[Desktop 13.04-Topic] Having a smart ubuntu desktop

Jacob Williams mail at jacobw.me
Thu Oct 18 15:14:24 UTC 2012

Hash: SHA1

On 10/18/2012 11:10 AM, Didier Roche wrote:
> Hey everyone,
> In a world where we are using more and more connected web services
> doing some of our tasks (web mails, online documentation editing,
> online music players…) should we imagine having a more adapated
> image to our users? This will mean reducing our main image
> footprint by removing some of those tools we install by default: 
> I'm thinking of thunderbird, libreoffice, rhythmbox and other main 
> applications of our desktop for instance.
> The counter-part would be to make our desktop smarter. I can
> imagine: - having the messaging menu (or an icon in the launcher,
> or an icon in the dash) showing, the first time you try to
> configure your email account, a window asking for your email -
> based on the answer, either proposing to directly use a web 
> application (with unity integration) for an @gmail.com, @yahoo.com…
> and other email providers known to have good web integrations.
> Otherwise, proposing to install thunderbird, ideally opening the
> account creating setup prefiled with the information already be
> done. (we can of course imagine a checkbox to override the "smart"
> behavior).
> This is just a field example, we can expand to document editing,
> and a lot of other areas. There is already some integration of this
> for other parts of the stack (like double clicking on an odt when
> you don't have libreoffice installed), we can make sure all our
> desktop have this kind of tweaks, and try to make a sharper, more
> adaptive image to our finale users, without having lots of
> post-install applications to remove.
> What do you think? Is that a goal worth having? Cheers, Didier


It seems that you're proposing removing applications that
differentiate Ubuntu from other platforms without a providing a reason
why this wouldn't be catastrophic for users.

This would decrease the functionality available to users. Web
applications are available from the browser without introducing extra
dialogues and components which may confuse users or fail, or changing
the distribution significantly by removing a large number of
application already in use.

The browser is the interface targeted by web application developers,
and currently works with all the web applications that you've cited.

I can't see a reason to presume that these applications could be used
from a assembly of different programs without changing the experience
users are accustomed. This would rely on many components which would
have to be developed then tested and supported for the life cycle of
the web application current user experience and protocols, which are
subject to change at any time.

Assuming all targeted web applications maintain the same user
experience and protocols for the life cycle of an Ubuntu release,
making the current components of GNOME such as the launcher able to
use web applications with local or remote files would be a huge task.

Consider your case of opening an ODT with Google Docs, gnome-vfs would
have upload the document to a Google account through whichever method
of doing this works right now, then the launcher would have to detect
if this succeeded and create a window with only the Docs interface
rendered and then the window manager would have to track all new
windows spawned from this 'top level' window as being part of the same
window group (how would BAMF handle this?) for the Unity launcher, etc.

While I can imagine a desktop that did all these things, while
maintaining the current set of tools and not requiring a behavioral
change for user would be very cool .. I think your idea of how this
would work is not good because it would remove nearly all current
functionality and be architecturally complex.

Please do not remove all existing functionality chasing web
application nirvana

As an aside, Desktop Team .. why is not possible to add more
functionality instead of replacing current functionalities with a new
and non overlapping set of new and untested functionalities? Why does
each new paradigm introduce SERIOUS (I cannot overstate this)
regressions over the last paradigm.

Ubuntu no longer runs in a virtual machine because of it's 3D graphics
requirements, in 2006 this would have been considered a Very Bad
Thing, why is it acceptable now?

With regards,
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