Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'netbook'

Gerry Carr

Yesterday we looked at the demographics of the respondents to the survey and some observations about the validity of the date. I recommend you read that post first. Today though we are going to dive a little more into how people first discovered Ubuntu and installed it.

How long have you used Ubuntu?
I wanted to establish if there were changing patterns depending on the length of time and/or the age of the respondent. That is, do relative newcomers to the platform or younger users use different tools to acquire the platform.

First of all the length of time that people have used the platform was remarkably consistent across the surveys. Given this level of consistency and for simplicity I will focus on the English language version.

 

Table: Length of time for which people have used Ubuntu

<2 year 2 to 5 years 5 years or more
English Survey 19.6% 42.7% 37.7%
Spanish 20% 43% 36.9%
Portuguese 21.1% 43.2% 35.6%

 

How did people first hear about Ubuntu?
So do people who have come to the platform more recently discover it in different ways to to the those who have been on the platform longer?  Well let’s see:

 

 

Table: How did new versus more more experienced Ubuntu users first hear of Ubuntu

< 2years 2-4 years 5 years or more
Magazines, etc 6.9% 7.9% 9.4%
Work 3.9% 4.8% 4.9%
Friends/Family 27.2% 25.2% 20.5%
School/College 11.7% 11.2% 8.9%
Forums, irc etc 46.2% 48.5% 54.8%
Social Media 4.2% 2.4% 1.5%

 

 

So the shifts are not seismic but we are looking at shifts information sources over a fairly short time period (approx 5-7 years) so I think we are justified in picking out patterns. The traditional tech forums of irc, chat rooms etc are becoming less influential as a first contact for Ubuntu. Social media as you might expect is increasing  as its reach becomes more pervasive. We might also conclude with qualifications, that this indicates a slight shift in the type of user coming in to  one that is less likely to hang out in a tech forum. But these shifts are slight and will be interesting to track over time. If we run it for age of user – do we discover anything there?

 

 

Table: How did different age groups first hear of Ubuntu?

<18 19-24 25-35 36-45 46-54 55+
Magazines etc 8.1% 6.0% 6.9% 10.2% 14.8% 18.7%
Work 0.8% 1.4% 5.5% 8.6% 9.1% 6.9%
Friends/Family 31.9% 28.1% 23.2% 18.1% 13.2% 18.6%
School College 7.2% 18.1% 11.4% 2.6% 1.8% 1.2%
Forums 47.6 44.2% 51% 57.7% 58.9% 53.2%
Social Media 4.4% 2.1% 2.0% 2.8% 2.2% 1.4%

 

 

We certainly see the trends repeated with regard to the remaining great importance of the tech forums but that the diminish at the younger and older end of the spectrum. Social media is still small but much more important for the under 18s – again in line with broader terms. The significant importance of school and college for 18-24 years olds versus the under 18s shows that Ubuntu has so far been more successful at permeating tertiary education than it has at high schools especially in developed markets. India for instance has 16% of under 18 respondents discovering Ubuntu at school showing its greater penetration in high schools there.

How did you acquire the version of Ubuntu that you have?

The result here is consistent across the survey and across age groups so there is no value in breaking this out. It does however put a number on a question that we have wondered for some time – how many users do a fresh install of Ubuntu versus upgrades in place. And now we know that is roughly 2:1 that do a fresh install. The low number of pre-loads is certainly a concern – reflecting the continuing lack of availability in the market. We also probably under-counted this as we asked about the version users are currently running versus how they originally acquired a version. Still the good news from the sales team in Canonical is that 2012 should see a turnaround in this availability issue at least in many markets so again, a figure that is worth tracking over time.

How easy/difficult was the installation process? 

Something our platform engineering team and the web team have always put considerable focus on is the ability to install Ubuntu easily. After all, the work in making a great product is wasted is people cannot install it. The good news is that the people have in general expressed a strong degree of satisfaction with the install process.Again there was no significant difference in either the Portuguese or Spanish response so for those languages at least there appears to be no  translation hurdle.

