Time for another quick update on the progress we've made in the last month as we work towards Ubuntu MATE 19.10.
I'm pleased to say that today indicator-notifications landed in the 19.10 archive and is will be pre-installed in Ubuntu MATE 19.10 images from tomorrow. indicator-notifications will provide "notification centre" duties for Ubuntu MATE. I'm also delighted to inform you that the upstream developer is going to work on some new features and improvements specifically for Ubuntu MATE and that work will be sponsored thanks to this Patreon.
I've uploaded Blueman 2.0.8, including Ubuntu specific patches, to the 19.10 archive. This includes several important bug fixes for Ubuntu MATE users. I've also been talking with upstream and they will soon prepare Blueman 2.1 beta for upload to Debian experimental. Blueman 2.1 represents several years of development and is a significant improvement with regards to Bluetooth integration. I will be syncing Blueman 2.1 beta from Debian to Ubuntu 19.10 when it is available. The Debian archive is still frozen, pending the release of Debian 10 (Buster), which is why I've uploaded the current stable 2.0.8 release to19.10 as an interim measure.
Nvidia drivers & Ubiquity
If you've been following the news surrounding Ubuntu you'll know that Ubuntu will be shipping the nvidia proprietary drivers on the ISO images. This is so anyone selecting the additional 3rd party hardware drivers during installation without an Internet connection will have the drivers available and they can be installed in offline scenarios.
I've seeded the nvidia proprietary drivers in Ubuntu MATE 19.10 local apt repository present on the ISO images. This comes at the cost of increasing the ISO size by ~115MB, but I think this trade-off is worth it. The drivers are not active by default, just present in the local apt pool to facilitate installation should they be requested.
There has been also some other architectural changes in Ubiquity, the installer used by Ubuntu and it's flavours. This required Ubuntu MATE to make some changes in our seeds and meta packages and that work is now complete.
Marco - the window manager
Marco is the Window Manager for MATE and a number of new features and fixes are landing upstream. Invisible window corners are currently in final testing which allow windows to be easily resized without having to precisely grab the window corners. Improvements to Alt+Tab behaviour are coming that enable the Alt+Tab switcher to be navigated via keyboard and mouse. Some themes have not been playing nicely in HiDPI configurations and that has also been fixed. We will likely ship a snapshot build of Marco in 19.10 to ensure we deliver early access to the features and fixes.
MATE Window Applets
MATE Window Applets have received a number a bug fixes and new features from a community contributor. Window control icons will now be dynamically loaded via the currently selected theme, rather than manually configuring stand alone icon themes just for the applet, and a number of bugs have also been resolved.
MATE Panel has had a long standing bug fixed that caused it to crash when the panel was reset or replaced. This was most noticeable when switching panel layouts via MATE Tweak that could result in the panel layout being left incomplete or entirely absent. MATE Tweak has also been updated to neatly integrate with with fixed MATE Panel behaviour so that layout switching is now 100% reliable.
Ubuntu MATE Artwork 19.10.2 has been uploaded and includes lots of bugs fixes that were funded using money from this Patreon. Many long standing paper cuts are finally resolved.
Finally, we will be dropping VLC from the pre-installed applications and shipping GNOME MPV instead. GNOME MPV will soon be renamed to Celluloid. The reasons for switching to GNOME MPV are similar to swapping out Thunderbird for Evolution; better desktop integration.
GNOME MPV does use client side decorations (CSD) by default. Thankfully a gschema override can restore traditional menus, as seen the attached screenshot, and we'll set that as the default in Ubuntu MATE. GNOME MPV has better MPRIS integration and completely integrates with the Sound Indicator. Similar to the Thunderbird/Evolution situation, GNOME MPV requires ~27MB on the ISO image whereas VLC requires ~70MB.
GNOME MPV doesn't offer the bewildering array of preferences and options to users that VLC does, and instead ships sane defaults; only surfacing options where they make sense. GNOME is GTK3 application whereas VLC is a Qt5 application. GNOME MPV looks right at home in Ubuntu MATE which uses GTK3 throughout. While we've done our best to coerce VLC to take hints from the GTK theme it have never been perfect. Most importantly, GNOME MPV is an excellent media player with the same broad media format support that VLC offers. VLC will remain in the Software Boutique as a single click install for anyone who wants it.
That rounds up the main news from the last month. We've got a couple of other initiatives underway but we'll cover those next month when we're a little further along with those developments :-)
Thank you all for your continued support.
Best regard, Martin.