Those living on the bleeding edge of computing, ignore this. And those who keep up with the pace of change in Ubuntu, no need to read further. I moved from Hardy to Karmic with a fresh install and can’t be any happier. It’s a 12 month cycle as opposed to six-months in which two editions, Intrepid Ibex and Jaunty Jackolope have come and gone. Why am I so happy. Well, everything just works, except of course my Sheepshaver Apple emulator.
The notifications for Rythmnbox are great. My low-end iSonix webcam which I bought for R80 works. No need to compile a driver. I have pidgin doing its thing with cool plugins. Adobe AIR has given me a bunch of great applications like Tweetdeck. Google Chrome flies around, having come of age (no longer alpha). I have a more responsive, faster and slicker system. The change is more than noticeable. Pulseaudio just works (with some caveats). My Lexmark printer now functions after I moved from 64bit hell to the safety of 32bit. All in all, I have a lot to be thankful for with Karmic.
In fact, after installing the 15 channel graphic equaliser, which is still a bit buggy but improves my high fidelity audio and promises to bring a whole new world of audio plugins to the Ubuntu desktop, I must say, I have been transported into the inner realms of bliss by good karma which is manifesting in the community.
So here are a couple of things Ubuntu still needs to get right.
1. Multimedia integration.
Drag and drop video and graphics between applications, considered standard on Apple has yet to be implemented. It would take quite an effort to produce common libraries and standards for developers. The result would be integrated multimedia productivity.
2. Human interface for the OpenOffice suite.
I don’t mean new colours, I mean an interface to compete with Microsoft Office 2007. (See previous posting)
3. Symbolic links vs Aliasing vs Favourites
This is probably the single most confusing thing on the Ubuntu system. Symbolic links are not simply the equivalent of aliases in Windows. Hot links further complicate matters. The system suffers because users are unable to distinguish between the two. A better way of favouriting applications and creating aliases would open up the desktop.
4. A better widget layer.
I envy the plasmoids in KDE. There must be a way to import some of great stuff going on in Kubuntu. Third party add-ons like Kludgets and Google Widgets just don’t do it for me I’m afraid
5. Inclusion of the many tweaks that give Nautilus power.
The community tweaks don’t appear to be making their way into the main distribution. Do we really need to install app-runner for instance or troll through repos? Some attempt to take the cream of the productivity crop, and include these would be great.
6. Backwards compatibility
If every new release breaks the many applications that keep the community afloat, then Ubuntu is less of a platform and more of a joy ride. We seriously need to adhere to some form of standard which will allow development to occur without the hazards of constantly having to recompile well-known software. Let some of the smaller distros stream ahead. Ubuntu should not be the bleeding edge of Linux.
The new Grub2 while faster, a distracting complication at bootup. A consolidation phase, in which all the paper-cuts are fixed and bugs disappear. As Ubuntu matures, it will become harder and harder to introduce radical change without burning bridges and offending those lessor mortals who don’t have the time to get the nuts and bolts of computing.
8. Gnome 3.0
Having said that and having caught a glimpse of what’s in store in the Linux world, I seriously want to make the change to Gnome 3.0. A year from now, this is where Ubuntu could be if it wanted. How will the community react? It’s a major change ot the GTK framework which could introduce a whole lot of new bugs.
9. Seamless virtualisation on the horizon.
I currently use Virtualbox for my VMs. But KVM promises a lot more integration at kernel level. If there was greater integration, one could turn your vms into desktops! No need to boot anything, just imagine moving from one desktop running one filing system, to another. However, this is seriously blue-sky stuff dependent upon the new range of VT CPUs capable of virtualisation and could take soe time to filter down into the developing world.