Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Hardy Heron Features

The roadmap for hardy heron has a pretty big list of features, most of them, although very important, are technical and a bit uninteresting. Some of them should have been in Gutsy but couldn't meet the schedule. Hardy Heron is going to be a Long Term Support release, so there's also going to be a lot of fixes for existing features. So without further ado, the features which I'm anticipating the most are.

Install on an existing filesystem without overwriting /home
When I moved from feisty to gutsy, I decided to do a fresh install. One of the things I had to do was back up my home folder, and when I finished installing gutsy I just copied it back onto my computer. This new feature will allow people to install the new version of Ubuntu without it overwriting their home folder.I'm sure this will come in very handy for people who like trying out different distro's.

Hardy Hardware Detection
This is more of a bug fix than a new feature. Gutsy already has excellent hardware support and the plan for hardy is even better and more robust detection of hardware. Sounds good to me.

GDM Face Browser
One of the changes I made to my gutsy is the GDM. I replaced the old one with something that allows me to just click on a picture of my username and login. This will hopefully be the default for hardy.

Auto Detection of Monitor Frequency
While I was testing gutsy beta I had to manually configure xorg.conf to get it to the right resolution. It wasn't fun. This should be a thing of the past with hardy as it will automatically detect everything for you. Huzzah!

Apt Authentication Reliability
Have you ever had an update fail for no reason? Well it actually fails because of 'transient network failures'. The aim is to make hardy more robust against these errors.

Redesign Restricted-Manager Code
They want to expand the role of the restricted manager and change it so that other distro's can share the joy.

Handling Full Disks

I've never had this problem with Ubuntu, but if your disk gets full, things can get quite ugly. They plan to add a notification and disk clean-up tool when your running low on space.

Desktop Effects
Make compiz fusion more robust and easier to use.

New Theme
Hardy Heron will be getting a shiny new theme, I hope they move away from the brown theme and choose something lighter and more fresh.

Easy File Sharing
To allow people to easily share files over a network. Not more I can say about this.

Dual/Multi Monitor Support
Currently you have to manually tweak Ubuntu if you want to use more than one monitor. They want to fix this for hardy.

Integrate Prefetch into Ubuntu
I noticed a slightly increased start up time in gutsy compared to feisty. Hardy will use file prefetch and other optimisations to speed up boot time.

Automatix-Ubuntu Team Collaboration
Automatix was extremely helpful for me in feisty. Although I don't use it in gutsy, its good that they are collaborating with the automatix team.

Single Click Install
Installing software is already pretty straightforward in Ubuntu. They want to make it even easier to install third party applications. I'm not complaining.

Apparmor Integration
This is already a part of gutsy, the plan is to increase integration to make Ubuntu even safer.

Make it easier for users to configure their firewall.

Third Party Apt
Now when you install third party apps, you have to manually add the software repository to the sources.list. This spec makes it easy for users to install third party software and have it update automatically.

Revamped Logout Screen
They want to streamline the options you have when you click that big red button, to make things less confusing.

Better Integrated Wine
Better Wine will make it easier for Windows users to convert, thus helping to solve bug #1.

Xorg 7.3
This is one of the features that missed the gutsy deadline. This should make manual configuration of xorg.conf obsolete. Another much anticipated feature is Bullet Proof X, which will go into a graphical safe mode if anything goes wrong with X.

Slick Boot
To improve the boot and shutdown process and also make the things look nicer.

So that's my list, if there's any other features which interest you let me know.


  1. Nice article. You got a few that I missed on my blog detailing the changes.

  2. You can keep your /home from being now, its just you have to set the partitions manually. (which is one of the main bug bear i have with ubuntu is that it wants to trash my entire drive when update/installing)

  3. I can't believe they're not making "suspend to ram" and "suspend to disk" a priority. These are the two features that most often fail for laptop users, and are also incredibly useful and possibly a show-stopper for many.

  4. Don't forget PulseAudio, which'll make it a lot easier to work with your audio devices, and stream audio over the network.

  5. If you upgrade using dist-upgrade you never have to worry about repartitioning. Are you booting off the install CD and choosing upgrade?

  6. One thing that seems to be getting serious neglect by the community is laptop power management.

    Suspend/hibernate have had serious issues on all laptops I've tested them on (admittedly, only 3-4 of them), from suspending in the middle of burning cds, to not being able to resume, so this is definitely on my wishlist.

    Ubuntu's becoming quite a mature OS on the desktop, but I really do think laptops are falling behind.

  7. I'm really happy that Easycrypt - a simple and easy to use GUI for Truecrypt is going to be a default feature.

  8. I don't see anything about support for webcams. Any feedback?

  9. to DANBAR:
    about webcams, my Logitech Quickcam Communicate STX works out of the box in Gutsy, also with skype.

    Just in case you need to buy one, and you don't know which one.

  10. Instead of having all these new features every release why don't they work on the little bugs of the OS. Little things that annoy me and others as well. Like for instance my mouse has a back and forward button. But those do not work in the default browser. The backspace button also does not go back so you have to click and point at the back button every time. They need to work out the little kinks with the os as is and then start moving towards adding new features.

  11. I was referring to creative Live! Cam Video IM Pro.

  12. @FaDe

    alt+back is the keyboard shortcut for back in browsers in gnome, so manually clicking the button every time isn't required.

