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HP Software Linux

HP Releases New Netbook GUI For Ubuntu 261

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the user-friendly-the-new-goal dept.
dan of the north writes to tell us that a new custom version of Ubuntu aimed at netbooks and based on 8.04 Hardy Heron has been released by HP. Targeted to the HP Mini 1000 Mi, the netbook customization comes complete with OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird, Pidgin, and a few others. "Overall, HP has created one of the best thought out Linux interfaces for netbooks. The software is designed so that users who have never used Linux should have no trouble performing basic tasks. But experienced Linux users can always fire up a terminal window by hitting Alt+F2 and entering 'gnome-terminal.'"
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HP Releases New Netbook GUI For Ubuntu

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  • FOSS At Its Best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomcircuit (938963) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:05PM (#26756083) Homepage

    HP has taken a solid product improved it and is using it to improve the value of it's own product.

    Everybody involved benefits (except microsoft...).

    • Re:FOSS At Its Best (Score:4, Informative)

      by rolfwind (528248) on Friday February 06, 2009 @04:17PM (#26757029)

      I heard that they just used Elisa Media center....

      http://elisa.fluendo.com/ [fluendo.com]

    • My hat is off to HP. I never really bothered with them, but recently I noticed that they seem to be really making every effort to understand the importance of the 'touch-n-feel'. Even if it's not perfect, they seem to be going in the right direction and hopefully others will follow
  • Not in the UK (Score:5, Informative)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:09PM (#26756145)
    The Register reports that this version will not be available in the UK. The Limeys have to run Billyware only.
  • netbook (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flynt (248848) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:11PM (#26756173)

    I almost got the HP Mini 1000 but decided on a different netbook due to the proprietary VGA cable needed to connect the HP to a larger screen. I went with the Samsung NC10 instead, and I am not disappointed in the least. The first thing I did was to install Ubuntu on the Samsung, and it works just fine for the most part (the function keys to control brightness being the only thing I had to work around). I got a 2GB stick of RAM for it, and honestly don't find it underpowered in the least. I think it's a great machine to bring on the road to get some coding done; I don't think it's limited to simply web browsing and email.

    • by ichthus (72442)
      I'm a happy NC10 owner too, and my experience with running Fedora 10 on it sounds about the same as yours with Ubuntu. The FN brightness keys don't work, and plugging in headphones doesn't turn the speakers off. Other'n that, everything works great out the of box, including compiz. Nice, little netbook.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by pdabbadabba (720526)

        Just to be a dick: I just bought an HP Mini 1000 with Windows (cheaper retail with Windows than without it online), installed Ubuntu, and *everything* (including all the FN Keys, Compiz, etc.) that I've tried has worked out of the box.

        • by ichthus (72442)
          Nah, that's cool. I knew before I bought it that there would be some minor compat. issues. I chose the Samsung because of the keyboard and the 8-hour battery life (seems more like 6 hours when running Linux, though.)
      • by Knuckles (8964)

        If you use Gnome, you probably just have to open the volume control panel and enable the "headphone sensing" switch.

        I set up an nc10 with Ubuntu Netbook Remix for a good friend and it's a great little machine, indeed. The battery life is amazing (with the new battery I got 6 hours of battery out of it while *constantly working on it* and having Wifi running)

        The screen rotation feature in Gnome is fantastic. I set up a keyboard shortcut to switch the screen to portrait orientation. Since the coordinate syste

  • by bbasgen (165297) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:12PM (#26756177) Homepage
    Netbooks can play a huge role in unseating the Windows monopoly. Just as Linux has "snuck in the backdoor" as the leading OS on embedded devices, it is also the most obvious and best answer for netbooks. As we move away from expensive "generalist" computers into the realm of truly commodity hardware, Windows just can't compete. Hopefully wide-scale netbook adoption of Linux can get a big enough base of ordinary users that Linux can grow to adapt to their needs. :)
    • by binarylarry (1338699) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:37PM (#26756577)

      Oh we'll see about that.

      In 15 minutes, I'll be in a meeting with some HP people I know. And I'm going to one thing very clear to them: Keep selling Linux on your Netbooks and I will fucking kill you. I've done it before and I will do it again.

      With push overs like these HP fuckers, I won't even need the chair this time.

