My views on software, programming, Linux, the Internet, government, taxation, working, and life.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I Wrote to Mark Shuttleworth -- My Ubuntu Wishlist

Here's my 2007 wish list I wrote to Mark.

  1. Command-line Yast-like Tool for Ubuntu Server. Beats having to memorize LDAP commands and other commands that have a lot of switches.

  2. GNOME integration of SSHFS for "secure mapped drives" to other Ubuntu workstations and servers. It's more secure than NFS and needs good integration with GNOME.

  3. Simultaneous PHP developer environments. Using nothing but Apt, install two separate PHP versions and serve them up on two separate ports.

  4. Better 3D games to lure new users.

  5. ReadyDrive integration, and by clean room reverse engineering in order to not have to pay a license fee to Microsoft .

  6. A Debian zenoss package that is a snap to install and use for server health monitoring.

  7. Create a new Ubuntu dev environment for building control panels, wizards, and small rich-client applications. Do it with Mozilla XUL, thttpd, PHP-CGI (or your favorite CGI language), and SQLite.

  8. Make the Firefox deb package just as fast as Swiftfox.

  9. Newbie-proof display tweaking -- give them a tool they can use without risk that lets them experiment with other color depths and resolutions beyond what GNOME thinks is the only potential choices, and let them get Xinerama mode with multihead videocards or multiple videocards.

  10. An easy tool for anyone to make their own apt repository in an office environment so that they don't all have to go to the Ubuntu site to download packages, as well as an easy tool to create your own apt packages.

  11. Killing the need for a Microsoft domain controller by using Ubuntu Server with either Linux LDAP clients for Windows, or Samba AD emulation. And make it stable.

  12. An Ubuntu kiosk with varying levels that can be locked down.

  13. Rapid workstation deployment -- customize a desktop, save it to an image, and generate hundreds of workstations far faster than reinstalling the OS again from CD.

  14. Ubuntu Boot Encryption with RSA or DSA -- let laptop users have the non-proprietary equivalent of SafeGuard Easy so that even stolen laptops are worthless without the proper password.

  15. Easy syslog forwarding and event emails -- With a GNOME control panel, one could turn on syslog forwarding to another server. On that other server, another application could be brought up to filter on keywords in those events and then have that trigger email alerts.

  16. Painless thin client boots for remote Ubuntu Desktop terminals and still the ability to use a minimal system in the event that the terminal server goes down.

  17. Video production tools so that one could even create news casts that rival what you might see with local news, or online tutorials.

  18. Better Scanner support -- the more expensive scanners (most of which support ADF) are rarely supported. Sure, the problem is party to blame with the manufacturers changing model numbers and chipsets frequently, but the SANE project could use some help.

  19. Better PowerPoint clone than OpenOffice Impress -- we have Abiword, Gnumeric, and no fast-loading, stable Powerpoint clone.

  20. Parent controls from a control panel -- a parent types in a password and tinyproxy is configured and Firefox is hooked such that children can't choose Preferences without entering a password.

  21. Easier font installation.

  22. Internet tunnel desktop sharing -- for tech support purposes, share a workstation over the web through port 80, even if it's behind a NAT router. Also, seeing what someone types, and the ability to hit ESC to stop it, would be a big help.

  23. Xen LSB. On a future Ubuntu developer CD, we could implement an LSB-build of Linux, load it through Xen, and allow us to test our software with it. When we're done, we can reformat that Xen partition rapidly and start over again.

  24. The iPod icon on the desktop should launch a user-assignable import/export/playback app, not Nautilus.

  25. Stay away from Mono-based products. I don't trust Microsoft and also don't want to give Microsoft any credit for VS.NET.

  26. Power users on Ubuntu need virus scanners because they often open ports and install beta stuff, sometimes occasionally putting themselves at risk (like me). As well, newbies may mistakenly think that an OS without a virus scanner is inferior. So I think Ubuntu needs a ClamAV control panel for scheduling, and a GNOME panel applet for knowing the status.

  27. Ubuntu app that acts like a fantastic alarm clock. Most of the night, it dims the screen and shows a very dim clock (moving it like a screensaver, and showing day, time, and date). In the morning when the alarm goes off, it either uses 'festival' to talk to you, plays Ogg files, or plays Internet radio. After 45 minutes of ignoring the alarm, the workstation can be set to do a system beep at about 1 beep every 3 seconds just in case the talking, music, and radio fails. In the morning, the dim clock goes brighter as it comes within 1 hour of time to wake up, and goes dimmer again after 2 hours of going off. Another feature in the morning is that it loads Firefox and shows you the latest headlines in a kind of reddit-like form, and downloads your email.

  28. Ubuntu app that acts like a highly advanced answering machine. It records messages from the modem card, filters out background noise and white noise, speeds up the voice, converts it from high-pitched to base-pitched, and compress it into tiny files. Meanwhile, it also does an attempt of voice recognition and emails you the message file and the interpreted text.

  29. Gnome vpnc front-end.

  30. Easy config of Ubuntu Server Roles -- mail & calendaring, department portal, file server (SSHFS, NFS, and/or Samba), Asterisk PBX, PHP and Database Server (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLIte), LDAP Server, and Samba AD emulation server.

Strange Ubuntu iPod Experiences

For chrissakes, I just want to get an iPod icon to appear on my desktop when I put it in, and when I double-click it I can assign that to an import/export/playback app that actually works. Sure, the icon appears, but it launches Nautilus instead of an app that I want to assign. They said Rhythmbox on GNOME was all the rage, but I couldn't figure out how to write files to it, only read them off of it. I also found that Rhythmbox crashed unless I used gtkpod and this trick to create a fresh iTunes database file on the thing. So in the end, I stuck with gtkpod, which works sort of okay and the interface is fairly clear. (I also like the fact that I could customize the interface in gtkpod by changing the pixmaps in /usr/share/gtkpod and editing the Glade file.)

Others have bragged about Banshee, but I don't want to catch Mono or give any credence to the worthiness of Microsoft, so I refuse to install it. And still others bragged about other players, which I tried too, but they failed far worse than gtkpod. So folks, stick with gtkpod -- you won't be disappointed.

I'm doing this for my daughter's new iPod that we want to give her for Christmas. I don't want her to go back to Windows, so I'm doing everything I can to make Ubuntu the environment she likes to use. So far, Ubuntu is working with my daughter and my wife, and I made it look very much like Windows so that they wouldn't be confused. They done their class work on it, shopped, did online banking, watched YouTube videos, and a lot of things that make Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer stay awake with nightmares at night. That's a good thing.