    Also there are typically two or three dedicated bugfix releases of every new gnome version, and there was actually a release a few years ago which had jokes about it being subtitled 'no new features' so bugfixes are clearly a priority of the community.

    As for the mouse trouble, hopefully that will be resolved in x11 7.3, as right now getting that going would likely require manual editing of the config file.

  13. I agree that the suspend/hibernate features should be near the top of the list... totally!

    However, things like web cams, mice and peripherals seems more like a 3rd party driver issue, which will come along slowly in a surely infuriating manner for many... but it's really about getting vendors to develop drivers, right? The Ubuntu team can add reverse engineered stuff as it comes out but that's a slow, neverending process. The Ubuntu team could make it as easy as possible to develop and integrate drivers (no idea what it takes now).

    It's nice to see that they are addressing the upgrade migration for home, but a further step should be made to migrate programs and their profiles... so you don't need to go back and get all those programs you had and set about tweaking them back to the way you had them on the previous release.

  14. There should be one webcam at least which works perfectly well (user friendly) with Ubuntu. For many users in the world, a webcam may be the necessary tool to have lessons at home instead of travelling and going abroad. It is not trivial. Another thing would be to use one computer and having more users at the same time. I thing all these things fit perfectly well with the Ubuntu philosophy [Ubuntu is an African word meaning 'Humanity to others', or 'I am what I am because of who we all are']

  15. Darn.... I love ubuntu Linux so much... (multi screen display availability soon)

  16. I didn't know Ubuntu didn't detect screen resolution. I don't have this problem with SuSE. I like dark orange and brown for the Ubuntu theme. Ubuntu should stick to its roots for the look & feel :)

  17. Actually there is a big emphasis on improvements for laptops and other mobile devices. There is a power management specification to improve battery performance and quite a few other specs related to mobile and embedded devices.Check out the full list here

  18. Nice article. Watch your grammar. "more better" == bad, "your" != "you are".

  19. i don't think the dual monitor config will make it into hardy. its status is deferred and no one is assigned to draft the spec. i agree it's a HUGE need for ubuntu right now. it's definitely one of the biggest problems i have when explaining why a windows user should switch "oh yeah...i see you have multiple monitors...n/m" cuz you can set ubuntu up for multi monitors, but it's a royal pain and in many cases (mine) compiz won't run (when it DOES run on a single monitor).

  20. ian,
    I have never tried this but check out a program called urandr

  21. this is very ambitious, i hope they dont start dropping some of these things at the last minute

  22. Creative Labs IM Pro Webcam - it's a good and cheap one, but no one has written a driver for it - I have looked deeply.
    Let's hope they don't go bloatware on us - Keep the base program small and fast and let the "dogs and ponies" be user installed options.
    Also, the community still needs a small and elegant image editor like IrfanView; editing my photos and communicating with the webcam are the only times I need Window$!

  23. Normally I did the same thing like you. Backup the /home and install from scratch.

  24. @emarkay, use gthumb as replacement for irfanview

  25. CustomisedIsoImageTools and DialUpSupport are also interesting specs.

  26. To those talking about laptop power management and SnR:

    These kinds of goals are not obviously under Ubuntu's control at this point. A lot of it has to do with maturity in the upstream Linux kernel...and hacking SnR is in and of itself a major task. Not to mention a lot of SnR problems have to do with drivers that are not good enough to know how to properly save and restore the state of devices.

    Basically, it's an ugly problem, most people are running hardware with less than ideal drivers, and there's little incentive for hardware manufacturers to write and/or improve drivers to take care of these niggling issues (or do anything at all, many drivers are maintained by volunteers with very limited cooperation -- sometimes anti-cooperation -- by the vendor).

    In other words, this problem is much bigger than just Ubuntu's whim. For now the right way to attack this problem is to do one's best buy hardware that has robust linux driver development and support those manufacturers. The enormous amount of time spent reverse engineering and playing guessing games with hardware it at best a band-aid.

    Reminding the kernel developers that SnR is important may help also, but given that it's already a major known issue it would probably only serve to be annoying to the persons involved.

  27. Okay, so I shouldn't ask for better laptop suspend support either then...?

  28. I just did a clean install of gutsy after upgrading from edgy to feisty to gutsy and I'm super pleased with the results. For some reason, the clean install always seems to have better results than dist-upgrade. So far, I immediately go into suspend after closing my laptop screen and come back to the same environment without fail. I put in my password and my wireless reconnects, it's a real joy! The only issue I'm having is getting my microphone jack working.

    Dell Inspiron b120

  29. Of course, how many of these changes will actually get into Kubuntu Hardy? Or will Kubuntu 8.04 stay a release behind in features, like usual?

  30. Kubuntu Hardy catchup

  31. From the POV of a Linux newbie, who's gone from Feisty to a clean install of Gutsy and is having an absolute swine of a time getting wireless working with his card, how about some improved driver support? Just a suggestion, as it's that kind of tedious basic install which can put the average Joe off getting to grips with Linux, and wireless, for example, is only going to get more widespread.

  32. I have installed Hardy on my father-in-law's notebook as an alternative to Vista. It took him a while to get the hang of it, but now he wouldn't go back. The biggest difference for him was learning to use Thunderbird rather than Windows Mail.

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