Evolution of my netbook UI

I’ve used an Acer Aspire One D250 (Intel N270, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive) for my every-day machine, in fact basically my only machine, for over a year now. Needless to say, a productive netbook UI is important to me. I want to maximize the usable screen space while also minimizing RAM and especially CPU usage.

Here are the desktop UIs I’ve tried so far:

  1. Ubuntu Netbook Edition with the “legacy” netbook UI. I really got used to using maximus to keep most windows maximized and the window picker applet to easily switch between windows and close windows.
  2. Ubuntu Netbook Edition with the Unity interface on 10.10. I like the window management and it looks slick. The problems I’ve had are general performance, stability, and the screen real estate taken up by the launcher/side bar.
  3. Ubuntu Desktop Edition with compiz. This is my latest netbook method. I take the normal Ubuntu GNOME desktop, remove some of the applets (indicator-session for instance), and use a trick I read about to remove the window decorations on maximized windows.

I came up with the last idea after reading that Unity was moving to using compiz. I had always assumed that compiz would use more RAM and CPU than metacity or Unity. In fact, compiz is actually really snappy on my Aspire One. The only thing that I find problematic about my current setup is that due to not having any windows directions I have no button to close windows. I use the Alt-F4 keyboard shortcut, but it’s a little awkward.

So how about you? What kind of Ubuntu interface do you use on your netbook? Do you just use Unity? Something more like my setup? I’m really curious about Kubuntu, but it’s a real CPU hog at this point. I haven’t figured out how to fix that yet.