Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'desktop'

Michael Hall

I’ve had a Nexus 4 since 2013, and I’ve been using it to test out desktop convergence (where you run a desktop environment from the phone) ever since that feature landed just over a year ago. Usually that meant plugging it into my TV via HDMI to make sure it automatically switched to the larger screen, and playing a bit with the traditional windowed-mode of Unity 8, or checking on adaptive layouts in some of the apps. I’ve also run it for hours on end as a demo at conferences such as SCaLE, FOSSETCON, OSCON and SELF. But through all that, I’ve never used it as an actual replacement for my laptop. Until now.

Thanks Frontier

A bit of back-story first. I had been a Verizon FiOS customer for years, and recently they sold all of their FiOS business to Frontier. The transition has been…..less than ideal. A couple of weeks ago I lost all services (phone, TV and internet) and was eventually told that nobody would be out to fix it until the following day. I still had my laptop, but without internet access I couldn’t really do my job on it. And while Ubuntu on phones can offer up a Hotspot, that particular feature doesn’t work on the Nexus 4 (something something, driver, something). Which meant that the only device that I had which could get online was my phone.

No Minecraft for you

13528720_10154238389913419_2608531900571217522_nFortunately, the fact that I’ve been demoing convergence at conferences meant I had all of the equipment I needed to turn my phone into a desktop and keep right on working. I have a bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and a Slimport adapter that let’s me plug it into a bigger screen. But while a TV works for testing, it’s not really great for long-term work. Don’t get me wrong, working from the couch is nice, but the screen is just too far away for reading and writing. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for my children, their computer is at a desk and is plugged into a monitor with HDMI ports. So I took it over for the day. They didn’t have internet either that day, so they didn’t miss out on much right?

A day of observations

Throughout the day I posted a series of comments on Google+ about my experience. You could go through my post history looking for them, but I’m not going to make you do that. So here’s a quick summary of what I learned:

  • 3G is not nearly fast enough for my daily work. It’s good when using my phone as a phone, doing one thing at a time. But it falls short of broadband when I’ve got a lot of things using it. Still, on that day it was better than my fiber optic service, so there’s that.
  • I had more apps installed on my phone than I thought I did. I was actually taken aback when I opened the Dash in desktop mode and I saw so many icons. It’s far more than I had on Android, though not quite as many as on my laptop.
  • Having a fully-functional Terminal is a lifesaver. I do a lot of my work from the terminal, including IRC, and having one with tabs and keyboard shortcuts for them is a must for me to work.
  • I missed having physical buttons on my keyboard for home/end and page up/down. Thankfully a couple of people came to my rescue in the comments and taught me other combinations to get those.
  • Unity 8 is Unity. Almost all of the keyboard shortcuts that have become second nature to me (an there are a lot of them) were there. There was no learning curve, I didn’t have to change how I did anything or teach myself something new.
  • The phone is still a phone. I got a call (from Frontier, reminding me about an appointment that never happened) while using the device as a desktop. It was a bit disorienting at first, I had forgotten that I was running the desktop the Nexus 4, so when a notification of an incoming call popped up on the screen I didn’t know what was happening. That only lasted a second though, and after clicking answer and picking up the device, I just used it as a phone. Pretty cool


Must go faster

While I was able to do pretty much all of my work that day thanks to my phone, it wasn’t always easy or fun, and I’m not ready to give up my laptop just yet. The Nexus 4 is simply not powerful enough for the kind of workload I was putting on it. But then again, it’s a nearly 4 year old phone, and wasn’t considered a powerhouse even when it was released. The newest Ubuntu phone on the market, the Meizu Pro 5, packs a whole lot more power, and I think it would be able to give a really nice desktop experience.

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Michael Hall

As most you you know by now, Ubuntu 16.04 will be dropping the old Ubuntu Software Center in favor of the newer Gnome Software as the graphical front-end to both the Ubuntu archives and 3rd party application store.

Gnome Software

Gnome Software provides a lot of the same enhancements over simple package managers that USC did, and it does this using a new metadata format standard called AppStream. While much of the needed AppStream data can be extracted from the existing packages in the archives, sometimes that’s not sufficient, and that’s when we need people to help fill the gaps.

It turns out that the bulk of the missing or incorrect data is caused by the application icons being used by app packages. While most apps already have an icon, it was never strictly enforced before, and the size and format allowed by the desktop specs was more lenient than what’s needed now.  These lower resolution icons might have been fine for a menu item, but they don’t work very well for a nice, beautiful App Store interface like Gnome Software. And that’s where you can help!

Don’t worry, contributing icons isn’t hard, and it doesn’t require any knowledge of programming or packing to do. Best of all, you’ll not only be helping Ubuntu, but you’ll also be contributing to any other distro that uses the AppStream standard too! In the steps below I will walk you through the process of finding an app in need, getting the correct icon for it, and contributing it to the upstream project and Ubuntu.

1) Pick an App

Because the AppStream data is being automatically extracted from the contents of existing packages, we are able to tell which apps are in need of new icons, and we’ve generated a list of them, sorted by popularity (based on PopCon stats) so you can prioritize your contributions to where they will help the most users. To start working on one, first click the “Create” link to file a new bug report against the package in Ubuntu. Then replace that link in the wiki with a link to your new bug, and put your name in the “Claimed” column so that others know you’ve already started work on it.

Apps with Icon ErrorsNote that a package can contain multiple .desktop files, each of which has it’s own icon, and your bug report will be specific to just that one metadata file. You will also need to be a member of the ~ubuntu-etherpad team (or sub-team like ~ubuntumembers) in order to edit the wiki, you will be asked to verify that membership as part of the login process with Ubuntu SSO.

2) Verify that an AppStream icon is needed

While the extraction process is capable of identifying what packages have a missing or unsupported image in them, it’s not always smart enough to know which packages should have this AppStream data in the first place. So before you get started working on icons, it’s best to first make sure that the metadata file you picked should be part of the AppStream index in the first place.

