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Ask Slashdot: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Desktop Default Application Survey 298

Dustin Kirkland, Ubuntu Product and Strategy at Canonical, writes: Howdy all- Back in March, we asked the HackerNews community, "What do you want to see in Ubuntu 17.10?": https://ubu.one/AskHN. A passionate discussion ensued, the results of which are distilled into this post: http://ubu.one/thankHN. In fact, you can check that link, http://bit.ly/thankHN and see our progress so far this cycle. We already have a beta code in 17.10 available for your testing for several of those:

- GNOME replaced Unity
- Bluetooth improvements with a new BlueZ
- Switched to libinput
- 4K/Multimonitor/HiDPI improvements
- Upgraded to Network Manager 1.8
- New Subiquity server installer
- Minimal images (36MB, 18% smaller)

And several others have excellent work in progress, and will be complete by 17.10:

- Autoremove old kernels from /boot
- EXT4 encryption with fscrypt
- Better GPU/CUDA support

In summary -- your feedback matters! There are hundreds of engineers and designers working for *you* to continue making Ubuntu amazing! Along with the switch from Unity to GNOME, we're also reviewing some of the desktop applications we package and ship in Ubuntu. We're looking to crowdsource input on your favorite Linux applications across a broad set of classic desktop functionality. We invite you to contribute by listing the applications you find most useful in Linux in order of preference.

Click through for info on how to contribute.
To help us parse your input, please copy and paste the following bullets with your preferred apps in Linux desktop environments. You're welcome to suggest multiple apps, please just order them prioritized (e.g. Web Browser: Firefox, Chrome, Chromium). If some of your functionality has moved entirely to the web, please note that too (e.g. Email Client: Gmail web, Office Suite: Office360 web). If the software isn't free/open source, please note that (e.g. Music Player: Spotify client non-free). If I've missed a category, please add it in the same format. If your favorites aren't packaged for Ubuntu yet, please let us know, as we're creating hundreds of new snap packages for Ubuntu desktop applications, and we're keen to learn what key snaps we're missing.
  • Web Browser: ???
  • Email Client: ???
  • Terminal: ???
  • IDE: ???
  • File manager: ???
  • Basic Text Editor: ???
  • IRC/Messaging Client: ???
  • PDF Reader: ???
  • Office Suite: ???
  • Calendar: ???
  • Video Player: ???
  • Music Player: ???
  • Photo Viewer: ???
  • Screen recording: ???

In the interest of opening this survey as widely as possible, we've cross-posted this thread to HackerNews, Reddit, and Slashdot. We very much look forward to another friendly, energetic, collaborative discussion. Thank you! @DustinKirkland On behalf of @Canonical and @Ubuntu

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Desktop Default Application Survey

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  • Two things really grind my gears with the version of (K)Ubuntu (16.04.2 LTS) that I currently run:
    • CUPS crashes randomly. Yes, I've updated it since installing and it still crashes randomly. Yes, I've checked the logs and it logs nothing at all. My solution is to set up a cron job that runs every 10 minutes to restart it, which is tolerable but shouldn't be necessary. This problem did not exist in previous versions.
    • Sleeping my laptop locks a config file and prevents me from changing monitors until I move .config, .local, and .kde directories. I have not been able to find the locked file. Why is this important? Because I use a docking station at work but some times bring my work home where I use a different monitor configuration.

    There are other less dramatic problems I've run into, but these are the two that eat the most of my time. Other than that Ubuntu has been a real pleasure.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )
      I fell of Ubuntu when they moved the X, + and - buttons over to the wrong (left hand) side of the windows.

      I've switched to Linux Mint and never looked back. So...

      Dearest Ubuntu,
      if you want to get users back, move the buttons back to the correct side.
      • Retarded though that is, isn't that in the options somewhere? I think in Gnome you can even switch the order somehow, so close is between minimise and maximise, though why anyone would want to is anybody's guess. Is it like that on Macs?

        I vaguely remember accidentally setting it and thinking "this totally fucking sucks" then switching it back and nearly forgetting about it.

      • Mine are on the right hand side with Kubuntu 16.04.2 LTS. Is it perhaps a GNOME vs KDE thing?
        • Yes, KDE still puts minimize/maximize/close on the right end of the title bar by default. You can move individual buttons to wherever you want.
      • I fell of Ubuntu when they moved the X, + and - buttons over to the wrong (left hand) side of the windows.

