How-To Geek

Ubuntu 10.10 Gives Netbooks an Innovative New Look [Screenshot Tour]

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Ready to breathe new life into your netbook?  Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 includes an innovative new look and feel and support for most netbooks without any extra configuration.  Let’s take a look at the newest features.

New Unity Interface

Linux has been a stable and useful OS for many years, but has often been lacking in innovative UI touches.  Ubuntu has always been focused at making Linux more consistent and easy to use, and we found their netbook edition to be very polished and easy to use in our previous look at Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04.

The latest 10.10 netbook edition takes this even further.  When you first start Ubuntu 10.10, you’ll see a dock-style bar on the left with common applications, as well as the standard Ubuntu bar across the top.


Simply click one of the app icons in the launcher to start it.  You’ll see a caret indicator on the left side of the icons of apps that are currently running, as well as a caret on the right if the app is the active program.


If you’ve got several windows open from an application, you’ll see each of the windows in an exposé style overview.  Select the window you want, and you’ll be quickly back to work.

Right-click on an icon to quit the program or remove it from the launcher.


If you’d like to rearrange the launcher apps, simply click and hold then drag to the position you want.  Alternately, you can drag an icon off the launcher to remove it.


As your launcher fills up, the icons at the top and bottom will fold up accordion style.  Then they’ll return to normal size when you mouse over the launcher.  You can scroll or drag the icons up and down to see those that are lower down or higher up on the bar.  Amazingly, when you mouse-over the icons, it expands starting at the one you hovered over, so often you’ll get the app you want without having to scroll through icons.  This works really nicely for organizing a large number of apps on a small netbook display, and would be very nice on a tablet interface.


Quickly access your favorite apps and files

If you click the Ubuntu button, you’ll be greeted with quick-launch icons for popular Ubuntu tasks and destinations, such as Internet and More Apps.  These large, high-quality icons could easily be mistaken for iOS on an iPad.


The Ubuntu launcher page includes a search box at the top.  Enter the name of any application or file on your netbook to quickly find it.  It’ll even show results for apps from the Ubuntu Software Center that you may not have installed yet.


The new Files and Folders link works similarly, showing recent files and favorite folders with a search box on the top.  This makes it easy to browse to your profile folders and the files you’re most likely to need with just a few clicks.


If you find you need more direct access to your file system, click the folder icon to open that folder in Nautilus.


Other Enhancements

Ubuntu Netbook Edition now includes an easy to use multiple desktop option with Workspaces.  Click the purple Workspaces icon to quickly switch between running applications in different desktops.  Since most application run full screen by default on netbooks, you can slick the app’s screenshot directly in the workspace to switch to that app.


Additionally, all programs now put their file menu in the top Ubuntu bar on netbooks.  Even smaller applications such as calculator will have their File menu options on the top, similar to OS X.  The menus all look beautiful thanks to the new Ubuntu fonts.


To top it off, this version includes most of the enhancements you’ll find in the standard desktop edition of Ubuntu 10.10, including the updated Software Center and integrated Rhythmbox in the volume control.


Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 ran great on our relatively new netbook, a Samsung N150, and recognized the wifi, touchpad, and webcam without any extra configuration.  We were very impressed with the performance, and the new launcher made it fun and easy to use.  With the new app center, the dock-like launcher, and integrated file menus, Ubuntu Netbook Edition feels more like OS X than ever.  It’s very polished, so give it a try and see if linux is finally ready for you.

Download Ubuntu Netbook Edition

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 10/11/10

Comments (51)

  1. Ashutosh Mishra

    I have a Samsung N150, and I have run into serious brightness issues on both Lucid and Maverick (beta when I tried it two weeks back) as have owners of most other Samsung netbooks and laptops. The voria ppa has tools to address this. Also, Ubuntu boasts of ‘full multi-touch support’ in Maverick, yet even two-finger scrolling didn’t work on the beta. The booting / shutdown process shows a blinking cursor or weird writing for the majority of time rather than the nice looking splash screen.

    I like Ubuntu, and will continue using it on my netbook. The basic things work all well, but there are these user experience issues that I can’t ignore. Netbooks don’t have any proprietary graphics cards or stuff bogging them down, so Ubuntu should work the best on them. But it doesn’t. I’ll give Maverick a 7 / 10, definitely not a ‘perfect 10’.

