Instant-on Ubuntu

Ubuntu gets a new, fast desktop interface.

Instant-on Ubuntu

For some time now Ubuntu chief Mark Shuttleworth has been pushing developers to speed up boot times in the Linux operating system. Now he has revealed Unity, a new interface that is aimed at netbooks users. He’s also announced Ubuntu Light, a fast, light, version of Ubuntu that will offer almost instant-on boot times.


The new Unity desktop is primarily aimed at netbooks, including those with touch-screens. The major change in the Unity desktop is that the “dock”, used for launching applications, runs down the left-hand side of the screen.

The layout is not entirely new and resembles the desktop shipped with Ubuntu Netbook Remix. The difference is that the icons are designed to be controlled using touch while still being as non-intrusive as possible. 

Writing on his blog, Shuttleworth said that one of the main objectives of the Unity interface was to maximise screen space, in particular, vertical space: “We focused on maximising the available vertical pixels for web browsing. Netbooks have screens which are wide, but shallow. Notebooks in general are moving to wide screen formats. So vertical space is more precious than horizontal space.”

Typically Ubuntu has a bottom panel that spans the width of the screen.

Unity does away with this by pushing things to the left-hand side where more space is available to work with.


With another eye on the popular netbook sector, Shuttleworth has also announced Ubuntu Light, a lightweight version of the Linux OS. Ubuntu Light is a minimal environment which includes a browser, chat application, a video player so that users can surf the web and communicate with friends, wherever they are.

The intention with Ubuntu Light is to offer a working desktop to users in little more than five seconds. Speaking at the Ubuntu Developer Summit this week, Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu Light will be fully usable within seven seconds on a Dell Mini 10v.

Although Ubuntu Light is mainly aimed at netbook users, Shuttleworth says that the dual-boot market is a candidate for the lighter operating system.

He says that while many users are already using Windows for their daily work there are many times that a simple, fast, Internet-focused operating system could be a benefit for them. He says that Ubuntu Light is ideal for PCs already running Windows. Users can then choose between the standard Windows desktop or the faster Ubuntu Light one, depending on their needs.

Both Unity and Ubuntu Light are still in testing and will become more widely available with the release of Ubuntu 10.10 in October this year.

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