The future of Ubuntu and the desktop internet

16Sep08

I’ve just read Mark Shuttleworths post to the Ubuntu Development mailing-list and I must say it got me a bit excited.

In his post he mentions that the focus of the next release of Ubuntu, the one after Intreprid Ibex, namely 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope” will, amongst other things, focus on “the blurring of web services and desktop applications” which, if done right, will be extremely cool and also give Ubuntu a real edge over OS X and Vista.

It also got me thinking about projects such as Empathy, Gimmie and Soylent. Just imagine the things these programs can do, implemented properly in an Ubuntu Gnome kind of way… pure bliss.

When I think of this, I immediately also think that we should try to step away from the program analogy and focus on tasks instead.

You shouldn’t have to locate F-Spot in the menu, but click “Pictures”; if you prefer something other than F-Spot, change it in the preferences (and yes, this should include a way to “launch” Photobucket, Flickr, etc.). The same with instant messaging, you shouldn’t have to start Pidgin, you should have a “People” or “Contacts” entry in the main menubar with all your IM contacts, email contacts, heck, even Facebook contacts listed, each with a submenu giving you the option to contact them in different ways: video, chat, email – like Soylent in a menu.

Ubiquity already implements a lot of what I have in mind, but it’s still inside the browser, it should be part of the desktop, also it uses English language to do the task, it should use the desktop interface (though language based operation shouldn’t be ignored, it should still be an option – like in GNOME Do, which has a nice graphical way of showing what you are requesting).

Ideas such as this have been posted numerous times, but have yet to be included in any standard desktop – I sincerely hope Jaunty Jackalope will change this.

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