One of the most notable changes in Feisty that I have been looking forward to is the updated Rhythmbox with its Jamendo and Magantune support:
With this support you can browse, listen to, download and purchase albums right from within Rhythmbox. It is still very new and a touch buggy, and has a few quirks (when you download albums from Jamendo it loads a torrent instead of adding the album to your library), but it is a great start.
This is the kind of thing I have been banging on about for a while. Sometimes we, the free software community, can get a little pre-occupied with the immediate landscape, and we often focus too much on Linux, free software ethics and open standards. These are essential, but there is a whole world of open content such as Jamendo, Magnatune, Open Clip Art, OpenStreetmap, Wikipedia, Freesound and much more at our fingertips. With such a rich tapestry of open content and a licensing infrastructure (Creative Commons as a great example) that makes it so simple to license and distribute such content, we have a huge opportunity to not only provide a free software Operating System, but to also hot rod it with oodles of free content.
But, this is where we typically fall down. One thing the free software community often sucks at is integration. We are great at building individual chunks of software, but are typically rather ropey at hooking these chunks together in useful and meaningful ways. Of course, this is a sweeping generalisation, and there are indeed exceptions, but I am always keen to see real integration. In my mind the general rule should be:
If you have to access, browse and/or download open content via a web browser, your integration sucks.
The kind of integration I am talking about in Rhythmbox is what I want to see. A media player is your hub for digital content, be it from music players, CDs, online stores, radio or elsewhere, and this is where access to open content should live. We implemented exactly the same approach to this problem in Jokosher with our Freesound Plugin. With it you can browse Freesound content right from within Jokosher, audition it and just drag it into your project. This is real integration.
There are hundreds of opportunities for such content, and both the GNOME and KDE projects need to ensure that they have a strategy for making content available easily for their applications and for their application developers. We should not expect application developers to have to re-invent the wheel everytime they want to include this kind of support in their programs. I would love to see the GTK and Qt projects working on widgets, and the desktops working on pre-rolled support for these services. Adding this support should be trivial.
The desktop is right at the center of a wealth of incredible content, and the free software ethos has spread out and diversified enough to encourage people to these incredible open content archives, so lets make use of them. In my mind, a Linux distribution that does not include native, integrated access to this content is simply missing a trick.