Ubuntu are once again aiming to bring the social web to users desktops in the forthcoming 10.04 Lucid Lynx release.


The “social from the start” initiative was originally intended to kick-off with Karmic but for various reasons it was postponed until 10.04, not least of which micro-blogging application Gwibber not quite being polished enough on time. (?)

The ‘Social from the start’ plan is not simply just about having twitter and facebook applications installed by default, but rather how to leverage and integrate these with the desktop and the users workflow.

“Why would you want to do this?” Well, why wouldn’t you?

Social networking is without-a-doubt one of the most integral and important societal aspects to have emerged from the creation of the internet.

It’s not just about seeing what Marvin ate for lunch or poking Tamara, either. People keep in touch, share moments and memories, find news, trade experiences and interact with services. Twitter and Identi.ca have helped businesses and projects communicate more efficiently between departments and employees – Facebook campaigns have lead to wonderful charitable campaigns, political changes and even to help try and solve murders!

Currently users have to launch a browser or download an application in order to interact with their social networks.

Web-based OSes such as Moblin and JoliCloud already utilize social aspects within their respective “desktop” models; The Jolicloud OS is in many respects a social network itself – Jolicloud users can follow each other, recommend applications to install, etc.

Ubuntu, as an OS for “human beings”, is therefore totally right to start integrated a large aspects of people’s lives and time spent on a computer within the OS. By allowing users to snap into their social cliques from the get-go, time is saved, updates and information can be consumed effortlessly in so-called real time and users will find that their desktop suddenly feels less like a tool and more like home.

“So, what’s planned?”

A number of changes will (if all goes well) land themselves in Lucid. Not everything listed below is guaranteed to make it and some parts may morph or evolve between now and April 2010, but the gist of the plan is certainly able to be gleaned and shows that the relatively narrow, un-intrusive scope the project had in Karmic has been widen – and for the better!

Gwibber – The Crux?

Gwibber will see a stack of fixes and simplifications in time for Lucids’ release. First and foremost is creating an ability for external applications to access and getting Gwibber to work nicely with DesktopCouch/CouchDB to allow for some pretty awesome social-linked features in other applications.

A new ‘account’ interface/configuration panel is currently in the works, as is making Facebook authorization less arcane. Gwibbers’ presence within the messaging applet will be assured by showing more informative data from streams within it.

There are plenty more changes mooted for Gwibber in Lucid: –

  • Keep consistent naming throughout (‘streams’ vs ‘tree’ etc)
  • Don’t show notifications when viewing all messages in Gwibber
  • Check for missing spell-checking dependencies
  • Ditch the toolbar; wastes space
  • Ditch the ‘search’ box
  • Show mentions from everywhere
  • Create ‘combined feed’ showing replies, messages, updates from every network
  • Notifications to be “smarter” with links – instead of pushing ‘@omgubuntu twitpic.com/we09234’ it should print ‘omgubuntu has just posted a photo’On top of this is the idea to create a new “text input window” that other applications can use/call upon. As such the social initiative aims to extend beyond Gwibber and surface in other applications on the desktop and in the user-space.

    Me, Me, Me

    One area where this will show itself is in the ability to allow microblogging from the session menu – or as it will soon be better known, the “Me Menu”.

    image The Me Menu was designed by our Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator For Life himself, Mr Mark Shuttleworth

    The current “session applet” (the far-right hand clicky-bit on the top panel with your name on it) will be greatly expanded to provide instant access to a users configured social networks.

    The applet will retains the close-knit integration with Empathy )letting you change your status, etc) but will this time extend a feline paw to other applications such as Gwibber allowing you to tweet/status update through a text-field present within the applet.

    The applications/services to be supported in Lucid are: –

    • Via Gwibber: Twitter, Facebook, Identica
    • Via Empathy: MSN, Google Talk, Yahoo Chat

    The Me Menu will also act as a hub for managing your account. A user will be able to configure accounts for UbuntuOne, Gwibber and Empathy via it – relegating the need to open all three applications to set them up as moot.

    The Messaging Menu

    The messaging menu – perhaps better known to most as ‘that envelope icon’ – will allow interactions with a wider range of applications, show more relevant information/stats as well as being able to launch, call forward the window, etc.

    imageThe Software Centre

    The software centre will gain a “share” widget to allow users to share applications with one-another with the “link” shared opening up in the software centre itself.


    F-Spot will be present in Lucid, for better or worse, and it too shall share in the fruits of social networking. The plan is to add support for Flickr and Facebook support with a view to adding PicasaWeb.

    The Social Screensaver

    Does a screensaver pulling photos from your social networking streams sounds pretty awesome? Just a bit! This is the proposed feature of gnome-screensaver-social. The screensaver will ask Gwibber for a feed to pull photos from and these will then be streamed as part of a screensaver.

    You might want to un-tag those embarrassing drunken pictures now lest they end up plastered over your screen!


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