Nine features we may see in Ubuntu 11.10 'Oneiric Ocelot'

GNOME 3, the Chromium browser, Thunderbird and no included LibreOffice are among the possibilities being evaluated

Canonical's Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" may still be occupying much of the Linux world's attention, but at last week's Ubuntu Developer Summit in Budapest, the next version of the free and open source Linux distribution began to take form.

A number of decisions were reportedly made about Ubuntu 11.10, or "Oneiric Ocelot," at the conference, while numerous other questions are still being debated.

Ready for a very early look at Oneiric Ocelot? Here's a roundup of what's been reported so far.

1. A Refined Unity

Natty Narwhal's new, notebook-derived Unity interface has been met with considerable hesitation on the part of some Ubuntu users, but apparently the next version will include a revised version of the desktop shell. For example, "the Unity launcher will see its quicklist functionality improved and icons in the launcher will be able to display count badges or progress meters to reflect the state of the underlying application," according to a report on The H.

2. GNOME 3

The classic GNOME desktop will reportedly no longer be included on the default Ubuntu CD, while Qt-based Unity 2D for lower-end PCs will switch to using Compiz rather than Metacity, The H reports. Meanwhile, Webupd8 suggests that Ubuntu 11.10 will include the also-controversial GNOME 3.

3. Evolution -- or Thunderbird?

For email, Ubuntu 11.0 is still on track to include Evolution, the Ubuntu standard. There's a chance, however, that Mozilla Thunderbird may be adopted instead, as noted in the software's blueprints.

4. No LibreOffice?

Space restrictions on the Ubuntu CD have reportedly become a pressing consideration, with the result that attempts are being made to find a way to free up more room. One idea proposed so far is to drop LibreOffice from the default CD, multiple reports suggest, while another is to package the operating system on two CDs or one DVD instead.

5. Chromium Instead of Firefox?

Also on the table is the possibility of replacing Mozilla's default Firefox browser with Google's Chromium instead, according to Muktware.

6. No Computer Janitor or PiTiVi

Multiple reports agree that Computer Janitor is going to be dropped in Ubuntu 11.10, and it sounds like the PiTiVi video editor will be, too. Both software packages were deemed too buggy for inclusion, according to Webupd8.

7. LightDM Instead of GDM

Switching from GNOME Display Manager to the lighter-weight LightDM will allow login screens to be themed using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

8. Déjà Dup by Default

The Déjà Dup utility will be included by default for backup purposes, according to multiple reports. "The backup tool might also get online accounts backup like Gmail or Flickr, backup the package list, a backup browser which will allow you to browse through all the files you've backed up as well as an option to backup specific applications," Webupd8 suggests.

9. Ubuntu Software Center

Considered by many one of Ubuntu's "killer features," the Ubuntu Software Center is also slated to get a number of enhancements, including improved integration with Unity and a simplified user interface.

Much of this is still up in the air, of course, but it's fun to start thinking about what we can expect. The first alpha version of Oneiric Ocelot is due on June 2, according to the software's release schedule, with the final release due in October.

I don't know about you, but I'm already champing at the bit to test it out. In the meantime, check out this interview with Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth for some more insight.

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What a bunch of disorganized crap Ubuntu is becoming. On one hand, they're moving away from Evolution toward Mozilla Thunderbird (which I support), but on the other hand, they're moving away from Mozilla Firefox toward Google Chrome. They still haven't figured out what it's going to look like and, from the people I talk to, Unity has driven many away. Uncomplicate things and use the standard GNOME shell, dummies. Stop worrying about NIH. Everyone I know uses LibreOffice, whether on Windows or Linux, but Cononical wants to dump it? Morons, I say. Ubuntu seems to have no vision anymore. They throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. The determining factors in sticking are convoluted and nonsensical. As fast as they gained in market share, they can lose.

Jim Michaels


unity? what kind of unity? I couldn't get 11.04 to work on my network.



@Erick: They're not talking about dropping LibreOffice. They're talking about dropping it from the install CD. There's a lot of software in Ubuntu that isn't on the install CD, but with the Software Center getting nicer then it's really quite simple for a user to install LibreOffice in just a few clicks.

What's the problem with switching to Google Chrome? I happen to prefer it over Firefox, and apparently that's an opinion shared by many others as well.

I totally agree with you about the desktop shell though. I'm really, really not a fan of Unity so far. It's really, really not polished (which is ironic since Ubuntu supposedly has the reputation of being "the polished Linux distro"). I'm also still not entirely convinced of GNOME Shell yet, but it definitely feels much more solid than Unity at this point. I definitely prefer GNOME Shell between the two.

It's rather sad that I have to make this choice now between the desktop I like (GNOME) and the rest of the platform (apt, etc) that I prefer. I tried installing Fedora F15 in order to use GNOME 3, but it's very difficult to find the software I want to install.

James Hurford


I can't stand Unity, and refuse to use it. I don't see it as a step forward, but rather a step backwards. It reminds me to much of using a Apple Mac which I hate.

