Proposal for Ubuntu 20.04LTS

Hello,

Here are some proposals for the next LTS, Ubuntu 20.04 :

  • Abandon the idea of the snap for chromium and go back to the default deb package

  • Remove the default preinstalled snaps (calculator etc…) and replace them with their deb package from the repositories.

  • When a software exists both in deb package and snap package (for example VLC), if a beginner wants to install it from “Gnome Software”, it must offer/preview the deb package and not the snap. Many beginners complain on forums about the slowness of some software under Ubuntu and after expertise, it turns out that they installed it, without knowing it, by snap. It would be nice if the default choice were deb packages and not snaps.

Be careful I want to be clear: I’m not saying that snaps are useless, they are useful in certain situations (especially for software that is difficult to install, old obsolete software, dangerous software that you may need to be isolated…) but in normal times, it’s the “deb” package that should be recommended.

  • If possible, drag and drop it directly on the desktop with the “gnome desktop” extension without going through the “Desktop” folder.

  • The Gnome Tweak Tool (required) must be installed by default (except possibly in “minimal” installation).

  • The “Amazon” icon must definitely be removed (not only with the minimum installer but also with the classic installer).

  • The graphical theme of GDM (session manager) must be improved and propose a wallpaper or at least one color gradient (and not pink/violet or single grey)

  • There is currently under 19.10 a graphic inconsistency on the desktop: the dock is a little transparent but the gnome bar has no transparency: it doesn’t go together, either you enable transparency at both (as under 18.04) or at none. I think the best thing is to do as in 18.04, i.e. transparency at both the gnome panel and the dock.

  • It would be interesting to develop support for a guest session for Gnome so that in public places, Ubuntu can be used with sessions that empty at each closing. All you have to do is add a script linked to a special account.

  • The “folder-color” package must be present in the repositories and it would be interesting to pre-install it (allows you to choose different colors for the folders)

  • As for Linux Mint and Manjaro, add a small graphical utility to easily change the kernel (for example with the different kernels supported by an LTS, Mint 19 (based on 18.04) allows for example to choose between 4.15, 4.18 and 5.0 or at least between the original one and the last one supported (4.15 of 18.04 or 5.0 of 18.04.3).

  • If you really want to move towards what are called “universal packages”, then you might as well go to Flatpak which is less worse than Snap in terms of performance.
    (but I repeat: the best would still be the default deb packages).

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  • Snap is important technology for Canonical for use on server, IoT and Desktop, with many devs and corporations on board. Nobody’s gonna abandon that big of an investment because you don’t like it.

  • There are proposed plans for better customization in the Settings, especially for Yaru themes. Gnome Tweak Tool really isn’t needed to take up space by default and confuse new users.

  • “Amazon” earns some money. It is probably enough for Canonical to not drop it.

  • Purple is Canonical’s color and part of Ubuntu’s overall aesthetic. Orange would be too loud and wallpaper too distracting for something so simple.

  • Ubuntu isn’t Manjaro. Users who need to change kernels can do that, offering it by default could be confusing to new or average users. More cons than pros.

  • Didier Roche is core developer and archive admin, not community manager. It is entirely on him when and where he wants to contribute to answer questions.

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Snap packages should not become the default installation for software, it should remain a simple alternative at the same level as “flatpak” for example.
It can be useful to offer some software by snaps especially when they have a lot of dependency problems or for example applications emulated with wine like the TrackMania game which allows to install it easily.
Nevertheless, Snap should not be provided for most classic software such as Firefox, Chromium, LibreOffice, VLC etc…

It is essential to propose gnome tweak by default because users, including beginners, want to be able to easily customize the graphic theme.

Your argument about Amazon is not admissible for the simple reason that it is fundamentally BAD to have a partnership with Amazon. It is no longer a matter of money, otherwise all excesses are possible with bad decisions just to “earn money”. Ubuntu is not Windows! They must not follow their (bad) example!
That being said, I am aware that it is unlikely that Canonical will change its mind at this level unfortunately. I nevertheless made the proposal to recall this error that many have pointed out in recent years.

