In-Depth Roadmap Analysis For Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Update: Read the new version of this article revisiting all the ideas and current progress!

The Hardy Heron Roadmap has over 130 new ideas that have been proposed thus far. I’ve examined each one of these ideas in detail, threw out the ones that weren’t interesting to me, wrote an explanation for each, and sorted the list into three categories:

  1. User Experience,
  2. Networking and Security,
  3. Support

Of course, the juiciest items have already made headlines, such as the new theme that is being planned… “I for one, welcome our new hopefully non-brown themed overlords!”

What about the proposed changes that don’t deserve their own headline? Either you have to muck through that entire list, or you can simply read about it here. You can get more information about specific items by clicking on the name of the proposal, which will take you to a page that has a little bit more information about it. Without more from me, here we go.

User Experience

Ubuntu Theme for 8.04
We’re getting a new theme in the next release? Ubuntu has used close to the same theme since Warty Warthog – about 3 years, The REALLY interesting bit about this is how far this reaches… proposed changes include changes to the installer, bootup screen, wallpaper, application splash screens like Gimp and OO.org, Compiz effects, cursors, and even skinning WINE! This is going to be quite a bit of work, but in the end, well worth it.

Third Party Apt
Adding a 3rd party apt repository is more difficult than needed. Editing sources.list, or adding it to the software repository via GUI is a pain. This proposal focuses on creating a standardized file format (let’s call it .install file) which would allow a user to double click on the .install file, then apt would automatically install the program, add the 3rd party repository to the sources.list and automatically manage updates, etc. Very slick idea.

X.Org 7.3
This is something that SHOULD have been included in Gutsy Gibbon, but wasn’t quite ready… ah well, I guess we need to wait 6 months for this. The biggest feature of 7.3 are: Bullet Proof X – The driving force for this is to never boot up into text-mode if something is screwed up with the xorg.conf file. Very nifty. The direction this is headed is to make xorg.conf obsolete, and eventually run without it, which would be fantastic for new users.

Automatix-Ubuntu Team Collaboration
This is certainly a little bit controversial, since Automatix was raked over the coals for breaking upgrades to Feisty Fawn, and now they want to collaborate? Automatix makes stupid easy to install things that are in legal grey areas, such as codecs for playing commercial DVDs, or other proprietary software like Skype, Google Earth, etc. This idea would make it so that Canonical/Ubuntu does not have legal repercussions for including proprietary codecs or other software that isn’t redistributable.

Dual/Multi Monitor Gnome Configuration
Along with X.org 7.3, multiple monitor configuration within a GUI is going to be pretty awesome.

SlickBoot
This proposed change will give the distribution an improved user experience when booting up and shutting down. If you’ve ever seen a Mac boot up, you know exactly what this is trying to emulate. Transitions from the three graphical modes (text, SVGA, and high-resolution) are not really bad at the moment, but if Ubuntu can emulate how a Mac boots up, that would be pretty damn terrific.

Install on an existing filesystem without overwriting /home
This is by far one of the most annoying things that I have to deal with on a regular basis. Personally, I reinstall quite often to test out new distributions. Since getting an external 320GB drive it hasn’t been quite as painful, but for most people, they might need to backup the /home directory to avoid data loss when given the chance to upgrade every 6 months.

Improve Handling of Full Disks
Have you ever run out of hard drive space in Linux? Let me tell you, it is NOT pretty! In some cases, you can end up booting into text mode, with a read-only root partition. It is a royal pain in the ass, to say the least. This proposal is in the early stages, but suggests adding a notification that the disk is almost full, prompting you to run a cleanup wizard, and other ideas that make the problem less likely to happen in the first place, as well as (hopefully) making it easier to recover from if it does happen.

Integrate Prefetch into Bootup
Google’s 2007 Summer of Code is adding hard disk prefetching and optimization resulting in faster bootup times for Hardy Heron.

Easy File Sharing
Make sharing files between Ubuntu machines on a LAN/WLAN easier. Duh!

Single Click Install
Enable easier installation of software from the internet.

