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HP releases netbook interface for Ubuntu

HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition
Hewlett Packard has released a custom version of Ubuntu Linux designed for netbooks. For the HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition, to be exact. Under the hood, the operating system is based on Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. That means it can run pretty much any application that runs on Ubuntu including, Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird and Pidgin. In fact, it comes preloaded with all of those applications plus a few more. It's also fairly easy to install other Linux staples like image editor GIMP.

But what makes the Mi Edition software stand out is the graphical user interface which looks nothing like Ubuntu or even Ubuntu Netbook Remix. When you first boot up the Mi Edition software you're greeted with a screen with a web search engine, a list of favorite web sites, and shortcuts to your music and photos. If you click the Start New Program button, a program launcher will open that separates your applications into Internet, Media, Utilities, Work, Play, and All tabs. The settings manager shows you everything you'd find in the typical Ubuntu settings screens, but it's arranged in a new way that makes it easier to find what you're looking for with fewer clicks.

HP has also added a custom media player called HP MediaStyle that looks a lot like Apple's FrontRow. MediaStyle provides you with a simple full screen interface for navigating music, videos, and photos.

HP Mini Mi Edition

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."

The software comes preloaded on some HP netbooks. But HP also plans to post a utility on its web site in the next few days that will allow you to create a system restore USB flash disk from Windows. You can already create one if you're running Linux. You can use this utility to either restore a Mi Edition netbook to factory default settings or to turn a Windows XP HP Mini 1000 into a Mi Edition device. I would not advise anyone to try using this install disk on unsupported hardware as you'll probably end up with an operating system that doesn't support your WiFi card or other hardware.

It's not clear whether HP plans to offer the software for non-netbooks. But if you want to try adding installing the user interface over a normal Ubuntu installation, you can try adding the HP repositories and using the Synaptic package manager to install a package called glassy-bleu-theme.

HP Mini Mi Edition

Tags: hp, hp-mini-1000-mi-edition, mi-edition, netbooks, ubuntu