More to come

On Monday if I can get it all in one blog post I am going to look at the reasons for choosing Ubuntu and we will look at regional and age differences in response to that question. Also interesting in other and upcoming Ubuntu products such as Ubuntu One and the more recent announcements like Ubuntu TV and Ubuntu for Android. And we will look at the all important satisfaction questions, just how happy are existing users with Ubuntu.

Gracias, obrigado and thanks for reading

Gerry

 

 

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Gerry Carr

Ok, we got a lot of response to the user survey poll, so thank you to everybody that took part. I will publish access to all the results through the fantastic Survermonkey site on Monday, but to make it easier to digest, I’ll split the results out over three blog posts. Before I delve into the results we should discuss a little bit of the methodology in order to pre-empt some questions and also to help better understand the data.

Languages.
I decided to run the poll in three languages – Spanish, Portuguese and English. There were a number of reasons for these choices. Firstly to do it in English only would obviously bias the poll to Anglophone responses so the US and UK would stand proxy for the whole world and that would be clearly unsatisfactory. Secondly those language groups (S,P,E let’s call them) tend to be disproportionately monolinguistic for those that have them as a mother tongue so seemed the most relevant to having a poll in their language. Thirdly, Latin America is a very hot location for open source and I wanted to capture usage in those nations as best as possible. Finally, we had to draw the line somewhere. If you add French then why not German, or Chinese, Japanese, or Hindi etc. Anyone interested in translating the poll into their language and promoting it to their language group need only contact me and I am more than happy to accommodate – the story need not end here.

Methodology
I deliberately set out to contact existing users through existing channels for purposes of cost, speed and also because I think we can learn a lot from people who are at least minimally involved in the world of Ubuntu. So we reached out through Facebook, the forums, Planet, our Twitter feeds, UWN and OMGUbuntu. Thank you to all who helped make that happen. The result is that the response is broad but self-selecting. We are undoubtedly missing people who simply use Ubuntu as a ‘tool’ and have no engagement with the user of contributor community. But that’s cool. Even with a self-selected audience we have built up a pretty comprehensive picture.

Let’s see what we discovered
Firstly the number of responses. These numbers in each language groups give us terrific statistical confidence in the results, something we will see borne out by ‘normal’ distribution of responses to each question each survey – i.e. there are no huge or inexplicable variances in response which would lead me to question the validity.

Total responses to each survey:
English (15,653)
Spanish (1,825)
Portuguese (1,751)

How old are you?
If you are the mythical ‘average’ user you are between 25-35. That does not vary if you are Spanish or Portuguese speaking although you are less likely to be under 18 in those language blocks. In fact almost 70% of you are under 35 in each language group. And you are male. Overwhelmingly male. The average number of women responding is <4%. Here I do wonder how much the bias of the sampling methodology has affected the response rate  - i.e. is that for whatever reason the way we reached resulted in fewer women responding than is actually reflective of the user base. We can’t extrapolate from this data, but certainly such a hugely weighted response means we have to look at how we make the product, the community and probably both, more appealing to both genders.

Where do you live?

No great surprise that in the English language survey the US and UK were strongly represented. India appeared strongly too showing the growing user base in that country and we then once past the other anglophone nations of Canada and Australia we get quickly into the long tail of other nations responding. Northern Asia hardly appears at all which is not surprising but perhaps calls out for a survey in Chinese, Japanese and Korean to discover user preferences there.

The Portuguese Survey was 93% Brazilian and only 7% from Portugal. Spanish language is more interesting as I think we get a good picture of relative usage in various countries of that language block for the first time. And here it is.

Interesting to note (and again SURVEY BIAS ALERT) by population size for the top 5 it should read in order of population size (source http://www.spanishseo.org/resources/worldwide-spanish-speaking-population):

 

Mexico (23%)
Colombia (9.9%)
USA (9.80 %)
Argentina (8.99%)
Spain (8.95 %)

Allowing for relative IT infrastructure and broadband availability etc, the placement differences compared to population size are probably understandable with perhaps the exception of the US responding so low compared to its Spanish-speaking population. Use of Ubuntu is not so widespread that it should map 1 to1 with population spreads but again, like the gender bias these do perhaps offer insight into areas where, with some focus, we can help push Ubuntu into new ground.

