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Ubuntu Unity interface for netbooks on 10.04

I've recently being trying out the new Unity interface for Ubuntu. It's in development at the moment so it's not really ready for mainstream use yet, but it's going to be the main interface to Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) in the next few months, so I thought I'd take a look.

First - here is what the current Unbuntu Netbook Remix looks like based on Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04

Ubuntu Netbook Remix - UNR 10.04

I really like the current UNR interface which I think makes excellent use of the limited screen space on the netbook and does it in a way that is still very easy to use. Much better than forcing a standard desktop look onto a smaller screen.

I decided to try out the new Unity interface as this is likely to become the new default interface for Ubuntu Netbook Remix starting from the next release 10.10 due for release in October 2010.

The new interface is shown below.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix - with Unity interface on UNR 10.04

The first thing to notice about the new interface is the application quick launcher on the left hand side. I like the idea of having these easy to launch, but this only has a small number of applications. To see the rest of the applications the Ubuntu button launches a file manager showing the contents of /usr/share/applications which does not organise the applications in anyway.

The other thing that is clearly visible in the above screen-shot is that you can see several applications. This is showing the display that is shown when switching between tasks which looks good and easy easy to use.

Other changes are going to be in the notification system, but that is still work in progress at the moment.

Want to give it a try?

It is fairly easy to install and try the new Unity interface if you are currently running Ubuntu 10.04.

To install Unity on Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04 open a terminal and enter the following 3 commands.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:canonical-dx-team/une

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install unity

The first entry adds the development repository to the package management system, the second refreshes the list of available applications and then the third installs unity, and all the dependencies.

Then when you next login click on the sessions menu after choosing the user you can select Ubuntu Unity Netbook Edition to give it a go.

Want to go back?

If you want to switch back to the normal netbook interface then when logging in change the session to Ubuntu Netbook Edition. There does however seam to be an issue that the notifier application shows as well as the date and time, effectively repeating the time information and using up space better used by other applications.

Having had a look at the new interface I un-installed it, as I'll wait until it's moved on a bit before using it on my main netbook. I may install it again under a virtual machine so I can watch developments, but I'm sticking with the current UNR setup.

To completely remove Unity enter the following two steps in a terminal

sudo apt-get remove unity

sudo apt-get autoremove

Conclusion

It's good to see what's coming up in the future and Unity certainly shows a lot of promise, but for now I'm sticking with the traditional Ubuntu Netbook software. It will be interesting to see Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) and I expect the interface will be much more polished by then.

Exciting times ahead, but for now I'm sticking with the Netbook interface I know best.


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