What Ubuntu should mainly do for 11.04
Reading around, many people are expressing their disapproval and worry for the latest directions of Apple: developers for the deprecation of Java and even some regular users in Mac communities are a bit worried about the honesty of Steve Jobs assuring that the new Mac OS X App Store will always be "just another way" to install applications.
In a way or the other, it's clear that a number of people are evaluating alternatives to Mac OS X, at least in perspective. One alternative is Windows 7; the other is Linux. Speaking of regular users, Ubuntu is the principal option, thanks to the particular attention to usability that it demonstrates, right from the installation.
Usability which, unfortunately, is still far from enough. While the installation process is smooth, there are still lots of tuning configurations that should be done manually, including (on my MacBook Pro) the activation of "closed" drivers, which include the WiFi connectivity and the graphic card. The sensitivity of the touchpad out-of-the-box is bad, miles beyond that of Mac OS X; it can probably fixed by tweaking the config files, but again it's not something that a normal use expects.
Sometimes installing a software is still an engineer job. For instance, if you try VMWare Fusion on Mac OS X, it installs and runs with a number of clicks. On Linux, VMWare Workstation needs compiling some drivers... erg, in 2010? Yes, the process is nicely hidden behind a graphic progress window, but unfortunately it miserably fails. And you discover that there are syntax errors due to changes of the kernel, and you have to apply a patch. Of course, five minutes for an engineer, but a total showstopper for a regular user (and don't think that VMWare is a stuff for engineers only: especially in these periods in which people are trying for alternatives, nothing better than a virtual machine could help transitioning to a different operating system with an incremental approach - I mean, some non-engineers have done that in Mac OS X for transitioning from Windows).
Last but not least, the look and feel is still geeky. Surely, it has been improved, but not enough. The alternatives are even more geeky, and it's appalling that Canonical wasn't able to hire some good graphic designer for this job (with "good" I mean somebody who has got in mind the end user expectations).
No surprise that Linux failed to take advantage of the Windows Vista fiasco and is still relegated to a little niche in the desktop world (talking in general, of course, including end users). Now there's another chance: will be able Canonical to catch up with the next release? Note that these are things that require small amounts of work, so they would fit with the deadline. It's a matter of awareness and political decisions.