 

More tomorrow

So that’s your taster for today. Tomorrow i will delve into the meat of the survey and look at the triggers for usage, satisfaction level, social media preferences of Ubuntu users across (as least part of) the world. And full results for everyone on Monday, I promise.

PS – a very special word of thanks to Tiago, David and Ayrton for the translation  and promotion help – gracias y obrigado!

Regards and thoughts welcome,

Gerry

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John Bernard

Next week, Canonical will present an executive briefing on developments in Ubuntu Desktop, Cloud and Server. Christopher Kenyon, Canonical EVP, will be sharing developments in Ubuntu, including:

  • Introducing Ubuntu 11.04 with critically acclaimed interfaces and developer APIs
  • How phone manufacturers are delivering converged devices like the Motorola Atrix with Ubuntu
  • What Ubuntu Core means for the home, automotive and device industry
  • Ubuntu Cloud – why an open cloud matching Amazon Web Services APIs is changing the industry

The Ubuntu Showcase will take place at Room 201A (2nd Floor), in the Taipei International Convention Center on May 31st, from 3:00 – 4:30.

Agenda :

  • 3:00 – Welcome and demos
  • 3:30 – Executive briefing
  • 4:00 – Demos and refreshments

Key members of the Canonical team will also be on hand to answer questions.

Please contact john.bernard@canonical.com now to secure your place.

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John Bernard

Canonical can give details of more machines coming online from Lenovo in the Chinese consumer market.

There are now over 30 Lenovo ThinkPads certified with Ubuntu, with many of these being completed in the first half of 2011. The great work with Lenovo continues. .

Click here to access the link for the latest certified hardware.

The ThinkPads, pre-installed with Ubuntu 10.10 on Intel and AMD processors are available to purchase today in China. The model list includes the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 14, the latest consumer and small business-oriented ThinkPad from Lenovo.

Having hardware certified through Canonical provides consumers and corporate user the assurance of a high-quality, user-friendly, maintainable operating system on every device. The key benefits of combining Ubuntu with Lenovo Thinkpads is the hassle free operation and a fast reliable performance.

See Lenovo’s link for Linux certified hardware online here. You can currently purchase a device in China from a Lenovo store directly or online from 360buy.com.

Contact oem@canonical.com to find out more about certifying and pre-installing devices with Ubuntu.

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Inayaili León

A fresh new look for Ubuntu.com

Natty Narwhal isn’t the only thing new today in Ubuntu. Along with it, and as you may have already noticed, we have updated some areas of the Ubuntu website, including a fresh new homepage.

What’s new?

This overhaul of the website focuses on improving and refining the experience for users who are new to Ubuntu and who we want to entice and convert. We have taken a better look at how Ubuntu’s most important features and characteristics were (or weren’t, in some cases) being shown, and whether visitors’ most important questions were being answered.

Several things have changed. Firstly, rather than having separate sections for Desktop and Netbook (and as a consequence of the move towards Unity), we have created a single section called, simply, Ubuntu. We have also added a direct link from the main navigation area to a new Download section, making the different download options more visible.

Under the new Ubuntu section, Ubuntu’s features are given the spotlight. Rather than having a long list of screengrabs as before, various tabs take you through a more detailed tour of the most exciting and useful features.

The Web browsing features page
The Web browsing features page

In the new What’s new? section you can see what has changed from previous versions of Ubuntu.

Interactive tooltips in the What’s new? page
Interactive tooltips in the What’s new? page

The new homepage is cleaner, more focused and it shows off some of Ubuntu’s features from the outset. The new design also solves one of the biggest performance issues the previous version suffered from: very large file sizes, which rendered the page too slow to load.

Ubuntu website’s new homepage
Ubuntu website’s new homepage

These larger updates to the site started earlier this year. In March, the Business section (which was previously divided in two sections, Server and Cloud) underwent a major restructuring. The main objective was to make it easier for businesses to find out about all that Ubuntu, and Canonical, have to offer them.

