The folks at the official Direct2Dell blog sat down with Doug Anson, one of the folks behind the custom interface Dell designed to use with the Ubuntu 8.04 Linux operating system used on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook.

The most noticeable thing that Dell did was to create a new menu bar that hangs out on the desktop. Much like the easy mode Linux interface Asus uses for its Eee PC computers, the Dell menu places several large buttons on your screen allowing you to quickly find the applications you use the most. Out of the box, there are five buttons, for Entertainment, Games, Learning, Productivity, and Web. Clicking on any button brings up a group of icons for launching programs that fall under that category. For example, under Productivity, you’ll find OpenOffice.org.

You can also add applications to any category by hitting the + button in the bottom right corner. Or you can add entire categories by clicking the big + button in the menu itself.

If you don’t particularly like the Dell interface, you can disable it and just use the default Ubuntu/Gnome menu system. You can access the Gnome panel just fine even if you are running the Dell interface, so you don’t really have to choose between one and the other.

Or if you’d rather use the Ubuntu Netbook Remix interface, you can always install it manually.

Dell does offer a few other tweaks in addition to the menu bar. For example, the Dell Mini should be able to play most common media types out of the box, since restricted source codecs come preloaded. Dell has also partnered with Box.net to provide 2GB of free online storage to Inspiron Mini customers.

You can check out a video with Doug Anson after the break.

via Ubuntu Mini

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