back to article Ubuntu Unity interface flashed for speed freaks

Canonical has unveiled a streamlined Ubuntu-Linux interface for those wanting almost instant web gratification. The Unity desktop targets netbooks and touch-screen devices, re-orientating the Linux distro's interface so that the dock runs down the left-hand-side of the screen, while offering a finger-friendly launch menu for …


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  1. Cameron Colley

    So, he's come out and said it then.

    After the decision to go proprietary for CODECs it was only a matter of time before Cannonical decided to move even closer to becoming another closed source company -- being a quick-boot add-on for Windows seems to be another move in that diffection.

    Good to see Shuttleworth admitting he couldn't give a shit about Linux or free software and this is just a long term business plan.

    1. Goat Jam


      Nope. It is intended to be loaded in a PC's firmware and offer a quick booting alternative to booting Full Bloat Windows for those that just want to get in and check emails or surf the web. If it is done right people may find that they need to spend less and less time actually booting into Windows and they may even start questioning whether they really need to have Windows on their in the first place.

      This will be especially fun when the Windows install gets itself all tangled up and malware infested leaving people with little option other than doing everything on "that linux thing"

    2. Baudwalk

      Come now

      They're doing something different. Good for them.

      Isn't that what us penguin-botherers usually cry out for? Choice?

      I'm a Slackware and SuSE (for when I'm feeling lazy) man myself, but if Canonical can build a viable business while respecting both the letter and the intent of GPL and the other free/open licenses, I wish them all the best of luck.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      Which article were you reading..... since when did it say it was an add on for windows.... this is a completely separate operating system essentially a stripped down version of Ubuntu that is designed to load and be usable very quickly so that people don't have to load a larger(slower loading) OS be it windows or Ubuntu or something else(think splashtop). I can quite easily see myself running this alongside my Ubuntu installs so that I can have a quick on system for quickly checking e-mails or getting some info off of the web. This is in no way an add on for windows and it is most certainly not a way of saying that he doesn't like opensource software, this is in fact a brilliant way of getting linux and opensource software out to more people......

    4. The BigYin


      News at 10. Fanboi in "companies need to make money to pay the bills" realisation shocker.

      Who, exactly, is forcing you to use Ubuntu?

      If you don't like the way Ubuntu is going (and personally speaking the whole "social computer" thing irks me) then don't use it.

      From what I can see most of the problems I have are with Linux in general*, not with any particular distribution.

      *Printing, multi-head support**; you've heard it all before.

      **Yes, I know it can be done. But it still sux compared to the "best of breed" that Windows seems to exhibit.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Non sequiter

      And how pray did you make that leap of deduction?

      - Ubuntu 'went proprietary for codecs' or 'is supporting proprietary codecs'

      - Ubuntu became a 'quick-boot add-on for Windows' or 'is supporting Windows dual-boot'

      Sorry but your comment is just silly.. And this from someone running Ubuntu 8.04 at home for the last 3 yrs...

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Comic Sans!


  3. Skrrp


    He wants to make it _faster_?

    My 600Mhz netbook boots into Gnome with mobile broadband in under a minute already. This pisses on my 2.something dual core Windoze machine from a great height. Actual to browsing times on that box is greater than 5 mins.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Under a minute?

      You are clearly a very calm and patient individual, possibly one about whom a religion should be founded.

      On a more serious note, I am enjoying this booting speed war hugely. My Umbongo, Snow Leopard and even Win 7 machines boot at a distinctly respectable clip. Fun to see there being a little bit of warfare focussing on speed and efficiency- some machines that are a couple of years old seem faster now than when they were new.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge


      Under a minute is too slow for embedded devices.

      You want to switch on your tablet device and have it ready for use in about 10 seconds or less.

    3. JC 2

      @ Faster?

      Ok, but even as bloated as windows is, both of those periods of time are piss-poor. Even with a WinXP install you can cold boot from a hibernated state in 10 seconds if that install is set up to only do the basics of being online, surfing, email.

      5 minute boot times? Something is very wrong with that system. Even on a OEM bloated factory install of Vista I have an aging clunker low-end laptop with a single-core celeron, 1GB memory and 4200RPM HDD that finishes booting in under 2 minutes and by finished I mean it has acquired a wifi link and Firefox is next on the startup list. I suspect with the 5 minute boot time you have some quirky external drive that your motherboard bios isn't handling well during the hand-off to windows enumeration in the boot process. I have a desktop board like that, simply unplugging it before booting makes all the difference.

      Not that this eliminates the usefulness of a streamlined Ubuntu distro, just getting away from the fundamental issues inherent with windows, let alone avoiding the windows tax on a low cost netbook, would be worth far more than the couple bucks for a large enough nvram chip to store the OS.

  4. Neil 6

    Chill Cameron

    It's just a branch distro looking to make in-roads before Google's OS arrives.

    1. OffBeatMammal

      hopefully better than ChromeOS

      I've been playing with ChromeOS (in VMWare player) and while it's quick it's.... just a browser. Back to the days of DOS where you could run one full screen app at a time and tab between them.

      Some really annoying other limitations at the moment, such as no offline storage for email, but no way to run a n alternative mail client... even at home my broadband isn't 100% reliable so the cloud needs a local cache

      If Ubuntu can come up with a very lightweight yet more flexible and open solution then that's great news - especially as they seem to be a lot more open about the decision process for what gets checked in than Google

  5. Anonymous Coward

    re: So, he's come out and said it then,

    "The dual-boot opportunity gives us the chance to put a free software foot forward even in markets where people use Windows as a matter of course"

    Looks to me more like he said it'll help get Linux into markets that wouldn't normally use it.

