Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
From KDE's Plasma Netbook to EasyPeasy, every Linux desktop for netbooks that I’ve seen are designed with the same assumptions. Each assumes that, because of the smaller screen, the desktop must be simpler than a workstation's, and will be used mainly for light computing in general and social networking in particular.
Released at the same time as the Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick) general version, the latest version of Ubuntu Netbook Edition does not question these assumptions. This conventionality may be questionable to many: workstation versions of GNOME, KDE, and Xfce work perfectly well on the smaller screens of netbooks for anyone with regular vision, and netbooks -- especially the latest generation, with their extra memory -- are capable of more than light computing. In addition, though, Ubuntu Netbook also has some design quirks that can make it less than ideal.
Ubuntu Netbook is available as a Live CD. Alternatively, you can create a Live USB drive, following the instructions on the download page. However, be warned that, like GNOME Shell, Ubuntu Netbook requires 3-D hardware acceleration, which means either using the still relatively few free drivers which meet this requirement or else finding proprietary ones. Unfortunately, this requirement is only mentioned in the final stages of loading, and the Live devices include only a limited set of drivers.