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What Ubuntu Needs

Posted: January 9th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Linux | 13 Comments »

I love Ubuntu. It takes some of the best parts of Debian (god bless you apt-get) and fuses it with a good philosophy and some leading edge (but stable enough) Gnome technology. The thing that got me to try Ubuntu was that they were the first distro with Gnome 2.8. I just had to check it out, so I installed it on some tesbed hardware. I was immediately impressed at the clean lines and the improvements in Gnome 2.8.

After awhile I got busy and the testbed got reappropriated to some other task. I went back to using my trusty Celery 600 (with lots of ram) Debian-testing desktop nearly fulltime again.

I decided to take a look at Ubuntu again when Edd mentioned it in his weblog in late September. I decided to pop it on the linux space of my dual PIII 733 box. I keep most of the drive space on this box dedicated to Windows, because there are still just some things that can’t be done with the penguin. I switched back over to Ubuntu for everyday tasks for awhile: mail, web, irc, etc. It’s really pretty, really clean, and extremely repsonsive. I used the Synaptic package manager for the first time and was extremely impresed. I installed an SMP kernel. I installed Python and other apps that I had been missing.

Eventually though I went back to my slow and steady Debian box. At the time I wasn’t sure why, but now I think I’ve figured it out. With Ubuntu, you can install a program in no time with Synaptic or with apt-get install. It’s really braindead-simple. Unfortunately when you install a program on Ubuntu you get the program and not an associated start menu entry. This gets really annoying quickly. After I install the program I then have to either manually add a shortcut to the programs menu or (more frequently) have to guess the name of the executable and run it from the ‘run program’ prompt or from a shell. This gets old really fast, as often the binary does not carry the same name as the package.

From what I’ve come to understand from lurking in #ubuntu on Freenode and from poking around various wikis and documentation is that not adding programs to any menu is a philisophical decision. I’ve got to disagree. I really think that what Ubuntu lacks most is an ‘Ubuntu’ or ‘Extras’ menu that newly installed programs get shoved in to. Yes, it gets crowded. There’s really no way to avoid it, but if you put it in its own menu you keep the ‘clean’ looks of the everyday tasks like Internet, Office, etc. I really think that such a menu would add value to the Ubuntu distribution and would definitely make it easier to use various programs that have been installed but have faded from view.

What do you think?

13 Comments on “What Ubuntu Needs”

  1. 1 Nick said at 5:15 pm on January 9th, 2005:

    I totally agree. It’s one of the nice things about Fedora that the general packaging policy seems to be adding stuff to the menues automagically with handy .desktop files. People want to use the apps they’ve just installed and they want to use them easily and quickly. I can see the value in keeping a core of recommended and moderated apps that don’t change and are easy to get to but not adding stuff to at least a second level menu (or shipping a GUI controller to do it yourself) seems really silly.

  2. 2 Erik Simmler said at 4:31 pm on January 10th, 2005:

    That was probably my biggest gripe too. I’m pretty new to Linux, so I skimmed through Synaptic grabbing stuff that looked interesting. I didn’t realize until too late that only some of the programs got an entry added to the apps menu, so I had to figure out what I had just added so I could do it manually. I had thought it was just a mistake they were planning to fix… I’ll have to look into it a bit more.

  3. 3 Thomas Prangenberg said at 3:18 pm on January 25th, 2005:

    You’re right, the lack of a basic (sub)menu is a substantial flaw in a distribution that aims to be useful to the uninitiated. Apart from that ubuntu does a truely great job, it’s clean and consistent.

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  9. 9 Yoppi Do said at 11:45 am on January 28th, 2010:

    I totally agree. It’s one of the nice things about Fedora that the general packaging policy seems
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  10. 10 Yoppi Do said at 11:48 am on January 28th, 2010:

    I totally agree. It’s one of the nice things about Fedora that the general packaging policy seems to be adding stuff
    to the menues automagically with handy .desktop files

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