Add Remove Software Improvements
This proposes an update to the add/remove software program, which changes it into a sort of “online storefront” where the initial screen shows screenshots, top-rated or brand new applications, etc. If this is approved and pulled off properly, could be a HUGE improvement.

Simple Samba Integration
The Shared Folders utility is getting some upgrades. It will prompt the user to install Samba, no more adding users from the command line, and a simple checkbox will share all home directories on the computer.

Redesign About Ubuntu
“People are used to “About Name of Program” showing a window that gives the software version details, and copyright info. […] Ubuntu should be just as polished.” uname –r always worked just fine for me, but I can see why it’s important.

Networking / Security

Modular /etc/network/interfaces
“Split out the configuration from /etc/network/interfaces into one file per (logical) interface.” This is not a great idea, it’s a pain in the ass already to edit this and maintain correct syntax, why make it so that there are multiple files?

Dial Up Support
This will make setting up and managing Dialup and ASDL out-of-the-box, using Network Manager, very easy.

Improve support for encrypted file systems
Starting with Gutsy Gibbon, you can now install Ubuntu to an encrypted disk. The problem this addresses is adding support to install to a disk which would be auto-partitioned as an encrypted file system from the GUI, instead of using the text-mode alternate installer. Other ideas are to look for key files on USB sticks and other media, instead of just using a password.

Live CD- share this
Direct from the wiki: “Netboot server for easy setup of thin clients and machines which don’t have a CD drive.” Nice idea!

killall gksudo: Stop running GTK as root!
gksudo runs hundreds of thousands of lines of code just to show that that little box that asks for a password when trying to change administrative settings… and it is a little confusing to ask for the password before any changes are committed – why not stop asking for the password until the configuration tool tries to write to a file, then do it in a manner that doesn’t need to utilize as much code to speed things up a little bit.

Support

Measuring Download/Installation Success
In the next release, there may be some big-brother-ish ideas being included. It’s more accurate reporting that can give developers solid numbers for things like how many people download, install, and are able to run Ubuntu. The reason is to find faults in the existing procedures for acquiring Ubuntu, and address where problems arise. Hopefully these numbers will be shared with the community. One area I can already say is a significant problem is the lack of an integrated CD burner for Windows. I’ve heard many users say they’ve burned a copy of a distribution and then it didn’t boot. The primary reason for this is that they simply burned the ISO file itself to the CD, instead of burning the image properly. Now that Ubuntu is targeting a larger audience, it would be neat to have a Windows user simply download an EXE file, open it up, and it prompts to insert a new CD and then provides some additional instructions for getting it installed and setup, perhaps even give an option to print out a PDF of those instructions? The executable would also provide additional information that this proposal is suggesting be recorded.

Identifying Local Users and Groups
This would be really slick. After you put in your location( integrated into the Time Zone selection), during the installation (or post-install) you would be presented with information regarding your local LoCo team and other local resources, such as a Linux User Group in your area. I’ve never been to a LUG or LoCo meeting, perhaps because I needed to seek them out… getting a prompt every reinstall might be annoying, but it would be a good reminder that they exist.

Packaging Section On The Forum
There’s a hidden packaging section (http://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=44) on the Ubuntu forums that needs to be better utilized. It is not a very active section in the forum, it either needs to be added to the main list of forums and promoted, or simply deleted.

Make screencasts available on the desktop
A Help->Tutorial Videos browser menu? This is a fantastic idea!

Forum Content Certification
Sometimes instructions provided in the forums just don’t work. Often, I’ll find a howto on installing some software for an old version of Ubuntu, and this would create a new forum team that would check the validity of instructions, approve the post, promote the information in the forums, wiki, and elsewhere, and finally involve re-checking the posts after new releases.

Getting teacher input to shape our education offering
This one implies that Edubuntu does not specifically solicit input from teachers, nor do users have a mailing list, forum, etc to voice their complaints. If this is the case, definitely a good idea to reach out and get feedback and suggestions from the people who actually use the OS, right?