The new Business section
The new Business section

Why the change?

These updates didn’t just pop up from nowhere. Last December, we carried out intensive user research to see how the website was performing. During these sessions, we interviewed users of different platforms and with different backgrounds. We analysed their paths through the websites, we heard their questions, took note of their concerns and observed their “awe moments”.

The findings from our analysis showed that although users found Ubuntu compelling, they were having difficulty finding answers to their questions on the Ubuntu website, and some of the most interesting features didn’t have the prominence they deserved.

The findings analysis phase
The findings analysis phase

This happened not only for end users, but also for business users, hence the update of both sections.

Whilst the overhaul is visible in both the design and structure of the website, we have also been trying to (slowly) improve what’s hidden behind the scenes.

We (as Canonical’s Design and Web Team) are conscious of the fact that both the markup and the code behind the website can be greatly improved. Our ultimate goal is to make the code that powers Ubuntu’s website as good as Ubuntu itself. We want it to be indicative of our standards.

This will make the website more easy to maintain and it will reflect on how accessible it is (which is a consideration that we’re striving to keep present throughout the entire process, not only in the coding phases of the project).

Steps in the right direction

To create these new pages, we have compartmentalised the new code so that we could experiment with creating better code. Our goal is for the new code to be more accessible, more flexible, more modular, less convoluted, less redundant, more performant and more robust. Our markup can be cleaner and more semantic.

One of our main concerns regarding the current website’s design and code is its lack of accessibility at some points. For this matter, we spoke directly with the Ubuntu Accessibility team to register their worries and suggestions. The main items that transpired from this session were:

  • Some colour combinations don’t provide enough contrast between background and foreground
  • Text should be easier to resize, using relative units (such as ems) rather than absolute ones (like pixels)
  • The copy should be clear and concise
  • Some of the text is too small
  • There are visibility issues in links and navigation

This chat was helpful as it helped to consolidate the issues we were aware of, surface other problems and most importantly provide us with a real world view of how these can disrupt users.

We have begun addressing some of these in the new designs and will continue to do so in the coming months.

What the future holds

You can expect more and better updates to ubuntu.com within the next few months.

The main focus of our work will be making the website more accessible and easier to navigate by following current web standards and bringing it up to the Ubuntu and Canonical standard of quality; the code should be easier to manage, the content easier to update, and the message clear.

We’re confident we’re heading in the right direction. We’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and comments.

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Gerry Carr

One of the benefits of the direction that’s been taken with the next release of Ubuntu is that there is no longer a need for a separate netbook edition. The introduction of the new shell for Ubuntu means that we have a user interface that works equally well whatever the form factor of the PC. And the underlying technology works on a range of architectures including those common in netbook, notebooks, desktops or whatever you choose to run it on. Hence the need for a separate version for netbooks is removed.

To be clear, this is the opposite of us withdrawing from the netbook market. In fact looking at the download figures on ubuntu.com interest in netbooks is not only thriving but booming. It’s us recognising that the market has moved on and celebrating that separate images are no longer a requirement as the much anticipated convergence of devices moves closer.

A return to the Ubuntu name

Which actually got us thinking about our naming conventions in totality. ‘Ubuntu Desktop Edition’ arose in 2005 as a response to the launch of Ubuntu Server Edition and our desire to distinguish between the two. But desktops are no longer the pre-eminent client platform. And actually naming the the ‘edition’ after any target technology is going to have us chasing the trend. Also we were tying ourselves to some ungainly product titles – Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server Edition for instance. User feedback also told us that people thought the edition was not for them as they had a laptop and spent time looking for a ‘Laptop Edition’.

So we are going back to our roots. From 11.04 the core product that you run on your PC will be simply, Ubuntu. Therefore the next release will be Ubuntu 11.04 and you can run that, my friend, on anything you like from a netbook to a notebook to a desktop. Ubuntu Server will be maintained as a separate product of course and named simply, Ubuntu Server 11.04.

