Thursday, June 18, 2009

13 things to get excited for in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

I don't know about you, but i'm damn excited about the upcoming version of Ubuntu, so it better deliver! As usual, there will be tons of bug fixes, updated packages, tighter integration, as well as increased stability and usability. All talk so far. The One Hundred Paper Cuts campign looks promising on providing even more usability enhancements. Aside from a new Ubiquity slideshow for new users, what specific things are there to look forward to?

Before i start, i must give good mention to PlayDeb, which should be back up for Karmic! Gaming needs some leverage in Ubuntu. PlayDeb is a third-party repository you can add to Ubuntu for all of the latest games available that aren't included in the Ubuntu repos. I can easily install and play StepMania 4 and Yo Frankie! (even if it doesn't make it into Ubuntu).

Sorry for the lack of pictures and a more detailed breakdown, but i'm sure you will see much of that will develop over the coming weeks. This list should hold you off until then:
  1. New Theme
  2. I list this first because we've been promised this for so long, and even though we were promised it was actually happening in Karmic, i'm just not so sure anymore. I hope to see it, but i won't set myself up to be crushed if we don't =]
  3. Flawless PulseAudio
  4. Oh yes, we've been waiting on this for all too long. Audio should finally be close to perfect. If you're like me, and haven't had any real problems with it, please move along to the next item.
  5. Firefox 3.5
  6. The wonderful new version of Mozilla Firefox that adds support for Ogg Theora/Vorbis, audio and video, respectively for HTML 5's Open Web Video (also supported in Midori using WebKit) should be a significant upgrade from the current version.
  7. Faster Boot Times
  8. This is a general thing that we should see improve a lot in Karmic and Karmic +1. Self-explanatory, move along now.
  9. Ext4 now Default
  10. Ext4 support was just added in 9.04, and now it will be the default for new installs of 9.10. If you don't know already, Ext4 brings a lot of nice changes, over Ext3, and will generally improve filesystem performance.
  11. GNU GRUB 2
  12. The boot loader for new installation will now be GNU GRUB 2, which is a complete rewrite of GRUB which make it faster, cleaner, safer, as well as more robust, portable, and powerful.
  13. Plymouth
  14. Goodbye, USpash! Plymouth will be making our graphical boot experiance cleaner with no more of that annoying flickering of the display at startup. It makes Ubuntu look more polished, or at least less unpolised. [Update, see  below]
  15. New Linux Kernel
  16. The newest Linux Kernel 2.6.31 will be included in which we can hope to see ATI kernel-based mode-setting (KMS) and memory managemnt support in. The current 2.6.30 Kernel will already be old by then.
  17. New Intel Drivers
  18. Again, this will solve major performance problems that Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04 had with Intel drivers. Gah, i hate Intel. Sorry, i had to throw that in there.
  19. New NVIDIA Drivers
  20. The new NVIDIA drivers add VDPAU and CUDA support resulting in, you guessed it-- more performance enhancements!
  21. GNOME 2.28 (and Testing GNOME 3)
  22. Not only will Ubuntu ship with all the enhancements of GNOME 2.28, but users will be able to test GNOME 3 in Karmic! Cool stuff.
  23. PackageKit
  24. Oh yes. It's a much nicer way to manage and update applications than Add/Remove and Update Manager that actually uses PolicyKit. This will certainly be quite a refreshing change.
  25. Empathy
  26. Lastly, the most controversial of the changes, Empathy will take the place of both Pidgin and Ekiga. I would like to take this opportunity to support this decision. Hopefully, even if you still prefer Pidgin for yourself, you can appreciate what Empathy brings for new users. It has been discussed for over half a year at UDS Jaunty and Karmic, and there are a number of reasons it should happen:
    New users: Pidgin has lots of features and plugins that may cater to some of us just better, but Empathy has a friendlier UI for new users. We want to make Ubuntu the best experience for those migrating to it. The rest of us have no trouble keeping Pidgin.
    Integration: Empathy integrates well into the GNOME desktop. A lot of cool stuff is possible with it. 'Nuff said (you can learn more on your own).
    Features: Empathy is mostly feature complete, and the lack of OTR is something that new users will not know or use. I agree it is important, but it is still available in Pidgin until Empathy implements it.
    Telepathy: Empathy uses the awesome Telepathy framework. It supports libpurple for all networks only currently in Pidgin.
    Voice/Video: Empathy already has VoIP support for audio and video chatting, which means it can replace both Pidgin and Ekiga.
    Feature Gap: Yes, Telepathy might be a tiny bit behind in a few places, but none of them are showstoppers, and it is far ahead in others. Including it in Karmic will mean that the feature gap between Empathy and Pidgin will close and reverse much sooner, not to mention we'd like Empathy to be awesome in Ubuntu Karmic +1 10.04 LTS.

P.S. Today is Empathy Hug Day! Let's all give it some love.

Update: My bad, Plymouth has been dropped to focus on making Ubuntu boot in under ten seconds which would make Plymouth worthless.