Ubuntu touch netbooks by year end?

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News Posted: Thu, Oct 7 2010 9:43 PM
On Sunday, Canonical will release Ubuntu 10.10 in netbook, desktop and server editions. The netbook version will include support for touch through a new user interface, Unity.

The Unity interface was designed from scratch for netbooks and has been available to developers and netbook OEMs since May. It eliminates lessor-used icons, rearranges the remaining ones and includes a new panel and application launcher that makes it easier to find preferred netbook apps like the browser.

When it comes to touch, Unity can be used in combination with Canonical's "libutouch" gesture libraries, which lets users perform complex tasks with strings of specific gestures. As Canonical VP Steve George explained it to me, I imagined a marriage between an iPad and an old fashioned Palm device. Remember how the Palm translated certain stylus gestures into letters or commands? The gesture libraries let developers get as complex as that, without the stylus.

"If you have a touch supported device, and can launch applications using touch mode, you can maximize applications using three fingers, or developers can use a set of gesture libraries to bring in sophisticated use of gesture. A set of touches that will bring up a screen which is your home screen, or gestures that access common documents," he described.


Ubuntu's new Unity interface supports touch

As for when Ubuntu touch netbooks will be on the market? George said he'd have specific announcements about that "later this year." We all know that if device makers don't hit the holiday season, they are only hurting themselves. Hence, I predict that we'll have at least some prototypes to gaze at before then.

I'm hoping that those announcements will include a new device based on the new Ubuntu Light edition, too. This too was made available to device OEMs in May. It is intended to build netbooks and PCs that dual-boot between Windows and Ubuntu. Ubuntu Light is all about speed. Canonical promises that it will load, launch a browser and connect to the Web in under 10 seconds. It includes less features than the full-blown Ubuntu, too: chat, IM, browser and a media player.

Canonical has been taking heat for months over how little it contributes back to the open source software projects it most relies on, including the Linux kernel and the desktop interface, GNOME. At the annual GNOME conference in July, GNOME's Dave Neary released research on who contributed most. Canonical, perhaps the most popular Linux desktop distribution for consumers, contributed a scanty 1.03 percent.

So I asked George about the uproar. He told me that Canonical doesn't view its main job as writing the foundational software, but in taking what's written and making it more usable for the Average Joe and Average Josephine.

"We focus on polishing up and improving," he said. "It might be small things but they prevent people from coming on board [to the] Linux desktop. We work on usability and applications and content all trying to make it so it can be used by a general set of users. That’s not to say we don’t contribute to open source on a more general basis, not as much on the kernel but we are oriented on other pieces on the stack."

With that in mind, I'd say any soon-to-be-announced Ubuntu touch netbooks could very well be things of beauty to behold and touch. 
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I tried the netbook remix on my netbook and hated it. I then installed the full version and am quite happy with it. for some reason it run better than the net boo remix... I hope they fix it with the next update. 

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Yeah the old Netbook Remix was awesome. This version they changed to Unity and it is just freaking laggy. I'm very disappointed because they had a good thing going. No idea why they changed to Unity. Now I'm running Lubuntu and it's working out well.

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GEndrulat replied on Fri, Oct 8 2010 10:54 AM

unity = meh and no customization

jolicloud 1.1's html 5 desktop = win

customize to your hearts content even way beyond the old ideas of what a "desktop" should be

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Jolicloud is pretty cool. The older version of UNR used a modified version of Gnome which was really nice on the small screen, but still Gnome. You can still install Gnome on UNR, but you end up with the basic Gnome you would get if you just installed vanilla Ubuntu. Granted that's not the worst option, because you do get popular netbook drivers and such packed right in.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Oct 8 2010 3:52 PM

I like Ubuntu, but I've heard exactly what you're saying about Unity from just about everyone that's tried it.

I was kind of hoping Meego would hurry up and fill that particular gap.

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I don't think that a stroked down version of Ubuntu is required for a net-book. They have storage and nowadays, they have power to run the full version. My son's MSI Wind ran it at speed and without any problems at all.

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realneil:

I don't think that a stroked down version of Ubuntu is required for a net-book. They have storage and nowadays, they have power to run the full version. My son's MSI Wind ran it at speed and without any problems at all.

No you really don't. I did like the old UNR though. It was not stripped down at all. The top bar was just modified which made better use of the small screen.

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