Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has an excellent write up of what Canonical is planning for Ubuntu Unity, a new shell that will be part of its new Ubuntu Light project aimed primarily at netbooks. Even though Unity is a completely distinct design from Gnome 3.0’s new graphical shell, I am impressed at the aggressive re-use of components and services under the hood. I am tempted once this is released to see if I could use it as a minimalist environment on my full desktop machine.
The idea is to maximize the real estate available for applications to help offset the limited screen size and resolution commonly available in cheaper portables. I think some of the tricks he describes are pretty clever and look snazzy regardless of how much resolution and real estate you may have. Of course, the Mac user in me is instantly attracted to the separated menu bar position constantly at the top of the screen. The more I look at it, the more Mac like it appears explaining why I keep poring over the screen shots.
Paul also has a detailed hands on with a developer build he was able to secure from Canonical. It clearly is rough and he notes what is missing and is still in progress. For all that, it sounds promising.