Open Ballot: what's your favourite Linux improvement?


We're gearing up to record our next podcast, and we want you - yes YOU! - to contribute your views in our Open Ballot section. This time the question is, out of all the changes we've seen in the Linux world in the last year, what's your favourite? If you want to go big and say "all of Fedora 13", or if you want to go small and cite the SSE improvements introduced into Glibc 2.11, we don't mind as long as your stick to our simple rules: keep it short, and use a name other than "Anonymous Penguin."

So, if you want your opinion in our podcast, post a comment below!

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Your comments

Biggest improvement

The biggest improvement in linux for me is the better and easier to use look from linux nowadays, for me it's great to see there are a lot of distros focussing on the usability of the system.

GUI Redesigns

I like the way that developers are actually taking the time and effort to redesign application interfaces + at the same time improving usability.

Those kind of things really make a difference for new users and even normal users too!

GIMP and Blender are the best examples of this.

Please don't hate me

My favourite improvement over the last year has got to be Ubuntu One. It's great that now all of my machines are synced together and that I can buy music direct from my favourite media player. Plus with contact sync and music streaming coming up for mobile phones it's all looking really exciting.

Why stop now just when I'm hating it?

It's got to be Android, which has gained significant popular momentum this year.

Life! Don't talk to me about life.

Actually working out of the box

Linux has now got to the stage were 99% of the time it just works, you don't have to go in an fix your config or pull your hair out over wireless's just works...(mileage my vary :P)

Video killed the radio star

Google's open sourcing of WebM is fantastic news as is their recent (albeit belated) release of a Linux GMail Video Chat plugin. Video has been an area where Linux has lagged behind a little, but these innovations promise closer feature parity with Windows & OS X. Hoping that the VLMC Video Editor from the VLC team will also lead to great things. We should be optimistic for the future. As more and more of these young kids grow up using Linux, so can we look forwards to more and more Linux developers a few years down the road and I expect the open source movement to get stronger as things progress.

A little old lady and a non-tech pal

I have an eighty plus year old lady and a very non-technical pal both (independently) using Linux Mint 9. They may not have been able to install it themselves, (although with a bit of help, I'm sure they could have), they're having absolutely no problems using it. (Something neither of them were able to do when they were using Windows.)

Now, all I want is for my Epson Inkjet to print in reverse order via the printer driver and that should do it for me. (Ticking the Reverse box has no effect and reverse printing is only a possibility through openOffice.)

It is now a viable desktop operating system

All the small incremental changes to the system over the last year or two now make it a viable desktop operating system for the majority of users.
Things now mostly "just work", with the notable exception of Ubuntu 10.04 between April and June(ish).


60 year old friend and 14 year old friend

Best achievements of Linux often catch me by surprise.

My 14 year old friend has, with a little coaching from afar, got all his HD sound hardware working - just enabling by fiddling in system settings. No drivers to install. His next project is to migrate his existing Windows partition to a Virtual box image(!) and to master encryption (!)

My 60 year old friend just bought herself a cheap printer to go with the Linux laptop I had set her up with.

When she told me it was not working I winced and thought I wish I had told her to check before buying the printer. However, after a few moments discussion, she realised that perhaps she had not plugged it in!

Indeed, the next day she got back to me and said that after she turned it on (!) it worked instantly and perfectly! No installation at all.

Both these events have happened in the last two weeks. That gives me a lot of pleasure that perhaps the big things in Linux are the little things?

But for me I was really pleased this summer when getting a T-Mobile mobile data stick that it just worked in Kubuntu!!! that was a very pleasant experience.


Ubuntu 10.04!
Core Performance Boost!
Linux 2.6.30s! Better Filesystems!


Lots of thing I prefer in Linux based operating systems especially Fedora, but the recent change I love has to be the 3D acceleration in the latest nouveau video drivers. I never liked the idea of closed source kernel drivers. Now if my shiny spinning cube desktop crashes I know that it can be fixed by a community of very clever programmers who love "scratching their own itch".

