Is Ubuntu Friendly any different from the Ubuntu Certification Programme?
Yes. Actually, Ubuntu Friendly is not a certification programme. UF is a community driven hardware validation programme. Its goal is to have a list of systems that people have tested with a particular release of Ubuntu and an associated rating, based on the results of their testing.
Let's say is the next generation HardwareSupport wiki pages (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupport/Machines/Laptops), but with a better structure, as the tests will be written upfront, and the process to get a rating for a system will be the same for every system.
What does it mean that a system is Ubuntu Friendly?
Ubuntu Friendly is just the name of the programme and yes, it was chosen because of the concept of a system being Ubuntu friendly (working fine with Ubuntu), but there won't be a classification of systems that gained the Ubuntu Friendly status or not.
Instead of that, any system tested with the testing tools that we provide will make it to the Ubuntu Friendly list, with a rating associated with it. The rating will be between 0 and 5, that will give the user of the Ubuntu Friendly list an overview of how well a system works with Ubuntu and how many people have tested it.
Will Ubuntu Certification Programme exists once Ubuntu Friendly gets released?
Yes. Ubuntu Friendly is not a certification programme and it won't substitute the current Ubuntu Certification Programme. The UCP is a commercial certification programme, run by Canonical, and it will be still available for commercial partners. Opposite to the Ubuntu Friendly programme, the UCP is a go/no-go decision. A system is certified with Ubuntu or it is not, there are no ratings. To be certified with Ubuntu the system must pass all the tests specified in the UCP coverage list.
What type of systems can we test?
For the first release of Ubuntu Friendly we are targeting desktops, laptops and netbooks, with a i386 or amd64 architecture. We hope to extend the programme in the future to cover other architectures, like ARM.
When will it be available?
The goal is to release the programme when Ubuntu 11.10 gets released, and that will be the first release to test for Ubuntu Friendly. We are aiming to have a beta ready for early adopters and testers by Oneiric Beta 2.
What tool will be used for testing?
For this first release we are going to use Checkbox, that is already in the Live CD (you can find it in the menu by the name of System Testing), but with newer and improved tests that are hardware specific.
How do I get involved?
There are a lot of ways to get involved: from writing new tests, documentation, improving the tools or translating the test cases. We have a team of contributors called Ubuntu Friendly Squad, read our teams page to see how to join the team.