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Hands-on with Ubuntu's new Unity netbook shell

May 11, 2010, 12:32 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ryan Paul)

"During a keynote at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Belgium, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth unveiled a new lightweight user interface shell called Unity. The new shell is designed to use screen space more efficiently and consume fewer system resources than a conventional desktop environment. It will be a key component of the Ubuntu Netbook Edition and a new instant-on computing platform called Ubuntu Light.

"The Unity environment eschews the conventional GNOME panel configuration. It includes a dock-like launcher and task management panel that is displayed vertically along the left-hand side. The top panel will house application indicators, window indicators, and the menubar of the active window. Moving the menu out of individual windows and into a global menu bar will reduce wasted vertical screen space, leaving more room for content.

"Window indicators (windicators) are a new concept that Shuttleworth introduced in a blog entry last week. Designed to help reduce the need for status bars, they are interactive icon-based widgets that are specific to a window. They can be used to signify that an operation is being performed, notify the user of application events, or to control application status. For example, you could use a windicator to display a progress spinner when a program is loading data."

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