Ten Brainstorm ideas I wish more people would vote up

Ubuntu Brainstorm is a mess. There are literally tens of thousands of ideas posted up there. How can you make any sense of it? Well, you can’t. I thought I’d just draw some attention to some ideas I think are worthwhile in the hopes that people will vote them up or at least discuss them.

Here’s my top ten along with quick blurbs as to why they’re important:

Not everyone has broadband internet access at home. So-called “Linux for Human Beings” should focus on accessibility.

One good SVG takes up less disk space than seven PNGs of various sizes, and it also looks great no matter how big you make it.

I don’t think this requires a justification. I’m using the latest Ubuntu 10.04 alpha, and the problem still requires a workaround (deleting and recreating the keyring password with “unsafe storage”).

Why ask a user to paste a command into the terminal when the program could just run the command by itself?

Privacy should be the default with sharing as an opt-in.

Why give new users the option through the GUI to accidentally remove admin access?

For the last time: if hiding asterisks or dots is “a security feature,” then you should be voting up Idea #11136: Remove visual feedback from GUI password dialogues. If it isn’t a security feature, though, then you should vote this up so as not to confuse users who are expecting visual feedback when they type passwords. This happens a lot.

Lots of widescreen monitors out these days. Why waste vertical screen space with a second panel? A lot of people seem to think moving the window buttons from right to left is no big deal, so why would it be a big deal to just remove one Gnome panel by default. And the defaults-don’t-matter crowd (which I am not a part of) can just add it back with a few clicks.

I take a lot of screenshots for tutorials. I know a lot of others folks do too. It’d be great if gnome-screenshot didn’t keep prompting for a file name. Just create the file… or allow an easy preference option to do so.

I understand why Ubuntu doesn’t include various codecs and software by default in Ubuntu, but apart from pasting in cryptic code, new users don’t have an easy way to access the Medibuntu repositories. It’d be great if they could check just one more box (as they can with the Partner repositories).

Linux Ubuntu

What I’d love to see in Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)

I have to say I’m very impressed with Ubuntu’s latest 9.04 release (Jaunty Jackalope). I’ve used every single release of Ubuntu since 5.04 (Hoary Hedgehog), and Jaunty is by far the best and most polished release. And a couple of the usability bugs I pointed out two years ago have since been fixed (restore from trash, image previews in upload dialogue). Even one of the top ten brainstorm ideas I supported was implemented (giving the proper instructions to repair an interrupted software installation).

We definitely need to go a step further, though, in the next release. I know right now Mark Shuttleworth is thinking about polishing notifications (and hopefully PulseAudio, too) and working a bit more on Ubuntu Netbook Remix and the Ayatana Project. Some of us end users just want a few things fixed, though.

Here’s my current list of top things I’d love to see in the next Ubuntu release (with links to the appropriate Brainstorm idea):

Idea #136: Add a tutorial slideshow to the installation process
I proposed this idea almost immediately after Brainstorm launched. It has none of the drawbacks of a pop-up “Welcome” video when you log in but has all of the benefits. The developers seemed to approve it at the time but deferred it until 8.10. Then when 8.10 came around, they deferred it until 9.04. Now that 9.04 has passed… well, let’s hope the tutorial slideshow makes it into 9.10.

Idea #400: Prevent applications from stealing focus
I can’t tell you how frustrating this is. I never want to be typing in one application and then have a background application start up and have some of my typing appear in one application and some in the other, especially if I’m typing a password. Focus stealing should be off by default and be able to be turned on for only those who want it.

Idea #2298: Automatic reparation of interrupted dpkg
They finally got it so that when your package manager is interrupted during software installation that you’ll correctly be instructed to use

sudo dpkg –configure -a

to correct it instead of

dpkg –configure -a

How about ditching the commands altogether and just having a button that fixes the installation? Or just automatically fixing it the next time you launch the package manager?

Idea #4347: gksudo if I try to do an action I don’t have access to
If I’m an admin user who is able to sudo and gksudo, why would you say access is denied instead of allowing me to authenticate?

This isn’t a security issue, as I am already in the admin group, and I already have the sudo password.

Idea #7792: Use BitTorrent as primary protocol for apt-get
No reason not to do this. Puts less load on the servers. Faster downloads. Everyone’s happy.

Idea #8008: Provide a simple interface for labeling partitions and external drives
If I want to rename my thumb drive, why can’t I just F2 it? Do I have to install mtools and look up cryptic commands off the Wiki?

Idea #11107: Users and Groups should always make sure at least one user is in the admin group
By Users and Groups I mean the graphical menu item System > Administration > Users and Groups. If someone is the last admin, she shouldn’t be able to remove herself from the admin group via the GUI. If she knows what she’s doing and wants to do it from the command-line, that’s fine.

No one should have to reference this sudo fix because of an unchecked box.

Idea #15067: Publish and publicize a developers’ hardware list
The Ubuntu releases inevitably have bugs for certain users with certain hardware configurations. And there’s no way for the developers to test all hardware configurations. Well, what are the developers using? If they have no bugs when Ubuntu is released, I’d love to get the same hardware configurations they have.

Well, I won’t hold my breath on these. It took the Gnome devs about eight years to implement a restore from trash. Let’s see what happens.