Problems and suggestions to make Ubuntu more newby-friendly

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Mon Feb 28 20:11:58 CST 2005

On Fri, Feb 25, 2005 at 10:01:53PM +0100, S.P. van Noort wrote:

> (b) When a new user is added, no sudo-permissions are given to him. You
> only can add him to certain groups. To give this new user
> sudo-permissions, a user have to be exposed to "visudo". A user not
> familiar with vi will not survive this experience.

This is fixed in Hoary, and there is now an "Administrator" profile in the
"Users and Groups" tool.

> (d) Installing individual packages (deb or rpm)
> To install a single Debian or rpm package file, one has to use a
> terminal to do "fakeroot alien package.rpm" if it is a rpm-package, and
> after that a "sudo dpkg -i package.deb". Most of the time this fails
> because of dependencies. Which I normally solve by "sudo apt-get -f
> install".
> This is rather dirty, and a simple GUI program to handle this would be
> nice. A double click on a Debian or rpm package, the obligatory warning
> that your installing unknown software which could damage your system,
> your password and everything is done would be nice, or some option in
> Synaptic to "Install program from file".

Support for RPM packages via alien is limited to advanced users; there are
many ways in which this can go wrong.

There will probably eventually be support for installing .deb packages this
way, but it is not a priority, as all software in .deb format should be
available from the Ubuntu repositories.

> (e) He has an external USB hard disk. When he wants to unplug it, he has
> to manually unmount all the partitions (with nautilus), there is no
> option to unmount all the partitions of a particular hard disk in one
> step.

Note that it is relatively uncommon for USB devices to have more than one
partition, so this, too, is a low priority feature.  Patches are gratefully

> (f) When partitions of this disk are mounted, a lot of times it is not
> possible to unmount them because they are "busy". Open Nautilus windows
> sometimes are the problem, but most of the time they are all closed.
> This happens most of the time when he tries to unmount them with the
> command unount (I tried to make a script to solve the latter problem).
> Unmounting them with nautilus most of time of just works, but even
> then it sometimes refuses with "device is busy". Sometimes this can
> be solved by killing fam, but even then it still claims to be busy.
> I have not investigated in detail this with lsof yet.

> (a) Hard disk partitioning
> Gparted looks nice, could this be considered as part of main ?

It has been considered, but it is not read yet.

> (b) Define mount locations (edit /etc/fstab)
> To manually have to edit an obscure config file like /etc/fstab is not
> user-friendly. During installation, I think there is a (ncurses based)
> program which let you link hard disk partitions to mount points. Is this
> also a regular program? This would already be a huge improvement over
> manually having to edit /etc/fstab. 
> Furthermore, I think in gnome-system-tools there used to be a graphical
> tool for this, but I can't find it anymore. Perhaps this has gone in
> the splitting of the program in a graphical front-end and the real
> utilities?

I'm not aware of a reasonable desktop tool for this purpose; if you find
one, please bring it to our attention so that it can be evaluated.

> (a) More and more people have bluetooth enabled cell phones. It would be
> nice if gnome-bluetooth could be transferred to main. Some system tools,
> like settings up a rfcomm port are also not graphically possible. Other
> bluetooth enabled programs would also be nice, for controlling music
> for example bluemote or bluexmms.

This was discussed previously; I don't recall what the issues were, but the
consensus was that the bluetooth stack was not ready to be installed by
default in the desktop.

> (b) id3-tagger. Rhythmbox depends completely on these tags, but there
> is no program available to edit them. Easytag is the most powerful
> program available, but is totally user-unfriendly. Perhaps some simpler
> tag-program should be included in main.

Doesn't Rhythmbox itself allow you to edit tags?

> (d) Backup program
> Every experienced user will recommend to regularly backup your data.
> There is however no graphical backup program available, and I couldn't
> find something useful on the internet either. Are there any ones.
> Functionality of could consist of:
>   (*) run as daemon to suggest it's time to do a backup again
>   (*) check the available space
>   (*) suggestions what to backup: /home,/etc,/var/mail/
>   (*) incremental backup, like faubackup does

Again, if you know of a good candidate, please let us know.

> (e) Syncing between PDA/Cell phone and Evolution
> Multisync seems like the right choice. Maybe the project noodle could
> become interesting too.

Multisync has been discussed previously, but isn't quite ready yet.

> (a) During installation, a message was said that the network could not
> be configured. However, when booted from the (warty) live CD, everything
> was fine. When in the "Network configuration" tool, he added eth0 as a
> dhcp, he still had no network. After reboot however, he all of sudden
> had a network. Not sure what went wrong there, hard to really tell
> what went wrong there, probably something that the knoppix-hardware
> detection detected, the discover/hotplug didn't

Please try a Hoary live CD:

and if it still doesn't detect the network device, file a bug.

> (b) TV-out does not work. Just some simple googling didn't give much
> information.

This is a very complex driver issue, unfortunately.

 - mdz

More information about the ubuntu-devel mailing list