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Canonical Releases Ubuntu for Netbooks


The paint has barely dried on Ubuntu 8.04 when Canonical announced at the Computex trade show in Taiwan on June 3rd that it will be releasing a new version of Ubuntu 8.04 just for Intel Atom-based netbooks and UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs).

According to Canonical, this version of the popular desktop Linux will be known as the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. It’s based on standard Ubuntu but it will include a ‘Launcher’ that allows users to get on-line more quickly and have faster access to their favorite applications.

From a user’s viewpoint, Pete Goodall, Canonical’s product manager, said “The Launcher will be the interface. While it’s GNOME-based, it’s meant for users who may never have worked with Linux before. Like Good OS’ gOS (, users will be able to easily access their most commonly used Web and PC-based applications.”

However, Goodall continued, “Unlike gOS, there will be a bit more emphasis on PC-based programs. Still, we expect people to primarily use these devices for Web-based applications. The Web is king. The key difference is that Ubuntu will be providing long term support for OEMs using Ubuntu Netbook Remix on their computers. It’s here to stay.”

If it hasn’t become clear by now let’s make it clear. This distribution isn’t aimed at users, it’s meant for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Indeed, a Canonical spokesperson said it will only be available, as ‘Ubuntu Netbook Remix,’ for OEMs.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix is meant to make it easy for OEMs to ship Ubuntu-powered, Intel Atom-based netbooks. Specifically, this version of Ubuntu is designed to work with and Intel Atom processor, 512MBs of RAM and at least a 4GB SSD (Solid State Drive) or hard disk. In short, it’s meant to work with Moblin mobile Linux Internet-based devices.

Several other desktop Linux distributions have done extremely well with this mobile, small-form factor market. Xandros has arguably become the most popular desktop Linux distribution, thanks to Asus deploying it on Eee laptops and now PCs. The new Linux distribution gOS, which is Ubuntu-based, came out of no-where, to become the desktop for Everex’s Linux-powered PCs. Like the new Ubuntu, it features easy access to online applications. In gOS’ case, the Linux distribution is designed to work well with Google Apps, while one version has been built just for MySpace users.

The Ubuntu Netbook Remix comes with many popular open-source applications. These include: Firefox, the Thunderbird e-mail client, and It also includes the proprietary Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, RealPlayer for MID (mobile Internet device) and Sun’s JVM (Java Virtual Machine). What’s most unusual about its supported software is that it also includes licensed audio and video decoders for MPEG4 (H.263); MP3; Apple’s AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and Windows Media.

“Our goal is to deliver a superb user experience while making it simple and cost-effective for device manufacturers to be able to bring their devices to the consumer marketplace,” explained Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu in a statement. “Ubuntu has in a very short period transformed the perception of the Linux desktop experience. Many more people will experience Linux for the first time through these devices so working with Canonical, using our UI and leveraging software from the Moblin project is the best way to ensure the netbook experience is a success.”

Gerry Carr, Canonical’s marketing manager said, “OEMs around the world, both large and small, have already signed up. The first devices will appear this fall, and by the end of the year, Ubuntu Netbook Remix devices will be available both in North America and Europe.

For more information, visit the Canonical Netbook site. OEMs who want to ship Ubuntu Netbook Remix should e-mail Canonical at

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