    I’m upgrading from Lucid while writing this comment, and I do hope the experience is better than the beta which I tried.

  2. Matthew Guay

    @Ashutosh – Now, actually, you just expressed all of the problems that I still have with Ubuntu on my Samsung N150. I haven’t gotten brightness or multitouch working on mine either. But, then again, those didn’t work with other netbook Linux distros I’ve tried, including Jolicloud. Hopefully they’ll eventually get it fixed, as these are very new netbooks we’re talking about. One nice thing … Ubuntu 10.10 recognized my FN keys for volume this time, though the others still don’t work. Brightness adjustments and multitouch would definately be at the top of my list for things I’d need to really switch; I still use Windows 7 Home Premium (Anytime Upgrade from the default Starter it came with) most of the time, and it *just works*.

    Oh, that said, my boot screen looks perfectly normal. I did install mine with Wubi, though…

  3. Ashutosh Mishra

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:voria/ppa
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
    sudo apt-get-install samsung-tools samsung-backlight

    Reboot and most of the function keys along with brightness should just work fine. If you look at it, it’s actually not very complex, but then you shouldn’t have to do this in the first place.

    I have got no clue about multitouch, though I read some script can enable basic two-finger scrolling (again, this doesn’t have to be done by the end user).

    And yeah, no comparison to Windows 7. Ubuntu is getting better with every version, but Windows took a massive leap forward with 7.

  4. craig

    Wow, this looks like super fun. Now can you write up an article on how to convince your wife that she doesn’t really need that Win7 netbook?

  5. Matthew Guay

    @Ashutosh – Ah, thanks. I’ll have to try those out.

    @Craig – I’m not sure … I haven’t convinced myself yet :) . Double-boot with Wubi works good, though.

  6. Nobody special

    It still doesn’t support GMA500 correctly on my 1101HA EEEpc I and I’m stuck with only one resolution.

    I like Ubuntu but I’m still not convinced that I should uninstall Windows.

  7. Matthew Guay

    @Nobody special – No, I still wouldn’t recommend uninstalling Windows. But that’s where Wubi and dual-booting are great!

  8. Nobody special

    Yea that’s what I’m doing,

    Poulsbo looks promising for a work around for the GMA500 issues, but that’s still a lot of work.

  9. bac

    Hm… awesome :D
    btw don have a netbook, so was wondering what’s the neme of the app so i can try it out on my desktop edition

  10. UUUnicorn

    Please, does anyone know if Ubuntu Netbook Edition is compatible with MSI Wind U100-432US?

    Thank you.

  11. bac

    Sorry my bad. i was unable to find the package name.
    Anyway just figured out it’s unity, i was trying out the netbook-launcher-efl, and that looked really bad compared to the above. Anyway found the name of the interface, but it would have been better had it a similar tool on gnome. netbook-launcher-efl is kinda sad compared to this. Anyway giving the new interface a shot ;)

  12. Data

    Well, I’ve tested it on my Asus EEE 701 and I was quite disappointed – a lot of lag and not very intuitive… wet straight back to the speedy and slick 10.04 :D

  13. Andrew

    Just tried the Unity desktop on a fresh 10.10 netbook install.

    Don’t like it for two reasons.

    1. The dock cannot be hidden and just gets in the way. Netbooks need as much desktop space as possible, having this permanently on the left (you can’t even move it) is a waste of valuable space.

    2. Having the menus on the panel, Mac style, for just some applications and not others makes the distro look unfinished. Open nautilus and the menus appear in the panel; open firefox and they’re back to their normal position. Open Evolution and they’re back on the topagain; open something else and they’re back below the panel. I’d sooner have everything working the same even if it means scrapping the panel menu.

    3. I also get the feeling that Unity is a waste of developers time. Ubuntu has its fair share of bugs, some have been around for several versions, and these should really be focused on before worrying about the eye-candy. There was absolutely no problem with the existing UI in 10.04 netbook edition which was a great improvement over the older netbook interface. Unity feels inferior to me and a waste of time that could have been better spent fixing the bugs and improving compatibility.

  14. bakazima


    Yes, it is.

  15. Nathan

    Now im stuck between this and Jolicloud =S.

