Remix your Ubuntu – netbook style

I have a laptop with a rather low resolution screen. It is limited to 1024x768px, so I have had a bit of envy for the Ubuntu eee users that have a nice and practical user interface for smaller screens. I have for a while already removed the taskbar, since I realized that I didn’t use it that much, and it steals a whopping 24px of the vertical screenspace.

I discovered the netbook remix, that is the user interface in Ubuntu eee right after Ubuntu 8.10 was launched. I had already updated to 8.10, and the Netbook remix wasn’t available for 8.10 at the time.

Yesterday I checked the launchpad page again, and now it was available for 8.10. I then, of course had to test it.

Here’s what you need to do to setup your Ubuntu as a netbook remix:

1. Add deb repository

  • open your /etc/apt/sources.list with your favorite editor.

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    sudo vim /etc/apt/sources.list
  • Add the following two lines to the end of the file:

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    deb intrepid main
    deb-src intrepid main

2. Install themes and utilitues

The netbook remix is really just a different GTK theme, a few toolbar widgets, and two utilities that provides a launcher as the desktop, and that forces all applications to run in “full screen”.

  • Update the apt data…

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    sudo apt-get update

    (press yes on any questions)

    • Upgrade the already installed applications…

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      sudo apt-get upgrade

      (press yes on any questions)

      • Choose which of the things you need… maximus

        Utility that forces all applications that can run in full screen does so
        toolbar applet that minimizes all applications, revealing the desktop launcher menu (netbook-launcher) (I don’t use the netbook-launcher, so I don’t need this)
        Application launcher that lies on your desktop background. Very slick looking, but requires 3D acceleration from your graphics card. Will also be funky if you combine this with compiz. (I didn’t install this)
        The theme that makes it all look so nice :)
        The new taskbar. This is the thing that makes this thing rock. It turns your top-bar into a tab-line, so you can switch between all your applications, just like they where firefox tabs. It also removes the need for a titlebar on your windows.
      • Install the stuff you want. In my case this was:

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        sudo apt-get install maximus human-netbook-theme window-picker-applet

        Apt will complain that the resources couldn’t be verified… But live dangerous, and press y to proceed.

      3. Configuration

      Before we do configuration, log out and in again, this is to reload the metacity graphics engine.

      • Add maximus to your session. Go to your System menu, then choose Preferences, then choose Sessions from the menu. In the new window that appears, click Add. Now enter Maximus in the Name field, and maximus in the Command field. Click save.
      • If you chose to use the netbook-launcher, add netbook-launcher the same way (netbook-launcher is the command) to your session.

        Close the Session Preferences window

      • Remove the bottom toolbar. You do this by right-clicking on an empty space on your bottom toolbar, and selecting “Delete this panel”

      • Remove the menus from the top toolbar. You do this by right-clicking one of the three menus, and select “Remove from panel”. Also do the same to any icons you don’t use. (Like the blue questionmark-icon).

      • If you use the netbook-launcher, and have installed the go-home-applet. Add this on the leftmost space on your toolbar. (right click an empty space on the toolbar, and select “add to panel”. Search for “Go Home”, and drag the item up in the left corner of your panel)

        If you didn’t choose to use this, add the “Main Menu” instead

      • At last, add the “Window Picker” to the large open space to the right of the menu. You might have to rearrange any existing icons, to leave the largest possible continous space for this applet.

      • Log out and in again. Now you should have a nice graphical space-efficient system :)