Because AppStream was designed to be application-centric, the metadata extraction process only looks at those with Type=Application in their .desktop file. It will also ignore any .desktop files with NoDisplay=True in them. If you find a file in the list that shouldn’t be indexed by AppStream, chances are one or both of these values are set incorrectly. In that case you should change your bug description to state that, rather than attaching an icon to it.

3) Contact Upstream

Since there is nothing Ubuntu-specific about AppStream data or icons, you really should be sending your contribution upstream to the originating project. Not only is this best for Ubuntu (carrying patches wastes resources), but it’s just the right thing to do in the open source community. So the after you’ve chosen an app to work on and verfied that it does in fact need a new icon for AppStream, the very next thing you should do is start talking to the upstream project developers.

Start by letting them know that you want to contribute to their project so that it integrates better with AppStream enabled stores (you can reference these Guidelines if they’re not familiar with it), and opening a similar bug report in their bug tracker if they don’t have one already. Finally, be sure to include a link to that upstream bug report in the Ubuntu bug you opened previously so that the Ubuntu developers know the work is also going into upstream to (your contribute might be rejected otherwise).

4) Find or Create an Icon

Chances are the upstream developers already have an icon that meets the AppStream requirements, so ask them about it before trying to find one on your own. If not, look for existing artwork assets that can be used as a logo, and remember that it needs to be at least 64×64 pixels (this is where SVGs are ideal, as they can be exported to any size). Whatever you use, make sure that it matches the application’s current branding, we’re not out to create a new logo for them after all. If you do create a new image file, you will need to make it available under the CC-BY-SA license.

While AppStream only requires a 64×64 pixel image, many desktops (including Unity) will benefit from having even higher resolution icons, and it’s always easier to scale them down than up. So if you have the option, try to provide a 256×256 icon image (or again, just an SVG).

5) Submit your icon

Now that you’ve found (or created) an appropriate icon, it’s time to get it into both the upstream project and Ubuntu. Because each upstream will be different in how they want you to do that, you will need to ask them for guidance (and possibly assistance) in order to do that. Just make sure that you update the upstream bug report with your work, so that the Ubuntu developers can see that it’s been done.

Ubuntu 16.04 has already synced with Debian, so it’s too late for these changes in the upstream project to make their way into this release. In order to get them into 16.04, the Ubuntu packages will have to carry a patch until the changes that land in upstream have the time to make their way into the Ubuntu archives. That’s why it’s so important to get your contribution accepted into the upstream project first, the Ubuntu developers want to know that the patches to their packages will eventually be replaced by the same change from upstream.

attach_file_to_bugTo submit your image to Ubuntu, all you need to do is attach the image file to the bug report you created way back in step #1.

launchpad-subscribeThen, subscribe the “ubuntu-sponsors” team to the bug, these are the Ubuntu developers who will review and apply your icon to the target package, and get it into the Ubuntu archives.

6) Talk about it!

Congratulations, you’ve just made a contribution that is likely to affect millions of people and benefit the entire open source community! That’s something to celebrate, so take to Twitter, Google+, Facebook or your own blog and talk about it. Not only is it good to see people doing these kinds of contributions, it’s also highly motivating to others who might not otherwise get involved. So share your experience, help others who want to do the same, and if you enjoyed it feel free to grab another app from the list and do it again.

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Jouni Helminen

Visual design of convergent apps

It is an exciting time as we’re starting to see more and more of the new, convergence-enabled UI toolkit and features for Unity 8 come to life. Some classic X11 apps (Gimp, Libre Office and a few others) are already running on Unity 8 using new hardware from our partners, including the award winning M10 tablet from BQ – very cool.

At the same time, we want to help people write or port more applications to our platform, using our modern UI toolkit designed to smoothly flow the user experience through touch and pointer inputs, a range of screen and keyboard types and all of the permutations in between! It has been an interesting design challenge to imagine, design, and begin to build a world where all interfaces, regardless of input type or form factor, all emerge from the same core user experience and design language.

Where we are now

Our UX and SDK teams have been working on version 1.3 of Qt based UI toolkit, which allows developers to write applications that can be used comfortably with both touch and pointer interfaces. The work is still very much in progress, but some of it can be used today. You can check out the developer docs here.

Suru, our visual design language, has evolved into a new, much lighter, flatter and modern approach. It not only looks great (in our humble opinion), but helps app developers design good looking and well-functioning apps with less effort. Continuous visual and user experience refinements will will be rolling out across the whole OS (scopes, shell and apps) this coming year.

The new design guidelines for UX and UI patterns as well as Suru will be out soon. In the meanwhile hopefully these example apps will inspire you to have a look at the developer docs, get active on IRC and have a go yourself. We will also be releasing design source files and templates for the refreshed UI toolkit so that you can start applying them in your own app designs.

Dekko – Email


The first example app is Dekko – the default email client  for mobile and tablet devices from BQ and Meizu. We have been very lucky to have the incredible talents of our community member Dan Chapman working on the development of Dekko, and the app is progressing at a fantastic rate. James Mulholland helped Dan with the UX and I have been working on the UI.

Like many apps, Dekko uses a list view to represent the primary level, and a detail view to show the secondary level. Where there’s room, these views can be displayed side by side, but on small screen screens or very shrunk windows, a PageStack showing only the list becomes the primary screen. On larger screens or expanded windows, the page stack automatically progresses into the familiar two-panel configuration. This adaptive layout is common on responsive websites, and our SDK team have built a component in the UI toolkit that does most of the hard work for you – AdaptivePageLayout.


The list item, which lives in the list component, is another example of ready made component that helps developers write convergent apps with less effort. The new ListItem in our toolkit has useful, well designed default layouts baked in when using ListItemLayout. It is also optimised for both touch and pointer interaction – via ListItemActions. A common pattern of interacting with list items on touch devices is to drag them left or right revealing key actions such as delete. When using a pointer, however, you would typically right click and use the contextual menu to access the same actions. Our UI Toolkit supports both types of input at all times, so you could drag the item left or right using a mobile or touch-enabled monitor, or right click using a mouse. We believe users should be free to mix how they interact with our components using whatever means is at their disposal and to their liking.

This behaviour is already baked into our ListItem component, so users will have a consistent experience when using apps, and developers will save time not having to roll their own solutions.