Automatic bug reporting
This is certainly an interesting idea, but due to privacy concerns I don’t really want to see this make it into the release. Why emulate Windows here? It can be REALLY annoying to get MORE error popups when things crash.

Ubuntu Mobile Browser
The Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded Project proposes to add a Firefox-based browser which would be completely reworked from the ground up. I’m personally very interested in this, the following quote gave me chills: “Ideally we would get a solution that would be embraced by the Mozilla community and eventually adopted as the “Firefox Mobile” solution.”

Of course, I saved the best for last….

Installing Ubuntu from within Windows
ubuntu-install.exe… nuff said… might not make it though… it is listed as ‘dangling’ which means it can’t be scheduled or has circular dependancies… no idea why it can’t be made to work.

Which ideas do you want to see make it into Hardy Heron? Do you disagree with any of these I’ve listed? Got more to add?

  • MJMINFO

    RAY as saying :

    # Ray | November 1st, 2007 at 7:10 am

    One thing missing for ordinary people is Chat client, with video and audio. I recently installed Ubuntu for one of my client and he is computer illiterate, he had no problem using it. But when it came to chatting applications, I had to install XP so he can talk to his family overseas. Now that is a bummer!

    =-=-=-
    Hi ray, there is a lot of apps that do that without having the need to install win apps/os. As an example you can use aMSN which as almost the same fonctionality as MSN messenger in windows. there is also skype, pidgin, and lots of others, just browse in the Applications menu under add/remove in linux Ubuntu.

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  • AC

    @Daniel T Chen

    Hi Daniel- Thanks for your reply. Yes, I’ve reported 7 bugs to launchpad since 6.06 was released; 5 were given medium or better ratings. To date, none have been fixed. During this time new features have been pushed forward (some, with their own bugs). From this, I must conclude that there is more interest in adding new features than fixing old bugs. In my view, this tread must be reversed for an LTS release. Regards, AC

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  • http://www.informednetworker.com/ David Mackey

    Great overview. Thanks!

  • Miles Lane

    There are two pieces of Microsoft software I currently rely on, for which there is no Linux substitute:
    1) SharedView — This software enables me and a collaborator to share view and control of either an individual application or our entire desktops. The way this works is fantastic. The most recent release (SharedView is still Beta) has been a big performance advance. I use this program to help non-techies solve problems and to show them how to do stuff.
    2) The Windows Live Messenger Beta has support for “sharing folders.” These are folders that get synchronized between me and a person I chat with. When the two of us are both online, the software synchronizes the files between us so that we both have copies of the latest work. There is support for keeping multiple versions when there is a change conflict. While there is room for improvement in the change management, I find this functionality invaluable. The integration of SharedView and Windows Live Messenger is also very useful.

    I would be thrilled to see a Linux alternative. Of course, I wish it would interoperate with the Microsoft stuff, but that is just a pipe dream.

    The other thing tying me to Microsoft currently is Office 2007. There are some nice optimizations to the content creation process. I just can’t create presentations in OO.org that look as good.

    Miles

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  • elvisd

    - remote support (maybe ala msn but in pidgin, or see shared view, netviewer, …), with remote support invitations, firewall/routers safe

    - easy and effective backup tool

    - better multi monitor support (laptop + external monitor on the fly)

    - easy AD support (MS domains)

    - easy and working network switcher (config locations [home,work,hotel,...], set default printer, homepage, dns, AD (domains), …)

    - improve bluetooth devices (handsfree)

    … and if possible…
    - collaborate with mobile phone producer to deliver a sync tool.
    -

  • Clifford

    SlickBoot-

    According to the wiki this is very USplash centric. Why? There are options that are much better than USplash that do not require the users to know the C programming language in order to modify. I’m all about making the boot screen “prettier” but come on, USplash? ugh! Upower or Splashy is much better. Even the old bootsplash that ran in kernelspace is far superior to USplash.

  • RudieD

    I agree with the Bug fixing, but one bug that really bugs me is that GRUB bug with combo of IDE and SATA drives.
    I understand that GRUB has to fix their bugs (or somone who knows the details), but they don’t and I don’t know how.
    Maybe Ubuntu can look at another boot manager that can work ?

