A pre-release version of another flavour of Ubuntu has been released by the developers, and the first screenshots have begun to appear online. Ubuntu Mobile is more or less what it sounds like – Ubuntu customised for use on so-called “Ultra-mobile PCs”, UMPCs for slightly-shorter.
Surprisingly, this is actually a different thing to Ubuntu Netbook Pro, which was revealed earlier in the year. Netbook Pro is aimed at people will small computers like Eee PCs and the like, whereas Ubuntu Mobile is aimed at devices that lack keyboards and merely use touch screens – so the one person who actually bought a Samsung Q1 UMPC should be pretty pleased by this news.
Interface wise, everything has been made jumbo-sized to accommodate fat fingers – all of the buttons are a bit bigger, and all of the applications launch full-screen (not terribly dissimilar to Netbook Pro), optimised for a 1024×600 screen.
Not stopping there, Firefox has been replaced as the default browser by something called “Midbrowser”… as it’s designed for touch-screen devices, it’d be interesting to see if it will work in a similar way to the iPhone browser, with zooming in and out done with fingers, and that sort of thing. This is just idle speculation on my part though.
At the moment the on-screen keyboard is basically just a picture of a standard computer keyboard (though shaded in lovely Ubuntu brown) – it’ll be interesting to see if before final release they add in, or add the option of using the strange (though presumably faster) circular on screen keyboards that sit under your thumbs on either side of the screen on the UMPC version of Windows XP.
I think it looks pretty good though – I’d attempt to install it myself to give it a run through on my Eee PC (like the guys at Liliputing did), but I have a horrible habit of every time I fiddle with some settings in Ubuntu, I end up breaking it and having to reinstall the entire operating system.