Top Ideas for Upcoming Ubuntu Releases

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 10, 2010

Ubuntu Brainstorm is a wiki-like interface that allows the Ubuntu community to input ideas that might make Ubuntu more usable, friendly, or fun. Almost 20,000 ideas have been entered and have received 2.5 million votes in the two years since its introduction. Entries can be sorted by all ideas, popular ideas, ideas in development, or implemented ideas. Matt Zimmerman, Debian developer and Canonical employee, thinks it might be a good idea to periodically collect and discuss the current status and future possibilities of the most popular ideas.

Zimmerman recently gathered the first batch of 10. Here are some of the more interesting:

1. Power management improvements (#24782)

The most popular topic on Ubuntu Brainstorm has been about extending battery life. Besides a nice write-up on how users can squeeze the most out of their laptop and netbook batteries, Amit Kucheria discusses some of the ideas being investigated at the developer-level. These include reducing display refresh rates, clock gating (cutting clocks to parts of the graphics chip), memory hotplugging (switching off parts of memory chip), USB auto-idling, and turning off unused ports. Undervolting has been rejecting due to uncertainty in hardware support and possible damage. Other ideas being considered are speeding up hibernation, turn off bluetooth and external VGA by default, and make sure graphics are not drawing even when the screen is turned off. So, while nothing has been etched in stone for Maverick just yet, it certainly appears to be getting attention.

2. Selecting the only available username to login (#6974)

If there is only one username setup on a given machine, it was suggested that it should be auto-selected at the login screen. Martin Pitt, Ubuntu developer, thought it would be best not to change an established routine. Users are already used to typing their username then their password. If the procedure suddenly changed or (if implemented) a new user was added, it would create confusion. So this unlikely to be implemented, although KDM and some themes exhibit this behavior anyway.

3. Icon for .deb packages (#25197)

Some think .deb package file manager representation is confusing because the default icon looks very much like any other stock archive icon and causes confusion. As of today, this brainstorm has been marked as in development. The solution is to make the .deb packages more attractive by placing a scaled application icon in the lower right corner.

4. Help the user understand when closing a window does not close the app (#25801)

Sometimes when the close button is clicked, the application isn't actually closed but instead continues running in the background (sometimes with an icon in the System Tray, somtimes not). So, some think it would be a good idea to inform users what has happened by some kind of signal. Solutions are being discussed and working with indicators is probably going to be the path.

5. Ubuntu Software Centre Removal of Configuration Files (#24963)

When a package is removed configuration and user data are often left on system. This is the default because users may not want to lose their data. So ideas are being discussed about adding the purge (complete removal of all associated files) option to the menu or making purge default and add just remove package to menu. No final decision has been made on this as of yet.

6. Ubuntu One file sync progress (#25417)

A visual to indicate file coping progress is probably a good idea. While there are some user-side suggestions to address this, the folks on the One team are planning to implement something more comprehensive on this at some point.

7. Multimedia performance (#24878)

Poor system performance can negatively effect multimedia playback and one of the more popular Brainstorm ideas is to fix it. Developers have offered lots of feedback on this topic, but common issues are the differing hardware configurations and changing one setting for performance can inadvertently lower performance in another area. Multimedia performance is a difficult issue for developers, but they are aware of the issue. Allison Randal, Ubuntu Technical Architect, says, "the true solution: testing, testing, testing. There's real work going on here right now." They are also soliciting help from users.

So, for those who take the time to suggest an idea or vote on an idea, your time is not wasted. Your ideas are being seen and discussed, and some are being implemented. See Zimmerman's full post for the entire December batch and additional information.