Canonical is set to release Ubuntu 9.04 this week. And one of the biggest changes in the new version is out of the box support for a number of Intel Atom based netbooks including the MSI Wind and Asus Eee PC series. Not only will Ubuntu automatically detect and configure your hardware properly, but it’s easier to install the Ubuntu Netbook Remix program launcher that’s designed to make it easier to find the programs and files you’re looking for on laptops with small screens.
So where does that leave 3rd party projects like Easy Peasy — a custom version of Ubuntu that was designed for netbooks? Last year Easy Peasy seemed like a great idea because it bundled all the features you needed to get Ubuntu 8.04 or 8.10 up and running on an Eee PC netbook. Soon you won’t need a custom distribution for that. The standard version of Ubuntu will work just fine.
But Easy Peasy founder Jon Ramvi’s not done with his pet project. Instead, he’s looking for other ways to improve the experience of using Ubuntu on netbooks. In a recent blog post, Ramvi showed a mockup of a future version of Easy Peasy that could integrate web features with desktop applications. For instance, the sidebar is populated with a list of bookmarks, and at the top of the screen there’s space for notifications letting you know how many unread email messages, new tweets, or Flickr comments you have. You can also see how many of your friends are online on instant messaging services.
This is just a mockup, but it sounds a lot like what the folks at Jolicloud are trying to accomplish. The idea is that many of the applications and service we use today are web or internet-based, and not just desktop apps. So why should you have to fire up a web browser, IM, or email client before you can start using them? Why not bake them right into the operating system. It should be interesting to see whether Easy Peasy or Jolicloud gets there first.