The music app is another example of the super talented Ubuntu community getting involved in building some of our core apps together with our internal teams. You might remember Andrew Hayzen and Victor Thompson from a previous interview on this blog. They have since been adding features and functionality to the app, and a convergent music app using multiple panels is currently working in a branch and will be landing in the master release soon. We are also looking at adding support for streaming music functionality, keep an eye out for this in the near future :)


The multi-panel music app reacts to window size changes intelligently – the album cards resize and shuffle themselves on window size changes. On smaller screen devices we have a persistent “Now playing” control bar at the bottom of the screen, but on larger screen sizes we have enough real estate to reimagine the play bar as an extra panel on the right with “Now playing” information, along with cover art, controls and a scrollable queue.



The calendar app has been on the phone for a while but until now it hadn’t really had any UI design love or designs for larger screens.  We wanted to apply our visual language in the context of an app that is by default very minimal, allowing the few design elements to stand on their own.

Suru, our visual language, is light and flat, minimizing distractions, with carefully selected tones of gray, consistent spacing and margins to help the content breathe. We’ve added considered splashes of highlight colours that enhance the visual hierarchy without overwhelming it.

On the calendar app we are again making use of multiple panels, surfacing several layers when we have the real estate available. The same feature set of the app is of course available on all sizes, and the navigation feels intuitive with whatever input method or screen size you are using.


This design hasn’t been implemented yet, and in fact we are looking for new developers to join our Community Team. If you are a developer who would like to get involved in writing some of the core apps people use on Ubuntu – get in touch with – we would love to hear from you!

Hopefully these examples have given inspiration and pointers to anyone who would like to have a go at designing apps for convergent Ubuntu. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out –


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Michael Hall

With the release of the Wily Werewolf (Ubuntu 15.10) we have entered into the Xenial Xerus (to be Ubuntu 16.04) development cycle. This will be another big milestone for Ubuntu, not just because it will be another LTS, but it will be the last LTS before we acheive convergence. What we do here will not only be supported for the next 5 years, it will set the stage for everything to come over that time as we bring the desktop, phone and internet-of-things together into a single comprehensive, cohesive platform.

To help get us there, we have a track dedicated to Convergence at this week’s Ubuntu Online Summit where we will be discussing plans for desktops, phones, IoT and how they are going to come together.


We’ll start the the convergence track at 1600 with the Ubuntu Desktop team talking about the QA (Quality Assurance) plans for the next LTS desktop, which will provide another 5 years of support for Ubuntu users. We’ll end the day with the Kubuntu team who are planning for their 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) release at 1900 UTC.


The second day kicks off at 1400 UTC with plans for what version of the Qt toolkit will ship in 16.04, something that now affects both the KDE and Unity 8 flavors of Ubuntu. That will be followed by development planning for the next Unity 7 desktop version of Ubuntu at 1500, and a talk on how legacy apps (.deb and X11 based) might be supported in the new Snappy versions of Ubuntu. We will end the day with a presentation by the Unity 8 developers at 1800 about how you can get started working on and contributing to the next generation desktop interface for Ubuntu.


The third and last day of the Online Summit will begin with a live Questions and Answers session at 1400 UTC about the Convergence plans in general with the project and engineering managers who are driving it forward. At 1500 we’ll take a look at how those plans are being realized in some of the apps already being developed for use on Ubuntu phones and desktop. Then at 1600 UTC members of the design team will be talking to independent app developers about how to design their app with convergence in mind. We will then end the convergence track with a summary from KDE developers on the state and direction of their converged UI, Plama Mobile.


Outside of the Convergence track, you’ll want to watch Mark Shuttleworth’s opening keynote at 1400 UTC on Tuesday, and Canonical CEO Jane Silber’s live Q&A session at 1700 UTC on Wednesday.

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Jane Silber

Today marks 10 years of Ubuntu and the release of the 21st version. That is an incredible milestone and one which is worthy of reflection and celebration. I am fortunate enough to be spending the day at our devices sprint with 200+ of the folks that have helped make this possible. There are of course hundreds of others in Canonical and thousands in the community who have helped as well. The atmosphere here includes a lot of reminiscing about the early days and re-telling of the funny stories, and there is a palpable excitement in the air about the future. That same excitement was present at a Canonical Cloud Summit in Brussels last week.

The team here is closing in on shipping our first phone, marking a new era in Ubuntu’s history. There has been excellent work recently to close bugs and improve quality, and our partner BQ is as pleased with the results as we are. We are on the home stretch to this milestone, and are still on track to have Ubuntu phones in the market this year. Further, there is an impressive array of further announcements and phones lined up for 2015.

But of course that’s not all we do – the Ubuntu team and community continue to put out rock solid, high quality Ubuntu desktop releases like clockwork – the 21st of which will be released today. And with the same precision, our PC OEM team continues to make that great work available on a pre-installed basis on millions of PCs across hundreds of machine configurations. That’s an unparalleled achievement, and we really have changed the landscape of Linux and open source over the last decade. The impact of Ubuntu can be seen in countless ways – from the individuals, schools, and enterprises who now use Ubuntu; to proliferation of Codes of Conduct in open source communities; to the acceptance of faster (and near continuous) release cycles for operating systems; to the unique company/community collaboration that makes Ubuntu possible; to the vast number of developers who have now grown up with Ubuntu and in an open source world; to the many, many, many technical innovations to come out of Ubuntu, from single-CD installation in years past to the more recent work on image-based updates.

Ubuntu Server also sprang from our early desktop roots, and has now grown into the leading solution for scale out computing. Ubuntu and our suite of cloud products and services is the premier choice for any customer or partner looking to operate at scale, and it is indeed a “scale-out” world. From easy to consume Ubuntu images on public clouds; to managed cloud infrastructure via BootStack; to standard on-premise, self-managed clouds via Ubuntu OpenStack; to instant solutions delivered on any substrate via Juju, we are the leaders in a highly competitive, dynamic space. The agility, reliability and superior execution that have brought us to today’s milestone remains a critical competency for our cloud team. And as we release Ubuntu 14.10 today, which includes the latest OpenStack, new versions of our tooling such as MaaS and Juju, and initial versions of scale-out solutions for big data and Cloud Foundry, we build on a ten year history of “firsts”.

