Last week the Ubuntu project met in Budapest for the Ubuntu Developer Summit. The Kubuntu team discussed an incredible amount of cool things, of which I’d like to present a number of generally interesting topics.
A very strong focus of the 11.10 release will be continuing innovation in the area of embedded systems such as mobile phones, but also for the first time on tablets. Since the work in embedded systems is quite extensive, information on that will be posted separately in a special ‘Embedded Sneak Peak’.
Boring things first. Kubuntu 11.10 will come with KDE 4.7.2 as well as Qt 4.8.
Accessibility always was a bit of a sore spot in Kubuntu. Mostly for two reasons:
- Getting the average developer to care about it is hard
- Qt did not support some important features
While the first problem is difficult to fix, the second one is perfectly fixable. Some weeks ago Qt developer Frederik Gladhorn presented the initial code for Qt AT-SPI 2, which essentially allows screen readers such as Orca to work with Qt (and thus KDE) applications. This is absolutely great news for everyone who needs to use a screen reader, as the better part of the free software desktop world (Qt and GTK+ applications) will be accessible.
In cooperation with the awesome Ubuntu accessibility team we are doing our best to get this into Kubuntu 11.10.
We will also improve the out-of-the box accessibility experience. Primarily by integrating existing KDE accessibility software stronger into the Kubuntu system.
To find out more about Ubuntu accessibility check out their blog.
Low Fat Kubuntu
As a result of ongoing efforts in the area of embedded systems, the Kubuntu team has acquired a lot of knowledge in slimming down the default KDE Workspace to a bare minimum, freeing up more resources for other use. This makes it possible for use to introduce a new set of default configurations enabling a low fat Kubuntu setup.
While we realize that many of the technologies that make the KDE 4 workspace the incredible amazing product that it is, we also see a demand in reducing resource consumption on systems with limited hardware resources. The low fat configurations of Kubuntu 11.10 will enable users to run the KDE workspace on setups where it is essential that the base system uses as little resources as possible.
Needless to say from all the work on “touchable” systems, we have plenty of awesomeness related to touch up our sleeve. Kubuntu 11.10 will by default (though probably not activated) come with an application called Touchégg.
Touchégg enables you to assign certain input gestures from your touchpad or trackpad to certain actions. For example if you tap with two fingers at once it could mean a right click, or if you swipe with 3 fingers from left to right it means ‘switch to next track in Amarok’.
After having tried this on my netbook I must say, this is one of my personal favorite new features, though one needs a sufficiently large touchpad to use it properly.
To find out more about Touchégg please visit the project website.
For quite some time we have been using KPackageKit as default package manager in Kubuntu. While it has seen constant improvement over time, a very strong competitor appeared meanwhile: Muon. Muon is developed by one of the Kubuntu Developers and uses, unlike KPackageKit, the native APT libraries. As it is using APT directly it enables Muon to have a much tighter integration into Debian-like systems (such as Kubuntu) as well as expose specific functionality of APT/DPKG more directly.
As a result of these and other advantages the default setup of Kubuntu 11.10 will feature the Muon Software Center instead of KPackageKit, The Muon Software Center has an interface very much like the Ubuntu Software Center, it is however not a clone of it.
For more advanced users there is also a Muon Package Manager which has an interface much like Synaptic and thus allows for more involved “management” of packages. Whether the package manager interface of Muon will be part of the default installation of Kubuntu or not is not yet decided, in any case it will be easy to install.
To find out more about Muon please have a look at Jonathan Thomas’ blog about Muon 1.2.