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5 netbook-optimized desktop interfaces for Linux and BSD distributions

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MeeGo: MeeGo is the Linux distribution formed when Intel and Nokia merged Moblin and Maemo. It is a mutli-small screen platform interface now under the administration of the Linux Foundation. The interface has a slight learning curve to it. It can be confusing. It will only run on computers using the Intel Atom processor.

MeeGo has been optimized to run on handsets, netbooks, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI). Installation images of MeeGo 1.1, the latest stable, for all platforms, are available for download here.
folders

Applications on MeeGo
meego1

Unity: Unity is the interface on Ubuntu Netbook Edition, and a revamped version will be the default interface on Natty Narwhal, the code name for Ubuntu 11.04. A detailed review of this interface on Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition is available here, and some screenshots of the revamped interface on Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1 is available here.

Unity has a specific graphic card requirement, and will not run on computers whose graphics card(s) do not meet that requirement.
ubuntunet

Places on Unity
ubuntunet4

If I were to rank these interfaces based on clarity of the design logic, ease of use, and how efficiently they utilize the desktop real estate, the list will take this form:

  1. KDE Plasma Netbook
  2. Simple Mode
  3. Jolicloud
  4. MeeGo
  5. Unity

If you have used all these desktop interfaces, how do you rank them?

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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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