All Ubuntu releases seem to have their own personality, and Utopic is a fitting way to commemorate the realisation of a decade of vision, hard work and collaboration. We are poised on the edge of a very different decade in Canonical’s history, one in which we’ll carry forward the applicable successes and patterns, but will also forge a new path in the twin worlds of converged devices and scale-out computing. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the journey thus far. Now, on to Vivid and the next ten years!

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Robbie Williamson

The following is an update on Ubuntu’s response to the latest Internet emergency security issue, POODLE (CVE-2014-3566), in combination with an
SSLv3 downgrade vulnerability.

Vulnerability Summary

“SSL 3.0 is an obsolete and insecure protocol. While for most practical purposes it has been replaced by its successors TLS 1.0, TLS 1.1, and TLS 1.2, many TLS implementations remain backwards­ compatible with SSL 3.0 to interoperate with legacy systems in the interest of a smooth user experience. The protocol handshake provides for authenticated version negotiation, so normally the latest protocol version common to the client and the server will be used.” –

A vulnerability was discovered that affects the protocol negotiation between browsers and HTTP servers, where a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacker is able trigger a protocol downgrade (ie, force downgrade to SSLv3, CVE to be assigned).  Additionally, a new attack was discovered against the CBC block cipher used in SSLv3 (POODLE, CVE-2014-3566).  Because of this new weakness in the CBC block cipher and the known weaknesses in the RC4 stream cipher (both used with SSLv3), attackers who successfully downgrade the victim’s connection to SSLv3 can now exploit the weaknesses of these ciphers to ascertain the plaintext of portions of the connection through brute force attacks.  For example, an attacker who is able to manipulate the encrypted connection is able to steal HTTP cookies.  Note, the protocol downgrade vulnerability exists in web browsers and is not implemented in the ssl libraries.  Therefore, the downgrade attack is currently known to exist only for HTTP.

OpenSSL will be updated to guard against illegal protocol negotiation downgrades (TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV).  When the server and client are updated to use TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV, the protocol cannot be downgraded to below the highest protocol that is supported between the two (so if the client and the server both support TLS 1.2, SSLv3 cannot be used even if the server offers SSLv3).

The recommended course of action is ultimately for sites to disable SSLv3 on their servers, and for browsers to disable SSLv3 by default since the SSLv3 protocol is known to be broken.  However, it will take time for sites to disable SSLv3, and some sites will choose not to, in order to support legacy browsers (eg, IE6).  As a result, immediately disabling SSLv3 in Ubuntu in the openssl libraries, in servers or in browsers, will break sites that still rely on SSLv3.

Ubuntu’s Response:

Unfortunately, this issue cannot be addressed in a single USN because this is a vulnerability in a protocol, and the Internet must respond accordingly (ie SSLv3 must be disabled everywhere).  Ubuntu’s response provides a path forward to transition users towards safe defaults:

  • Add TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV to openssl in a USN:  In progress, upstream openssl is bundling this patch with other fixes that we will incorporate
  • Follow Google’s lead regarding chromium and chromium content api (as used in oxide):
    • Add TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV support to chromium and oxide:  Done – Added by Google months ago.
    • Disable fallback to SSLv3 in next major version:  In Progress
    • Disable SSLv3 in future version:  In Progress
  • Follow Mozilla’s lead regarding Mozilla products:
    • Disable SSLv3 by default in Firefox 34:  In Progress – due Nov 25
    • Add TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV support in Firefox 35:  In Progress

Ubuntu currently will not:

  • Disable SSLv3 in the OpenSSL libraries at this time, so as not to break compatibility where it is needed
  • Disable SSLv3 in Apache, nginx, etc, so as not to break compatibility where it is needed
  • Preempt Google’s and Mozilla’s plans.  The timing of their response is critical to giving sites an opportunity to migrate away from SSLv3 to minimize regressions

For more information on Ubuntu security notices that affect the current supported releases of Ubuntu, or to report a security vulnerability in an Ubuntu package, please visit


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Michael Hall

Will CookeThis is a guest post from Will Cooke, the new Desktop Team manager at Canonical. It’s being posted here while we work to get a blog setup on, which is where you can find out more about Unity 8 and how to get involved with it.


Understandably, most of the Ubuntu news recently has focused around phones. There is a lot of excitement and anticipation building around the imminent release of the first devices.  However, the Ubuntu Desktop has not been dormant during this time.  A lot of thought and planning has been given to what the desktop will become in the future; who will use it and what will they use it for.  All the work which is going in to the phone will be directly applicable to the desktop as well, since they will use the same code.  All the apps, the UI tweaks, everything which makes applications secure and stable will all directly apply to the desktop as well.  The plan is to have the single converged operating system ready for use on the desktop by 16.04.

The plan

We learned some lessons during the early development of Unity 7. Here’s what happened:

  • 11.04: New Unity as default
  • 11.10: New Unity version
  • 12.04: Unity in First LTS

What we’ve decided to do this time is to keep the same, stable Unity 7 desktop as the default while we offer users who want to opt-in to Unity8 an option to use that desktop. As development continues the Unity 8 desktop will get better and better.  It will benefit from a lot of the advances which have come about through the development of the phone OS and will benefit from continual improvements as the releases happen.

  • 14.04 LTS: Unity 7 default / Unity 8 option for the first time
  • 14.10: Unity 7 default / Unity 8 new rev as an option
  • 15.04: Unity 7 default / Unity 8 new rev as an option
  • 15.10: Potentially Unity 8 default / Unity 7 as an option
  • 16.04 LTS: Unity 8 default / Unity 7 as an option

As you can see, this gives us a full 2 cycles (in addition to the one we’ve already done) to really nail Unity 8 with the level of quality that people expect. So what do we have?

How will we deliver Unity 8 with better quality than 7?