We think this will make things simpler. When we mean Ubuntu for notebooks we will say just that rather than the more confusing, ‘Ubuntu Desktop Edition for notebooks’. We are retaining the concept of ‘remixes’ for community projects and the naming convention therein. And we would love to hear what you think.

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Gerry Carr

One of the most exciting things about the Ubuntu 10.10 release has been the delivery of the Unity ‘shell’ in Ubuntu Netbook Edition. For the uninitiated,  this delivers a very different user experience to that in the main desktop edition. For a start the icons of the most popular applications are permanently featured on the left-hand side of the screen. This borrows more from the smartphone interfaces but is adapted for use on, in this case, netbooks. So there remains a workspace where users still have sufficient room to watch video, edit photos, create documents, play games, read the web, write emails – all of the usual tasks we use a computer for, day to day.

Everything is optimised however for the more limited screen space. It is sub-optimal for instance to simply port an interface from the full-screen world, shrink it and expect it to be a great experience. Unity does away with the bottom bar for example that Windows, Ubuntu and Mac users will be used to. This is actually a radical step, but in my experience at least, it takes no time at all to forget that there ever was a bottom bar. The result is considerably more ‘vertical space’ for to use  – again maximising the useful area on limited screen sizes.

One of the coolest things though is one that will be experienced by the fewest people at this point – touch. Unity is fully touch-enabled – those big icons are screaming out to have a digit poked at them. But as ever, the boys in the lab, or in this case Duncan McGregor‘s  multi-touch team have gone a step further and created a multi-touch ‘gesture’ library. This allows finger combinations to do groovy things like expand and reduce windows, pull up multiple windows in one workspace, and call up the ‘dash’ automatically. These are in 10.10. In 11.04 we will see a lot more.

Because there are a very limited number of touch-enabled devices out there at present, we thought we would create a video to show some of the features. You can see it below. It has turned out rather nicely even with the clumsy paws.

Gerry Carr, Platform Marketing, Canonical

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Duncan McGreggor

Canonical is pleased to announce the release of uTouch 1.0, Ubuntu’s multi-touch and gesture stack. With Ubuntu 10.10 (the Maverick Meerkat), users and developers will have an end-to-end touch-screen framework — from the kernel all the way through to applications. Our multi-touch team has worked closely with the Linux kernel and X.org communities to improve drivers, add support for missing features, and participate in the touch advances being made in open source world. To complete the stack, we’ve created an open source gesture recognition engine and defined a gesture API that provides a means for applications to obtain and use gesture events from the uTouch gesture engine.

Our multi-touch work began in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, when we worked to get additional touch hardware supported in the Linux kernel, particularly the Dell XT2, HP tx2 tablets and the Lenovo T410s laptops. With that in place, and active development in X well under way, we reviewed our options for gesture recognition in Linux. The Maverick cycle has seen us produce several prototypes for gesture recognition software and the Ubuntu archives now include the results of that effort.

The world’s expectations of software experience are being raised by advances in mobile computing. We are bringing that revolution to the Linux desktop: for window management and applications. Though our work at the application level has only just started, we are certain that multi-touch and gestures will be central to the way we use Linux applications in future.

The success of touch in applications depends on several key factors:

  • toolkit integration of gesture APIs
  • touch support for legacy applications
  • designing new applications for finger-based interactions

Work has begun on all three fronts in Ubuntu, and we expect it to remain an area of active interest over the next few releases up to 12.04 LTS.

Ubuntu is the fruit of collaboration across the huge Ubuntu community, and also the amazing work of many other communities that form around individual projects and initiatives like Debian. The uTouch framework enables work to begin across many of those communities to make touch a first-class interaction model in open source desktop and mobile software.

Existing contributions in other projects have provided fertile ground for uTouch. To name just a few:

  • Stéphane Chatty at ENAC has lead much multi-touch hardware support in the kernel
  • Peter Hutterer at Red Hat defined multi-pointer X and proposed a multi-touch protocol for a future version of X
  • Carlos Garnacho of the GNOME community has done multi-touch work in X and GTK

We’re look forward to continued collaboration, ensuring that Linux remains the preferred platform for people building cutting-edge devices and software.