Multimonitor support!

My favorite improvement to Linux in the last year is multimonitor support finally working on my laptop! Xinerama, with the taskbar on the right display, with different resolutions for each monitor, and no restarting X when I plug/unplug the monitor. Hello, 1998!

World changers!

It is hard to choose. My favourite improvement might be that distributions work flawlessly with dual screens, that APT became a standard and all other package managers died or that KDE finally killed off that Gnome garbage and became the default desktop environment.

Or wait? You said "in the last year", not "next year", right.

Linux Mint is not a new distribution, and it did not improve by leaps and bounds in the last year, but its steady pace and continuing march forward is definitely a favourite of mine. I do not personally use it, but I recommend it to everyone.

It's beautiful Bernard!

The biggest improvement has to be the appearance of the desktop. I use ubuntu and the leap in wow from 9.10 upwards has been incredible.

I installed 10.04 on my parent's pc that was crawling along with xp and the first words said after loading up were, "Oh that's pretty!"

Compared to the brown on Edgy Eft etc., having a desktop I can look at without having to tweak endlessly lest I gouge my eyes out is a definite improvement.

so many things . . .

1) Tech Support - Every year this gets better. I feel the linux community with the help of the Ubuntu project has really put together some excellent documentation and community support. I remember as a kid in the early days trying to get support in some IRC channels and getting "RTFM you idiot!" a lot from stressed out developers. Now, every help channel seems much friendlier (maybe also because I learned to RTFMs before I ask).

2) Lightweight distros - With the introduction of distros such as lubuntu, etc. lightweight distros are eliminating traditional startup/shutdown times seen with regular distros, getting you to a functional device faster.

3) Google Chrome browser - released a little over a year ago, almost 2 years, this browser has become more stable and a faster replacement to firefox/iceweasel.

4) Touchscreen support - Watching a demo of Ubuntu 10.10, touchscreen support seems to have come a long way in just the last year (though still has a way to go).

Linux Improvments

1.) Google Chrome.

2.) Ubuntu One Music Store

3.) Android

4.) New Ubuntu Colour Scheme.

Chris Woollard

Yes, i'm serious...

Gotta be KDE SC 4. Huge leap frome KDE 3. Finally usable, beautiful and simply awesome.
No, you don't have to actually review it, people like it anyway.

Nothing.. Nada.. Nowt..

I don't think there has been really anything of GREAT significance this year at all. It's been a bit of a dissappoinment (bar discovering your podcast 2 weeks ago and listening to almost all of them to date!)..

- (k)Ubuntu quality seems a little down
- UNR is ok-ish, but very rough in places
- RedHat/Fedora folks have been letting the side down being very smug about the contribution nonsense
- KDE 4.5 has a lot of regressions and still feels not there yet
- Ubuntu One sinks but does not sync
- Nouvou doesn't work on my card model
- Dell are such a bad Linux champion

It's been a year of lots of small changes, regressions, but nothing exciting. At least SCO finally/maybe/possibly died which is a kind of Linux improvment!

Linux Improvements

I've been using Linux since about 1998 with Mandrake 5.3.

I came over to Ubuntu, just shortly after Mandrake came Mandriva. All my computers, at home, run Ubuntu, apart from 2 that run Debian. I haven't tried Ubuntu One yet... but one day I'll be brave.
One of the computers I have to use at work still has M$ because I need to run Adobe audition for editing sounds, Audacity is a high learning curve.
Our main on air computer here runs Rivendell, an open source automation package that saves us lots of Dollars per year. It uses podget to download every new Tux Radar Podcast show from the RSS feed.
I've used Ubuntu customization Kit to make my own version of Ubuntu called RRAbuntu. This combines Ubuntu and Rivendell into a live cd installer, that has helped several other stations dump their commercial solutions.

In short Linux is such a great system. It gets better by the day. Long may it live and grow :)

New Music

I think it has to be the new theme music for this years Podcast. Last years got a bit stale.

Oh hang on...