    Help!!!! (Im assuming 10.10 hands down here lol)

  16. TM

    UUUnicorn, Just install remix on an MSI WIND. When I booted from the USB it worked when installed and booted it worked but without wireless connection. Still working on this issue. I would wait a few weeks for Ubuntu to the bugs worked out.

  17. Nathanael

    Ack. This is just disappointing. I was initially excited about upgrading to 10.10. Did it on my desktop and I love it. Tried it on the netbook… wtf? The panel is completely locked beyond my understanding of how to possibly unlock it, and there is no way at all to hide the side-panel launcher. I want to spit out crude expletives right now, I’m that disappointed.

    Not only that, but now I can’t figure out how to access my original gnome custom setup from 10.04 at all. It’s just not even found in the drop-down at the ubuntu x login screen anymore. Of anyone can help me figure out how to get back to it, I would be very grateful.

    Thank the gods I Have win7 dual-booting on this. Nothing lost except time. If I can’t figure out how to fix this Unity horsecrap I’m just going to wipe and reinstall 10.04 again tomorrow.

  18. TB

    I have recently installed the version 10.04 of UNR on the Acer netbook D-250 of my in-laws. They are just beginning to work their way around the interface and its taking them some time to learn. Now that the next version has yet another change in interface, I won’t be upgrading them anytime soon.

    I can understand the need for improvements, but why does no one seem to think about the people who can’t take change quickly or easily, like old people for example. Currently the only way to go in UNR is to load an LTS and not upgrade for a few years.

    Does anyone know of a linux distro (or a desktop actually) targeted exclusively at the elderly? Thanks.

  19. Jan


  20. nostoc

    Unity is awfull. It’s not intuitive, not customizable, and it’s way to heavy for netbook hardware.

    I’ve tried to like it, but after about 2h, I switched to the desktop edition.

  21. Brad

    I agree with a lot here.

    The panel isn’t very intuitive, it’s not customizable at all, and its pretty laggy for me (id blame the slowness on the fact that i’m using a netbook, but this is supposed to be for netbooks!).

    I tried to remove Unity and have 10.10 netbook edition with the default view but whatever I try never works, i usually get a white screen background that cant be changed.

    I’ve thinking to go with either the default 10.10 or go back to 10.04 NBR. I’d like to upgrade to 10.10, but in the past the netbook editions would always seem faster and i could always remove the ‘netbook’ interface and keep the speed. Wish I could have that option be successful in 10.10

  22. saravanan

    I Installed Ubuntu Netbook 10.10 in Oracle Virtual Machine. Vista as Host in a DELL Inspiron.
    iam Facing 2 problems
    1. after Installing it says that the “No required driver detected for Unity” & runs in Desktop Mode.
    2. Guest Addition not able to install in Netbook.

    any Help
    thnx in advance

  23. Matthew Guay

    @saravanan – I’ve never gotten the Netbook editions to run reliably in a virtual machine.

  24. Matthew Guay

    @all – After a couple days of using Ubuntu Netbook 10.10, I must say I’m rather disappointed myself. The new launcher bar has crashed on me twice, and I’ve experienced a couple odd freezes, one that I had to literally power-off my netbook to recover from. Never had something like that before. So, the new version has promise, but unfortunately it’s currently more like a beta version. Hopefully updates will fix it, or 11.04 will be better.

    Otherwise, Windows 7 runs like a champ on current-gen netbooks ;)

  25. bolet

    Unity needs graphics hardware acceleration, which is not available in VirtualBox (aka Oracle VM). I could never enable Desktop Effects in the Appearance preferences for the same reason.

  26. John

    I’d like to auto-hide the launcher at the side of the screen. It takes up too much space.

  27. Dorian

    @TB: Kubuntu is, IMHO, the way to go when thinking about older people using a friendly interface. Specially if they are already familiar with the Windows environment and need a fast and stable processing system as KDE is.

  28. raindog7

    hi, i have the problem with install 10.10 netbook for my dell mini 10. You see, i followed the “step by step” in my netbook didn’t do anything even though i rebooted several times… humm? all i see is 10.04 not 10.10.. how odd. any idea? thanks.

  29. gbendotti

    Adding my voice to the chorus – hate 10.10, serves me right for not trying it in virtualbox first like i normally do. Wish there was an easy way of reverting to 10.04.