        One of the best things about Linux is also one of its downfalls: choices. If you don't like something about Linux, just change it. Select (or install) a different one, no matter what "it" is that bothers you, or you don't like the options, or you don't like the UI, or whatever. Those choices are also its downfall because new users don't know which they need, or why they would want one vs. another.

        In your specific example, those buttons are controlled by an app called the Window Manager. It lets you easil

        • Select (or install) a different one, no matter what "it" is that bothers you

          Unless it happens to be the init system.

          • No. In that case you just stop complaining and pretending it matters, do as you always did and use the system which works as it always did because if the init system didn't work nobody could use the system.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I'd like to see self-encrypting drive support. Windows has had this for years now, and it's great. SSDs that support it will accept a key from the system, and use that for encryption with 0% performance loss (they encrypt by default anyway, just with a random key they generate internally).

      I think the kernel supports this now, it just needs enabling and maybe some kind of UI (because this is Ubuntu, after all).

    • Sleeping my laptop locks a config file and prevents me from changing monitors until I move .config, .local, and .kde directories. I have not been able to find the locked file.

      This must be a problem specific to you. Every laptop I ever tried sleeping in Ubuntu including my current one is just fine after it wakes up.... after the reboot that is needed to wake it from it's deep deeeeeeep sleep.

      *sigh* I wish I had a lockfile problem.

  • Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Feyshtey ( 1523799 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:01AM (#54852163)
    In other news, /. ends tradition of summaries and posts entire encyclopedia to front page.
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:02AM (#54852167)

    many of us have typed 'ifconfig' for decades. its sad to see a perfectly good command go away. yes, I know I can re-add it back, but taking it away because its not 100% perfect was just stupid.

  • CD burning? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:03AM (#54852177) Homepage Journal
    Would it be possible to get a CD burner built into the file manager again by default? The people who need it the most are people without internet access, and the dependency tree for brasero makes it a hassle to install offline.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:06AM (#54852199)
    >> crowdsource input

    Why can't you just say "survey"?

    On second thought, why can't you just post this on some crappy survey site and point anyone who cares to it instead of dropping a wall of text here?
  • I understand the need for Snap and Flatpak for closed source. It makes it much easier for say Spotify to distribute their app, but there is NO FREAKING REASON to package up open source apps that are being maintained by a distro. They are MUCH larger, and you can't theme them. WTF is Ubuntu thinking. This *has* been my distro of choice, but I guess it is time to start looking elsewhere.

  • seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malenx ( 1453851 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:11AM (#54852231)


  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:13AM (#54852237)
    Because fallback kernels are for pussies, right?
    • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:24AM (#54852291)
      Do you really need to have 16 fallback kernels?
    • I can see the value to keeping one fallback kernel. I can't see the value to keeping a half dozen of them.

      • The previous one and the one before that. Just in case.

    • There are many Ubuntu installations out there that are running kernels that are several versions old with intermediate versions that never got booted into being kept perpetually.

      It doesn't make sense by default to keep anything more than the most recently installed + the current working one.

  • Thanks For Asking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (egdesuorbenet)> on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:15AM (#54852243)

    Thanks for doing this, and thanks for doing this in this way. I appreciate especially the idea that this place has any currency :)

  • Spearmint flavor. Also, although it's adware, Foxit Reader for PDF.
  • I haven't used Ubuntu since the days when automatically upgrading the Nvidia video driver FUBAR the entire installation. I got tired of reinstalling the OS for my file server every month and eventually switched to FreeNAS. That was years ago. These days I use Red Hat Linux on the terminal server to my Cisco rack and Linux Mint on my vintage 2006 Black MacBook.
    • Why did you need to update video drivers on a file server? Just switch to a basic video driver, don't run X, and don't connect a screen.

      • Why did you need to update video drivers on a file server? Just switch to a basic video driver, don't run X, and don't connect a screen.

        My file server was also doing double duty to teach me the Linux desktop (I'm CLI guy at heart), and the basic video from the motherboard was slow as molasses. Switching over to FreeNAS and using the web interface made Nvidia video card redundant.

        • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

          Then, just run VNC server and connect to the desktop with any VNC client duh! No video card specific driver needed!

