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5 netbook-optimized desktop interfaces for Linux and BSD distributions

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This article provides some information on five netbook-optimized desktop interfaces available for Linux and BSD desktop distributions. They are presented here in alphabetical order.

Jolicloud: Jolicloud is the interface on the cloud-based Linux distribution that goes by the same name. Jolicloud 1.0, the first stable release, is based on the desktop edition of Ubuntu 9.04. The next stable release, Jolicloud 1.1, will be based on Ubuntu 10.04. Jolicloud does not have the hardware limitation of Unity, and will run on all computers, old or new.

Download Jolicloud 1.0 here, and a pre-release version of Jolicloud 1.1 here.
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KDE Plasma Netbook: This is the netbook- and tablet-optimized version of the KDE desktop. If you are running any KDE-based distribution, it is already part of your installation. You just need to activate it from the Control Center. This is the best of the interfaces listed in this article. The design logic is the most beautiful, and it is purely a joy to use. See exploring the KDE Plasma Netbook interface for screenshots and a detailed review.
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Bookmarking applications on KDE Plasma Netbook interface.
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Simple Mode: Simple Mode is the alternate interface on Linpus Lite, a Linux distribution designed for use on netbook computers. In the version of Linpus Lite reviewed here (Linpus Lite 1.4), it is not the default, and most be installed by the user. It is, in a sense, a hybrid interface, because elements of the Classic desktop are visible and accessible while it is activated.

Linpus Lite 1.4 is not yet available for download, but you may download Linpus Lite 1.3 here. Note: Linpus Lite 1.3 does not have a standalone installer. It must be installed from Windows 7/XP/Vista.
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Games in the Sky theme of Simple Mode
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17 Comments

  1. Anonymous Viper 7 says:

    i think gnome and openbox are best on a netbook

  2. Ron says:

    Hated Unity. Bought a netbook for my daughter and tried to customize it with her favourite web sites and games, while hiding the OS icons (eg folders). Most of the stuff was not ‘pinnable’ and had to be coded through the configuration files. The left side, right side arrows are not intuitive. So glad, Ubuntu kept the traditional interface only a mouse click away. Otherwise, I was ready to switch distros.

  3. stasik says:

    yes, its easy co critic others work. but how many of these actually wrote a review themselves?? this review, or any other review, express the authors opinion, just like yours. i read a review not to change my mind, but to see if i missed something + gain knowledge. my opinion, i like using kde on netbook, i dont see anything wrong with that. just disable animation, and u r ready to go. if some1 doesnt like my opinion, i dont give a monkey!
    last word: competition is always good!

  4. Litho says:

    Plasma in first place? Is this some kind of sick joke, or did you guys completely ignore the speed/responsiveness factor?

    Personally, I think *box WMs like Openbox or Fluxbox are more suited to netbooks, along with tiling WMs for the way they maximize screen real estate, but if I had to choose one interface out of these 5 for my mom or girlfriend, I’d probably go with Jolicloud or Moblin/Meego

  5. Fewt says:

    You failed to account for many others most of which are arguably better than those mentioned here.

    Fuduntu – http://www.fuduntu.org
    Aurora OS – auroraos.org
    PupEee – pupeee.com
    Easy Peasy – http://www.geteasypeasy.com

  6. JohnP says:

    I’ve tried a few of these and found them to be too limiting. Instead, by setting up a very simple left-hand menu for LXDE, I’ve been able to setup something suitable for grandma to use, while avoiding the limitations that these other GUIs force.

    It is FAST too since GNome and KDE bloat is avoided.

  7. Nick says:

    I think Gnome shell is great for netbooks. It’s still a little rough around the edges though.

  8. Abe says:

    My ranking would be a little different and as follows
    1. KDE Plasma Netbook
    2. Jolicloud
    3. Simple Mode
    4. MeeGo
    5. Unity

    I put KDE Plasma because of its reconfigurability, flexibility and extensibility. Users can, on the fly, select a Netbook, Desktop, Or Mobile interface without having to reboot or re-logon on any device.

    Who knows, may be users will be able to create their own interface using pre-built and/or create their own custom Plasma widgets. I like the graphics of Jolicloud and also like the tab interface of Simple Mode.

    What I like to see is a KDE Plasma that has Jolicloud graphics with Simple Mode Tab Interface. I bet it would the perfect interface.

  9. fandango says:

    well somehow these netbook optimized interfaces
    seem like going backwards and not forwards.
    i agree with micah.

  10. Micah says:

    These are solutions for a problem that doesn’t exist. Standard GNOME or Fluxbox work fine for me on my netbook.

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