The Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, Florida is now over and we now have the list of the changes that we may see in Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal", which is expected in April 2011.
Here is a brief description of the main decisions taken for Ubuntu 11.04:
Unity For The Desktop
Ubuntu has decided to move away from the upcoming GNOME Shell and has decided to adopt its Unity interface for the desktop as well. Unity is currently the default interface for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10.
This is perhaps one of the most important decisions ever taken for Ubuntu. Naturally many are disappointed and some have accused Canonical of trying to fork GNOME.
In any case, Unity is really unusable right now in UNE 10.10. So, if they want to bring that in the desktop as well, the developers have their work cut out for them.
Banshee In; Rhythmbox Out
It has been decided that Rhythmbox needs to go and Banshee has been picked to replace it. Since Banshee is based on Mono, there is some issue with the CD space though and that needs to be worked out first.
There is really nothing wrong with Rhythmbox - Banshee is considered better. The fact that Banshee is based on Mono is sure to cause discomfort to a lot of people though. Anyway, Rhythmbox will always be in the repo.
LibreOffice Favored Over OpenOffice.org
Ubuntu is no longer going to ship with OpenOffice.org - instead it will come with LibreOffice. With the prevailing tension between the OOo community and Oracle, the future of OOo seems uncertain.
Firefox To Stay
With Chromium's surging popularity, there was extensive discussion on if Chromium should replace Firefox in Ubuntu 11.04. Finally, though, it has been decided that Firefox will stay.
The fact that Chromium does not integrate as well with the whole desktop and its lack of translation, meant that it could not be picked as the default browser. Chromium is also said to have security issues.
Elementary is perhaps the most visually pleasing theme for Ubuntu. Naturally it came up for discussion but it was rejected because of the patches are considered hacks.
No Thunderbird; Evolution To Stay
Thunderbird was suggested as a replacement for Evolution. However, because of the lack of calendar, contacts and integration with the messaging menu and appmenu, Evolution will stay for as default Natty atleast.
You can see more at the blueprint.