No piece of hardware has ever given me more headaches than printers/scanners. Even just a couple of years ago, one would have to struggle with printer detection problems, CUPS errors, sane backends, group permissions, udev rules.
These days, things are completely "plug & print", even for network printing. Wonderful!

It's the freaking usability!

Simple as that, usability + design.

It seems that Mike Shuttleworth's speech two years ago influenced a lot of people! Linux actually going to look "better" than a Mac!

Netbook r/evolutions - and the improvement for next year

I like that the netbook has been taken seriously - and that developers have taken it into consideration in an approach that doesn't just say "Since this machine - mine, that is - has 4 gigs of RAM, let's build something that uses it!" - but goes to the next step - "This functionality could be 95% implemented with 512 MB RAM; maybe we should provide it to more people".
For next years ace in the sleeve: Vector-based screenshot applications. I have yet to see a desktop which could not (almost entirely) be produced with basic geometric shapes; if screenshots could be produced as SVGs, writing documentation would be incredibly easier.

LiveUSB creators!

I'm in the non-technical end of the spectrum, and all of last year, nothing I tried created a working LiveUSB, not even Unetbootin, Gujin, or Ubuntu's creator. Thankfully, I finally started discovering success this year with the programs offered by SimplyMEPIS 8.5 and OpenSuSE 11.3 -- put the USB stick into its port, tell the app what ISO file to use, and wait a little bit.

So that's what I'd have to vote as my absolute favorite improvement, especially as I'm not entirely sure which changes are truly new vs. being things I just finally learned about!

The obvious answer hardware support. Remember ndiswrapper? The change over the last decade in hardware support is just unbelievable. Not only have we got native drivers now but unless you're unlucky, clueless or just plain misguided we've got free drivers even for 3D cards! It's amazing!

I'd rather rant about the biggest areas of deterioration, though. Maybe in the next open ballot?

I fail at reading comprehension

tl;dr: LyX (coming 2.0 version).

Clearly I have not read the question properly. Sorry.

Last year? Personally? Possibly the new Blender. The old one didn't work on linux for years on many ati cards because of the way they chose to render the gui and the devs, quite understandably, don't care (see multiple bug reports on that issue) - apparently they used to give an option for disabling that way of rendering of the gui but they decided they know best and it's better not to confuse the user with options (which is the trend nowadays). I ended up emulating windows to run the win32 version of blender which runs fine.

See? Told you, I'd rather rant.

Best improvement, seriously? More markets for linux devs? Nah, let's go with something more tangible. Lyx! Lyx is a brilliant TeX editor already but the development speed in the last few years have been increasing tremendously and they haven't released the 2.0 officially yet but it's excitedly near with alpha(s) out and a beta version expected within weeks. I love my Vim as much as the next person but for serious (intended for publishing) documents LyX is worth running the x-server for.

Here's a topic suggestion for you:
Multi-platform projects like LyX and Blender - are all the platforms treated equally?


Systemd for sure!

Life in the Cloud

My favorite improvement has got to be the addition of Ubuntu One cloud storage. It's a good feeling to know that my files are synchronizing without me having to lift a finger, and since I use several different computers which are all connected to the cloud, I can always count on having access to my files locally.

My improvement is a personal one....

The best thing in Linux this year, for me, was finally taking the plunge and purging myself of ...buntus on all my computers.

Now singularly using Arch and loving the much improved stability of my system, even though it is (arguably) more bleeding edge than the ...buntu flavours.

Thinking that comes down to the fact that I choose what to install on my system, so the unused crud is gone.


Stock installations on more hardware

When I first bought my little EeePC, I had to install Eeebuntu with a custom kernel to be able to support 90% of the hardware in the netbook.

Now, a stock Ubuntu installation with no tweaks JustWorks™

Usability for all ages

I have setup Linux PCs for non-techies from ages 4 to 79 and they use them without any problems.

When they phone up and say "How do I set up this printer?" I just say "plug it in, switch it on, and print" (Ubuntu). This always works.