I’m willing to accept your argument about the kernel, although I don’t think it would be a problem for beginners.

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I’ll respond to each of your points. You’ve raised some of these before. I’ve personally taken time to reply previously and you’re bringing them up again. It’s incredibly frustrating to explain why something is done, only for someone to respond again, and again with the same comment.

Please respect the fact that yours is one voice and one set of opinions. We can’t just change everything because you say so.

I wrote a blog post recently which explains why we did the transition. Take time to read and understand, please.

https://ubuntu.com/blog/chromium-in-ubuntu-deb-to-snap-transition

Why?

The problem you’re explaining is that there’s a performance problem with some snaps. We should fix that, rather than just throw the technology away.

The upstream developers removed functionality from Files (Nautilus) which was added back by an extension. Is there a problem with this? Is there a bug tracking it?

Possibly. The problem with GNOME Tweak tool is that it’s very easy to break your desktop with it. By “break” I mean “get a black screen when you boot”. Novice users who are left with a broken desktop after fiddling with a tweak tool will be left very unhappy. We should instead ensure that whatever you do in GNOME Tweak can’t possibly leave the system in a broken state.

The Amazon icon is merely a link to a website with an affiliate code attached. It generates revenue which helps to pay for the desktop team to exist. What will replace the revenue generated by that icon?

Colours are a matter of opinion. I’d file a bug against the Yaru theme, and discuss it with the team there.

Sounds reasonable, but again, a design matter of opinion. I’d bring it up on the bug tracker for the dock.

We used to have a guest session and it was quite useful. Unfortunately when we switched to GDM (from LightDM) we lost that capability (among other useful things like moving the login fields when you move mouse between screens). I hope someone has the time and knowledge to re-implement guest session (and moving the login fields). That would be neat.

This is a debian packaging question. You (or someone you know) could learn packaging and submit the folder-color package to Ubuntu (or prererably to Debian - so everyone downstream from Debian will benefit). The Ubuntu archive is a commons of software maintained by a wide pool of people. You could help.

I am in two minds about this one. The kernels provided in the Ubuntu archive are supported by the Ubuntu Kernel and Ubuntu Security Teams. The problem with the tools available elsewhere is they often allow users to install insecure, unsupported kernels which actually break other functionality. I think a user typically doesn’t care what kernel they have, so this would be a real expert-mode option which only a small number of people would be interested in. Someone could develop such a tool and package it up!

It turns out that like many other human beings, Didier is often attracted to activites which aren’t related to computers. This can involve spending time exercising, being with his spouse, or focused on raising children. These are all way more important than his job or discussing computers on forums :slight_smile:

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Please respect the fact that yours is one voice and one set of opinions. We can’t just change everything because you say so.

This is just my opinion concerning the graphic part (gdm theme, transparency dock ubuntu) indeed but concerning the snaps, I summarized the criticisms that I regularly read on the French-speaking forum of Ubuntu. So it’s not just my personal opinion about snaps.

I wrote a blog post recently which explains why we did the transition. Take time to read and understand, please.

I’m aware of it but that’s not a good reason because all other linux distributions offer Chromium in their repository. Even distributions with far fewer developers than you behind offers chromium in the repositories.
Ubuntu is the one and only linux distribution that imposes Chromium in a universal package with Snap, strange no?
Moreover, the developer of Linux Mint (the most used distribution based on Ubuntu) criticized this choice.

Nevertheless, I understood that you do not want to go back, however, but I had to remember this mistake.

Why?

Simply because the default snaps do not provide any advantage but simply a big disadvantage: they are less efficient.
The most visible for novices being the calculator which is often used, it is much slower to launch at the 1st start.
(I remind you that most users turn off their computer so it is important that the first start of an application in a session is fast).

The problem you’re explaining is that there’s a performance problem with some snaps. We should fix that, rather than just throw the technology away.