Continuous Integration is the best way for us to achieve and maintain the highest quality possible.  We have put a lot of effort in to automating as much of the testing as we can, the best testing is that which is performed easily.  Before every commit the changes get reviewed and approved – this is the first line of defense against bugs.  Every merge request triggers a run of the tests, the second line of defense against bugs and regressions – if a change broke something we find out about it before it gets in to the build.

The CI process builds everything in a “silo”, a self contained & controlled environment where we find out if everything works together before finally landing in the image.

And finally, we have a large number of tests which run against those images. This really is a “belt and braces” approach to software quality and it all happens automatically.  You can see, we are taking the quality of our software very seriously.

What about Unity 7?

Unity 7 and Compiz have a team dedicated to maintenance and bug fixes and so the quality of it continues to improve with every release.  For example; windows switching workspaces when a monitor gets unplugged is fixed, if you have a mouse with 6 buttons it works, support for the new version of Metacity (incase you want to use the Gnome2 desktop) – added (and incidentally, a lot of that work was done by a community contributor – thanks Alberts!)

Unity 7 is the desktop environment for a lot of software developers, devops gurus, cloud platform managers and millions of users who rely on it to help them with their everyday computing.  We don’t want to stop you being able to get work done.  This is why we continue to maintain Unity 7 while we develop Unity 8.  If you want to take Unity 8 for a spin and see how its coming along then you can; if you want to get your work done, we’re making that experience better for you every day.  Best of all, both of these options are available to you with no detriment to the other.

Things that we’re getting in the new Ubuntu Desktop

  1. Applications decoupled from the OS updates.  Traditionally a given release of Ubuntu has shipped with the versions of the applications available at the time of release.  Important updates and security fixes are back-ported to older releases where required, but generally you had to wait for the next release to get the latest and greatest set of applications.  The new desktop packaging system means that application developers can push updates out when they are ready and the user can benefit right away.
  2. Application isolation.  Traditionally applications can access anything the user can access; photos, documents, hardware devices, etc.  On other platforms this has led to data being stolen or rendered otherwise unusable.  Isolation means that without explicit permission any Click packaged application is prevented from accessing data you don’t want it to access.
  3. A full SDK for writing Ubuntu apps.  The SDK which many people are already using to write apps for the phone will allow you to write apps for the desktop as well.  In fact, your apps will be write once run anywhere – you don’t need to write a “desktop” app or a “phone” app, just an Ubuntu app.

What we have now

The easiest way to try out the Unity 8 Desktop Preview is to use the daily Ubuntu Desktop Next live image:   This will allow you to boot into a Unity 8 session without touching your current installation.  An easy 10 step way to write this image to a USB stick is:

  1. Download the ISO
  2. Insert your USB stick in the knowledge that it’s going to get wiped
  3. Open the “Disks” application
  4. Choose your USB stick and click on the cog icon on the righthand side
  5. Choose “Restore Disk Image”
  6. Browse to and select the ISO you downloaded in #1
  7. Click “Start restoring”
  8. Wait
  9. Boot and select “Try Ubuntu….”
  10. Done *

* Please note – there is currently a bug affecting the Unity 8 greeter which means you are not automatically logged in when you boot the live image.  To log in you need to:

  1. Switch to vt1 (ctrl-alt-f1)
  2. type “passwd” and press enter
  3. press enter again to set the current password to blank
  4. enter a new password twice
  5. Check that the password has been successfully changed
  6. Switch back to vt7 (ctrl-alt-f7)
  7. Enter the new password to login


Here are some screenshots showing what Unity 8 currently looks like on the desktop:


The team

The people working on the new desktop are made up of a few different disciplines.  We have a team dedicated to Unity 7 maintenance and bug fixes who are also responsible for Unity 8 on the desktop and feed in a lot of support to the main Unity 8 & Mir teams. We have the Ubuntu Desktop team who are responsible for many aspects of the underlying technologies used such as GNOME libraries, settings, printing etc as well as the key desktop applications such as Libreoffice and Chromium.  The Ubuntu desktop team has some of the longest serving members of the Ubuntu family, with some people having been here for the best part of ten years.

How you can help

We need to log all the bugs which need to be fixed in order to make Unity 8 the best desktop there is.  Firstly, we need people to test the images and log bugs.  If developers want to help fix those bugs, so much the better.  Right now we are focusing on identifying where the work done for the phone doesn’t work as expected on the desktop.  Once those bugs are logged and fixed we can rely on the CI system described above to make sure that they stay fixed.

Link to daily ISOs:


IRC:  #ubuntu-desktop on Freenode

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Iain Farrell

Verónica Sousa's Cul de sac

Verónica Sousa’s Cul de sac

Ubuntu was once described to me by a wise(ish ;) ) man as a train that was leaving whether you’re on it or not. That’s the beauty of a 6 month release cycle. As many of you will already know, each release we include photos and illustrations produced by community members. We ask that you submit your images using free photo sharing site Flickr and that you limit your images this time to 2. The group won’t let you submit more than that but if you change your mind after you’ve submitted, fear not, simply remove one and it’ll let you add another.

As with previous submissions processes we’ve run, and in conjunction with the designers at Canonical we’ve come up with the following tips for creating wallpaper images.

  1. Images shouldn’t be too busy and filled with too many shapes and colours, a similar tone throughout is a good rule of thumb.
  2. A single point of focus, a single area that draws the eye into the image, can also help you avoid something too cluttered.
  3. The left and top edges are home to Ubuntu’s Launcher and Panel so be careful to consider how your images look in place so as not to clash with the user interface. Try them out on your own desktop, see how they feel.
  4. Try your image at different aspect ratios to make sure something important isn’t cropped out on smaller/ larger screens at different resolutions.
  5. Take a look at the wallpapers guidance on the Ubuntu Wiki regarding the size of images. Our target resolution is 2560 x 1600.
  6. Break all the rules except the resolution one! :D

To shortlist from this collection we’ll be going to the contributors whose images were selected last time around to act as our selection judges. In doing this we’ll hold a series of public IRC meetings on Freenode in #1410wallpaper to discuss the selection. In those sessions we’ll get the selection team to try out the images on their own Ubuntu machines to see what they look like on a range of displays and resolutions.