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  • Miles Lane

    I hope someone harvests this thread and submits key suggestions into Launchpad. Sorry, I am swamped right now or I would do it.

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  • DiBosco

    >> SharedView — This software enables me and a collaborator to share view and control of either an individual application or our entire desktops. The way this works is fantastic. The most recent release (SharedView is still Beta) has been a big performance advance. I use this program to help non-techies solve problems and to show them how to do stuff.

  • DiBosco

    Hmmm, that didn’t work very well. I was trying to say that vnc sounds like SharedView and that works across all platforms. Comes with Mandriva as standard, so I’m sure *buntu will be able to run it.

  • David Gross

    One suggestion I’m surprised I haven’t seen is the default install including NDIS wrapper and wireless networking tools to use it easily. I was not in a position to easily plug into my network, and having the tools residing on the initial install would have made things a lot easier than dragging my hardware to where my cable-modem was.

  • https://launchpad.net/~crimsun Daniel T Chen

    > Hi Daniel- Thanks for your reply. Yes, I’ve reported
    > 7 bugs to launchpad since 6.06 was released; 5 were
    > given medium or better ratings. To date, none have
    > been fixed. During this time new features have been
    > pushed forward (some, with their own bugs). From
    > this, I must conclude that there is more interest in
    > adding new features than fixing old bugs. In my
    > view, this tread must be reversed for an LTS
    > release. Regards, AC

    I empathize with the bug triaging problem. There are additional triagers recently employed by Canonical to alleviate and/or address the “firehose” problem (I discussed a set of issues with two such employees at UDS-Boston), and of course, community participation is invaluable (that was my capacity).

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  • Espen Klem

    Any improvements on search in apt, aptitude or synaptic? The search there today is good enough if you know a package, even if you don’t know the name. But for exploring you need to be able to search for i.e: foo AND bar. Synaptic should have some GUI-stuff to ease the pain trying to use boolean operators.

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  • Linux Wannabe

    Hi

    I’v Been considering Ubuntu and other desktop targeted distros like Pclinux, Xsandros etc. I use XP SP2 and could not be considered a geek of any sort. For someone like me who has heard of Ubuntu and is sure Ubuntu has better things to offer him than his current choice of OS – there is one major obstacle:

    All the features you detail here are very nifty.In Fact much niftier than any win OS has to offer.But what keeps me from installing Ubuntu, or any other distro for that matter, is the the fact that I use an EMU 1212M sound card. A semi professional card that is not supported by Linux, and that creative is not going to issue a Linux driver for. That, of course, makes Linux irrelevant for me.
    In my view the big players of the Linux scene, including Ubunto, should now be putting their effort to creating an updated open set of drivers, or try as much as they can to push the hardware manufacturers into issuing Linux drivers regularly.
    Linux, in my view, is already a better desktop option than Linux but more nifty features will not take Ubuntu Linux much further: Drivers availability, and maybe open formats that will work the same in Ms office and Open Office, is what will take Linux and Ubunto to the next level.

  • Linux Wannabe

    Sorry
    “Linux, in my view, is already a better desktop option than Linux”=”Linux, in my view, is already a better desktop option than Ms Windows”

    (An A.D.D rises it’s ugly head)

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  • http://davidgerard.co.uk/notes/ David Gerard

    I love Ubuntu. I use it on three laptops and a desktop. I even dual-boot my Macs with it. I’ve been using it since 5.04 and it works like a champ.

    I just really wish they hadn’t decided 8.04 will promptly be called “Hairy Hardon” by *everyone*. That’s what we call “the opposite of marketing.”

  • http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/ Mike Linksvayer

    This looks inaccurate:

    “Install on an existing filesystem without overwriting /home”

    The linked page on the ubuntu wiki simply says that users will be recommended to install /home on a separate partition.

  • Jerry

    “Automatic bug reporting” I think this is a must-have if you want to nail bugs down dramatically. As these bug reports are done anonymously and the content is about software usage and error messages, I have no idea why some people would be concerned about privacy abuse.