I’m not saying throwing snap technology in the garbage, I’m just saying it should remain an alternative method but not the default one.
For example, the astronomy software “Celestia” is very painful to install under Ubuntu (it requires old dependencies) and it is difficult to run it on a recent version of Ubuntu. A Celestia snap would be very interesting for example (noted that it unfortunately does not exist).

But a classic software like Firefox, Chromium, VLC… I don’t see the point.

The upstream developers removed functionality from Files (Nautilus) which was added back by an extension. Is there a problem with this? Is there a bug tracking it?

Yes it exists in bug reports but it is not really a bug, apparently it is not possible without making a change to “Mutter”.
But personally it does not bother me too much because we can still drag and drop using the “office” folder. I indicated this point in relation to criticism from the Ubuntu forum (it is especially for novices the problem actually).
for example : https://forum.ubuntu-fr.org/viewtopic.php?id=2044427
bug rapport : https://gitlab.gnome.org/World/ShellExtensions/desktop-icons/issues/22
or on launchpad ubuntu : https://bugs.launchpad.net/gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons/+bug/1813441

Possibly. The problem with GNOME Tweak tool is that it’s very easy to break your desktop with it. By “break” I mean “get a black screen when you boot”. Novice users who are left with a broken desktop after fiddling with a tweak tool will be left very unhappy. We should instead ensure that whatever you do in GNOME Tweak can’t possibly leave the system in a broken state.

For information, many consumer Linux distributions that target beginners allow users to customize their distribution. Ubuntu is actually one of the few distributions where you can’t easily change the default theme without adding an additional tool manually.
However, for me it doesn’t change anything since I systematically install it. Again, I was speaking for the novices.

It would be interesting to develop support for a guest session for Gnome so that in public places, Ubuntu can be used with sessions that empty at each closing. All you have to do is add a script linked to a special account.

I was aware of the disappearance of this feature in GDM but it seems that it can be easily scripted. If a Ubuntu developer (randomly, didrock? :grin:) could take care of that, basically he just has to do an “rm -r” on the personal folder of the guest account to start from 0 on the profile.

This is a debian packaging question. You (or someone you know) could learn packaging and submit the folder-color package to Ubuntu (or prererably to Debian - so everyone downstream from Debian will benefit). The Ubuntu archive is a commons of software maintained by a wide pool of people. You could help.

In fact it is fine in the repositories, my question was simply to propose that it be installed by default, most users not knowing that this simple package allows to colorize folders of any color which can be interesting.
cf : https://packages.ubuntu.com/search?keywords=folder-color&searchon=names&suite=all&section=all

I am in two minds about this one. The kernels provided in the Ubuntu archive are supported by the Ubuntu Kernel and Ubuntu Security Teams. The problem with the tools available elsewhere is they often allow users to install insecure, unsupported kernels which actually break other functionality. I think a user typically doesn’t care what kernel they have, so this would be a real expert-mode option which only a small number of people would be interested in. Someone could develop such a tool and package it up!

that’s why I proposed as 2nd possibility to put only the starting kernel and the last one which are all 2 supported in term of security update.
For example those currently under 18.04.3 have kernel 5.0 which is still maintained by the kernel team of Ubuntu. But this is also the case of the starting 4.15 kernel.
Someone with 4.15 may want to put the last supported for new hardware.
Currently it must be done on the command line.

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So lets fix the issues. Are you going to help?

You abolutely didn’t read the blog post. I answered the question of why you can’t compare Ubuntu to other distros. We have multiple supported releases of Ubuntu. It means we have way more work to do to update Chromium across many supported releases of Ubuntu. Please, take a step back. Think about the human factor here. We have a small pool of developers and a vast amount of work. Other distros have one supported release, not 4 or 5! Our workload is way higher, having a snap of Chromium helps us fix that.

The developer of Linux Mint is entitled to his own opinion. The Mint team have built a distribution which consumes the Ubuntu archive while contributing very little back. They aren’t partners of ours, but consumers of our work. They can make decisions about what they do with their derivative but don’t have any input on our decision making process.

Snaps have advantages over debs. I wrote about that in the blog post previously mentioned, that you said you read, but clearly didn’t, or just ignored the advantages because it doesn’t fit your narrative.