  30. Nathanael Foo

    The new UI looks rather like a phone, which annoys me a bit and I have had a couple of freezes, which annoys me even more. Switching back to Windows 7 Home Premium.

  31. stan

    Agree, the 10.10 UNR icons remind me of iPhone.. What’s with Ubuntu designers being so obsessed about Apple lately..

  32. Risa

    Umm… No one has mentioned power consumption. I intend to install this version of Ubuntu along with Windows 7 in my laptop (Windows 7 is only needed when I do college projects). Ubuntu 10.04 was a energy-eater :( I’m using Jolicloud but it’s slow.

  33. emryan

    I just downloaded Unity two days ago and everything on my netbook is working 3x faster than on windows 7.

    I’m really new to Linux, however, and I’m not sure what all these different OS systems are that all the other comments are talking about or why Unity is supposedly really bad. Can someone write a Beginner Geek: Linux and explain what all the fuss is about?

  34. LarryG

    Geez, why are you people having such problems with 10.10? My Asus EEE PC 1000 (the SSD version), which I’ve had for a couple years now (and has gone from stock Xandros to eeebuntu to EasyPeasy) works great and everything functions as it should.

    The only hardware changes I’ve made to it was to upgrade RAM from 1GB to 2GB and replace the stock 32GB SSD with a faster Runcore unit (of same size).

    When eeebunti 3.01 went EOL I decided to try EasyPeasy 1.6 (which was their edition of Ubuntu 10.04) and with the exception of green background instead of purple for the Netbook Remix screen, works as expected. All the buttons work, I have a fully working WiFi connection, and even got suspend and hibernate to work (made sure I had a proper sized swap partition).

    After making sure all updates were applied to 10.04, I just did the upgrade to 10.10 via Update Manager and everything still works. I did nothing out of the ordinary and did no special steps.

  35. Matthew Guay

    @LarryG – Good, glad to hear it’s working great for you. Has the new app toolbar on the left frozen on you at all?

  36. LarryG

    @MatthewGuay Nope, so far all good.

  37. Boo Radley

    The “Unity” netbook interface is really just awful – that stupid left bar is choppy and unhidable, it’s not especially intuitive and rather ugly… There’s too much emphasis on window management and workspaces – netbook users generally are just doing one or two things at a time. And I hate the left-aligned window controls and the menu-in-toolbar stuff reminiscent of OSX.

    It’s a little worrisome that the powers that be at Canonical looked at this and deemed it suitable for release – what on earth were they thinking?!

    For those of you who also hate it and wondering how to “downgrade”, there should be no need to. Log out and select “Gnome Desktop” as your session and log back in. You should be logged into a standard two-panel Gnome laptop ready for you to customize. :-)

    Space-saving/navigation enhancements I made were to nuke the bottom panel and replace with the AWN dock with launchers for popular programs and trash/battery/show desktop/shutdown applets, and leave the top bar, but have it auto-hide with the standard applications/places/system menu, a window list, notifications and clock/weather. A quick edit in gconf-editor puts the window controls back on the *proper* side and order, and Gnome-Do added for extra usability. Of course, I enabled Compiz and various effects as I likes my eye-candy, and certain plugins like Scale, and others also enhance usability :-)

    My desktop is now nice and clean (and prettier!) with only the launcher showing at the bottom and everything is much more accessible. Much more elegant and usable than that Unity garbage, and I’m at about the same vertical space as Unity with more horizontal space, which contrary to Canonical’s stance is more precious than vertical. It is a netbook after all, and having the left dock there causes most webpages to have a horizontal scrollbar which takes up the “precious” vertical space you supposedly gained from shoving the title/menu bar in the top panel (which doesn’t even work for many apps) – not to mention it’s annoying.

    Why Canonical didn’t just implement something like that is beyond me :-/

  38. John

    “It’s very polished”

    Are you kidding? It’s totally 90’th style! Look at the icons and the overall look and compare it to Ubuntu netbook Remix 10.04. What a difference, many “Windows-People” were going “wow” on the 10.04 UI. But now? Nothing more than laugher.

    Actually I think this review is one of the view giving a positive feedback. Guess why? ;-)

  39. Shawn

    I don’t hate it. I don’t love it, either. It just sort of is. I really liked 10.04 a lot and I might try to downgrade back.

