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.


  1. Sorry for the long response, but I think you have some genuinely interesting ideas and I’d like to comment on the ones I have feedback on.

    First off, a slideshow takes time and needs to have a very conservative set of assumptions to work. I think if you went to Ubuntu and handed them a ready-made slideshow, even in open office format without a pre-made video version, that met their standards, they’d be happy to include it, but making one isn’t probably that high on their priority list.

    Focus stealing being off by default? BRILLIANT!

    sudo dpkg -configure -a doesn’t always work, I know this from personal experience, I spent 3 days trying different commands to fix a corrupted update (standard system update, my power cut in the middle of it, common problem), and every time I ran dpkg -configure -a, it would error. Having this happen automatically would be problematic, because then you couldn’t go into synaptic and fix the problem manually. A button to do it is a good idea, except that means you have to convert the entire process into a GUI workable method, which given the possible number of things that can go wrong would probably be very difficult.

    gksudo-ing automatically is a great idea, but I’d like it to be configurable, sometimes I want to run an app that needs root to run properly as non-root, zenmap and wireshark for example.

    Bittorrent as the default is a GREAT idea, but I hope the devs keep in mind that a lot of colleges and offices, (mine included) completely block bittorrent traffic, and attempting to get around the block is grounds for disciplinary action, in college at least.

    In 9.04, you can rename partitions using gParted, just right click on it and hit Label. I think you’re meaning renaming it from the desktop, this’d be tough as labeling a drive requires it to be unmounted and remounted, interrupting any existing operations. I’m all for it, but the particulars of it would get tricky.

    I agree with the last 2 wholeheartedly, although they seem like the little details that never quite get polished up… Here’s hoping though

    And thank goodness that better wireless/video card support is no longer at the top of the list :)

  2. I was hoping you would write something about what you think should replace Rhythmbox now that development has stopped for that project? I was thinking Songbird would be nice but having an integrated web browser makes it quite a memory hog which isn’t nice on netbooks. Amarok has way too many kde dependencies. Why is there no winamp 5 in Linux? My favorite music gizmos were Winamp and a the Rio Karma player back when I used Windows. Rhythmbox is ok but I don’t really like Banshee any better. I would hope someone would take over Rhythmbox development.

  3. Webcam support. My webcam still desont work. Live webcam Creative. Ive tried verything..spcaxx, gpsca etc etc. Too hard. I just cant do it. Ill live without it for now. Maybe Canon printer support..I use CUPs right now. Its OK.

  4. As far as Canon printer support goes, maybe Mark would consider buying out TurboPrint, GPL’ing it, and folding it into Ubuntu. (Wish, wish..) Well, I won’t hold my breath on that.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *