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5 things to look forward to in Ubuntu 10.10

Maverick Meerkat, the version of Ubuntu slated to be released later this year, brings with it several features and improvements that the Linux community has been eagerly looking forward to. I’ve taken a look at the blueprints for this next release, and picked out a few of the major items that Linux end-users will be interested in. Here are 5 things to look forward to in Ubuntu 10.10:

Software Center enhancements

A major focus of Ubuntu 10.10 is improving the software center, addressing many of the usability problems that have been sources of complaints in the past. Among these changes are:

Better Search

I’ve heard this complaint quite a bit, including in the comments of my article covering things new Linux users need to know. I had posted a screenshot of an application there, and someone tried to find it in the software center by searching for “Disk Analyzer”, which is what’s displayed in the title bar of the program. Unfortunately, no results were returned. In the next version of Ubuntu, the Software Center will show suggested results when you search for something that gets no hits.

Improved dependency display

Most users, even the more advanced members of the crowd, don’t particularly care about the package dependencies of a particular program. Managing that kind of information is trusted to the package management program, and there’s really no reason for a user to be presented with that data unless she asks. In the next version of the software manager, everything but the application itself will be hidden, with the option to show “Technical items” only when the user specifically requests it.

Add-on packages and media

Many packages offer “add-ons” which extend the feature-set or usability of the program. A good example of this is the Firefox browser, which today has several add-ons available in the Software Center, such as the Ubuntu extension. In the next version of the Software Center, add-ons will be much better organized.

OneConf: Sync your configuration between machines

OneConf will allow users to share their Ubuntu configurations between multiple machines. Realizing that people work on more than one computer, and taking a cue from browser sync features, OneConf will allow you to store your installed application list and those applications’ settings to the UbuntuOne service. You’ll then be able to migrate this list to another machine, or to use it as a configuration restore. It will support multiple configuration specifications, allowing you to keep separate lists for different types of machines (home vs. work; desktop vs. netbook, etc..).

Post-Release application delivery

Developers and users alike will look forward to the ability for new packages to be introduced to the distribution after it has been released. Although the process is not finalized, there will be a process by which developers can submit their packages for review and inclusion into the software repositories, even after a major release. This means that Ubuntu users will be able to receive new packages without upgrading or manually seeking them out, which is the case today.

Chromium as the default netbook browser

Ubuntu 10.10 aims to improve netbook support (using its Ubuntu Netbook Edition release), and part of this is a migration to the light-weight Chromium browser. Many Linux users are already familiar with Chromium, or its close Google-branded relative, Chrome, as a speedy alternative to Firefox.

Better touchscreen support

Touchscreen support is another area where 10.10 should show significant improvements. On the drawing-board for this release is to improve existing applications’ touch-friendlyness by tweaking GTK, icon settings, and other theme options. Additionally, support for gestures in Compiz may also be included. This is an area where you can expect to see improvements beyond the immediate future, as touchscreens become more common and Ubuntu moves to support this market. In the future, we’ll likely see further enhancements, such as the inclusion of a built-in on-screen keyboard.

What do you look forward to?

Do any of these features make you excited for Ubuntu 10.10? If so, which ones? And if not, what would you want to see in Ubuntu 10.10? Leave your opinions in the comment section below.