Can a touch-based Ubuntu notebook become a single device that counters Apple's (AAPL) iPad and MacBook Air -- and maybe even Microsoft (MSFT) Surface tablets? System76, promoter of the Darter UltraThin notebook, certainly hopes that's the case. Here's The VAR Guy's spin.

The UltraThin notebook runs touch-based Ubuntu Linux; has a 0.9" frame, and features Intel's 4th generation Core i5 and i7 processors. In some ways, it's unfair to compare the Darter (at 4.60 pounds with a 14.1 inch screen) to Apple's iPad (0.68 to 1.0 pounds; 7.9- to 9.7-inch screen) and MacBook Air (2.39 to 2.96 pounds; 11.6- to 13.3-inch screen).

Still, you can't blame The VAR Guy for forcing the comparison between System76 and Apple. It's David vs. Goliath. And the Ubuntu market has been surprisingly quiet -- far too quiet -- since version 13.10 launched only a few days ago.

Frankly, Canonical -- Ubuntu's promoter -- needs to do a far better job promoting its OEM and PC maker partners. System76 is one of those partners. That company hopes to bulk up while slimming down on touch-based Ubuntu systems.

Will they catch on? The VAR Guy is watching.