Ubuntu 10.04 is Released

So the day is here and we’ve been using Lucid for a while as it’s involved.I generally don’t upgrade my laptop’s internal hard drive until about a week or two after the final release. But my external hard drive and netbook having been lucid for a long time now.

What I like:

Me Menu – Excellent feature, excellent design, good work. A bit of extra polish that goes above and beyond any other operating system.

PiTiVi – A good simple video edit, it needs a bit more polish and a bit more bug fixing for various different media formats that people might want to edit, but it’s a really good start.

Ground Control – Is now in the repositories and I’m biased but I’m very pleased to see it available without any difficulty so people can get right into contributing to FOSS.

Updated Software Center – The state of the software centre in 9.10 was a bit raw and rough around the edges so it’s great to see further advancement with the design of the centre. Especially when it comes to getting things from PPAs.

Branding – I like the new branding, I think the font is cleaner and more polished and the logo is acceptable. We’ve already been replacing various logos in the community, although the release of the SVGs could have been done weeks ago instead of waiting all this time for them.

What I don’t like:

Default Theme – See previous post, I don’t like it, the white is garbage and the black is bearable.

Window Buttons on left by default – See previous post, bad decision backed up by Iraq dossier level of excuses.

Removal of Gimp – I like gimp, it could do with a lighter version, but I don’t yet see any replacement for what it does for people’s image editing needs.

What’s Missing:

Most of these items are because we have a lack of investment of either time or money in various projects, all of them are things Canonical isn’t focused on but users are hungry for.

Phone Syncing – We still don’t have the designs right at the moment and data access for older devices is bad.

Printers and Scanners that work – So many devices don’t work, with either never work or are just missing identification and proper PPD files.

Accounting – At some point people are going to demand to be able to do more accounting, much easier. Something like PiTiVi for accounts which is simple and effective for quick uses.

libdvdcss – An installation method that doesn’t suck like Dracula.

What are your thoughts?

Cultural Design Themes

I said I’d give the new Ubuntu light theme some time and I’ve given a long time to looking at it and considering it. Finally I think I can post a fair blog post about it. I’m going to go with conclusions first:

The white “ambiance”: I dislike it, it’s unbalanced, uncoordinated and looks fake. When you first see it there is something not quite right that you can’t put your finger on, it looks bad, but your damned if you can put your finger on why. I think the best analysis of the components of the theme so far has got to be Jay’s post on kbps, it’s a recommended read. My thought: It looks like dirty old plastic.

What struck me at first was how similar this desktop design has to the likeness of a default Mac OSX theme, purple background, left sided buttons, soft plastic style with shiny gleam. So I talked with various community people about it. Most people could see it was an unintentional convergence of style, form and depth. It’s the spirit of the Mac if not it’s exact clone.

The buttons on the left side is a terrible idea, unconventional, forced for an LTS release they decided to do something far too experimental and invoke the ire of a lot of people. I have some people here in Massachusetts who deliver and manage computers to local businesses for a living and they were all for pushing 9.10 on their customers. But they’ve decided to be weary of 10.04 just because of the buttons, they believe it’s a _really_ bad design and the way it was done has harmed trust in the design of Ubuntu for them.

That’s sad and it’s the kind of thing I hoped wouldn’t happen.

I will be changing the theme on my own computers to a more traditional theme and I’ve asked a number of future users of the machines what they would prefer and so far none of them have said they would like the Ambience theme or the left aligned buttons so I plan on removing these default themes from the PXE boot install.

UDS: Design and Reduced Friction

I sent this to the Ayatana group and I’m posting here to my blog to invite any designers who are not in that group.

This is an invitation to all designers who will be at UDS-M soon to talk about reducing the resistance in the community to Ayatana developments and directions. So I want to kick off a discussion here and then carry
it on at UDS:

We’ve seen in the wider community resistance for a number of decisions that have been taken by the DX, Design and Ayatana groups in both Karmic and Lucid cycles. Various things seem to generate irritated users who are naturally not pleased about change.

As a community leader I don’t like this kind of fighting. So I’ve been thinking more about how to reduce the problems through better communication and conflict resolution.

I believe better communication doesn’t just mean talking in more places or going into more depth about the technical details of a design. It means using certain inviting language and designing the communication
for the audience, making sure that your course correcting each time there is a conflict of interest so the next communication includes as points what has been brought up before and doesn’t lead to duplication.

The observed culture has had a tendency to consider conflict as a bad thing, an all or nothing affair to disprove ever tenant. I’d like to encourage the view that conflicts are not about going all one way or all
another way but are about considering and factoring in the consideration into a variance so that the outcome is not exactly like either party predicted.

Some of that good dialectic goes on here in this mailing list, but that’s not communicated much outside where it would do good to calm people. I believe some of the problems stem from language of outside
publishings, e.g: “We’ve made this choice because we believe it’s better for normal users, there are no options and if your an advanced user, we’re not really thinking of you when we made this choice so please
don’t ask for us to add options.” (hyperbole, but you get the point)

Basically an invitation to get irate and not much of an invitation to come and help factor in various different positions and considerations. Not that this is the intention, I believe that the people writing these articles are really trying to communicate to the users. But language and ability to cope with user’s opinions seems to turn an opportunity to advance the design of Ubuntu into a flame war that ends up turning users off.

