5 problems with Ubuntu 12.04 part 2: Calendaring & forward planning

Ubuntu 12.04 has a number of challenges to overcome before we think it's ready for the planned LTS release later this month. We continue our irreverent list with a few issues with calendaring in Ubuntu 12.04…


Wendy Windows isn’t a happy lady. After her laughable inability to set up an email client in Ubuntu 12.04 she was flamed into next Tuesday and, as such, feels quite unable to continue with our little social experiment.

"This isn't the socio-technological experiment I signed up for."

This being the case we’ve worked hard to find some fresh help. Say hello to Mackenzie Mac. Besides being a full-time web designer, Mackenzie “Mc-Zee” Mac is also an aspiring Brogrammer currently studying hard in an effort to maximise his potential to ‘rage with his crew’ while coding during downtime.

“We got invited to a brogramming party where there were naked ladies in the pool. They were cool programmers.”

Though an unashamed Apple fanatic, his early experiences with Ubuntu 12.04 were positive, citing ‘clean design’, ‘smooth lines’ and a System Settings Panel he insisted he ‘could really work with’.

Ubuntu 12.04's System Settings
Mac OSX's System Preferences


It seems – by and large – Mackenzie was ‘lovin’ it, bra’, until it came to organising his extensive schedule of hedonistic studying and intensive partying.

For Mackenzie, one of the most striking issues was the apparent inability to access his work and social schedule.

It seems an important aspects of his OS X experience is the system-wide integration of Apple’s iCal, and its ability to quickly sync, mirror and share his schedule across more than 38 other iProducts that could be concealed about his person at any one time.

“I feel connected to my schedule. Even on a new device I can get to my calendar quickly – I just connect, subscribe and Whoomp! There it is,” he enthused.

In cutting contrast it seems Ubuntu 12.04 has a rather short sighted view of forward planning.

Why? At the present time there is no default calendaring application in Ubuntu 12.04 (even though there used to be). Moreover, there’s no way  for a user to interact with the Date and Time applet in Ubuntu 12.04’s System Menu, an essential means for one-click quick referencing of appointments.

"I could have sworn I had Beer Pong practice scheduled for tonight…"

Why? The problem centres around the replacement of Evolution email client with Thunderbird. While there are a plethora of valid and proven reasons for doing so, Ubuntu has effectively been left bereft of any calendaring capabilities as a direct result.

The core problem here is that Thunderbird doesn’t have a calendar.

Hai, I don't have a calendar.

If you want to correct the issue, the most obvious advice is to replace the new default email client with the old default email client. Yes – manually roll back to Evolution.

There is another option, though. You could install Lightning, the calendaring add-on for Thunderbird. Mozilla used to have a standalone Calendaring application called SunBird, but Lightning is essentially its Thunderbird ‘integrated’ incarnation, which is great, because it pulls in all the cool stuff from your Thunderbird client. Right?

It does the job well enough. With a bit more fiddling you can import a calendar from a file, or you can add a further add-on to be able to read and write to your Google Calendar. Do you want your calendar to show all your Address Book members birthdays? There’s an add-on for that (though you’ll have to manually add all the birthdays before it will work).

Have you spotted the problem? You need an add-on for an add-on to integrate a feature into the add-on that exists for the sole purpose of integration. It’s kind of like Inception.

Annoying (especially this bit).

The long and short of it is that if Lightning doesn’t integrate effectively with Thunderbird, what’s the point of having an integrated solution in the first place? Oh, and did we mention that the Lightning fix still doesn’t pull your data into the Time & Date applet in the System Menu?

As much as we’d rather slap him around the face with a smoked Kipper, Mackenzie Mac definitely isn’t going to miss Beer Pong practice this week. The git.