Saturday, 26 September 2009

Ubuntu Netbook Remix Karmic

As Karmic hit beta freeze this week, and the artwork began to freeze, I thought it would be a good time to introduce the latest version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR):

As you can probably tell, the largest change from the previous version is a new design and layout. This is thanks to the awesome work of the design team. In addition to the new UI, there has been a fair amount of work in the architecture of the various UNR components. Apart from the users ( :) ), the largest beneficiaries of this are the launcher and window-picker-applet.

The launcher has been updated to use the latest version of Clutter, and benefits from the performance improvements that the Clutter 1.0 release carries. In addition to that, the launcher now has a framework for plugins, which allow extending the home screen and adding new categories on the left (and example is the Files & Folders category). There's not too much documentation at the moment, but I'll follow this post up in the coming weeks with some examples.

Window Picker Applet has had a major overhaul thanks to Jason Smith of Docky fame. In addition to making the code more sane, he's transformed the look and feel of the applet and fixed a bunch of annoying bugs. Coupled with the new Gtk and icon theme (Dust and Humanity), Jason's work makes the panel look much, much nicer than before:

In addition to these bits, there are a couple of things I'd like to highlight:

UNR Karmic contains both the excellent Messaging and Session Indicators. The message indicator allows you to quickly see how many unread emails/IM messages/Twitter replies you have. The session indicator allows you to easily set your IM presence and also lets you switch users (if you hardware supports it) and log out easily.

We've also got the very latest Notify OSD and the Ubuntu Software Store, for a nice and easy way to expand your netbook's usefulness :).

That's it for now, you can grab the latest UNR image from the daily builds here, and I've posted links to a few more screenshots below.


Anonymous said...

Looks good! One of the smallest but best improvements I see in the screenshots is the unobtrusive black and white tray icons. It would be very nice to also have that as the default in the desktop Ubuntu version.

Anonymous said...

One easily achieved improvement would be using google chrome (-ium) instead of firefox. It uses a lot less screen estate and als seems less resource-hungry which are both very important on netbooks.

Neil J. Patel said...

@anon1: Thanks, I believe Humanity is the default icon theme for Karmic Desktop Beta too :)

@anon2: I do like chromium too, and have been using it on my desktop. I think it would be great for netbooks, but we need to at least wait for an official release before considering (flash support etc are important). Even though, would be a good proposal for Lucid.

Anonymous said...

"Apart from the users ( :) )"

Randall Munroe needs to see this. If he had been aware of this parenthetical expression, his TED talk may not have failed.

p.s. Remix is Piracy. ;)

Tretle said...

OMG, did nj just post something on his blog ;
:D lolz

Anonymous said...

"The session indicator allows you to easily set your IM presence and also lets you switch users (if you hardware supports it) and log out easily."

How is it possible for hardware to not support switching users? That doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

Narbonne Christophe said...

I've read the software store is going to be recalled software center... which is a better name..

m.lettner said...

it would be awesome if you would modify firefox a little bit. for example
remove the bookmark bar or move the bookmars itself somewhere else.
small icons.
the hide menubar add-on which shows the menubar with the Alt key.
hide the statusbar.

there sure are more things you could do but please don't use the default boring firefox settings.

Neil J. Patel said...

Re: Switch Users -- As the launcher is GL, some graphics drivers don't support acceleration on Xorg screens that aren't the primary screen. Your right though, 'hardware' isn't the right term :)

@tretle: It's a blue moon, right? :)

Re: firefox, definitely...however I'm not sure about the different extensions available, so it would be great if the community participated in preparing the specs for Lucid UNR to discuss at UDS.

Anonymous said...

oooh still too big for a cd

Anonymous said...

The dust theme looks gorgeous, not sure why Ubuntu avoids making it ( or Dust Sand) the default on the Desktop releases.

Ryan Paul said...

It looks great! For Firefox, I highly recommend adopting Aaron Bockover's Meerkat add-on:

Miles Prower said...

Please, please, make it so UNR can run _decently_ on a Eee701!

JM said...

One thing you mentioned, the plugin extensibility, is something I was totally unaware of (but I've also not been keeping up much lately due to medical issues), and something that I would very much appreciate. That's one feature that could really make up for any of the real or imagined shortcomings I'm experiencing in the Karmic alphas, and would probably go a long way toward my being more forgiving of the new interface (which I don't find very attractive, but that's just a matter of personal taste and as more 9.10 compatible themes appear I'm starting to warm to it a little more). But having used the UNR interface since almost day one of it's release, the ability to customize shortcuts again will be a very welcome addition, as that is the one thing that has bothered me most when switching back and forth between Jaunty and Karmic Remix(been dual booting them since Alpha 3).

As far as the Firefox question goes, I'll definitely second Ryan Paul's suggestion of "Meerkat". It minimizes and cleans up the browser interface for use on netbooks very well, without the need to install mulitiple addons or do any manual configuration of the view options. I can verify that it works on FF 3.5 in both Jaunt and Karmic, as I have been using it in both and it works just fine. Really impressed with it, as it does the job of about four different addons with only one package.

Neil J. Patel said...

@Ryan: Thanks! I'll be sure to try out the Firefox extension.

@Miles: 701 was broken in Jaunty due to something missing from the Kernel that screwed up the Intel driver. I don't think the same problem exists on Karmic. Performance on the 701 should be pretty good. Please let me know if it isn't, as we're running out of time to fix these things.

@JM: Yep, I just ran out of time for that one, but it's a pretty useful if you don't do it, I'm sure I will :) Thanks for the second heads up on Meerkat, I'll definitely check it out.

Anonymous said...

No composite available? On what hardware did you do the screenshots?

Best regards ...


Joy said...

Nice post, nice info, thanks :)

iSkype said...

Is it possible to load the development tool package let say Quickly into the Remix?

Rev.Nicole said...

Hello, My Husband put the remix on my netbook and I wanted to leave some feedback as to what I think. We love how smooth it runs on my netbook and how the netbook is now running cooler. How ever there are a few thing I really dont like and might cause me to switch back to the regular desktop style. I dont like how big the Icons are on the desktop. This remix is suppose to make the best out of the little screen it has. Well why is the list on the desk top permanent and not a drop down menu only there when you need it? and Why dose the side menu not go away once your done with it. 3 times now I have accidentally clicked one of them Icons and started up stuff I had no intention of using at the time. I dont like my desktop cluttered with Icons like that. Also because you took away the X box to close windows it took me a long time to figure out how to close something or minimize it. that was very frustrating. So what I am wanting to know is; is there a way to change the look of the desktop back to the regular lay out and still keep the rest of the Remix so my netbook runs smoother and does not get so hot??? I love every thing else about the remix I just really cant stand the Icons for every thing stuck on my desk top all the time. If you can give me the source code to change the look of the desk top I know my Husband can change it for me. He's the computer wiz in this house ;-) I'm just an average user lol
any how thank you for reading this and for any input you may have.