Reviews, Ubuntu Netbook

Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook review

Unity lacks a context menu. That means that right-clicking on Launcher itself, the top panel, and the main desktop area, will have no effect. Right-clicking on icons on the Launcher will show a context menu.

Launcher item context menu

Some built-in icons on the Launcher may be removed when you right-click on them and select “Removing from launcher” in the context menu.

Removing launcher item

Unity Home?:
This is what you see when you click on the Ubuntu icon, located at the point where the top panel and the Launcher meet. At first glance, you will think that it is an iconified menu, similar to what is available on the KDE Plasma Netbook interface. But it is not, and I cannot tell what role it is designed to serve. Looking at the names of the icons, you would think that clicking on “Web” will bring up a list of Web or Web-related applications on the system. That would be wrong. Clicking on “Web” will launch Firefox, in a new window, even when Firefox is already open and the “Open new windows in a new tab instead” is enabled in the Tab preferences. Clicking on Music will open another page with Kino and PiTiVi listed. Rather than being music applications, Kino and PiTiVi are used to create, record, edit, and play movies.

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Rather than post a screenshot of what clicking on the other icons will yield, I will just list them here:

  • Photos & Videos – will also bring you to the Kino and PiTiVi page, the same one you get by clicking on Music.
  • Games – will bring you to a page showing the game applications installed installed by default. These are AisleRiot, Mahjongg, Quadrapassel, and Sudoku.
  • Email & Chat – Empathy, Evolution Mail, Firefox, Gwibber, Transmission.
  • Office – components, Dictionary, Evolution Calendar, and Evolution Contacts.
  • Files & Folders – A list of recently viewed files and all the folders under the user’s home directory.
  • Get New Apps – Launches the (Ubuntu) Software Center

So you see, there is no consistency here. I think this was supposed to be similar to what is available on the KDE Plasma Netbook, but it seems that it was rushed out of the gates before all the rough edges had been taken care of.


Searching in Unity: The search feature of Unity is another part of it I think was rushed out the door. It is, in some respects, similar to the Search and Launch (SAL) feature of the KDE Plasma Netbook interface. Unlike SAL’s, Unity’s search results are, in a sense, inconsistent. It all depends, it seems, on how you gained access to the search box.

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If you click on the Applications icon in the Launcher and then searched for, say, “firewall”, the search result will depend on what tab is active. If the All Applications tab is active, you will get a listing of all graphical firewall tools in the repository. None, by the way, are installed by default. If the Internet tab is active, the search result will show just Firestarter, Firewall Builder, and Guarddog, and Firestarter, Firewall configuration, and KMyFirewall, if the System tab is active. The search showed nothing if other tabs are active.

Searching for applications

If you gained access to the search box by clicking on the Files & Folders icon, the search result will, again, depend on what tab is active and what the search string it. The key to searching on Unity is to know where you are and what you are searching for.

Search results

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  1. If you hover, you see a caret indication looks like a tool tip. You can not add a new link here but remove an item with dragging it by left click and from the right click sub-menu. You can rearrange the launcher icons by dragging them to up or down with left mouse click.

  2. It’s great to finally see an honest review of 10.10’s Unity.

    The initial reviews (all released on Oct 10) were all praising the interface, and centred around the additional software changes.

    I actually use a Netbook (unlike the designers of Unity) and it took just 10 seconds to realise that my upgrade from 10.4 was a mistake.

    Not only have they wasted screen space with a non-customisable chunker, they’ve got this search thing running to waste CPU cycles and memory!

    An absolute joke of an upgrade. They must have got the worst Aspies in to get ideas and implement it.

    To Josh, who wrote
    “I don’t think the public in general should be so upset about the change because if Unity is not for you, you can always put your preference of DE/WM shell back on your system. Its not that big of a deal.”

    Yes, it is that big a deal. Ubuntu is meant to be one of the more user-friend distros. They go and make this ugly unusable POS the default for netbooks, then some nerd tells them that they should just put a WM shell on! What the hell? How is an average user going to know what that even means? What about the limited disk space on Netbooks?

    If Ubuntu want people to use them, they should may their software good. An often ignored, but I think crucial, rule of business.

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