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  • http://www.fsckin.com/ Wayne

    Mike: The separate /home partition will let you reinstall without overwriting it.

    Jerry: Opt-in is probably the best choice.

    As far as privacy goes… It got removed from bugzilla… but still worth a laugh.

    ———– .xsession-errors (843 sec old) ———————
    xterm -e mplayer /home/tom/Video/hamster lick anal fist parrot *****.movstarting
    xterm -e mplayer $URL$
    xterm -e mplayer /home/tom/Video/fat infected tummy tuck surgury marklar group *****.movstarting
    xterm -e mplayer $URL$
    xterm -e mplayer /home/tom/Video/masturbating menstruating pikachu foot-detach-self-*****.mpgstarting
    xterm -e mplayer $URL$
    xterm -e mplayer /home/tom/Video/OVER 9000!!!!! gangbang 1 chick stadium xterm -e mpla
    xterm -e mplayer /home/tom/Video/underage necrophelia + resuscitation reverse oral ***** .mpgstarting xterm -e mplayer $URL$
    xterm -e mplayer /home/tom/Video/dog on cow milk suck *****.mpgstarting xterm -e mplayer
    $URL$
    xterm -e mplayer /home/tom/Video/I’m Chris Hanson, why don’t you sit down over there.mpgstarting xterm -e
    mplayer $URL$
    xterm -e mplayer /home/tom/Video/MAILBOX!!!!.mpegstarting xterm -e mplayer $URL$

    You don’t appreciate privacy until it is violated.
    -Wayne

  • http://derkosak.blogspot.com Khristian

    I reinstalled Ubuntu many times in a row (with a occasional debian etch install too), and never had any data loss with /home. just made it into another partition, and chose not to format it during installation, both graphical and text mode installs.

  • Fintan

    How about a roadmap for Kubuntu??

  • Radiohead

    Make BOINC screensaver by default!
    http://boinc.berkeley.edu/

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  • none of business

    I have read a few comments that mention about some sort of time machine.

    There is a package manager called Conary which runs on Foresight Linux (official distro for gnome and so always is first to have newest gnome), and apparently it is superior to all package managers. Im not sure if thats true, but it allows for the user to rollback therir system to a desired date, and also to easily create their own packages using rbuilder. and handles dependencies better. I am very new to linux in terms of how much time i have actually played around with a ny distro. But from what I have read, Conary has many things that you all seem to want.

    Maybe in the future Ubuntu can use Conary (im keeping my eye on it, as it seems interesting as opposed to most linux news of another piece of crap distro that is slightly different from another)

  • Calep

    There is already a way to install ubuntu from windows but lately it only supports up to feisty fawn but has anyone tried WUBI.

  • Bruno

    How about a nice font manager. Or at least a font uninstaller. Or even a font re-namer. Do you ever get tired of scrolling past forty ae_this and ae_that entries at the beginning of the list to get to the font you’re looking for?

  • Katie

    How about full disk encryption? This is becoming increasingly important for everyone and especially corporations. Setting it up manually is a real pain and from what I understand it is still not possible with the regular Gutsy installer but only with the installer of the Gutsy alternate desktop CD. This is a must feature for Hardy!

  • Brian

    I agree that disk encryption is one of the most important features that are still missing in Gutsy. Hopefully someone will implement it in the new installer.

  • Eddie Colon

    Wow, Alot of wonderful ideas. It makes me want to test-drive Hardy Heron right now! I wanted to say that 2 ideas in particular stand out for me. One is the one about informing the user that he/she is running out of disk space. I watch my systems monitor alot, but this idea is great for everybody including veteran linux users.
    The other one that impressed me alot was the one about preventing the overwrite of /home. I’m sure the veterans have their special ways of avoiding this, but it still can happen once in a while, and if your latest backup is not recent … then you see how important this can be. There were many other good ideas, too many for me to comment on right now, I hope most of these good ones survive alpha and beta, and get into the final release.
    Thanks for the article.