  6. MinionZero

    Duel booting Ubuntu and Windows is very useful and important...

    @"dual-boot environments, which Shuttleworth called a new frontier for Canonical."

    It maybe new to him, but I've been duel booting Ubuntu and Windows for a few years. (My previous PC was triple bootable as it was Win98, WinXP and Ubuntu), so its been possible (and very usable) for years. I think its a very good way to encourage more people to get into using Linux, if all they have experienced so far is Windows. :)

    Getting people over this initial learning curve I think is very important. Once they have experienced Ubuntu/Linux for a while, it helps to overcome a lot of their fears about it. So by allowing them to use it whilst still clinging to their old Windows copy as well, it helps convince a lot of casual web users, Ubuntu is all they need to do all they want, (e.g. web, emails, documents, photos, etc..).

    For more technical users, like I guess a lot of people on here, my company still requires me to work in Windows a lot of the time, so its very useful to have a duel booting machine.

    @"Canonical also unveiled Ubuntu Light, which is based on Unity. It features chat, IM, a browser, and a media player."

    Also don't forget Ubuntu Studio, which looks very tempting to a lot of users, as it comes with many media tools pre-installed (Audio, Video, Graphics) and for anyone new to Linux its mind blowing for them to tell them they can get all this for free. That really helps shock people into changing their perception of Windows. :)

    Here's the link:

    This gives a good overview of all the tools you get with it.

    The more Linux users the better. :)

  7. The BigYin


    Although it does worry me slightly that the general public could come to see Linux as nothing more than a light-weight boot screen before Windows loads, rather than the serious contender it could become.

    One thing is, the more Unity does the bigger it must be. So the slower it must become. If the stories are true that Linux can boot in sub-10 seconds on an SSD device; does it actually need to be lighter? Wouldn't using (say) FluxBox gain enough ground for advances in SSD et al to make up the rest?

  8. S.G.

    Dual boot?

    I don't know any mom and pop who would understand or even use a dual boot.

    Having said that I like the idea to have this on a web-centric machine.

    1. Brutus

      How terribly patronising

      Why do so many people insist on believing that older people (I assume that's the mom and pop that are being referred to) are useless at technology? At what age do you qualify for mom & pop status? 40? 50? 70? My father (72) is quite capable of understanding dual boot after less than five minutes of explanation.

      People are, on average, averagely intelligent(!). I generally find that most of the issues surounding (mis)use of computers is down to inadaquate explanation of what is going on, not stupidity on the part of the user.

    2. Chemist

      Re : Dual boot?

      "What do old people know about computers" Er, I think they invented them

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Ubuntu will have to work on SSD's first...

    Seriously, I ditched my netbook and moved on. Ubuntu was the based hope until it trashed the SSD's.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What about firewalling then? Are we expected to go the traditional route for managing IP chains, or is there an interface not requiring knowledge of esoteric commands?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


      By default, ubuntu has no open ports to world+dog so the firewall is not needed. If you do install something that opens up ports (e.g. SSH daemon, samba or NFS share, etc) then you should turn on the firewall if exposed to the world

      In most cases, you are not (as you are behind a home router's NAT) so again you can breath more easily. But if you are directly on a cable modem, or use VPN, or use a busy and untrusted WiFi, then you are probably open to some or all comers.

      There is a simple 'gufw' graphical utility that you can install from the graphical package manager to do most of the firewall configuring with ease. Typically select 'default reject' and then enable just what you want, and for the IP address range(s) you want accessing it. It even helps by allowing you to name the service you want enabled (e.g. by 'ssh' rather than knowing it is port 22)

      Unless you are really determined, just forget about directly doing ip chains...

      And keep to sensibly strong passwords for such remote access, please?

    2. Tim Parker
      Thumb Down

      Re : Firewalling ?

      ...hmm - you've not used a Linux distribution in the last few years, have you ?

  11. Rogerborg

    Spin us another one, Shuttleworth

    After the "lurch to the left" window decoration fiasco, Canonical "want input" as much as a hooker wants you to whisper sweet nothings in her ear while she's counting your money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yeah, how dare they put food on their kids tables

      OMG Shock! Horror!

      Someone who doesn't live in their Mums basement or student accomodation actually needs to make ends meet in the real world.

      Burn them at the stake this instant

    2. The BigYin
      Thumb Down

      @Spin us another one, Shuttleworth

      I agree. It's disgusting. It's so hard to change as well . So hard. So really, really hard. Impossible even!

      And there is no alternative! If you use any other Linux distro, small imps will appear and roast your genitals over blazing chilli-peppers whilst stabbing you in the eyes with rusty spoons (and not clean ones either). So run Ubuntu or BEWARE!

      To be honest, the left controls weren't as bad as I thought they would be and I haven't accidentally closed a window yet. I may change the location*, I may not.

      * Right click "Applications", left click "Edit Menus", select "System Tools", enable "Configuration Tools", click "Ok". Select "Configuration Tools", dive to "apps/metacity/general" then play with "button_layout" [this ignore all non-GUI options]

      ** Yeah, it would be nice if this was available a bit more directly like from the "Theme" dialog...but there's just so many options on Gnome (never mind KDE!); where do you draw the line?

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