      Yours Truly,
      Steve B

      • by Etrias (1121031)
        Dear Stevie,

        Remember that shit you pulled over on us with Intel? No? Well I fucking do. I wanna see you cry when this recession drives a bunch of college going young people to love our new little netbooks with a custom Linux on it and find out that they don't need you anymore.

        Kisses,
        Mark H

        We moved all our chairs to the parking lot so when you show up to act like a raving maniac, which you are, you can at least do it outside.
    • by linhares (1241614) on Friday February 06, 2009 @04:33PM (#26757209)
      Not only netbooks. Anything below the $400 price point can't afford $30+ if there's a cheaper alternative. Probably some larger laptops (13"?) will use atoms of via nanos and drop the dvd. With more space, they could run cooler and get even cheaper parts. Anything below $250 cannot afford $30+ for windows. All the upcoming ***tops below $250 will run linux, I bet.
      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday February 06, 2009 @05:31PM (#26757983) Journal

        ... In other news, a new Windows 7 edition has been released by Microsoft for exclusive use by OEMs in their netbook products (a "netbook" is defined as a laptop with retail price below $400). The so-called "Windows 7 Net Home" costs $5, with the more advanced "Net Pro" version going for $10. EULA for the software restricts the ability to install it on non-netbook computers, and the corresponding checks have been added to the Windows activation system.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:13PM (#26756201)

    Frankly, it makes sense that a computer system company (HP, Dell, etc) would actively pursue releasing a linux distro that works well/specifically designed to work well with their specific hardware, etc. (I presume this is going to include drivers for all of the included hardware in the mini), and is "easy" to use and looks good...

    I'm surprised more companies haven't done this, actually.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:17PM (#26756269) Journal

      Frankly, it makes sense that a computer system company (HP, Dell, etc) would actively pursue releasing a linux distro that works well/specifically designed to work well with their specific hardware, etc. (I presume this is going to include drivers for all of the included hardware in the mini), and is "easy" to use and looks good...

      S/LINUX/UNIX

      What, like Apple?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Eh... yeah, Unix, too, I guess. I'm not as much of a fan of Unix, having used solaris/hp-ux/aix.

        Apple is a bit different in that they have a proprietary OS that they license only for specific hardware (isn't that still the way it is? or no? I could be behind the times here). I'm not a fan of that.

        I also just generally dislike the "I'm cool, I have an Apple. I'm artsy. PC users automatically get -5 points for using a PC even if their [music, art, web design] is great." thing, but that's neither here nor

        • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:34PM (#26756527) Journal
          I was just making the point that the OP shouldn't have been surprised that a company would choose to tweak on OS to run well on the hardware they sell. This is the crux of Apple's computer business model.

          Apples are easy to use, and optimised for certain tasks... and this is possible because Apple only has to deal with a very limited set of hardware components and configurations.

          HP contributing to a Linux distro in order to optimise for their particular hardware configuration is similar to what Apple did.
        • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:37PM (#26756565) Homepage

          Apple is a bit different in that they have a proprietary OS that they license only for specific hardware (isn't that still the way it is? or no? I could be behind the times here).

          Not exactly-- really it depends a bit on what you consider the "OS" to be. The underlying OS [wikipedia.org] is open source, and "free" in the FSF sense. The graphical layer that runs on top is proprietary and only licensed to be installed on Apple hardware. You can take their OS and replace the graphical layer with X11 and Gnome, and the whole thing runs.

          Now a lot of people would say this is splitting hairs, saying that since you can't run OSX apps on a "free" system, you can't say the OS in "free". It's a valid objection. However, I still think it's noteworthy that code for the kernel and lots of other stuff is available to developer to look at and copy.

          I also just generally dislike the "I'm cool, I have an Apple. I'm artsy. PC users automatically get -5 points for using a PC even if their [music, art, web design] is great."

          Me too, I guess, insofar as there are Apple users who act that way. I don't let it stop me from using a Mac when it happens to be the best tool for the job (which sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't). Also, lots of Mac users aren't really like that. A fair amount these days are normal computer geeks who just happen to want a Unix system that is also formally supported by Photoshop (or some similar needs).

          But really, we're straying off course a bit here.