Canonical is working with manufacturers of touch-enabled products and those of their underlying technology in order to bring innovations in user experience to a broader audience. Our aim is to bring the natural, tactile experience of the world to the desktop, window manager, and applications you value — all the software that you depend upon to get things done and have fun. Touch will be part of the Ubuntu Netbook, Desktop and Light products from 10.10 and beyond.

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Gerry Carr

A few months ago we took on the challenge of building a version of Ubuntu for the dual-boot, instant-on market. We wanted to be surfing the web in under 10 seconds, and give people a fantastic web experience. We also wanted it to be possible to upgrade from that limited usage model to a full desktop.

The fruit of that R&D is both a new desktop experience codebase, called Unity, and a range of Light versions of Ubuntu, both netbook and desktop, that are optimised for dual-boot scenarios.

The dual-boot, web-focused use case is sufficiently different from general-purpose desktop usage to warrant a fresh look at the way the desktop is configured. We spent quite a bit of time analyzing screenshots of a couple of hundred different desktop configurations from the current Ubuntu and Kubuntu user base, to see what people used most. We also identified the things that are NOT needed in lightweight dual-boot instant-on offerings. That provided us both with a list of things to focus on and make rich, and a list of things we could leave out.

Instant-on products are generally used in a stateless fashion. These are “get me to the web asap” environments, with no need of heavy local file management. If there is content there, it would be best to think of it as “cloud like” and synchronize it with the local Windows environment, with cloud services and other devices. They are also not environments where people would naturally expect to use a wide range of applications: the web is the key, and there may be a few complementary capabilities like media playback, messaging, games, and the ability to connect to local devices like printers and cameras and pluggable media.

Unity: a lightweight netbook interface

There are several driving forces behind the result.

The desktop screenshots we studied showed that people typically have between 3 and 10 launchers on their panels, for rapid access to key applications. We want to preserve that sense of having a few favorite applications that are instantly accessible. Rather than making it equally easy to access any installed application, we assume that almost everybody will run one of a few apps, and they need to switch between those apps and any others which might be running, very easily.

We focused on maximising screen real estate for content. In particular, 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.

We also want to embrace touch as a first class input. We want people to be able to launch and switch between applications using touch, so the launcher must be finger friendly.

Those constraints and values lead us to a new shape for the desktop, which we will adopt in Ubuntu’s Netbook Edition for 10.10 and beyond.

First, we want to move the bottom panel to the left of the screen, and devote that to launching and switching between applications. That frees up vertical space for web content, at the cost of horizontal space, which is cheaper in a widescreen world. In Ubuntu today the bottom panel also presents the Trash and Show Desktop options, neither of which is relevant in a stateless instant-on environment.

Second, we’ll expand that left-hand launcher panel so that it is touch-friendly. With relatively few applications required for instant-on environments, we can afford to be more generous with the icon size there. The Unity launcher will show what’s running, and support fast switching and drag-and-drop between applications.

Third, we will make the top panel smarter. We’ve already talked about adopting a single global menu, which would be rendered by the panel in this case. If we can also manage to fit the window title and controls into that panel, we will have achieved very significant space saving for the case where someone is focused on a single application at a time, and especially for a web browser.

We end up with a configuration like this:

Unity Screenshot

Unity Screenshot

The launcher and panel that we developed in response to this challenge are components of Unity. They are now in a state where they can be tested widely, and where we can use that testing to shape their evolution going forward. A development milestone of Unity is available today in a PPA, with development branches on Launchpad, and I’d very much like to get feedback from people trying it out on a netbook, or even a laptop with a wide screen. Unity is aimed at full screen applications and, as I described above, doesn’t really support traditional file management. But it’s worth a spin, and it’s very easy to try out if you have Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installed already.

Ubuntu Light

Instant-on, dual boot installations are a new frontier for us. Over the past two years we have made great leaps forward as a first class option for PC OEM’s, who today ship millions of PC’s around the world with Ubuntu pre-installed. But traditionally, it’s been an “either/or” proposition – either Windows in markets that prefer it, or Ubuntu in markets that don’t. 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.