          It also allows you to connect to the desktop from anywhere you wish to, I have been doing this for 15 years+

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:21AM (#54852271)

    Remove systemd

  • In & out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gti_guy ( 875684 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:22AM (#54852277)
    In with MATE and out the systemd, Otherwise all my new boxes get Devuan!
    • Re:In & out (Score:4, Informative)

      by thegreatbob ( 693104 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @11:24AM (#54852691) Journal
      Second; this is basically what it would take to get me recommending Ubuntu in addition to Mint for average users. Remember, the techie crowd is largely the bunch that winds up fixing stuff for family/friends using it, so making it less hostile to the grey-beards would be nice.
    • absolutely

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Sub 5 second boot times though. Some of us like to turn stuff off when we are not using it.

      • I use OpenRC on Funtoo Linux. I get very fast boot times since moving to SSDs. I've never actually timed it, but definitely in the 5 second range from POST to login screen.

        But I also remove services if I don't need them, unlike the majority of Ubuntu users that have no idea how to do that.

      • Hibernate it then, you SJW weeabo.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          That was randomly hostile.

          It must mean something when you get personalised trolling on Slashdot though.

          • It means the mod system is messed up. There used to be a time where that sort of thing defaulted to level zero. Now these types of comments default at level 2.

            As POTUS would say, so sad.
    • by Misagon ( 1135 )

      I already use Ubuntu Mate, but the GTK+ 3.0 widgets that it uses are still written by GNOME developers and there is a lot of GNOME 3 stupidity still left in them.

      There have been lots of problems with GNOME/GTK+ 3 developers being too full of themselves and for instance broken the binary compatibility minor revision changes, but I expect GTK+ 3 to be relatively stable now that GTK+ 4 has started.

      Scrollbars and sliders behave in a special GNOME 3 way different from other major OS or toolkit.
      For instance, if y

  • Web browser - Chromium. Not Chrome; I've been using open-source Chromium, and it logs into Google and acts like Chrome just fine.

    Real GNOME, not that Mate/Cinnamon bullshit.

    Evolution is no longer the horrible horse shit it used to be. E-mail, calendar, and the lot go fine in Evo. Just make sure you get the latest versions of the plug-ins for things like Google Calendar and any Office 365 integration (Outlook365) available; Google Calendar broke for multiple releases in Ubuntu! Likewise, Evo kept br

    • Web Browser: Firefox or Chromium
    • Email Client: Thunderbird
    • File manager: Nautilus
    • Basic Text Editor: Gedit
    • IRC/Messaging Client: I haven't used one in years. Pidgin was the last one
    • PDF Reader: Evince
    • Office Suite: Libre Office
    • Calendar: Lightning
    • Video Player: VLC
  • Do less, but more reliably. Let spins like ubuntustudio or kubuntu add the packages. Have metapackages corresponding to them on the installer, with a simple choice (think of the chooser in Noobs), with some spins requiring a network connection. Have an install tab creator which lets you easily choose defaults.

    Then have a very minimal default desktop and an easy way to choose bundles. Put GNOME and LXDE on the standard I so, use GNOME as the default choice. Put Firefox and chromium on as browsers by default.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:52AM (#54852501)

    Gnome 3 is a joke made by self-appointed user experts who have no eye for how a user interface should wok. Gnome 3 is the same junk like Unity and Windows 8 where they tried to shove a tablet interface onto desktop users that like to use a real mouse and keyboard and do not have a touch screen.

    I say drop the horrible Gnome 3 and use Mate or Cinnamon instead.

    By the way, ever since Gnome 3 / Unity because the standard on many distros, I no longer felt the inclination to use Linux anymore. I felt that Ubuntu, Fedora, and others have abandoned their existing user base. And they do not care what their users think either.

    Microsoft realized they made a mistake with Windows 8.0/8.1 and came out with Windows 10.

    I wish the Gnome 3 developers would be enlightened too...

    • Microsoft realized they made a mistake with Windows 8.0/8.1 and came out with Windows 10.

      Give some points to the AC above.

      Yes Gnome 3 is non-intuitive, breaks with gui common memes and is hard to configure. I manage a number of workstations for visiting scientist/engineers that come from different non-linux (ie Windows and Mac) backgrounds. When I have Mate configured they sit down and start work immediately without even noticing what is the underlying OS/GUI. Switched to Gnome 3 and immediately started getting questions and WTFs complaints.

  • by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:55AM (#54852509) Homepage

    Basic Text Editor: ???

    I'm glad someone is finally asking this question. It's a debate that's long overdue in the *nix community and I can't wait to hear a decisive answer to a question that's bothered me for years.