          • Definitely off course but always fun to mention. ;)

            You're right, the underlying "OS" is ... I was using a broader term, however. Just as one would call "Ubuntu" an OS and "Linux" an OS. I prefer not to try to remember the differences between the kernel, device drivers, filesystems, volume managers, window managers, desktop environments... at least not unless I really have to :( :)

            • Yeah, I think often when people use the term "operating system", they're talking about everything that gets installed by default from a particular vendor-- or something like that. So when you stick an Ubuntu disk in and do a default installation, everything you get is "part of the operating system". Some might even go as far as to say it includes everything that can be installed through the default package servers.

              But if you really want to get into it, it can be a little bit more subtle than that. For e

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by onefriedrice (1171917)

          I also just generally dislike the "I'm cool, I have an Apple. I'm artsy. PC users automatically get -5 points for using a PC even if their [music, art, web design] is great." thing, but that's neither here nor there (not sure where it is, I guess) :)

          You can ignore that if you want. I used a Mac clear through the nineties, during the time when it was clearly unpopular to do so. Apple's rise in popularity doesn't directly effect my computing experience.

          • Yeah, I can. I actually prefer Windows still, at this point, though. *shrugs* But I don't do a whole lot of audio/video editing, either. I do think Apple's stuff is overpriced (especially the laptops?), too, but then I think the same thing about Sony and a lot of other ... merchandise where you pay just to have a brand name. At times, I guess it may be warranted (Barracuda or something?), but IMO it's not with Apple. At least not the ones I've used, which admittedly were older. Haven't used much newe

        • PC users automatically get -5 points

          Do you mean PC users or Windows users? Because Apple's machines are PCs too.

    • by Aphoxema (1088507)

      This is a little shocking, I was just thinking HP needs to fancy up to Ubuntu after I played with a Touchsmart a little while ago.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:40PM (#26756613) Homepage

      I'm surprised more companies haven't done this, actually.

      It's not that surprising when you consider that Microsoft has made a practice or retaliating against OEMs who sell non-MS systems. I don't have good citations here, but I remember reading that Microsoft used to put things in their deals like, "If you advertise or openly sell non-MS desktop systems, we'll raise the cost of your OEM versions of Windows $X per copy." Even if X is a pretty small number, it can add up to be a lot of money for big OEMs.

    • by ericrost (1049312) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:56PM (#26756791) Homepage Journal

      Except all their doing is fancying up the interface, the drivers are already there for everything. I installed vanilla Ubuntu Netbook Remix on one of these pre-Xmas and it ran perfectly out of the box:

      http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=997590 [ubuntuforums.org]

  • Excellent! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:14PM (#26756217)
    This is precisely what we want to see. Hardware manufacturers using the openness and customizability of Linux and free software to ensure not only that their software and their hardware play nice but to give the device a look and feel that is distinct and tailored to the device. I think we can all agree that Apple owes at least part of its success to a relatively seamless and user-friendly interface between hardware and software. Linux and open source software should allow the same thing but any hardware manufacturer could do it rather than just Apple. If they had put windows on it, this netbook would act more or less like every other windows laptop out there, just less powerful. Instead, they have something that is actually exciting.
    • Re:Excellent! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:59PM (#26756833) Homepage

      Yeah, I've sort of been waiting for this. It makes a lot of sense to me that OEMs would want their pre-installed OS to be something that they could control completely, even if they don't technically "own" it.

      Once upon a time, every computer company came out with their own hardware and software package. You had Apple, IBM, Commodore, etc. Some of the reason that everyone came out with their own software was because they weren't allowed to just take each others' software, but some of it was also that they each had different ideas about what was important.

      That model fell apart because it was too expensive for everyone to develop everything themselves from scratch, and also because it was too annoying to deal with all the incompatibilities. However, by turning to Microsoft as an alternate solution, everyone sacrificed a lot of power and control over their own products.

      Now that there are credible FOSS operating systems just sitting around waiting to be used, the problems of "starting from scratch" and "dealing with incompatibilities" are pretty much gone. If I were running Dell or HP, I would have had people working on custom/rebranded Linux or BSD distributions for several years already, including packaging systems and servers that would allow my company to control updates too.

  • Why are they using 8.04? Shouldn't it be 8.10?
    -Taylor

    • Re:Why 8.04? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moosesocks (264553) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:18PM (#26756277) Homepage

      Just guessing, but 8.04 is a Long-Term-Support release.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      8.04 is LTS, wheras 8.10 is not.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      LTS.