  40. Milton

    It really needs an auto hide optioin for the menu bar. It takes up way to much room. I think this should be changed or fixed asap. It is quite annoying. This also needs a huge speed boost.

  41. Milton


  42. Wayne

    I find netbook edition 10.10 slower than 10.04 and it seems to drop wireless connection more easily. But the most frustrating thing is I can’t find Crossover which I installed. It was in the menu in the 10.04 une version but I can’t find it anywhere in 10.10 Unity version. I can access it fine from the applications menu if I log into a desktop session.

  43. Julie

    Wow that inability to auto-hide the launch bar/dock is a real bummer. (Not much acreage otherwise available in 10 or less inches…). I guess moving it to the bottom would be ok…just would like the horizontal space for surfing.

    I’m new to this OS – read: 2 days new – coming from a mac/win background. Overall I think it’s pretty cool. I had a lot of slowness and weirdness when running from USB, but some of that seems to have settled w/a regular ole install. I can’t say that it runs any slower or faster than Win7 starter on a Toshiba NB305 (upgraded to 2GB). No dropped connections yet.

    I think I’m gonna roll with the ubuntu netbook version for a while then try W7 pro (not starter). See how it goes.

  44. Nathi Mvelase

    I have been running Ubuntu 10.10 alongside Windows for the past three weeks or so. I found myself using more and more of Ubuntu than Windows. I must say it has been very stable, as a result I have completely removed Windows and fully installed Ubuntu. My Netbook is Aspire One…..its smooooottthh.

  45. Booney

    How do i delete the recent files and applications list… My system is running on 10.10…

  46. ScOrPiO

    A couple of days back I installed Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook on my Acer Aspire D255. I must say that this version of OS is very sluggish. It is ridiculous that the Launch bar doesn’t “Auto-Hide”! The Launch bar covers 10% of the 10’inch screen. Every App takes up to 5-10 secs to open. From the reviews I read that it is on par with windows 7 in terms of performance. Hell No! Windows 7 works like a charm on netbooks with smooth playback of 720p HD videos.

  47. SoulSurvivor

    Why didn’t I read reviews first!? Woe is me!

    I just “upgraded” to 10.10 for my MSI Wind. 10.04 worked like a breeze, and now this interface just sucks. It’s sluggish at times and there is no easy way to get to the home folder! What the?! It’s the home folder for goodness sakes! It’s called home because you can access everything easily from it! Now I can’t get to it without pressing a ton of buttons on the interface! I understand their new feature of showing the most recently and commonly accessed folders and files, but they seem to have forgotten that I may want to access something else which is a pain in the rear if you want to do. Not to mention, I can’t get anything added to the dock on the left of the desktop screen.
    I’ve not been on it 2 hours and I’m frustrated.

  48. EricM

    @Boo Radley
    I agree with you the left side dock is a major pain .. I looked to get rid of it or instead have a auto-hide option but no chance as of now. But the fun of using it on my msi wind l1350 has me staying optimistic, I found a workaround, at least for web browsing, using the “Full Screen” option (F11) takes all the screen, so it works at least for this part for now.

    Thanks for all your input, you are very helpful and interesting.

  49. marcM

    Utterly agreeing about the icon bar on the left. Iy made go back to a traditional installation of the neat Ubuntu distro. An iPad look will imo meet great success. And maybe just from my side a drop down menu attached to each desktop icons (that you can activate or not) would be a nice trick.

  50. bozhd

    I installed Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook on my Lenovo S10e an It has been a torture, if I had read before all the problems caused for ths version, I never had done in my life
    Now to over of the slowness of the machine, the unintuitive left panel and adding it is no customizable, the worst thing that has happened is that I can not utlized a dual monitor , because does not work.
    I have reviewed the web, I thought back to 10.04 or beta version 11.04.
    Honestly is one of the worst versions ​​ubuntu team made

  51. tbianco

    Hi, Definitively I like Ubuntu 10.04, it’s better than 10.10 and let users have fun. right now I’ve installed 10.10 and I’ve couldn’t actived the extra and the animations. an information I found says that ubuntu 10.10 uses mutter, which has some animations and it’s not compatible with compiz, so I can’t enjoy of the animations that compiz has because of it. and it’s impossible to uninstall mutter because when you re-start you laptop and log in with the netbook mode, it becomes white and there is no way to fix it. what I had to do was to re-install.

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