Instead of ripping the rug from under us and forcing us into a new environment, which may have some nice features, but it is not familiar, removes the comfortable environment that I for one have crafted, using the old gnome setup. For example, no more panels, thus no more of the applets that were used by that panel, and no viable alternatives either, like the system monitor applet. You can't say that the new alternative system monitor for the panel in Unity is anywhere as good as the older one.

I don't like having the panel at the top being used as a menu bar, it separates itself to much from the application you are using, making workflow that much slower, and clumsy. If they don't make it easy for us to select the classic gnome, or make Unity a more compatible Classic Gnome environment, I will personally, never us Ubuntu or recommend it to anyone ever again.

Bob Vun Kannon


Unity is the worst idea I've seen put forward for Ubuntu and I will never allow it on any machine I own. I positively hate Macs and Windows 7/Vista. Whatever would lead Cannonical to think that I would accept similar garbage from them? I'll stay with 10.04 for a while and then perhaps migrate to KDE just to get away from Unity!

Jo-Erlend Schinstad


I was somewhat sceptical about Unity at first myself. However, I have come to love it. I think it gives me a much calmer desktop with a lot less distraction. Hiding menus when you don't need them, for instance. The improved keyboard navigation is quite simply wonderful. It makes working with the desktop far easier and quicker, although there are many improvements to be made, such as being able to switch between windows using Alt+num in super+w, etc. The Zeitgeist integration is quite nice. I love it. I think the lenses are great, and the launcher works much better than I anticipated.

As for people moving away from Ubuntu because of Unity, that's just silly. Ubuntu Classic (using gnome-panel) is available from the login screen and it takes about three seconds to make the switch. Obviously, lots of other shells are still available from the repos.

The temporary lack of support for Gnome 3 and Gnome Shell is unfortunate, but should be available in 11.10.

Bob Vun Kannon: why would you want to switch to KDE if your goal is to keep using what you've been using? That doesn't make any sense to me. I would just keep using gnome-panel if that's what you like. Your statement makes much more sense when I assume you're only letting out some steam. If you're able to switch to KDE, then certainly, you must be able to install gnome-panel from the archives?



Innovation sometimes comes with a price. In order to get Unity stable and far it has to be tested, included and used. It's very true it is now still a pesky tool, but I think there is vision behind it.

With closed source software innovation its the same kind of pain. Apple or Microsoft says you need to something else this time and you need new drivers, those aren't there and you have to buy a new one, or as a developer you have to use Objective C. And you hear everyone complain (right so too). It's the same with open source I can remember critics about KDE4 when it first came out (and they were right too). Unity is not so much different situation. I expect many people get annoyed, but when it gets refined I think all is well. However if people really want they can always use GNOME. Choice is there, though it might be a bit of a hindrance to some.

I do think it's not good to switch too often as a distro between applications. Usability also means that you don't have to look for preferences etc, have to confronted with sudden different default behavior etc because a distro yet again switches. I think there is a very valid point for usability that Ubuntu should at somepoint stick to applications. Either you do switch because Ubuntu is going to make sure it will work when it does not (Unity) or either you don't switch. Switching from Firefox to Chromium with all those other switches, common make up you mind. Too much messing with user expectations is never good!!!!



It would be wiser to first get Unity right and later to replace Firefox with Chromium. Start with the biggest pain when that is completely solidly worked out (i mean really) then a full version later do all the other uncomfortable changes. Too much on the same time makes people confused, annoyed and it is not user friendly at all to mess to much with user expectations.

Julian Lewis


I hate the new interface, its horrible. If I wanted a MAC I would have bought one. At the place I work, we develop Linux control software for a big high energy physics complex. There are at least 50 Ubuntu systems here and not a single user I have spoken to approves of the Mac like interface we saw on 11.04. I guess we will be parting company with Ubuntu and going back to Debian. What a disaster, I am pretty sure no one has any idea about who is actually using Ubuntu today, in my area its mostly geeks and enthusiasts.. all of which will be moving back to Debian of Fedora



Hi Katherine

Good article, some of these possible changes I agree with, others not. I don't like Unity, but I can get used to it.
I use Evolution alot, not just for email, I have a very BIG collection of memos, task lists, and I like that Evolution can do a full backup. I am not a programmer or hardcore geek, but I am a 8 yr linux user.
I say keep Firefox, it gets more polished all the time, why go to chromium ?
Software Center is also getting better all the time. Now if they can just polish up Ubuntu One a bit more, we will all be happy campers.
BTW: Its "chomping" at the bit, not "champing".



Ubuntu should:

1. fix all version regressions !!!
2. keep Gnome 2
3. put some efforts in a better out of the box experience
4. keep libre office included
5. fix gvfs/nautilus ownership and permissions showing incorrectly when using an automount samba share
6. if their is lack of space on the install cd, make use of a dvd
7. include all known archivers by default
8. keep it simple and stupid but mostly configurable!!!
9. make it rock solid
etc. etc.

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