      8.04 gets Long Term Support from the developers, where 8.10 gets more limited support. You can expect them to upgrade to 10.04 since it'll be the next one with LTS.

      • by doti (966971)

        Isn't 9.10 the next LTS? IIRC, it's every 18 months, or three releases.

        • by Aladrin (926209)

          I thought so, too, so I looked it up before posting. For some reason, it's 2 years this time. Maybe to re-sync with kubuntu?

    • Re:Why 8.04? (Score:4, Informative)

      by somenickname (1270442) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:37PM (#26756571)

      8.04 has become the equivalent of Debian stable. It works for the vast majority of people and if there are specific apps you want to upgrade, you can find newer versions that integrate perfectly with your system. My machine has about 3000 packages installed on it. I only care about 15-20. I just hand upgrade those packages and let the reset sit at their stable state.

  • Anybody tried installing the hp repos and packages on a normal Ubuntu install yet?
  • by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:22PM (#26756355)

    With that said, I do not see there being any problem installing this on other brands.... Specifically in my case, the Samsung NC10, which has identical hardware.

    One thing I did not check out was the keyboard layout, and how the extra function keys (volume, brightness etc) are mapped, and whether those will work with this distro.

  • by arhhook (995275) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:23PM (#26756363)

    It won't even come bundled with toolbars, trials, demos, etc that their Windows computers come bundled with.

    This is excellent to see.

  • The linked article was rather sparse with technical details. What's the window manager? What are the building blocks? Doesn't look like a vanilla gnome setup...

  • Win+R (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nemeosis (259734)

    Alt+F2

    This is one of most annoying things about Linux. It sometimes tries to copy Windows, but instead, does a half-assed job.

    Why not just use the WIN+R command? Microsoft created the Run command, and the Windows Key makes the keystroke very easy. It is certainly easier than reaching for Alt+F2.

    Even Apple created their launch application using the command+spacebar keystroke.

    Why can't this be made standard? Instead of having to add some other unsupported key application just to get that mapping to use th

    • Re:Win+R (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:36PM (#26756559)

      From an ergonomic standpoint, "ALT+F2" is easier to press in almost all scenarios than "Windows Key+R"

      If you hunt-and-peck:
      - ALT+F2: Thumb on alt, Index finger on F2. One does not need to bend their wrists upwards
      - WIN+R: Thumb on Win, index on R. One has to rotate wrist, elbow, and shoulder.

      If you use home row:
      - ALT+F2: Same as the hunt-and-peck
      - WIN+R: Bending either the left or right thumb inwards, extending index finger to the R key.

      If you have a DVORAK layout:
      - ALT+F2: No fucking clue, I don't use DVORAK keyboards because the name reminds me of John Dvorak.
      - WIN+R: Same as above

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by glennpratt (1230636)

        Why would I bend my thumb for WIN+R? I put my left pinky on WIN and my left index on R. Easy. Just like CTRL+F, which I use constantly.

        This would all be well and good if F2 was an easy key to touch type or hunt and peck. It's not. Even if I can see my keyboard, hunting and pecking F keys take forever and the F keys are located in slightly different locations on every keyboard and notebook.

        I really don't care, I don't know why I wrote this, but I don't feel like deleting it now... cool.

      • CTRL+C: (pinky CTRL, index finger C)
        WIN+R: (pinky Winkey, index finger R)
        Type a captital R: SHIFT+R (similar fingers)

        For me ALT+F2 is more awkward since the distance between the ALT+F2 keys is farther than WIN+R.

      • If you use home row:
        - ALT+F2: Same as the hunt-and-peck
        - WIN+R: Bending either the left or right thumb inwards, extending index finger to the R key.

        If you use home row, then all WIN shortcuts are the same as CTRL shortcuts - you use the little finger to press WIN, not thumb.

    • by NullProg (70833)

      Microsoft created the Run command

      Your being silly, Wozniak invented the RUN command.

      Microsoft created PEEK() and POKE().

      Enjoy,

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      This is one of most annoying things about Linux. It sometimes tries to copy Windows, but instead, does a half-assed job.

      Copy Windows? Not really.

