Ars Technica looks at Ubuntu Netbook Remix (Verdict: excremental brown, but looking good!)


Pulling spaghetti strands of beta code from Canonical's source repository and tying the slippery ends together, Ars Technica has some impressions up of Ubuntu's new subnotebook optimized OS, Netbook Remix. The new tabs-like application switcher seems particularly righteous:

The other major component of the Remix user interface is its unusual window switcher, which is designed to mimic the look and feel of tabs. Program windows are all permanently maximized. Each window places an icon in the window switcher bar and the active window is highlighted as though it is a selected tab. To the right of the icons, the rest of the space is taken up by a single tab that displays the title of the active window and a close button.

It seems like an approach that is particularly well-suited to small screens. So, looking good from a design perspective, although Ars Technica laments the typical preponderance of excremental brown. We sympathize. Still, there's the question of customers: are any subnotebook manufacturers going to take Ubuntu up on this? My guess is that the first subnotebook we see Netbook Remix on will be a Dell.

Hands on with the Ubuntu Netbook Remix [Ars Technica]

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  1. The sentence right after the quote above is: “This is a lot like the way that the Matchbox window manager works in the Maemo environment, except that the window icons are at the top instead of along the side.”

    On my subnotebook (a Sony Vaio U101), vertical space is at a premium. This seems even more likely to be the case on today’s crop of subnotebooks, which generally have a widescreen aspect ratio.

    I suppose if the top bar can be made to autohide, that’s okay. (Ideally, with no artificially induced delay. Gah, what a terrible idea.)

  2. Well, the article also says:

    The black bar at the top of the window is a regular GNOME panel and the window switcher tab bar is a panel applet.

    GNOME panels can be set to auto hide with no delay, so that should answer your concern. Also, if it’s a normal panel, it can be placed vertically on one side of the screen, like Maemo. The applet just has to support that layout, which would be a trivial tweak that if Canonical doesn’t do themselves, you can be sure will be done immediately by a user.

  3. What’s the advantage of this over a more versatile tiling window manager like wmii, xmonad (which works just fine with gnome-panel), or ion?

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