A few of my community circles react to Design Team news with a *sigh* and “Oh god what have they done now”. The teams reputation is low and it’s over shadowing the really great work that’s going on. How can I
convince people to trust decisions or even get involved if they don’t trust that the discussions are fair, balanced and considered? So I’d like to be able to build up social relations so that we’re not just on par with other teams, but surpass their ability to bring people in and form their world view into solid multi-consideration design.

I want people to think of Canonical and think of an awesome company that really get involved with it’s users (downstream) and it’s suppliers (upstream) and is really clever at blending everyone’s positions into something awesome. MPT is a perfect example, very good at considering and communicating effectively with the community. *cheer* Thanks! You’ve been great at calming various people.

Thoughts and Responses best put onto the Ayatana mailing list or held for UDS.

Ground Control Ogg Videos

Hey guys, I’ve added a new video to the ground control website and I’ve decided to show ogg video using the html5 tag, what do you think:

Introduction Video

I designed how it lays out on the page in css and the X in the corner to close it. I could have shown a flv (flash video) since I uploaded it to blip.tv, but I can link to the ogv file.

The video choices work via Server Side Includes, nothing complex. But logical.

What are your thoughts on the video I did with my wife? Some say it’s a bit too long but I’m inviting everyone to submit their ground control videos, show me what you do with ground control and how it helps you get involved.

Use gtk-RecordMyDesktop and post here your results.

Close to Release

Not long now until release, what are your plans for rolling out releases to your friends and organisations?

Mine are currently that I will hold off for about 2 weeks for variance to take care of problematic bugs and then I’ll begin upgrading users to the new version since it’s an LTS. I plan on upgrading the SETC server to PXE boot install this LTS as well as 9.04 and I will make sure the lab is upgraded too, but that might take a month or two to get things tested.

SSI and User Agents

On the Ground Control website I wanted to make the download of ground control a little more picky about it’s default method of installation on the front page. While the download page contains all methods possible and I’m not too bothered about letting people pick and choose there, I did want to present the user with the best option by default.

So since I’m using SSI for this website (quick, dirty and supported on everything) I used a couple of conditional statements which check the Agent string and present one of the following options:

The Install Now link is actually and apt url which installs ground control from their repository, which is useful if your using lucid or if you already have the ppa installed, but a bit pointless for anyone else. So everyone else gets different links.

Obviously I’m aware that user agent strings are likely to be incorrect in certain ways, but I’m prepared to say that if your using a false user agent for all websites, then you should expect these kinds of things.

Your thoughts?

200 Artist/Designers!

Our devientArt group has been growing every day for the past two months and I’m very impressed that it now contains 200 members who can post images to the galleries and 268 watchers (people who can’t post but who do see other people’s work).

If you have an article or piece of news that you’d like relayed to this burgeoning Ubuntu artists community, do let me know right away and I’ll post it as a blog entry. We’ve already posted entries about gimp ui changes, inkscape competition and mypaint guides. We are looking for more contributions and sharing of methods, we don’t get many icon makers either considering the number of them making lovely graphics I’d expect more to be posting examples of tango icons.

Now as a happy time reward, go pick yourself up a wallpaper from the gallery: Wallpaper Gallery

Ground Control 1.6 and Website

Hey everyone,

I’m pleased to announce the release of Ground Control 1.6, these feature features minor improvements and fixes but the main change is fixing the launchpad openid problem that stopped all new users of ground control from enjoying the integration.

I’m also pleased to announce the new ground control website which was very kindly designed by Brett Alton and produced by myself for this release. You can get the new version 1.6 from the download link on the website and please do use the Latest / PPA as the version in Lucid is 1.5 and still suffers from the launchpad openid login bug.

Any thoughts and comments please post them here, but any bugs please post them to the launchpad bug tracker.

Another Bad Printer

While I go around to many places to fix computers running ubuntu, I keep running into a really dumb problem which is printing. Every one of the printers for office use I’ve had to deal with has not been listed on openprinting.org and OPO doesn’t have any rationale policy for contributing back PPDs when you finally figure it out.

I managed to get a Canon imageRunner2022i running by rewriting the PPD for the 2020. What do I do with this bit of work now? I can’t upload it, I can’t even contact the developers of pxlmono through any normal development channels such as irc, mailing lists or forums.

Today I’ve looking at a Konica-Minolta bizhub C350, this one is even better because it _used_ to have an entry on openprinting.org but it was removed. I have no idea why, but no page that explains “this printer doesn’t work” or “The driver is no longer working”.

Konica-Minolta actually have drivers available for “Linux” (what ever that is) available on their US website and they are totally useless. debs and rpms that when installed have PPDs that don’t work, files that are installed in all the wrong places and no seeming compatibility to a modern FreeDesktop.

By using the google cache I was able to view the previous contents of the C350 printer page and use a link to Minolta’s European download page where they have a link to their older driver which does work when you put the files in the right places and call them the right things.

On testing it appears as if the options for duplex don’t work, but at least it doesn’t do multi print weirdness as the c350 does. Please do post below if you know of a way to get bizhub C350s working properly (with duplex and all).