And it looks beautiful:

Ubuntu Light, showing the Unity launcher and panel

Ubuntu Light Screenshot

In those cases, Ubuntu Netbook Light, or Ubuntu Desktop Light, will give OEM’s the ability to differentiate themselves with fast-booting Linux offerings that are familiar to Ubuntu users and easy to use for new users, safe for web browsing in unprotected environments like airports and hotels, focused on doing that job very well, but upgradeable with a huge list of applications, on demand. The Light versions will also benefit from the huge amount of work done on every Ubuntu release to keep it maintained – instant-on environments need just as much protection as everyday desktops, and Ubuntu has a deep commitment to getting that right.

The Ubuntu Light range is available to OEM’s today. Each image will be hand-crafted to boot fastest on that specific hardware, the application load reduced to the minimum, and it comes with tools for Windows which assist in the management of the dual-boot experience. Initially, the focus is on the Netbook Light version based on Unity, but in future we expect to do a Light version of the desktop, too.

Given the requirement to customise the Light versions for specific hardware, there won’t be a general-purpose downloadable image of Ubuntu Light on ubuntu.com.

Evolving Unity for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10

Unity exists today, and is great for the minimalist, stateless configurations that suit a dual-boot environment. But in order embrace it for our Netbook UI, we’ll need to design some new capabilities, and implement them during this cycle.

Those design conversations are taking place this week at UDS, just outside Brussels in Belgium. If you can’t be there in person, and are interested in the design challenges Unity presents for the netbook form factor, check out the conference schedule and participate in the discussion virtually.

The two primary pieces we need to put in place are:

  • Support for many more applications, and adding / removing applications. Instant-on environments are locked down, while netbook environments should support anybody’s applications, not just those favored in the Launcher.
  • Support for file management, necessary for an environment that will be the primary working space for the user rather than an occasional web-focused stopover.

We have an initial starting point for the design, called the Dash, which presents files and applications as an overlay. The inspiration for the Dash comes from consoles and devices, which use full-screen, media-rich presentation. We want the Dash to feel device-like, and use the capabilities of modern hardware.

The Unity Dash, showing the Applications Place

The Unity Dash, showing the Applications Place

The instant-on requirements and constraints proved very useful in shaping our thinking, but the canvas is still blank for the more general, netbook use case. Unity gives us the chance to do something profoundly new and more useful, taking advantage of ideas that have emerged in computing from the console to the handheld.

Relationship to Gnome Shell

Unity and Gnome Shell are complementary for the Gnome Project. While Gnome Shell presents an expansive view of how people work in complex environments with multiple simultaneous activities, Unity is designed to address the other end of the spectrum, where people are focused on doing one thing at any given time.

Unity does embrace the key technologies of Gnome 3: Mutter, for window management, and Zeitgeist will be an anchor component of our file management approach. The interface itself is built in Clutter.

The design seed of Unity was in place before Gnome Shell, and we decided to build on that for the instant-on work rather than adopt Gnome Shell because most of the devices we expect to ship Ubuntu Light on are netbooks. In any event, Unity represents the next step for the Ubuntu Netbook UI, optimised for small screens.

The Ubuntu Netbook interface is popular with Gnome users and we’re fortunate to be working inside an open ecosystem that encourages that level of diversity. As a result, Gnome has offerings for mobile, netbook and desktop form factors. Gnome is in the lucky position of having multiple vendors participating and solving different challenges independently. That makes Gnome stronger.

Relationship to FreeDesktop and KDE

Unity complies with freedesktop.org standards, and is helping to shape them, too. We would like KDE applications to feel welcome on a Unity-based netbook. We’re using the Ayatana indicators in the panel, so KDE applications which use AppIndicators will Just Work. And to the extent that those applications take advantage of the Messaging Menu, Sound Indicator and Me Menu, they will be fully integrated into the Unity environment. We often get asked by OEM’s how they can integrate KDE applications into their custom builds of Ubuntu, and the common frameworks of freedesktop.org greatly facilitate doing so in a smooth fashion.