Note: I did have one problem where I had to visit a user because they had done this and it still didn't work.
I found that they had plugged their USB printer into the mouse port using a USB/PS2 adaptor. (I did say they are not techies!)
I plugged the printer into the USB port and their documents magically appeared. Beat that MS!

Linux News Shows.

Floss podcast make it much easier for listeners to discover and try out open source projects, new and old. There are a number of awesome bits of software that I would probably never have noticed if I hadn't listened to a show like this.

Since you mention Fedora 13...

I think I'd have to go for the recent developments in open-source video drivers.

Having installed F13 I found that straight out-of-the-box I had 3D acceleration for my ATI card. In fact it's the first OS I've ever seen that automatically detected and set up EVERY bit of a relatively modern laptop, Bluetooth included.

Hardware and Software usability

I must say that the greatest improvement has to be first install impressions. I no longer think of "Okay... there is some fixing to do..." just after installation.

Akin to Mac OSX, drivers are auto-detected and configured (Fedora 12, Ubuntu 10.04, OpenSuSE 11.3) for use, whether video, wireless, or audio. I am up an running soon after installation. Honestly... the last 2 years have seen great improvements in hardware and software. I can just start using the OS without fuss. And all my software is updated as updates are released.

So far, only Windows 7 has provided that experience out of the Microsoft family. Even then, I had to go and search for a Vista driver for my scanner and my laptop's sound and wireless cards. Thank god the wired ethernet worked or I was going to be in a pickle. With XP and Vista, I still have to do a bunch of post-installation configuration just to get all of the hardware working on just about any system. I still have to update most of my software manually, though.

Actual Hardware Compatibility

This very last summer, I was pleased. Every other friend who visited us and came with some proprietary hardware has seen it hooked effortlessly to my laptop; that includes famous Phones and Music Players (yeah, the ones you are thinking about) and even a Pro DSLR camera. They all required me to down' a library or two, but NONE of them had me trough hops and hoops, or dubious downloads.
For once, the usual brag about 'Hardware compatibility' that comes with absolutely every new distro release press kit seems to approach Real Life as people are Really Living it.

mature KDE4, Intel regressions fixed

Now that my generic Intel video chipset is more or less working correctly on every major distro (even if you have to do some "i915.powersave=0" Grub command fiddling to get it to work without occasional screen garbage), I'm finding that it's a much more pleasant experience.

But frankly, giving openSUSE 11.3 KDE a spin and discovering that KDE4 is really, really, really good now was the biggest and most surprising improvement. I've switched to PCLOS and KDE 4.5.1 since trying out openSUSE, but I really can't see myself going back to Gnome anytime soon. Gnome 3 might change my mind, of course!

Greatest Improvement Is...

KDE 4.4

All the improvements catching up to it's historic greatness.

All the features we missed when it went from 3.5.10 to 4.0 now finding their way back to us.

All the really new stuff we can do with it that we never thought of before.

Qt Licensing

To me, the thing that made me happy most was Nokia's acquisition of Trolltech, the Qt library producer, on which KDE and a lots of applications are based. And therefore Qt dual licensing change to regular LGPL, what makes possible to develop commercial and enterprise applications using Qt or KDE libs. Also in general Nokia's involvement into OSS development.

kde 4.5

finally my family have moved to kde 4, thanks to pclos team for a brilliant job. even the intel graphics are now working again.

obviously gnome is the best, and ubuntu is the best distro..
didn't want to upset anyone

just waiting on MikeOS LTS

Terminal Free

Take Terminal out of the distribution so that all questions cannot be answered by "It's easy. Just type !*rrxp gx£ **&" into a terminal window.

As mundane as it sounds, I

As mundane as it sounds, I have to go with hardware support. Especially on laptops and netbooks, which used to have all sorts of glitches with display and wifi-chipset drivers.

If the movement to convert the unwashed masses to Linux, you have to be able to do at least what Apple has always claimed (publicly) "it just works."

just read the above

No.No.No.No.NO! on getting rid of the Terminal!