Anyone is welcome to come to these sessions but please keep in mind that an outcome is needed from the time that people are volunteering and there’s usually a lot of images to get through so we’d appreciate it if there isn’t too much additional debate.

Based on the Utopic release schedule, I think our schedule for this cycle should look like this:

  • 08/08/14 – Kick off 14.10 wallpaper submission process.
  • 22/08/14 – First get together on #1410wallpaper at 19:30 GMT.
  • 29/08/14 – Submissions deadline at 18:00 GMT – Flickr group will be locked and the selection process will begin.
  • 09/09/14 – Deliver final selection in zip format to the appropriate bug on Launchpad.
  • 11/09/14 – UI freeze for latest version of Ubuntu with our fantastic images in it!

As always, ping me if you have any questions, I’ll be lurking in #1410wallpaper on freenode or leave a question in the Flickr group for wider discussion, that’s probably the fastest way to get an answer to a question.

I’ll be posting updates on our schedule here from time to time but the Flickr group will serve as our hub.

Happy snapping and scribbling and on behalf of the community, thanks for contributing to Ubuntu! :)

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Michael Hall

Convergent File ManagerConvergence is going to be a major theme for Ubuntu 14.04, not just at the OS and Unity 8 levels, but also for the apps that run on it. The Core Apps, those apps that were developed by the community and included by default in the last release, are no exception to this. We want to make sure they all converge neatly and usefully on both a tablet and on the desktop. So once again we are asking for community design input, this time to take the existing application interfaces and extend them to new form factors.

How to submit your designs

We have detailed the kind of features we want to see for each of the Core Apps on a Convergence wiki page. If you have a convergence design idea you would like to submit, send it as a file attachment or link to it online in an email to along with any additional notes, descriptions, or user stories.  The design team will be reviewing the submitted designs live on their bi-weekly Design Clinics (Dec 4th and Dec 18th) at 1400 UTC.  But before you submit your ideas, keep reading to see what they should include.

Extend what’s there

We don’t want to add too many features this cycle, there’s going to be enough work to do just building the convergence into the app.  Use the existing features and designs as your starting point, and re-imagine those same features and designs on a tablet or desktop.  Design new features or modify existing ones when it makes the experience better on a different form factor, but remember that we want the user to experience it as the same application across the board, so try and keep the differences to a minimum.

Form follows function

There’s more to a good design than just a good looking UI, especially when designing convergence.  Make sure that you take the user’s activity into account, plan out how they will access the different features of the app, make sure it’s both intuitive and simple.  The more detail you put into this the more likely you are to discover possible problems with your designs, or come up with better solutions that you had originally intended.

Think outside the screen

There is more to convergence that just a different screen size, and your designs should take that into consideration.  While it’s important to make good use of the added space in the UI, think about how the user is going to interact with it.  You hold a tablet differently than you do a phone, so make sure your designs work well there.

On the desktop you have even more to think about, when the user has a keyboard and mouse, but likely not a touch screen, you want to make sure the interface isn’t cumbersome.  Think about how scrolling will be different too, while it’s easy to swipe both vertically and horizontally on a phone or tablet, you usually only have a vertical scroll wheel on a desktop mouse.  But, you also have more precise control over a mouse pointer than you do with a finger-tip, so your interface should take advantage of that too.

Resources available to you

Now that you know what’s needed, here are some resources to help you.  Once again we have our community Balsamiq account available to anybody who wants to use it to create mockups (email me if you need an account).  I have created a new project for Core Apps Convergence that you can use to add your designs.  You can then submit links to your designs to the Design Team’s email above.  The Design Team has also provided a detailed Design Guide for Ubuntu SDK apps, including a section on Responsive Layouts that give some suggested patterns for different form factors.  You can also choose to use any tools you are comfortable with, as long as they Design Team and community developers can view it.

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Maria Bonnefon

In the early days of Ubuntu, it was always a challenge to promote an OS that was so new and little known to the market; we were often asked ‘Ubun what…?”! Over the years, Canonical has grown rapidly, has innovated even faster and the community has spread the word all across the globe. Today, with over 25 million users, Ubuntu is now a safe and perfect choice for customer, offering a stylish and intuitive interface that is fast, secure.

The growth of Ubuntu has also been driven through our strong partnership with major  hardware OEM brands such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus and Acer. Not only is Ubuntu generally available pre-loaded from these leading OEMs, but in many regions we’ve entered into full retail partnership with dedicated stores.

Today, Dell and HP sell Ubuntu pre-installed at stores across India and China. Consumers can visit a designated store in major cities across these regions and find information, videos and experienced Ubuntu-savvy sales staff to thoughtfully guide customers through the buying experience. Dell offers computers for sale pre-loaded with Ubuntu in over a 1,000 stores across China, and HP is in the process of rapidly introducing 1,500 stores into the same region.

In Mexico, HP has been running in-store initiatives with Bodega Aurrera stores – a subsidiary of Wal Mart – where consumers could buy HP laptops with Ubuntu pre-loaded off the shelf. The computers are available in several hundred of the stores, and the initial units sold out at three times faster than anticipated. Proof that where Ubuntu device are available in stores, then customers will see  strong value and purchase.

Mexico Store


In USA-centric campaign with Asus, we ran a web-based sales campaign on Asus netbooks pre-installed with Ubuntu were promoted on our website, guiding customers to the Amazon site. Asus PC’s pre-loaded pre-loaded with Ubuntu made it to’s top 100 sales for that  month.

Dell’s ‘Ubuntu Test Zones’ are now open in Ukrainian shopping malls giving consumers the chance to experience Ubuntu via a life-sized 3D hologram promoter. The hologram promoter addresses shoppers so they can learn more about Dell computers with Ubuntu. In the campaign’s first two weeks, Dell reached over 280,000 consumers in  the shopping malls.


These are just some of examples of the sales and marketing initiatives that we’re working on with our partners today. These partnerships are continuing to grow both in terms of volumes and regionally because of increasing demand from consumers and businesses for a viable alternative.

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We’re excited to announce that Canonical is sponsoring and exhibiting at the forthcoming Dell Solutions Summit, August 27-29th, 2013 in Beijing, China.

