3 annoying bugs that need to die in Natty

Ubuntu has made huge progress since I began using it in 2005 and Maverick Meerkat is by far my favorite Linux flavour. I did not see many major changes from Lucid but there were a whole lot of bug fixes and it is very clear to me that the Hundred Papercuts Project (combined with an amazing upstream) is making things better for everyone. Maverick has brought a better SoftwareCenter, a better UbuntuOne and finally suspend / resume support with Nvidia cards!  For the upcoming version, Natty Narwhal, I expect to see things move a bit more than Maverick, and using Unity as the default change is one of these major changes, but I’d also really like to see Ubuntu getting better in a ‘Maverick way’ for Natty and releases to come.  Here I will expose 3 particular points I’d like to see progress in.  These are mainly bugs or incomplete features that have annoyed me for years and that I would really to see them go away once and for all. In my opinion these issues should not be in a first class citizen OS.  You can consider this to be my top 3 papercuts (which at this point would be more like severe machete cuts).

Lack of XrandR support for the Nvidia driver and Twinview

This first annoyance has very little chance to get fixed by the Ubuntu developers themselves. It’s Nvidia’s job to do his job right and I can only hope that Canonical has gained enough weight in order to be able to put some pressure in Nvidia’s driver development. Here’s the problem: With multiple monitors you get only one resolution in XrandR which is equal to the size of all your screens. If you want to change the resolution of one or both screens, you either have to do it manually from Nvidia’s control panel or you can write Modelines in you Xorg with every possible combination of screen resolution you’d want to use.
These Modelines are annoying to write and I’ve been copying and pasting the same modelines in my Xorg since Dapper Drake. ATI does it right, Nouveau does it right, now it’s Nvidia’s turn. The whole point is not to get XrandR support for the sake of it, the point is that applications should be able to set the resolution of screens individually and that it should be painless to  plug / unplug screens on the fly. If you don’t play video games, especially old ones, that run in a small resolutions you might not get why this bug is so annoying.

More stability to Nautilus

Let’s admit it: Nautilus crashes way to often, and when it does it crashes every single window you had opened. The crashes occur mostly while working in Samba shares or with CD-Roms. If the crashes can’t be fixed then Nautilus should behave like Google Chrome: if one window has to crash, it must be the only one to crash, don’t bring your friends down with you. The Samba browsing could get some love too, apart from the crashes. I see messages like “Unable to mount location” far too often. Ok, my file server may be a little slow to wake up, but it’s no reason to whine. Just be a little more tolerant, increase the timeout periods by a couple seconds and that should fix it.

Better disk naming

Disk naming is driving many people crazy and even me with 10 years of Linux experience, I sometimes get confused. We have the standard /dev/sda1 for disk devices, we have the grub convention (hd0), we have uuids, we have disk ids and all of this creates a big mess. I think the most confusing one is the grub naming convention. It’s confusing because you know that if you mess up things, your computer will not boot and I’m never sure which drive is (hd0,0).  Things like /media/45755213-1587ABDC215-EF14856 should not happen and it would not happen if Ubuntu’s drive were given a label when installing and if it was easy
to relabel a drive from Places > Computer. What happens if I try to do so ?  I get this error message :

The item could not be renamed.
Sorry, could not rename "74 GB Hard Disk: vbox" to "74 GB Hard Disk: vbox2":
Operation not supported by backend

This is crazy, which backend are you talking about? If it doesn’t work with *this* backend why don’t you use another one? Why do you let me ‘rename’ the “74GB Hard Disk” part?

Fixing the disk naming issue implies :
- giving the system drive a label during the install (ie. ‘ubuntu-disk’)
- having a GUI for fstab and grub.
- fixing the drive renaming in nautilus.

I admit that these issues won’t affect most users, well maybe the Nautilus stability will, everyone uses it and at some point it will crash. Most people don’t need to change resolutions on their dual screen setup and most people have one hard drive so the naming issue is not really one. But for each of these problems there is an underlying faulty design, something that needs to be fixed before things get worse and start affecting more people. The goal is not  to have a system that is good enough for the average user. There is no average user, each individual has special needs and each will uncover special cases that need to be treated with much attention.

 

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