Canonical has released Ubuntu 8.04 Mobile Internet Device Edition, a version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution geared towards netbooks, mobile internet devices, UMPCs, subnotebooks, or whatever they’re called this day of the week. It has a whole slew of optimisations geared specifically towards Intel’s Atom platform, as well as a set of open source applications designed specifically for MIDs, all courtesy of Intel’s Moblin project.
As Canonical’s announcement reads, “Ubuntu MID Edition, a fully open source project, gives the full Internet, with no compromise. Custom options may include licensed codecs and popular third-party applications.” This means all those popular Web 2.0 applications we all love and hug so much work just fine on Ubuntu MID Edition, thanks to its support for Java, Flash, AJAX, and more. It also includes support for web cameras and GPS.
The interface is touch-driven, and no stylus is needed (no word on multitouch support, though). The look and feel can be completely customised by OEMs, using HTML, Flash, Clutter, Python with GTK, and C/C++ with GTK and Java. Canonical offers to assist OEMs in this process through its Custom Engineering program.
Phoronix took a closer look at this new release, and has some more to say on what it has to offer.
With Ubuntu MID Edition 8.04, some packages have been removed, some added, and some are modified to better run on MID/UMPCs. One of the additions in Ubuntu MID 8.04 is a Gecko-based web browser designed specifically for smaller screens and with support for screen zooming. This piece of software is just called just MID Browser.
Some of the included pieces of software are Pidgin for instant messaging, GNOME’s Cheese for web-camera integration, Claws Mail as the default mail client, and Moblin Media for music and video playback. A few games are also included such as Neverball and Frozen Bubble. For reading books on your MID or UMPC, Ubuntu MID provides FBReader as one of the default packages. Last but not least, there are a variety of other small applications such as an alarm clock, calculator, and contacts list.
MID Edition uses the 2.6.24 version of the Linux kernel, and X Server 1.4.1 pre-release. You can try it out yourself if you happen to have a supported device, but since the images Canonical are put out are geared towards a few specific devices, they are not really suitable for normal end-users, but more for OEMs. Luckily, Canonical does provide an image for use with KVM. Download it here.