Looking forward to the Maverick Meerkat

It will be an intense cycle, if we want to get all of these pieces in line. But we think it’s achievable: the new launcher, the new panel, the new implementation of the global menu and an array of indicators. Things have accelerated greatly during Lucid so if we continue at this pace, it should all come together. Here’s to a great summer of code.

Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical

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Gerry Carr

We are pleased to announce the launch of the brand new Ubuntu single sign on service.  The goal of this service is to provide a single, central login service for all Ubuntu-related sites, thus making it more convenient for Ubuntu users and community members to access information, communicate, and contribute.  This service will replace the existing Launchpad login service that is currently in use for many Ubuntu-related sites, although existing Launchpad accounts will continue to work in the new service.

Over the next few months we will be moving all of the Ubuntu and Canonical related sites that currently use the Launchpad service to Ubuntu single sign on, starting with sites we manage directly and then working with community site owners to move the community-managed sites.

Because of the number of existing Ubuntu users who have created accounts in Launchpad for the purpose of logging into other sites, we have set the Ubuntu and Launchpad services to share account data during the transition.  Launchpad is in the process of enabling users to log in with an Ubuntu account and, once completed, this sharing will be removed.  This does mean that you will be able to log into both services with the same credentials for a while.  We realise this is something internet users have been encouraged to not do but it is a necessary side-effect of the transition.  Doing this ensures you won’t lose access to services you’ve purchased from us in the past or your account histories in the sites you’ve previously visited, as long as you use your existing Launchpad credentials on Ubuntu single sign on.

Ubuntu single sign on is built on OpenID so, once all the sites we know about have moved over, we will also be opening up the OpenID service to enable you to log in to any site which accepts standard OpenIDs.

Some questions we think you may have for us:

Why replace the Launchpad login service?

The Launchpad login service has served us well for several years but Launchpad is not a familiar brand for many Ubuntu users.  As Ubuntu grows, we’ll see more and more users who don’t understand the connection between Launchpad and Ubuntu and the new Ubuntu login service is intended to overcome this problem.  It will also enable us to develop features which are more oriented to Ubuntu users.

How does the new service differ from the old one?

For now, not much apart from the appearance of the site.  We have many plans for great new features, however, and hope to roll these out once the service is established.  If you have ideas for other features you’d like to see in Ubuntu single sign on, we’d love to hear about them.

Is the new service Open Source?

No, it’s not.  It is, however, built and hosted on open source technologies (python, django, apache and postgres amongst others).

I have a problem with the new service.  Where can I get help?

We have an email support channel.  You can submit your support requests using our support form.  If you have found a bug, please take a few minutes to tell us about it on Launchpad.

We’re sure you have more questions.  Please submit them and we’ll do our best to respond to them all.

Stuart Metcalfe, Infrastructure Systems Development, Canonical

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slgeorge

The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the size and reach of the Ubuntu community while netbooks have brought many new consumer users to Ubuntu.  Other advances in user interface design, device compatibility and availability have meant that more small businesses and individuals have been able to start using Ubuntu.

To meet this changing profile,  we’ve launched some new Desktop Services today geared towards this range of users, whether at home or in small businesses. If you’re a new non-technical Ubuntu enthusiast, or an experienced office professional these services are intended to give you the assistance you need to use Ubuntu with confidence.

The way we see it, desktop support shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all, so there are three options to choose from:

The Starter Desktop Service is intended to address the needs of the new Ubuntu user who mainly uses their computer to surf the Web, watch movies, listen to music and write e-mails.

The Advanced Desktop Service is for more experienced users, who use their computer for a broad range of activities. This service helps users migrate their desktop from their previous environment, such as Windows. It also provides help with advanced applications, for example desktop publishing or setting up advanced file systems.

Finally, the Professional Desktop Service is for people who use Ubuntu in their work environment. This service includes assistance with desktop virtualization, advanced productivity applications and integration into the corporate network.

We hope that these new services will enable even more people to use, explore and enjoy Ubuntu.

Steve George – Corporate Services

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