Maybe it is because I am bored? Maybe because I have not had a decent nights sleep in over 2 weeks? Maybe I just want something to tie me over until Intrepid Ibex goes into the RC period? Whatever the reason a few mornings ago I added a two new repos and downloaded the required bits & pieces that make up Ubuntu Netbook Remix onto my Advent 4211.
Ubuntu Netbook Remix, The Desktop
For the uninitiated Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) is basically an 'add-on' to the current release of Ubuntu (in my case 8.04, but 8.10 is available too) to tweak Ubuntu for the much smaller netbook (UMPC, micro-laptop...whatever) screens. “How nice of them”, I hear you proclaim, but do not worry there is a larger agenda to this as manufacturers of netbooks are being targeted to install this as a standard OS. I believe Dell already have one on the way.
Desktop again, but with some personal tweaks
Installation is fairly straight forward but you are warned that this is still relatively buggy. The screenshots I had viewed have already been changed. I thought something was wrong and reported a bug but it turns out that the developers had just tweaked the appearance.. So for a simple guide to install just Click Here, this will take you to the MSI Wind forums/guides and the packages are not large so soon you will be logging into your new look desktop. The official information can be found by Clicking Here, you can also help to develop by filing bugs and look for answers to any questions.
Browsing the applications menu
So first impressions are that it is different. I like a desktop with nothing in front of me except the upper and lower bars, something has to be very special to earn a place on it. With the Ubuntu Remix though the desktop is filled with your 'application' list on the left and your folders on the right. Now if you have lots of applications then you may need to scroll down to the bottom to see the 'preferences' and 'administration' tabs. Though I would certainly not consider using this on a larger screen laptop or desktop PC this does make sense on this and it is starting to grow on me.
Saying that, the first thing that jumped into my head was “this would be perfect for my Mum”, you see, she is 60+ and only getting into computers now. She mostly uses my oldest laptop with Hardy installed and the UNR environment might be much more 'user friendly' for her on the bigger screen. I will try this out later on once I am happy there are no bugs left. That said I have not found any bugs on the Advent yet, nor have I had any breakage. My only complaint is that the desktop is not very customizable, you are stuck with the installed settings for look and folder options. I really miss the 'add / remove applications' and now have to rely on synaptic for my tweaking (and of course the dreaded terminal...).
Browsing the inter-web with UNR & me & me too!
I do not miss compiz, UNR has some nice little features that suit the small screen. Also without compiz the Advent is obviously much quicker to respond as you navigate through the desktop. I have no doubt that things will get better as the development team add more features and further tweak the appearance. Once Intrepid Ibex is released and I have it installed and stable I have a feeling I will soon install the UNR package on top of it. As I said, the only aspect it is missing is better customization features for the end user. Other then that it has so far been a stable and good lucking package.
Ubuntu...Linux for human beings.