But when the cursor was moved to any icon on the screen, it took 5-10 seconds for the associated text to come up. (Moving up and down the column of icons and then watching what happened produces a pervers kind of pleasure...) Starting any program or action likewise takes several to many seconds. It gives me a feeling sort of like using the old Ubuntu Netbook Remix on a netbook that didn't have 3D graphic acceleration.

I want to emphasize again, this is very early pre-release software. Canonical is talking about having this in the Ubuntu 10.10 release, which is basically 6 months away. I'm sure they will work all of this out, and make a lot of other changes and improvements by then. The thing to be taken from the kind of early peek is the positive aspect - it looks like a good move in the right direction.

jw 11/5/2010

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