So lets fix it. Will you help?

You not understanding the need doesn’t make the need go away.

Imagine a user running 14.04 or 16.04 - many, many of them still exist.

14.04 repo contains vlc 2.0.8
16.04 repo contains vlc 2.2.2

The Snap Store contains 3.0.7 and 3.0.8 and 4.0.0-dev. This is a compelling reason for many people. They want a stable base such as an old LTS release, and have up to date software on top. Again, explained in the blog post.

Ok, let’s be brutally honest here. “many consumer Linux distributions” have near-zero users. We have millions. We can’t push out an update to millions of users which breaks their world.

Personally I’d like to see GNOME Tweak in Ubuntu by default too, but then I’d rather GNOME didn’t have all the useful setting ripped out over the years. But we are where we are, and it’s not my place to tell upstream GNOME developers how to run their project. If GNOME Tweak and GNOME itself could be made more robust so as not to crash user systems, I’d totally advocate for it to be pre-installed, but until then, it really shouldn’t (in my opinion).

Maybe we should add a popup to “snap install gnome-tweaks” on first install :wink:

Make a tool to do that :slight_smile:

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All default snap apps are much slower than their deb counterparts. Chromium snap is also much slower. The chromium-browser folder contains the whole browser and the executive in it runs the browser in a sandbox and faster. Chromium from that chromium-browser folder starts within 5 seconds in Fedora. I am writing from that Chromium in Fedora.

Interestingly, Yaru-dark works quite well with Gedit, the default text editor of both Fedora and Ubuntu in Fedora, but in Ubuntu the cursor is invisible. Most of us like to use dark background to ease eye fatigue.

Btw, there’s no flatpak default apps installed in Fedora. But, users know any can be installed, if they like/want/need. Including slow starting snaps by default, only make people wonder what’s wrong with Ubuntu. Maybe, a disclaimer should be made on those default apps, just like on the default gnome shell extensions?

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I agree with chanath, I do not see why impose default snaps, Fedora has flatpak but does not impose of software flatpak preinstalled, the same with Linux Mint.

You should do the same with snap : Snap installed by default ok but no preinstalled snap software.
Has the user to choose the snaps they want

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Errr… Does ditching Unity7 for Gnome-thing count as an exception here ?

Joke aside, what comes into 19.10 looks interesting and encouraging, almost as good as before the gnome-disaster ( for me, my opinion, very subjective ) :wink:

What I still miss :
⋅ a one click-reach access to recently used applications + files + places, all in a nice grid view ( like unity’s dash maybe with the same look as actual app-menu grid ? )
⋅ an easy way to set global umask ( useful for multi users environment and to manage shares ) it’s kind of messy under Gnome, it was easier before ( and it’s still easier to set in nowadays non gnome-environment )
⋅ improvements in handling multi-monitors setups - be they positioning, scaling, login-field, where to place dock⋅s and panel⋅s…
⋅ mesa packages without regressions ( haswell i915 has problems these last weeks )
⋅ add syncthing to the repo ( well not possible I guess because of its upgrading agenda - but I doubt a snap is possible either )

Just ideas / opinions, wishes at best. Ubuntu is my daily driver at home and work for years, am no developer at all, and my only contributions are bug reports or helping ( or trying to help ) in forums or IRL with Ubuntu.

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Fedora devs are working on their Fedora Flatpak Registry, which should be later used for selection of default Flatpak apps. It’s just work in progress, but the goal is there. So, I am not sure if using Fedora as an example is good when devs want to do essentially the same what Ubuntu devs did with few system apps and are gonna do with Chromium next.

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I counted your bullet points and I got 12 separate items. I think it would be more effective to try to discuss one topic per thread here. GNOME Tweaks has nothing to do with Snaps which has nothing to do with GDM’s wallpaper, etc.

Advice (hopefully not too far off-topic)

Many people have come up with big lists of things they want to change in Ubuntu. In my experience, you’ll have a better chance of success if you focus on one small thing that you can fix. That’s how I fixed my first Ubuntu bug. That’s how I fixed most of the Unity bugs I fixed, and it’s really how I’ve ended up accomplishing as much as I have.