Sorry, but when somethings broken, the last thing you want to do is fight with the damn GUI.

Even in Windows; crippled, retarded, and stupid, the command line is where you can actually get something done when the damn mouse stops working..


___on the good side___

In 2010, the KDE SC:
- got window tiling
- became more stable than ever

This same year, I finally made the switch from OpenSUSE to Fedora and I don't regret it.

___on the bad side___
In 2010, I concluded that the wait is enough for a good ATI or Nvidia video driver, so I'm now using Intel GMA X4500HD video chipset, with a near perfect linux open source video driver.

Improved drivers / hw support

I used to use my Linux laptops more as easily movable desktops, and my Macbook Pro as the "real laptop" that could be moved around in meetings, plugged in and out of monitors/projectors and other peripherals without a hitch, suspended and resumed fast and so on. Now, this has finally turned around, and I use my laptop and netbook with Arch for most everything, while my MBP stays put connected to my TV, used mainly for movies.

The performance of video, wireless, suspend/resume, and plug and play of peripherals, has finally become so good that I'm now starting to wonder what to do with all the free time that used to go to tinkering, hacking and configuring my systems to make them work!

Many things

For me personally, this past year has been the year I returned from a ~2-3 year exile in the land of Fluxbox... home to the land of KDE. KDE SC 4.5 is not perfect but I love it!

More open drivers and hardware support - Nouveau, Broadcom wireless, USB 3G modems, even on the ATI/AMD side of things

Key advances - Btrfs, Network manager, Kdenlive, Rekonq, Ubuntu 10.04

Things that proved a point for Linux and FOSS - Indie Humble Bundle, HTML5, Android, MeeGo.

Mandriva 2010.1 is

Mandriva 2010.1 is awesome.
Android explosion.
KDE is getting better.

We have been on SuSE since 1999 !

I'll admit 10 years ago penguin pursuit was more challenging,
with the hardware detection and package managers of the last 4 years SuSE is a easy deployment. As a matter of fact it generally takes almost an additional 2 hours to successfully install "That Other OS" by the time the kinks are ironed out.

On the rare occasion when there is an issue you can go to a forum and get a real world solution without a "Company Line"
getting in the way.

You can get an answer not a referral to your hardware or software vendor.

We have gained reliability, reduced out IT budget by nearly 70% and have given up nothing with exception of no longer doing any business with those who's sites require IE, (no great loss )

What I can't understand is the propensity to compare Linux distributions to M$ Windoze, It's like comparing a Bentley to a Yugo, A Gulf-stream III to an hang glider, THERE IS NO COMPARISON BETWEEN THE TWO.

Linux distros are a professional system with bundled applications that are tailored to work in concert with that OS and the OS is infinitely tweak-able to your needs.

That other OS that "Everybody Needs" is a home entertainment platform with security and third party applications "Kludged" to it and no matter what,
YOU WILL CONFORM......cause you can't change a damn thing
about it besides putting it in the bit bucket!

Another vote for OOB hardware support

I've only been using Linux for about two years, and the improvement in detecting and supporting hardware over that period has been mind-boggling.

Most Improved: PCLinuxOS-2010.07 - it has replaced Linux Mint as the distro I recommend for total beginners. I've installed it on four different systems, from a quad-core to a slightly-juiced Epson POS terminal, and it has yet to be stumped.

linux improvements

hardware support, hardware support, hardware support, hardware support. pclinuxos rocks

Newsworthy Exposure to Masses

Perhaps it was not the improvement to Linux itself that caught my attention, but instead the public perception of how useful Linux based systems can be to the general public itself.
Of course, there is no question about advertising muscle of Microsoft and 'le novice de Apple', but more often than not you hear about Linux in the news. Well, at least in my opinion that's true for the UK networks (can't comment on worldwide effects :)

As per Linux development and its improvements I can think of certain advances made in cloud-based operating systems, e.g. peppermint.


Vlad B.

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