Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 Review and the Future

Jaunty is very good. Its the first version of a linux distribution that I'd pretty much recommend to anyone to try (with only a few minor caveats about possible hardware issues and the fact that Linux users still can't watch netflix). It has made vast improvements over Hardy from a year ago. Its stable, snappy, and quite a number of annoyances that I onced experienced have been fixed or minimized. Below I go through these in more detail. Now, though I want to focus on what I hope for the next version of Ubuntu (codenamed "Karmic Koala").

Cloud computing is the wave of the future, so I'm very happy this development cycle is making this a focus. But I'm doubtful they will go far enough to really make a lot of difference for most people. What people want now is to be able to sync up there data with various computers they possess and with online services they rely on. To this effect:
  1. Evolution needs to sync seamlessly with Google calander, email, and contacts.
  2. Evolution also needs to sync seamlessly with services like "Remember the Milk". Tasque does this ok presently on Linux, but it has a way to go to be really polished
  3. Tomboy needs to be able to sync across multiple computers. Yes, there is the beginning of such functionality already built into it, but its hard to set up, and even when it is, it doesn't sync automatically.
  4. Thank god for Dropbox, an excellent program that should be further promoted
Certain features need to be implimented consistantly:
  1. I really like the new notification system, but programs like Firefox and Amarok have not been made to use this system.
  2. Pulseaudio is MUCH better than it was a year ago, but it still causes problems on occasion. Hammer out the rest of the details so we can move on!
  3. Wireless connectivity has also improved greatly, but I still sometimes have problems connecting (or dropping) when those people around me on a Mac or Windows have no problem. On occasion I've had to abandon Network Manager altogether for WICD, which sometimes works when the former doesn't
Either switch to better programs, or put money towards the impovement of certain obvious deficiencies.
  1. Its time to give up on Rhythmbox, Banshee is fast outgrowing the maintainance only iterations of Rhythmbox. That said, if Banshee doesn't include a watch folders option in the next release, I will totally take back this claim.
  2. Tracker Search Tool is my least favorite program on Ubuntu. It sucks so bad it hurts. But Beagle is a memory hog, so at present there doesn't seem like a good search tool on linux (esp one with tens of thousands of files like mine).
  3. Evolution is not a pleasure to use. I'm waiting for Thunderbird 3 to come out and put real pressure on Evolution developers to make it a better program. It needs to seamlessly integrate with online services. A makeover is really overdue as well.
  4. Multimedia editing is slowly progressing overall. A year ago I couldn't find a video editor I liked, whereas now I'm quite a fan of Kdenlive. Audacity didn't work at all, but now does. Keep up the good work here!

Reviewing Previous Annoyances

In February 2009 I had this to say about my hopes for 9.04 (Jaunty), and in April 2008 I had this to say about my hoped for Intrepid. Its time to reevaluate both of these and see how Ubuntu 9.04 measures up.
  • A GUI wrapper for utf: gutf is pretty good except that I still haven't figured out how to set up internet connection sharing with it. But Firestarter works fine, so I'm going to mark this one off the list.
  • Two-way synchronization between evolution and Google Calander: Calander synchronization is there, but I don't quite trust it until its been tested and advertised by developers.
  • Advanced Desktop settings already pre-installed (or some simplified version of it). NO. Still an annoyance, but I've gotten bored enough with configuring it that I no longer do
  • Tracker Search Tool needs to have a phrase search. NO. HAHA, tracker isn't even included in Jaunty. And that is for the better. Tracker Search Tool still sucks ass.
Bug fixes and Feature Requests:
What I want to see included in the next iteration of Ubuntu:
  • OpenOffice 3.1 - This should be there. Every major improvement of OOo is an important step, though I wonder when they will finally get to beautifying the program and optimizing the speed
  • Firefox 3.1 - This should be ready I believe (though I'm less than certain) - it should be a pretty big improvement.
  • Hopefully most of the rest of KDE applications will be ported to QT 4. I'm looking at you: Quanta Plus and K3B
  • Amarok 2.1 - Amarok 2.0 was somewhat of a disappointment, but it did leave lots of room for potential. Version 2.1 is the first major step to actualizing that potential, it looks like a very good improvement
  • Songbird 1.2 - Until it makes it into the Repos, I'm not holding my breath
  • Moonlight 2.0 - I doubt it will be ready in time, but when this comes out it will be huge. There will be no reason we cannot finally get Netflix on Linux.
  • Last time I evalutated Ubuntu, I lemented that there wasn't a decent ebook manager out there for linux (eKitaab still doesn't work). But now there is a program that is in heavily development that looks really good called calibre. It looks to become one of the best cross-platform ebook managers around. Kudos to the developers.