So pick something to try to fix. Do what you can on it. It might be accepted or it might not be. Then try to fix something else. Repeat. Along the way, you’ll learn things, develop relationships with the people who have to make the difficult design decisions, and you can help make Ubuntu and the wider community better.

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@popey It is time that there is some identification for Canonical employees on this forum. I seriously thought this is an official update on 20.04. Is it so hard to add some label for Canonical staff here ?

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The Gnome calculator is such a small app, what might be the use of repacking it to make it work slowly? How would a slow starting apps make a distro more popular?

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Here we go again…

2 more days and this thread will be locked.

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As a matter of fact, panel transparency has been removed upstream. There’s some work ongoing to bring it back. I’d rather like dock transparency right now, but it’s again a matter of preferences

EDIT: here is the GNOME discussion about removal https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gnome-shell/merge_requests/376 and the proposed fixes

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That is https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/1722479

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My 2 cents about this subject:
First anything that Canonical try to do to improve Ubuntu is criticise by everyone. See Unity when it came out and when it was finished by Canonica.

Second. Snaps are slow (appimage to) but is something Canonical need so they going to put it in Ubuntu and we cant do anything about that. They do that in the end off, for me, the best desktop DE I have ever used.

Soo what can we do? Help them with “bugs” reports and try to provide the most feedback we can.

For the developers, in my opinion, to make Ubuntu “great again” put Unity back on the principal DE to use.
Snaps, whant help? Teel us what you want we (non tech guys) to do
Regards
Miguel

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Thanks for reminding me about this. I’ve added a Canonical group, which has flair (icon in bottom right of the avatar).

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=> “sudo apt install gnome-tweaks” :wink:

No, I don’t agree with you.
In fact, Canonical was right to abandon Unity. But in fact they should have switched to Gnome Shell from the beginning without going through Unity desktop or proposed a new environment as Linux Mint did with Cinnamon but on the condition that it could easily be installed on any linux distribution.
This was the biggest problem with the Unity environment: it was too linked to Ubuntu, you need an environment that could be installed anywhere.
=> We’re not at Microsoft or Apple here, we want EVERYTHING to be shared. Not a graphical environment that can only be used stably under Ubuntu.
I remind you that Ubuntu is part of the open source and free community, which is the opposite of the logic of Microsoft and Apple!

For me, the Gnome proposed by Ubuntu is rather good except for a few bad choices that are not directly related to Gnome (impose snap, not want to propose gnome tweaks, partnership with Amazon…).

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Bugs reports?
It appears that bugs should be liked, and those that are not liked go as undecided, unassigned, incomplete and such. The thing is no one is expecting the devs to do magic, but to understand that most people, who’d report a bug is doing so as they cannot solve it by themselves.

We can test, and that’s all we, the users can do. We find something is malfunctioning, we can either ask another user at the forums, (which is like asking the neighbour how to repair the car) or report it to the developer(s). The developers can either heed to the report and try to find a solution, or fight it out.

It appears to be a matter of prestige, when it comes to snaps. No one should say anything, other than good for them. The command snap run --trace-exec <app> was given to me by a developer, which gave me a chance to look at a whole lot of snaps. Everyone of them started much slower than its counterpart deb one, except the Atom snap, which was slightly quicker.

This, I agree. Gnome Tweak tool can suddenly block the installed extensions, even the system ones in Ubuntu. I tested GTT with the standard Gnome distro, Fedora without hitches, though.

The latest Chromium web browser can be downloaded straight from the Chromium Team and used in any release. It doesn’t have to be packaged to deb, rpm, snap, flatpak or anything. The version I am using is 79.0.3944.0. One good thing in this discussion is that I started using Chromium, rather than its clones. The executive chrome-wrapper is clickable to run, even on Nautilus.

(Few moments later, downloaded the zip file to Windows 10, unzipped it and clicked on the exe file and bang Chromium started. Just to test.)

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