Danica Han, our Director of Cloud Alliances for APAC, will be speaking at the summit about Canonical’s commitment to the Chinese market, how we meet the specific needs of Chinese users and how those customers can gain competitive advantage with Ubuntu Cloud and Client deployments.

This session will take place on August 28th from 1:30pm – 2:30pm in room 311B.

On our show pods, our team in China will showcase our market beating Cloud management and deployment solutions; Landscape – enabling customers to manage thousands of Ubuntu machines as easily as one and Juju - our game-changing Cloud service orchestration tool.

Additionally, we will be demonstrating UbuntuKylin, on Dell desktops, developed specifically for China and the Chinese user with the members of the CCN Joint Lab. UbuntuKylin was awarded the Number 1 China Open Source Project for 2013 at the eighth Open Source China – Open Source World Summit in Beijing and is an exciting development, bringing a world leading, open source desktop operating system enhanced specifically for China.

Interested in attending? Register here

We look forward to seeing you at the show!

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Jon Melamut

On 28-29 June, the eighth Open Source China – Open Source World Summit, sponsored by China OSS Promotion Union (COPU), occurred in Beijing at Beihang University1.

UbuntuKylin was the talk of the conference. The UbuntuKylin project is a collaborative effort between CSIP,2 Canonical and NUDT.3 Initially released in April 2013, UbuntuKylin is an official Ubuntu flavour that will follow the Ubuntu six-monthly release cycle.

UbuntuKylin was awarded the Number 1 China Open Source Project for the year. Dr Qiu ShanQin, President of COPU, mentioned the establishment of the CCN as one of the most important achievements to Chinese Open Source Industry in 2013. Jack Yu of NUDT, Project Manager of UbuntuKylin project, was named in the 2013 Top 10 Open Source Outstanding People in China. Dr Wu QinBo, the Dean of NUDT Computer Research Lab, presented the UbuntuKylin project and its impact to Chinese Software industry to the audience.

Also at the event, Mark Shuttleworth delivered a keynote to introduce Ubuntu and Ubuntu Touch to attendees.



2 China Software and Integrated Chip Promotions Centre, a division of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology

3 National University of Defense Technology

4 Media Report:

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John Pugh

Oh boy. June stormed in and the May installment is late! Not much changed at the top. The Northern Hemisphere spring storms keep Stormcloud at the top with Fluendo DVD staying put at the number two spot. Steam continues its top of the chart spree on the Free Top 10.

Want to develop for the new Phone and Tablet OS, Ubuntu Touch? Be sure to check out the “Go Mobile” site for details.

Top 10 paid apps

  1. Stormcloud
  2. Fluendo DVD Player
  3. Filebot
  4. Quick ‘n Easy Web Builder
  5. MC-Launcher
  6. Mini Minecraft Launcher
  7. Braid
  8. UberWriter
  9. Drawers
  10. Bastion

Top 10 free apps

  1. Steam
  2. Motorbike
  3. Master PDF Editor
  4. Youtube to MP3
  5. Screencloud
  6. Nitro
  7. Splashtop Remote Desktop App for Linux
  8. CrossOver (Trial)
  9. Plex Media Server
  10. IntelliJ IDEA 12 Community Edition

Would you like to see your app featured in this list and on millions of user’s computers? It’s a lot easier than you think:


  • The lists of top 10 app downloads includes only those applications submitted through My Apps on the Ubuntu App Developer Site. For more information about of usage of other applications in the Ubuntu archive, check out the Ubuntu Popularity Contest statistics.
  • The top 10 free apps list contains gratis applications that are distributed under different types of licenses, some of which may not be open source. For detailed license information, please check each application’s description in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Follow Ubuntu App Development on:

Social Media Icons by Paul Robert Lloyd

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Steve George

Dell announced today an updated XPS 13, preloaded with Ubuntu, which has a full high-definition 1080p display. It will be available for sale in the USA  and Canada, but as part of this update Dell will also be making it available in parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


As we reported in November, the Dell XPS 13 is a high-end ultramobile laptop, offering developers a complete client-to-cloud experience. It is the result of Dell’s bold Sputnik initiative which embraced the community and received terrific response from developers around the world.  With Ubuntu 12.04 LTS preloaded, the machine is perfect for developers and anyone who wants high speed, brilliant graphics and smart design.

If you’re keen to get your hands on a new Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition with Ubuntu pre-loaded, check-out our web page for more details and links:

We’ll post more links allowing you to buy in additional countries as soon as we can.

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David Pitkin

Starting today, users can install the Steam Client with a few simple clicks in our Software Center, the fastest and safest way to install thousands of paid and free applications on Ubuntu. Canonical and Valve have worked closely together to make Ubuntu the best performing open platform for gaming and now the ultimate entertainment platform is fully supported.

To celebrate this release Steam has every Ubuntu title on sale for 50-75% off until Thursday, 21 February at 10:00am US Pacific time in what is the first of many Steam sales. Steam also brings with it some amazing Valve titles on Ubuntu, Half-Life, Counter-Strike and the free to play Team Fortress 2. As a launch giveaway and for the hardcore gamers who need every item in Team Fortress, for a limited time when you play Team Fortress 2 on Ubuntu you will get a Tux penguin item to keep or trade.

We welcome all the new Steam users who can now upgrade to Ubuntu. Steam Big Picture running on your Ubuntu computer connected to the living room TV is a great way to experience the future today. Canonical looks forward to the steady progress of games from all our partners on Ubuntu on the desktop and soon on the Ubuntu phone and tablet in due course.

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Jane Silber

Today’s inauguration of Barack Obama to his second term provides a good opportunity to look back at last year’s campaign and appreciate it in a bit more detail. We’ll skip discussion of the adverts, polls, photo ops, sound bites, political theatre and even the much appreciated informed debate on the issues, and focus instead on the interesting stuff – the IT infrastructure that powers something as dynamic as a presidential campaign. You can imagine the demands placed on such an infrastructure – scalability, reliability, cost effectiveness, manageability, openness, cloud. Once you have those requirements in mind, the clear choice for meeting those demands is Ubuntu. And so it’s no surprise that the Obama campaign reached the same conclusion.  We recently spoke with Harper Reed, the CTO of the Obama campaign, about the challenges he faced and solutions he and his team put in place during the campaign. We’ve published that piece in honour of today’s inauguration; you can find it on our new Insights blog.

