We’re just a few days away from the Ubuntu 8.10 launch on the 30th, but it doesn’t look that impressive at first glance. Of course, it’s a mature operating system and changes are usually incremental – but was there more that could be done?
In this article we’re going through 7 most requested Ubuntu features that didn’t make the cut in this release.
1. A better User Interface
As it is, Ubuntu is a great operating system, it’s based on the Unix core, it’s stable, lightweight, secure, we all know that list of features, that’s why we love Ubuntu.
But, imagine what a better interface would do for Ubuntu, something sexy and usable, while maintaining the low system requirements – a big stepping stone on the way to beat Mac and Windows and reach through to the home users.
We really have to create something better in order to persuade the average Joe, which doesn’t quite grasp the ‘under the hood’ advantages of Ubuntu.
And it wouldn’t be a very complicated task, we already have all the basics in place: Compiz for effects, screenlets and a great array of dock applications. There are all these tutorials out there written by Ubuntu users customizing their box – what would it take to integrate that into the default install?
Let’s keep it simple and beautiful.
‘I would love it if these designs received some serious consideration, Ubuntu appears to be just content to settle for the poor and unattractive orange designs. Whilst the current Ubuntu designs have worked until now, if we want to extent the appeal a real rethink and transformation needs to be undertaken. I will add commentaries to each design in due course. Stand by!’ – by willwill100
Another great proposal is the Dust Theme:
And it still remains lightweight, the author says:
No custom software. It has to use an established GTK engine. This one is made with the Aurora GTK engine in mind, which sports a very polished look.
2. An unified Hardware Driver Database
Searching the forums and scavenging sourceforge for source code is not a great experience when you’re looking for a scanner driver.
We need a central repository or a download site that aggregates stuff like custom madwifi releases and kernel patches; stuff like the Atheros E5007EG in the Asus EEE, doesn’t work out of the box and a user should be able to take a trip to a central site that explains what he needs to do and provides the necessary files.
Webcams, card readers, USB gizmos – someone probably wrote a driver – the real challenge is finding them.
3. Out of the box end-user Goodness
Please, don’t make us sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras . We all want flash, java and mp3 playback, do we really have to ask for it? Pretty please?
Taking a look at gOS3 the other day, I thought Ubuntu should really consider at integrating useful consumer oriented applications: goodness out of the box. Stuff like Skype, Wine (the windows app emulator), and Picasa (Google’s photo management software) should be preinstalled. Why? Because they’re extremely useful and make a big difference to the end user; it’s just there.
While I may get some haters on my back for saying this, Picasa for Linux is a lot better than F-Spot and so is Google Desktop compared to Tracker.
I know, it’s a compromise, and I don’t like closed source either, but ultimately it’s about offering the best experience to the user, right?
And I don’t mean dropping off the ‘clean’ image – just create a spin-off that includes all this useful stuff.
Don’t worry, that is how my setup looks in my dreams. I’m running on a 15 inch Acer with some pretty crappy specs. Photo courtesy of totalAldo.
How about decent multi-monitor support? The kind that’s easy to configure and actually works. Dragging an app on the second monitor and maximizing it shouldn’t be that hard to implement – and it’s a deal breaker for someone who needs to keep an eye on more than one thing at a time(like CNN and the stock monitoring software).
5. Power (non)management
How about some power management? Admittedly there’s been some progress in this area, but it’s still rather limited, and, since the world is rapidly moving to more mobility centered devices, it should be a big bullet point on that feature sheet.
6. A sound engine that works
Don’t ask how many hours I spent trying to get 5.1 sound of Ubuntu using the Realtek ALC883. ALSA, PulseAudio, name your sound server here, are all pretty crappy. Not to mention that it’s a royal pain when the whole system locks up with PulseAudio using 99% of the resources playing a MIDI file.
7. Reader’s choice
It’s your turn; what is bugging you in Ubuntu, what would you want to be changed? Tell us in the comments. Who knows, maybe some developers will see this article, your requests, and actually implement them.
I love Ubuntu, and that’s why I think it should and can be better. And I love that every one of us can give a hand and shape the future of their operating system. That’s the genius of open source and Ubuntu, and that’s why it will ultimately wash the floor with everyone else.
Even as it is now, Ubuntu is the premier operating system, and trading security and reliability for a lousy sound engine is a no-brainer for me.