Plans for Ubuntu 11.10 crystalise
The developers confirmed an earlier decision that the classic GNOME desktop will no longer be shipped on the default Ubuntu CD. They did decide at UDS that Qt-based Unity 2D, the replacement desktop for non-accelerated hardware, would switch to using Compiz, with an appropriate non-accelerated backend, as its window manager rather than Metacity.
Applications being removed from the default Ubuntu 11.10 CD include the PitiVi video editor, because of low ratings and a lack of polish, and the "cleaning tool" Computer Janitor, in part because of the damage an unskilled user can do with it. Déjà Dup, the simple backup utility, is to be included in the default CD image but may have to be slimmed down and lose its ability to backup to Amazon S3 or Rackspace to fit onto the disc.
Currently, Evolution mail is still planned to be the default mail application in Ubuntu 11.10, but Mozilla Thunderbird has a chance of becoming default if a number of quite extensive work items listed on the project's blueprint are completed in time. These include support for Unity's global menu bar and integration with the launcher, as well as deciding on how to fill in for functionality available in Evolution but not in Thunderbird. If these work items are completed in time, then the option to switch to Thunderbird will be back on the agenda for the Ubuntu developers.
The lack of space on the CD has brought a number of discussions to the fore at UDS; some would like to see LibreOffice removed from the default CD to create space, others would like to change to either two CDs or one DVD as the default media. To date, no decisions have been made on these issues.
The much criticised Unity interface will be refined for Ubuntu 11.10. 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. Ubuntu's Software Center will also receive a refresh with proposals to improve startup time, enhance its Unity launcher integration, use larger icons, simplify the UI and make other refinements.
The development schedule for 11.10 will see a feature definition freeze on 26 May, Alpha releases on 2 June, 30 June and 4 August, Beta releases on 1 September and 22 September, and a final release on 13 October.