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David Pitkin

The Humble Indie Bundle 7 is in the Ubuntu Software Center and just in time for some holiday gaming. The masterful indie games coming to Ubuntu this time are Closure, Shank 2, Snapshot and Legend of Grimrock.

These games debut in Ubuntu thanks to the Humble Indie Bundle 7 which is our favorite cross platform, pay-what-you-want, DRM-free bundle that also includes donations to great charities. Game delivery on Ubuntu with the bundle is powered by the Ubuntu Software Center which brings easy installs that are kept up to date with all of Ubuntu just like all of the other thousands of apps available. Enjoy this latest bundle, we will.

The Humble Indie Bundle 7

If you are curious about the current indie gaming trend, this bundle is for you because it includes the award winning documentary Indie Game: The Movie no matter what you pay.

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Cristian Parrino

The Ubuntu 12.10 release saw the Dash take another important step towards fulfilling its intended purpose of being an online, global search tool that helps users find anything, instantly, right from their home environment. There are a number of exciting improvements planned for 13.04 that will make the Dash more comprehensive, more online and as a result – slicker and even more useful. Here’s a snapshot of what is likely to land in the next release:

Smart Scopes – Scopes are the daemons capable of presenting local or remote information right in the Dash. In 13.04, we will increase the number of scopes installed by default in Ubuntu (including many existing community developed scopes) and introduce the ability to automatically light up the right ones based on their relevancy to a user’s search query. For example, a search for “The Beatles” is likely to trigger the Music and Video scopes, showing results that will contain local and online sources – with the online sources querying your personal cloud as well as other free and commercial sources like YouTube,, Amazon, etc. To achieve this, the Dash will call a new smart scope service which will return ranked online search results, which the Dash will then balance against local results to return the most relevant information to the user. Scopes are becoming a really interesting contribution area for our developer community – and we can’t wait to see what people will submit to make the Dash an even richer experience.

Instant Purchasing – being able to purchase music or apps directly from the Dash, without opening a browser or a separate client. In 13.04, we expect to enable instant payments, powered by Ubuntu One, for both applications from the Software Center and music from the Music Store – to deliver the fastest possible purchasing experience directly from the Dash.

More Suggestions and User Controls – the More Suggestions scope, which currently returns relevant commercial content available from the Ubuntu One Music Store and Amazon, will expand to include more retailers. We are also testing a few additional user controls like filters for local and global searching – more to come on this front as we learn from those sessions. In the meantime, users can already focus a search to local files only with a simple super-f keystroke.

There are several principles around the Dash that are also worth reiterating:

Its raison d’etre is to provide Ubuntu users the fastest, slickest way to find things right from their home environment – independent of whether those “things” are on your machine, available online, free or commercial.  The music and video lenses in the Dash have queried online sources since their introduction, and we will continue to expand our online sources over the next releases. Our testing has overwhelmingly shown that this integrated and unified search feature is the best experience for the vast majority of users – and the best user experience will always be included as a default on Ubuntu.

Privacy is extremely important to Canonical. The data we collect is not user-identifiable (we automatically anonymize user logs and that information is never available to the teams delivering services to end users), we make users aware of what data will be collected and which third party services will be queried through a notice right in the Dash, and we only collect data that allows us to deliver a great search experience to Ubuntu users.  We also recognize that there is always a minority of users who prefer complete data protection, often choosing to avoid services like Google, Facebook or Twitter for those reasons – and for those users, we have made it dead easy to switch the online search tools off with a simple toggle in settings.

Onwards and upwards.

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Mark Murphy

Ubuntu has long been a favourite with developers – especially in the worlds of web and cloud development. We’re excited that, from today, serious (and not-so-serious) developers will be able to get their hands on the super-sleek Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition, preloaded with and fully optimised for Ubuntu.

The Dell XPS 13 is a top spec, high-end ultramobile laptop, offering developers a complete client-to-cloud experience. It is the result of the Dell’s bold Sputnik initiative, which embraced the community and received terrific response from developers around the world. The community has spoken – and they said, “give us power, give us storage, give us a really ‘meaty’ machine – that also looks GREAT. And Dell has delivered.

The XPS 13 with Ubuntu allows developers to create ??microclouds? on the local drive, simulating a proper, at-scale environment, before deploying seamlessly to the cloud using Juju, Ubuntu’s service orchestration tool. That’s something you simply can’t do with a standard installation of any other OS.

With Juju now supporting 103 charms and counting, it covers the world’s most popular open source cloud services, all from the Ubuntu desktop.

I’d like to call out the drive and energy of Barton George and Michael Cote at Dell for making the XPS 13 launch possible. And of course, the team within Canonical for the fine tuning of this great product (mine ‘cold’ boots to desktop in under 11 seconds!) I’d also like to call out the dev community for their incredible support, helping us getting this from drawing board to factory ship – get buying!

Combining Ubuntu with the power of Dell hardware gives developers the perfect environment for productive software development, whatever their sector. The Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition is available from in America and Canada today.

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John Pugh

The Unity cross-platform development tool version 4 has been released from beta into the growing world of Ubuntu game development. Every Unity developer is now only a few clicks away from publishing in the Ubuntu Software Center with Unity 4.0’s new Linux Deployment Preview. You can download a 30-day preview of all the Pro features, Linux export will always be in the free version.

Cubemen and Rochard are two examples of games built using the Unity game engine and available today through the Ubuntu Software Center. Millions of Unity developers now have the ability to easily deploy games to the most exciting open platform, Ubuntu.

If you just upgraded to Unity 4.0 or are starting out, load up your game, open the Build Settings, and choose the target “Linux” under PC, Mac, Linux Standalone. Then visit the Ubuntu MyApps developer portal, create your new account, and upload.

You say you are not using Unity 4.0 to build your applications? Geez…go get your free download today and get coding!

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