  • Baz Bollen

    Just make the wireless connection work automatically without needing a web connection to grab fwcutter or any other utility. And while I’m complaining, fix the ATI bug that stops the sleep/resume working. Very important on a laptop…

  • http://sjcnkl.at Patrick

    Yeah, automatic IP Aqyuiring would be good.

  • Nikos Kourtzis

    Less (not at all?) requirement for command line is something vital for a desktop OS. Option to use it yes, but no requirement. OpenSUSE has done a good job on this. For example, it would be nice to have a graphical configuration tool for the boot manager (essential on dual-boot systems!). Also a graphical way to edit default application associations is missing.

    Broader and better device support! (I know an IT specialist who abandoned ubuntu because he did could not afford the time to go through numerous forum posts just to make his laptop’s wireless card work). Also, monitor detection does not always work right.

    New login in window should appear scaled down by default (just like in OpenSUSE) instead of utilising the full screen size in a non-resizable window. Detail, but makes the feature practically useless, since it is not “in a window” but rather “in a fullscreen non-resizable window”.

    Support for easy setup of Active Directory authentication integration of this with the login screen.

    An application-aware firewall would be a good one to have. Tough one though.

  • kandratka

    “Other ideas are to look for key files on USB sticks and other media, instead of just using a password.”

    it’s a very very usefull thing

  • http://www.marcellegros.com Marcel Legros

    When will Ubuntu and the rest of the Linux camp realize we need real native support for wireless networking. Everything is a workaround and it always seems to get glossed over. NDISwrapper is a lame excuse for something we’ve been using for years.

    Lack of wireless support is the primary reason I haven’t entirely converted to Linux.

  • JeffG

    Of all the features you mentioned, I think the third party apt and single click install will be the most important for getting people to adopt Ubuntu. I am barely above clueless when it comes to linux and when I switched from XP to Ubuntu 7.10 one of the more confusing things for me to learn was how to install programs that weren’t in Synaptic/the official repositories.

    I’d also like to say that Ubuntu has it right in that each distro runs faster than the previous. Definitely looking forward to April.

  • JK

    Small item but I’d like to see web-links to work from Ubuntu tools. For example in apt manager there is often links to project home pages in package descriptions. Now have to copy and paste them into firefox.

  • Evan

    Maybe I’m missing something, but is there a graphical tool to configure xorg.conf? I mean, I know nvidia-settings will write it for you if you have an nvidia card, and there are other tools as well, but from the point of view of a new Ubuntu user who wants to use compiz-fusion, for example, it’s a rather intimidating prospect to have to add things like
    Option=”AddARGBGLXVisuals” “TRUE”
    not to mention making sure all the right modules are loaded. If there were GUI tool that would allow us to simply check all the right boxes, that would be great. Also, I’ve helped a lot of people who tried to enable the extra desktop effects and failed, only to find that emerald and emerald-plugins (or even compiz itself) weren’t installed. I’m not saying they should be installed by default with every installation, but when someone checks that box they expect it to make everything work, period. I know there are several different options here, and that they’re not of vital importance to most of us, but it’s a simple truth that a good percentage of people who try Ubuntu (or other Linuxes for that matter) do so because they want the big shimmery cube with the fish swimming inside :-) Again, I’m not sure if I’m missing something here (after all, I’ve been a Kubuntu user since Dapper, so I myself haven’t yet had the convenience of simply checking the box, and I’m not completely familiar with the way everything works in Gnome), but from what I’ve seen these might be good things to consider.

    ~Evan

    P.S. Great thread!

  • Dii

    Nice. I’m impressed by the Ubuntu’s improvements. Though here is something: “Improve Handling of Full Disks”. There it stands: “In some cases, you can end up booting into text mode, with a read-only root partition.”
    I did this foolish thing with the free space several times on Slackware, and I was able to login in always, whatever happened. I mean, in text mode at least, ofcourse the KDE didn’t started up, because there was no space in the /tmp. I suggest you, to take a close look to this problem and avoid the _need_ of writing too many files to the harddisk before run level 4. So, at least you can get a text login and delete some files.