Ubuntu Unveils "Unity" Desktop Environment, Ubuntu Light For Netbooks

Linux doesn't get nearly the attention or credit it deserves in the consumer realm. Most web servers run on Linux, and anyone who engages in secondary education in programming will undoubtedly spend some serious time within a Linux environment. Yet, out in the public realm, hardly any average consumer would understand how to get around within an Ubuntu setup, let alone something with a less user-friendly UI.

Today, Canonical (makers of Ubuntu) revealed a new desktop environment called 'Unity' at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, which will be a desktop environment for Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition, released in October 2010. It's available today for developers building applications for the netbook environment, and with the race to create even cheaper netbooks fully on, this may just end up having a huge impact when the cost of Windows refuses to let netbook costs sink any lower.

Unity is designed for netbooks and related touch-based devices, and it includes a new panel and application launcher that makes it fast and easy to access preferred applications, such as the browser, while removing screen elements that are rarely used in mobile and netbook computing. Also today, Canonical announced Ubuntu Light, an implementation of Ubuntu that is based on Unity and intended for the dual-boot 'instant-web' market. This new version, which is more like a "pared-down" version of Ubuntu, features chat, IM, browser and media player applications and is aimed at PC manufacturers seeking an 'instant-web' experience that complements Windows on consumer PCs.

Ubuntu Light distinguishes itself by connecting the user to the web, with a running browser, in under 10 seconds. The product includes a media player and tools to integrate with Windows to access music files, photos, etc., and Ubuntu Light can be used on a standalone PC or notebook without Windows, but it is particularly designed for dual-boot environments, where it is installed alongside Windows and presented as an option at boot. Best of all, Ubuntu Light is available to OEMs today, so there's hardly a reason why you should have to wait awhile to see this rolling out to new machines.