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Netbook Ubuntu: Web Client or Real Computer?

Ubuntu Marries Windows and the Web

  • May 26, 2010
  • By Bruce Byfield
Bruce Byfield
Over the past year, Ubuntu has become one of the centers for usability design on the Linux desktop. You might criticize this effort because it takes place in the distribution, rather than as contributions to the GNOME desktop, but at least it is happening. Moreover, this effort is being discussed far beyond the outer reaches of the Ubuntu community.

Part of the reason for this discussion is because Ubuntu's popularity automatically makes it influential.

Yet an even more important reason for the interest is that Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has made usability his personal obsession. Not only has he withdrawn from managing the business affairs of Canonical, Ubuntu's commercial arm, in order to devote his full attention to it, but -- what really matters -- he blogs about usability decisions as they are announced.

In these blog entries, Shuttleworth gives observers a rare chance to see the rationales behind usability decisions, and to measure the rationales against the results.

A case in point is the Unity desktop, announced two weeks ago as the basis of the next Ubuntu Netbook Edition. In the future, Unity will also be the basis of Ubuntu Light, which the release describes as "intended for the dual-boot 'instant-web' market" -- that is, web-centered machines that have both Windows and Ubuntu installed.

Shuttleworth's blog mentions four main design assumptions or goals: a "finger-friendly" layout (one suitable for touch screens on mobile devices), a faster boot, an effort to use horizontal more than vertical space because of the present prevalence of widescreens, and a limited number of local applications...

Read the rest of this Ubuntu story at Datamation.com

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