Unity : the new Ubuntu desktop environment
Canonical has unveiled their new Unity desktop environment which will be present in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition. Canonical also wants to introduce Linux into Windows computers.
The Ubuntu Developers Summit is currently being held in Brussels, Belgium. The founder of Ubuntu and Canonical has unveiled a new desktop environment entitled Unity. This environment is essentially aimed at netbooks and tactile screens. We will find this included in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition which is planned for release in October 2010, although it is already available as a trial version for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.
Unity brings with it a new panel and applications launch bar which can be found to the left of the screen. The aim is to allow for better use of the space available on the screen. While access to frequently used applications like the web browser has been made easier, this comes at the cost of other elements displayed on the screen which are not often used on netbooks.
"We have focussed heavily on how we can maximise the content display space. We have particularly concentrated on maximising the number of vertical pixels available for Web browsing. […] Netbooks generally have a large screen format. The vertical space is therefore more precious than the horizontal space" explains Mark Shuttleworth, who also pointed out that users should be able to launch and swap between applications with a touch, with application launches have been improved from this point of view.
The upper panel will host the menu bar of the active window and the Windicators which Mark Shuttleworth recently mentioned. These have the aim of reducing the status bar and interactive icons (widgets) specific to an applications window. You will find these Windicators will be standard on the desktop version of Ubuntu 10.10.
Unity also uses a few key elements from GNOME 3 (in development) like the Mutter window components manager and the file browser engine base on users history (Zeitgeist), while the way that applications are launched has been conceived with the Clutter graphics framework for GNOME Shell.
Mark Shuttleworth believes that Unity and GNOME Shell are "complementary for the GNOME project". As for GNOME Shell, we know that this won’t be made available by default in Ubuntu 10.10 (although it’s possible this will appear in Ubuntu 11.04), with it being considered that this requires a "larger vision in the sense that users now work in complex environments with multiple activities on the go simultaneously". Unity is focussed on "doing a single thing at a precise moment".
Canonical also announced an Ubuntu implementation which is entirely based on Unity. This instant-on environment (currently in fashion) makes access to the Internet as fast as possible (Web browsing, instant messaging...) after the system restarts. Ubuntu Light is aimed at OEM manufacturers, with its size therefore adapted for specific hardware with the aim being to offer it as a dual-boot.
According to Canonical, Ubuntu Light allows the user to connect to the web and be functional in less than 10 seconds. It also comes with a media player and tools integrated into the Windows OS. It appears that the aim is to slightly integrate Linux into a Windows machine (something already done in instant-on environments). For Ubuntu Light, we are no longer simply talking about netbooks.
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