    • >> Text Editor...a debate that's long overdue in the *nix community

      Winner: most subtle troll on the board today.
    • Pointless really. Microsoft established Notepad as the dominant standard in this niche and open source gurus are just fooling themselves with their babbling.
    • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

      Well if you want a text editor that is basic, ed, is probably the one. The only practical choice for a text editor - vi(m) - is pretty sophisticated.

      There's one other text editor whose name escapes me, but the only way they could make it usable was to write a Lisp extension that makes it behave like vi.

    • I understand this is meant to be funny, but I fall in the nano camp. vi/vim and emacs be damned.

  • by Cyrano de Maniac ( 60961 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @10:56AM (#54852521)

    Here's what I use regularly:

    Web Browser: Chrome, then Firefox when needed. lynx if it gets bad enough.
    Email Client: They all suck, but Thunderbird and alpine
    Terminal: xfce4-terminal, xterm when needed
    IDE: Don't need one. But please package cscope, xxdiff, and hexedit. diffuse would be helpful as well.
    File manager: I accidentally start this once in a while. Then I close it ASAP.
    Basic Text Editor: vim
    IRC/Messaging Client: pidgin, xchat, epicII, in that order
    PDF Reader: evince
    Office Suite: OpenOffice, because there's no other realistic choice outside of Google Docs or Office 365.
    Calendar: Lightning in Thunderbird, but it sucks. Would use Orage if it played nice with Exchange (sadly no choice in mail server at work), or if you could at least add calendar entries via an .ics file from the command line without restarting Orage.
    Video Player: Don't use.
    Music Player: Don't use.
    Photo Viewer: eog, because I don't know what else is out there. Not a great choice, admittedly.
    Screen recording: Don't use.

    • Web Browser: Chrome, then Firefox when needed. lynx if it gets bad enough.

      Pale Moon, then Firefox, then Chromium, then Lynx.

      Email Client: They all suck, but Thunderbird and alpine

      YES... alpine (combined with fetchmail) all the way, been using it forever. If I have to I will use webmail as a backup.

      File manager: I accidentally start this once in a while. Then I close it ASAP.

      LOL. Yes, exactly.

      Office Suite: OpenOffice, because there's no other realistic choice outside of Google Docs or Office 365.


      Video Player: Don't use.
      Music Player: Don't use.

      VLC for both

      Photo Viewer: eog, because I don't know what else is out there. Not a great choice, admittedly.

      geeqie is great. I still alias it to gqview, because that is what I used to use until it forked into geeqie and I can type gqview easier.

  • If you did, Gnome -> Unity -> Gnome fiasco would have never happened, not to mention ads in local search. This rules out truly non-technical users who expect stability, but Ubuntu is still pretty good for a little more experienced users who know how to install and configure another desktop. Please at least stick to one thing for some time now and don't move to KDE or XWayland in the next release. And don't even think of Yahoo as default search in anything - put users before politics.

  • Bug fixes first, new features second.

  • Too Late... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I started using Ubuntu when 10.04 came out. When they forced that Unity shit on us I had to instal gnome-flashback to get a "not shit" desktop back. I just recently installed Ubuntu Mate w/compiz which gives me the traditional desktop without the shitty new gnome or unity wad.

  • by swan5566 ( 1771176 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @11:59AM (#54852951)
    Use it a lot in that environment. Having smooth updates from previous versions, as well as network reliability.
  • Built-in ability to remote connect, similar to RDP.

    It's a pain to try and configure xrdp, vnc4server. So much frustration.
  • I dabble in development, but mostly work in project management and business analysis.

    The primary tool I see needing the most work in my daily use is a good note taking tool alternate to OneNote. I've used Baskets, but found it has stability issues and had not been updated is a while. Other tools are too rudimentary being text only or having a predefined structure like being a daily journal.

    Other favorite tools are LibreOffice, PDF editors, mind mapping View Your Mind, yEd, Inkscape and Dia, ProjectLi

  • Response (Score:4, Informative)

    by gsliepen ( 303583 ) on Friday July 21, 2017 @12:15PM (#54853079)

    Web Browser: firefox
    Email Client: mutt
    Terminal: xterm
    IDE: vim
    File manager: ls
    Basic Text Editor: vim
    IRC/Messaging Client: irssi
    PDF Reader: evince and okular, whichever annoys me less
    Office Suite: latex
    Calendar: orage
    Video Player: mpv
    Music Player: mpd
    Photo Viewer: geeqie
    Screen recording: n.a.

