Top 10 Improved Ubuntu Applications of 2007
Tomboy is a C# (Mono) application that burst onto the scene and became the default note manager in Ubuntu, replacing the long-time champ Gnome Sticky Notes applet. Tomboy features sync between computers and a wiki-like style of cross-note linking.
The boys at Compiz and Beryl finally got together and worked their problems out. Compiz appeared by default in Ubuntu 7.04, but wasn't enabled. The big push to enable it was made for 7.10. Desktop effects are high on the list of a lot of new Ubuntu-heads. The plugins continue to race forward at a full sprint.
While Tomboy is a C# application which replaced one written in C, Beagle Search's C# drag finally got to enough people that Trackerd came in and immediately replaced the more featureful indexer. Tracker is now the default on Ubuntu 7.10.
Xorg finally got two things it has needed for ages: changing configuration (like screen resolution or adding a monitor) without restarting, and a graphical interface. I expect Xorg to make the list again in 2008, when Bulletproof X finally takes away many new users' worry of booting into a blinking termnal cursor.
Java didn't really improve. Installing Java, however, did. Sun released Java under a FLOSS-friendly license, making it installable in the same manner as other applications. The open source versions of Java also progressed enough to run OpenOffice.org' advanced features.
Just about the most important thing for most Rhythmbox users, a plugin was finally included for MTP support, so all those MTP-enabled portable players suddenly became drag-and-drop with Rhythmbox. Suddenly, there was no more need for a command line to update that MTP database.
Whatever you think about Mono (it is controvesial), it continues to show its ability to quickly produce full-featured apps. F-Spot has gone from virtually nothing to a great photo manager (with export to virtually every major online service) in just a year. We're still waiting for the plugins to start appearing, though.
GStreamer got many new plugins, the ability to use Windows DLLs, and, most importantly, the ability for on-demand installation of codecs. Suddenly, the back end for Gnome's audio and video became viable enough for other desktops to begin looking at using it.
The actual application didn't improve much this year becaue all the development work is being done on Firfox 3, but Ubuntu made its own contribution by adding easy system-wide installation of common plugins and extensions like flash and java. Ubuntu also put in the apt: handler by default, which means that it's really easy for me to write web-based howtos now.
The Deskbar Applet
Deskbar became the default place to search for stuff in Ubuntu. Whether you wanted to look through your files, open recent documents, or do a quick web search, Deskbar was the place to go.
Honorable Mention:These applications aren't installed by default, but they deserve to be mentioned because they are so popular.
Apps which use Telepathy
Specifically, I've tried to get voice/video over Jabber working on Ubuntu for a friend. There were some mockups of the functionality in 2005. There were some more in 2006. There's still no real way to do it, short of writing my own aplication which uses Telepathy. The framework is there, but no one is writing a frontend to it. Sad. Dissapointing. We need you, Empathy. You're our only hope.