Want to try Ubuntu Unity on your netbook?

Want to test the Unity before Ubuntu Light is released to the public? Add ppa:canonical-dx-team/une to your system’s software sources and install the Unity from software center. Then do a reboot and voila!

download ubuntu light

Of course, the prerequisite is that you need to have either Ubuntu standard or Ubuntu Netbook Edition installed.

Ubuntu Light is another Canonical distro and is based on Ubuntu. But, unlike Ubuntu, which takes around 15 seconds to boot, the Ubuntu Light takes just 7 seconds to boot on a typical Atom netbook.

Will not replace main OS

However, the Ubuntu Light is not meant to replace your main OS as it does not supports adding and removing apps. But, do not panic as all the major applications that you would need to get online are there, already installed. Also, Ubuntu Light will be available on desktop and netbook editions of Ubuntu.

Canonical recently unveiled a new version of Ubuntu, dubbed Unity (Ubuntu Light), built specifically with netbooks in mind, featuring super short boot times, and a whole slew of interface enhancements. It is still incomplete, but early versions of it are available to OEMs and to adventurous tinkerers.

It is quite easy to get up and running if you’re using Ubuntu already. I have an Ubuntu desktop at home but decided to try this setup on my laptop via VirtualBox, which is sporting a relatively fresh install of Ubuntu 10.04 with Guest Additions installed.

Follow the instructions below to try out Ubuntu Unity. It shouldn’t take you more than 5 to 10 minutes in total and only takes a few steps, don’t let the liberal set of screen shots fool you!

1. The first step is to add the repository where Unity is being held as a Software Source. Click System > Administration > Software Sources, and select the “Other Software” tab. You should something similar to the image below:

Software Sources

2. At the “Other Software” screen of the Software Sources window, click Add, and then Click “Add Source” after entering : ppa:canonical-dx-team/une

Add Software Source

3. After adding this new source, it will notify you that information about available software is out of date (we just added a new source after all, let’s find out what is available in it!) So click “Reload” and let it do it’s thing.

Update Software Sources

4. Next we are going to install Unity by going to Applications > Ubuntu Software Center, and then searching for “Unity”. Among the results, select “Launcher” and click “Install”. This will install the Unity launcher and all of it’s dependencies.

Ubuntu Software Center Unity Launcher

5. Once the install is complete, close the Software Center window, and log out. This will bring you back to the Ubuntu login screen. You should see a new Session type at the bottom right, which may be selected by default (it was for me), called “Ubuntu: Unity Netbook Edition”. Ensure it is selected and log in as usual.

Login with Unity Netbook Edition Session

6. Congrats, that is it! You should be loaded into the default (albeit incomplete) Unity environment. Most noticeable is the new dock or app launcher to the left and the integrated search in the top panel.

Ubuntu Unity desktop

The Ubuntu logo at the top right acts as an Expose-esque app switcher once you have a few windows open, give it a try.

Ubuntu Unity App Switcher

There are a lot of exciting features that haven’t been implemented yet, but you can play around with the new dock, and for people who actually have netbooks, perhaps see about getting it to book up quickly. I am booting into it on a VM via the method you see in steps 5 and 6, which doesn’t take advantage of the new speedy shell.

You can find the official product page here: http://www.canonical.com/products/unity