  • I have been using Linux as my main desktop for around 15 years, and Kubuntu as my main desktop from ~ 2006 until last February or so. I switched to Xubuntu because Kubuntu 16.04 started going down the 'dumb it down by removing configurability' track.

    So, I can't comment on Unity or Gnome since I never used them, and probably never will. XFCE does what I want, as did KDE before it.

    I also use Linux for all my clients (Ubuntu LTS Server).

    What bugs me is that Ubuntu decided to go down the systemd route blindly.

    • Web Browser: qutebrowser, chromium, elinks, firefox
    • Email Client: gmail
    • Terminal: rxvt (-unicode)
    • IDE: vim
    • File manager: (none)
    • Basic Text Editor: vi(m)
    • IRC/Messaging Client: irssi
    • PDF Reader: chromium
    • Office Suite: google docs
    • Calendar: google docs
    • Video Player: vlc, plex via browser
    • Music Player: mpd via ncmpcpp
    • Photo Viewer: web browser, feh
    • Screen recording: n/a
  • Can you please please please offer a good replacement for systemd. Of course it was all over that survey, but I guess it fell on deaf ears.

    I've been on Mint XFCE for several years now, and recently upgraded 18.1 to 18.2. Smooth and fast. I love Mint, but I see systemd being the death knell for it in my eyes if things keep going the way they are.

  • It drives me nuts that you install a distro it has libreoffice, and 2 other word processors 3 draw programs and the gimp, 4 fucking terminal emulators, FIREFOX (puke) and 100,000 little widgets I will never ever open

    • Got a stable setup so it's been a while since I installed anything, but IIRC the DeadRat clan allow you to choose. To use a car analogy, there's several "set meals" (desktop, desktop with A/V shit, CLI only server etc) plus the option to pick & mix as you please.

  • Web Browser: Firefox Dev Edition, Chrome, Firefox, Opera
    Email Client: Thunderbird
    Terminal: terminology
    IDE: Sublime Text, Komodo IDE (would love to see Coda for Linux, but alas)
    File manager: Nautilus
    Basic Text Editor: Vim
    IRC/Messaging Client: Pidgin
    PDF Reader: xpdf
    Office Suite: LibreOffice, Google Docs, Abiword, LyX
    Calendar: Thunderbird
    Video Player: VLC
    Music Player: XMMS2
    Photo Viewer: GraphicsMagick, GIMP
    Screen recording: N/A
    Games: Battle for Wesnoth, Xconq, Oolite, FreeOrion, FreeDroid, Lectro
  • Dear Ubuntu... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LVSlushdat ( 854194 )

    Dear Ubuntu, I've been with you since 7.04/Feisty Fawn, and once you released 8.04LTS, I've upgraded with each new LTS with pleasure, however... I'm still on 14.04LTS, and WILL NOT be upgrading to 16.04 or 18.04 because you decided, along with Debian and quite a few other distributions to drop your -perfectly working- upstart init scheme and go down the toilet bowl with systemd. I'll be on 14.04 until its EOL in 2019, at which time, I'm planning on going to Devuan or back to my "Linux roots" with Slackware.

  • by rgbe ( 310525 )
    I started with Debian back as my primary desktop in 1998, but have been using different flavours of Ubuntu since it arrived. Currently using Ubuntu GNOME have used Xubuntu extensively too. Keep up the good work. Although, I have tried Debian again and may go back if the Ubuntu experience does not get better (unlikely). Biggest gripe is the state of screen rendering on Linux. Wayland is so important to get going. Web Browser: Firefox for personal stuff, Chrome for work. Email Client: Gmail for work
  • KDE already looks like unity, if you want it to look like unity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • MATE, because gnome is dead (=devs wanted a different audience) , never really liked KDE and cannot return to CDE-likes. Web Browser: firefox, hanging my laptop frequently, still don't like Chrome's developer tools Email Client: thunderbird, search really sucks and it's too big IDE: intelliJ IRC/Messaging Client: slack, left irc before icq PDF Reader: dunno, comes with Mate, works fine. It's really not that interesting Adobe would like you to believe with all the bells & whistles, just make it view and
  • You know they should. Following Artful Aardvark we need an adjective and noun beginning with 'B' .

    Do you think a "Mc" prefix is completely out of the question?

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.