Top 10 improvements Ubuntu should work on

OK, so I got this idea after I read this article: I'm good at making feature lists, so that's what I'll do. Realistic and actually possible features, that is (also incremental). 1. Set better font by default. So the theme redesign, didn't come. But can we at least have better fonts? Sure, Sans is good for accessibility, and it can be read by people of all ages. But it's too solid and too geometrically equal. There are variations of the Sans font, (in fact, thousands) that offer the same features with better design. One particular one that was talked about on an Ubuntu wiki page (that I can't find at the moment) on this subject is Droid Sans. (Test by FILEDROPPERdownloading and copying the TTF files to ~/.fonts) It's not the best, but look here: 2. Better translations. Ubuntu needs more volunteer translators, and I admit, this isn't really a feature request that can be done just because it's requested. And because this isn't really a feature request, I wouldn't have mentioned it if I didn't have more to say. See the next paragraph. But that's not all! There are a few default applications that Ubuntu even ships with that can't be translated into any other language than English without manually downloading and editing the POT files! Take a look at USB Creator for instance, it cannot be translated, it's not possible; and even when contributors manually edit the POT file and submit it to the developers, they won't accept it. Same with Cruft Remover (previously System Cleaner) and the Hardware Testing application (by Ubuntu). Hopefully, in the future, these issues will be resolved. 3. Theme redesign. Even though the UI freeze passed in September, I actually thought Mr. Shuttleworth was going to do something with his hired staff and surprise us with an awesome theme on the day of the release of Ubuntu 8.10. We were fools, no such thing came. And even though it's not bad, Human-Murrine got renamed to Human, and stuck. I actually am very accustomed to the Human theme. It's fast and flexible, and doesn't get in my way. But seriously, we've been with this for 2 years, can't we get a new design for a change? Orange is good; it's just Ubuntu's implementation of it that is not (Human-Murrine is good, but the window titlebar theme color is yucky and depressing.) 4. Rename Tracker Search Tool to Tracker Search. Umm, it's under Applications -> Accessories, so wouldn't we already be aware that it's a "tool"? (accessory = tool.) This will obviously break some translations, but that can be easily fixed. 5. Move Take Screenshot to Applications -> Graphics. Of course, this sounds ridiculous at first; I used to think so too. But Ubuntu 8.10 changed by perspective on this. In Ubuntu Intrepid, Dictionary suddenly got moved from Applications -> Accessories, to Applications -> Office. It obviously belongs in Accessories, but whatever, it deals with words, so the devs must have thought it belongs there in Office. Following the same principles of the above action, shouldn't Take Screenshot (which should really be named Screenshot Taker) also be moved to Applications -> Graphics, seeing as how it's related to images, therefore graphics? Duh. 6. WTF. [Log Out....png] Doesn't that look ugly? My long username is inserted in there, and stretches the whole menu (my name isn't even capitalized so it looks inconsistent). Why did the devs decide to do this? Don't we already know who we are, especially with the FUSA applet being in the top left corner of our panel? Please take it out, even if it was a GNOME contribution, editing out a little % tag isn't hard. 7. Hide System -> Preferences -> Encryptions and Keyrings. Why? Because Ubuntu already displays Applications -> Accessories -> Passwords and Encryption Keys, and after opening that, all you have to do is go Edit -> Preferences. Besides, it's Hell confusing! I didn't know the difference between the two when I first tried Ubuntu 8.04 and just disabled them from the menu right after installing. It was only months later when I stumbled upon a post explaining how to use these two applications that I learned that System -> Preferences -> Encryptions and Keyrings was actually the preferences dialog for Applications -> Accessories -> Passwords and Encryption Keys. Dope. I want to emphasize my point on why this is confusing and should be hidden by default at all costs. One more point to support my argument: This is the same thing as adding an entry titled "Movie Playing" in System -> Preferences and it leading directly to Totem's preferences, which can be accessed anyway by starting up Totem and clicking Edit -> Preferences. Meaning? It just doesn't belong anywhere else than in its own application. System -> Preferences -> File Management? Sure, it leads to Nautilus's preferences, but this is a different story; Nautilus is a "graphic shell" for GNOME, which is not like one application that can be opened or closed, so that belongs there as a system preference. I don't know why the devs hid System -> Preferences -> File Management in 8.10 when System -> Preferences -> Encryptions and Keyrings should have actually been hidden. Seeing as how they're right on top of each other, maybe they made a mistake and confused the two?) 8. 100% in agreement: install CCSM by default. After reading this article, (already mentioned above) I got this idea: At first, I objected. Why? Because new users won't know the difference between Compiz and Metacity (that's why there's the Visual Effects tab in Appearance Preferences, to keep it simple and conceal the fact that two window managers, Metacity and Compiz, run the desktop, and not to confuse newbies). Plus, CCSM is horribly translated, really lacks descriptions, and is super super complicated and gives every single choice of configuration up to the user. It's overwhelming. Then it made sense to me. Why not? Does Ubuntu remove gconf-editor (Configuration Editor) because it's too complicated? No! It hides it by default, in Applications -> System Tools, which is also hidden by default. Brilliant! Ubuntu can hide CompizConfig Settings Manager there, and when a user feels the need to overcome his fear of being smacked with a Hell load of options for window managing, he can choose to view it and run it! [System Tools - CCSM.png] Only problem? No space on the ISO. The Ubuntu 8.10 ISO is 699 MB, for God's sakes. And a standard CD that it will burn on is 700 MB. That's 1 MB of space left. Wow, Ubuntu is using all it can. 9. System -> Administration -> Create a USB startup disk. No. First, the name is irregular for a GNOME application. Create a USB startup disk is not a proper label, it should use the format Adjective Noun, not Verb Noun (same issue with Applications -> Accessories -> Take Screenshot, which should be Applications -> Accessories -> Screenshot Taker). Thus, the name should be USB Startup Disk Creator, or something shorter if possible. This issue is being taken care; see this LINKbug report. Secondly, this program has nothing to do with system administration and cannot see why it is in System -> Administration. Thus, let us apply the same logic used above with CCSM and put it in Applications -> System Tools as a hidden menu item. That way, new users won't get confused, and it'll always be there for users who need it, and mostly, the menus will be less ugly and more organized: win-win-win. 10. Better menu item commands. What do I mean? For example, the command in the Menu Bar for System -> Administration -> Software Sources is:
gksu --desktop /usr/share/applications/software-properties.desktop /usr/bin/software-properties-gtk
Do you see the extra "
--desktop /usr/share/applications/software-properties.desktop" line when all there needs to be is "gksu /usr/bin/software-properties-gtk"? The reason the "--desktop /link/to/application.desktop/file" is added is so when the GKSU dialog pops-up, instead of saying:
The application '/usr/bin/software-properties-gtk' lets you modify essential parts of your system.
It says: The application 'Software Sources' lets you modify essential parts of your system. Which looks less technical and more visually pleasing to the eye. And yet, for some bizarre reason, Login Window and Synaptic Package Manager do not follow this format. Here is what they are now:
gksu /usr/sbin/gdmsetup
gksu /usr/sbin/synaptic
Here is what they should be: ("-D" is the same thing as "--desktop", but it's shorter)
gksu -D /usr/share/applications/gdmsetup.desktop /usr/sbin/gdmsetup
gksu -D /usr/share/applications/synaptic.desktop /usr/sbin/synaptic
Notes on writing this article. You noticed there were very little screenshots? That's because there was no need. Yes.


  1. I find the fonts and theme to be subjective.

    In regards to the gksu thing though, that's true - I suppose someone should actually file bugs for the misbehaving applications :/

  2. Lulz, the point on the theme redesign was actually a point on theme nonredesign, but I changed it. It is redundant, you're right.