      Why not just use the WIN+R command?

      Because it's always been ALT+F2. You can however change the key bindings easily in KDE (no idea about Gnome) if you want.

      Why can't this be made standard?

      ALT+F2 is standard for the most popular desktop environments on Linux.

  • by edmicman (830206) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:46PM (#26756689) Homepage Journal

    I *think* this was posted on Lifehacker yesterday, that you could download and install the theme that this uses. Here's the link:
    http://lifehacker.com/5147379/get-hps-dark+themed-mini-look-on-your-ubuntu-desktop [lifehacker.com]

    I tried it last night, on 8.10, and didn't have much luck. I'd really like a dark theme, but none of the ones I find seem to work well. Sure, I'll grant that the theme *did* look good. But it screwed up the controls so that iGoogle looked like crap and I couldn't read half the HTML elements. I like the window border of the theme, but if I only use that I lose the all-black task bar. All in all, I thought Firefox looked pretty bad under this.

    Also, I still didn't like the icons. Why do 99% of the gnome icon themes suck? They all have this ugly volume control, and ugly 4 bars for the wireless connection. I've found some nice minimalist OSX-like icons themes, but they are always black and don't work well with the dark interfaces!

    I did like the mini-style of the theme. Changing back to some of my others I realized how much space is wasted on some of the menus and the bars. Just my $.02.

  • Its about time.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday February 06, 2009 @03:50PM (#26756721)

    For almost 25 years Microsoft has been dictating the OS and hardware for personal computers. Both consumers and producers alike have suffered.

    Better systems not supported by Microsoft languished.

    Companies with really good ideas run bankrupt when Microsoft copies them and incorporates their knock-off into DOS/Windows.

    Before Microsoft, system companies competed on features and support. These days everything is about price and with "windows" being the price point, the HPs and Dells of the world have to play ball with Microsoft.

    If, however, the Windows stranglehold can be weakened in that people accept that they don't NEED windows, then that opens opportunity for Linux and other systems.

    It is about time the OEMs started flexing their muscle. Once they free themselves, they opportunities will grow!! Economic growth for sure!

  • But experienced Linux users can always fire up a terminal window by hitting Alt+F2 and entering 'gnome-terminal.'

    Not really. "Experienced Linux users" probably have a shortcut key bound to gnome-terminal (and three or four instances always available on spare workspaces). I don't understand why the shortcut key to launch a terminal still does not have a default value in GNOME (at least on my distro). It would simplify things:

    But everyone can always fire up a terminal window by hitting Ctrl+Alt+T

    Then again, t

  • I use the Ubuntu Netbook Remix GUI for my Asus EEE 900. It's very nice and I very much prefer it to the default Asus interface. It's also built on Ubuntu 8.04.

    • by Abreu (173023)

      Same here, I am using the Netbook Remix interface on top of Ubuntu 8.10 on my Acer Aspire One and it works perfectly

      (caveat: I had to install a custom kernel to get all the hardware to work, but it was easy after that... The kernel is found at the Acer Aspire One users group)

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Friday February 06, 2009 @04:52PM (#26757425) Homepage

    Ubuntu is simply the sane thing to put on a desktop machine these days, especially for users who may not already be familiar with Linux.

    It was always really frustrating to me in the past to see hardware companies selling machines with Linux preinstalled, but with some crappy version of Linux that was bound to create a bad impression of Linux in general.

    Back when Fry's was selling Great Quality boxes for as low as $180, I bought several of them. They had something called ThizLinux on them, which was apparently a distro that GQ created themselves. No documentation for ThizLinux came with the machine, and googling for ThizLinux turned up a Chinese-language web site with no English translation. The printed docs that came with the machines were actually 90% information on how to wipe ThizLinux off your hard disk and install Windows. The impression any user would get from this was probably that Linux was crap, and nobody really wanted it.

    Same deal with the Everex gPC, which I reviewed a while back [lightandmatter.com]. This may be a little unfair, because what I bought from them was a beta of their gOS distro, and now they have a newer version out, but basically it sucked, and I very quickly decided to replace it with Ubuntu. IMO it was just foolish of Everex to put out their own distro. I think they were imagining that by making it look slick (and a lot like MacOS) they would attract users. But in reality it worked so poorly that I think they were shooting themselves in the foot.

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