Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Predictions of Unity and Ubuntu

I've been spending quite a bit of time lately reading away at the Linux Hater blog, both for the laughs and for the near epiphanel head nodding moments of realizing that linux does indeed still suck. Not that I don't love it. But it does suck.

But, regardless of suckage, I got thinking a bit more about what things are going to shape linux in the next year or so, and I decided I wanted to jot down a few notes on how I see things shaping up in the coming releases of Ubuntu.

Gnome or Unity

The Ayatana mailing lists are always a good spot to grab a hold of a few nuggets of perhaps unintended communication and stretch them into to near absurd speculation. But some recent discussion about devs and the time that the Ayatana team has available to particular projects, and which things take a priority (namely, laying framework quickly rather then polish) has led me to somewhat of a conclusion.

Canonical has every intention of never using gnome-shell.

I mean, yeah, they've said that they'll include it, and make it easily accessible or whatever. But with unity, the indicator applets, even the windicators, they are solidifying their own personal control over what shows up on the Ubuntu desktop by removing more and more upstream Gnome elements. Naturally, theres a lot of behind the scenes framework from gnome that Ubuntu is still dependent on, but gnome-panel and the notification area are, mark my words, on their way out, and all of gnome will be taken out of Ubuntu as soon as possible.

Because, after all, its the common UI stuff that has to get nailed down first. All of the work on panels, indicators, all that is worthless in Gnome-Shell, because the work is all duplicating work that gnome-shell is doing. None of it, not a single spec, will be in Gnome-shell, and thus there is no reason to use it unless they do not intend to use gnome-shell. They can rely on the gnome-backend for who knows how long, and any gnome devs that don't like shell can stick around for Ubuntu's own personal desktop.

I would like to temper this prediction by reminding anyone reading this that I am far from understanding all the technical side of dependencies and builds and all that. But still, Ubuntu - gnome = 11.10. Thats my guess.


Gosh dang zeitgeist is cool. There's a lot going on here, and a lot of potential. I've just been sort of goofing off with it, and I'm really impressed with the possibilities. Here's a few thoughts about what will make or break it:

1. Integrate that UI. It just feels awkward and unnecessary for me to open up the activity journal to open up documents. I know theres plans for this, so nobody flip out about doing research or something. I know they want it. I want it to, thats all. But integration in nautilus elementary (again, its getting hacked up even now) and even further into docky will be fantastic. But more then that, a really smooth integration into compiz for a activity journal overview would be great. Thats one thing I'm going to have to hand to gnome-shell right now, they've got that all figured out. But those of use without gnome-shell are totally missing out on that goodness.

2. Browser anybody? I mean, 75% of what I do on the computer is probably going to be online. This, in my mind, is feature need number 1. We need integration with all of our browsing actions, at the very least for email, rss feed reads, and bookmarks. Not necessarily full history, although eventually I'd like that too. It would feel fantastic to see the large majority of a computer users use to show up, instead of being absent. Oh, google docs too.

3. All ways of opening docs. Right now, zeitgeist only seems to notice things that I open with the good old double click from nautilus, not if I open from the open dialogue of open office, or if I save a document under a different name. I open documents a variety of ways (gnome-do, nautilus, open dialogs) and they don't all register. Please?

All right, thats all for now. I gotta write something for OMG!


  1. good predictions, might happen on the netbook first.

    anyway am not really care too much for the ui as long as "it just works" and it's good looking

    i want the least number of unfinished features, want more attention to detail and less bugs.

    polished, just works and good upcoming integration with btrfs

  2. I'd say you're right on mark with the predictions.
    Unity looks great, would be glad to see it outplace the shell (which I found to be horrible in usability, mainly because it separated window and application switching in Alt-Tab, ugh), but I think Canonical will stick to something more traditional for traditional point-and-click desktops...


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