Amongst the never-ending-list-of-really-cool-features new in Ubuntu 11.04 is ‘Test Drive’ - a new Software Centre feature that allows you to try applications without installing them.

We’ve all been there: seen an application in the Ubuntu Software Centre that we want to try out but wonder if it’s really worth it.

Enter “Test Drive” – a new feature that allows you to easily and quickly ‘test drive’ applications on your desktop without the the hassle of installing them or their related dependencies.

The Test Drive LD The feature works by running the applications on a remote server using the ‘NX protocol’ – an enhanced method of providing graphical interfaces on remote servers – and Stéphane Graber’s Weblive - a set of packages and plugins for creating remotely-accessible virtual machines.

As the feature requires an extra package called ‘qtnx’ to be installed, which doesn’t ship with Ubuntu by default, the feature isn’t available “out of the box.” A quick install of ‘qtnx‘ is therefore needed to enable the feature.

Only the top 30 applications are available for ‘test drive’ – a disappointing if perfectly understandable metric.