Ubuntu Is A Poor Standard Bearer For Linux

By Caitlyn Martin
April 10, 2010 | Comments: 222

While Linux is a power to be reckoned with in the enterprise server room it continues to struggle for acceptance on the consumer desktop. On the desktop the most popular distributions, far and away, are Ubuntu and Fedora. Which one is more popular is an ongoing debate between Canonical and Red Hat, the companies which produce the two distributions. However, when it comes to Linux media and the wider tech press there is no contest: Ubuntu has mindshare and gets the lion's share of media coverage. For Linux on the desktop Ubuntu is the de facto standard bearer. To whatever part of the general non-geek public is even aware of Linux the names "Linux" and "Ubuntu" are all but interchangeable. Over the past few years I've come to the conclusion that this state of affairs is, at best, unfortunate.

Case in point: I have an HP Laserjet 1020 printer which works fine under Linux. Well, it always has, but today I plugged it into my HP Mini 110 netbook running Ubuntu 9.10 and nothing happened. None of Ubuntu's printing tools or CUPS recognized the printer. lsusb correctly listed a USB device for the printer but did not have a description for it. I checked in synaptic and the proper drivers and firmware are all installed. Hmmm... I did a Google Linux search and found this gem: Ubuntu 9.10 does not detect HP LaserJet 1020 on cold-plugging.

It seems I haven't printed from the netbook, only the desktop running SalixOS, since I upgraded from Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron) to 9.10 (Karmic Koala). It also seems that a bug classified as "high priority" by the Ubuntu people has had no movement whatsoever in nearly two months. I guess I've run into the same attitude at Canonical that has so annoyed me before: we'll get it in the next release. Not fixing the current, supported release seems to be just fine with Canonical. For me, with Ubuntu, this was strike three. They're out of here. Actually, this was about strike 12 but since Ubuntu is so darned popular I keep giving them chances. Silly me.

We FOSS supporters get all on our high horses about proprietary software while we keep offering up "Linux for humans" that, in reality, is an oft broken mess, at least in the case of Ubuntu. I am back to believing Andrew Wyatt was right when he called the distro "garbage salad." This is a perfect example of what he was describing. No wonder CrunchBang Linux is moving to a Debian as a base instead of Ubuntu. Linux Mint may be moving in the same direction.

The developers of these three Linux distributions have an excellent point. In the nearly six years since Ubuntu was introduced there have been a lot of improvements. Sadly Ubuntu still falls down in one major area: reliability. Joe and Jane User doesn't really care about FOSS philosophy or even technical merit the way Linux geeks do. They want things to "just work". If we really want to lure people away from Windows and even MacOS to Linux we have to offer a product that works reliably. We can't have hardware magically stop working after a routine upgrade.

There has been a lot of discussion about why Ubuntu consistently fails to deliver a stable, reliable product. Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron) was, in fact, very stable and reliable after the first maintenance release (8.04.1) so I have no doubt that Canonical can produce a quality product. One idea which is often raised is that the rigid six month release cycle may just be too frequent. Another is that Ubuntu tends to stay on or near the cutting edge of Linux development and that, inevitably, leads to breakage. I think there is some truth to both theories and Canonical's success with the Long Term Support (LTS) versions of Ubuntu, released every two years with subsequent maintenance releases, seems to bear that out. So do the track records of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is released relatively infrequently, and Fedora, which is cutting edge. RHEL is extremely reliable while Fedora tends to have some issues. The problem for both Canonical and Red Hat, of course, is that to support the latest and greatest hardware you sometimes do have to live on the cutting edge.

The one conclusion I have reached is that Ubuntu is a very poor standard bearer for Linux. It isn't what I want Linux judged by. Other distributions have problematic releases but other major distributions do not have significant problems in nearly every release. Ubuntu does. So how do we, in the Linux press make people outside of the Linux community aware that Linux does not equate to Ubuntu? That is the real challenge we now face if we want Linux to be more widely accepted.

UPDATE: I've read all the comments and found some very valid points that helped me clarify my thoughts regarding Ubuntu. Please read the follow up article here.

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Hi Caitlyn,

The most popular distros have these two points in common:
1. They follow a six-month cycle.
2. There's a big company behind each of them.

Such a short cycle is very good for the visibility of these distros. More users means more commercial users... This is not a blame, I understand that the companies behind need to have revenues. But the result is what we know and what you described in your text. Also, we can read everywhere that "the bugs will be fixed in the next version". One more strategy... It's not really worth fixing bugs because in just a few months from now, there will be another release... They loose users because of the bugs but if we compare to the number of new users the visibility brings...

We, Linux users, can't wait to try new versions. What I wonder is do we really need to change our OS twice a year ? Do we have a part of responsability in the fact that the most popular distros are "not perfect" ? If we change our habits, will the companies behind change theirs too ? Maybe not, maybe money always wins...

Oncle Jean

Hi all,I'd have to agree with the basics of the story. As a Linux Mint user for many years I find the latest release plagued with awefull stability issue. Thinks that should work don't. As a result I went from Mint 8 back to Mint 7. Maybe the 6 month release cycle is to rigid.

On this point there is lot to be said for the "rolling release" method used by distros such as PCLinuxOS. Never to close to the cutting edge but always a delight to use due to being well thought out and stable.

On a minor point, there are some sunning looking distros out there and whether you like "bling" or not the average user comming from "PC Land" does. Ubuntu is ugly.


Cheers, Rod, for the pointer towards PCLinuxOS.

I've taken a look at their hardware requirements (very decent of them to actually list them) & it seems that it may well be compatible with ALL my current hardware, with drivers available. I shall certainly try-&-test it, & if it does turn out to be 'a delight to use due to being well thought out and stable', then I see no reason for not installing it onto my brain (& recommending it to a couple of friends who first introduced me to Ubuntu as THE OS, but have become somewhat jaded aboot it: one of them is a hacker/programmer, so knows a thing or two).

Five optional desktops: that IS freedom of choice!
I don't like GNOME at all, & I don't like KDE much better. I agree with you: Ubuntu IS UGLY! But Mint made me feel nauseous! Personal choice: I like Scotch Bonnet ice-cream! I also like a nice clean desktop.

Q: Why does it take several years for Windows users to make the definite change to a Linux-based OS?

A: Simple, really: If one tried out 'every' desktop 'Linux' flavour to find the one that suited best, at the rate of one-per-week then it would take AT LEAST three years to reach a decision!


@Oncle Jean: I disagree with a couple of points you made. Ubuntu standard releases are supported for for 18 months, not six, so fixing the bugs is critical. It can't be ignored. SUSE, Mandriva and Fedora all manage to fix their bugs so why not Ubuntu? The rapid release cycle is no excuse.

Except for the computer hobbyists out there most people don't upgrade every six months. Businesses sure don't. A lot of people I know in the Linux community would rather have more time during releases than a broken, buggy mess every six months.

There is also a marketing difference between Fedora and Ubuntu. Fedora lets you know they are cutting edge, not necessarily the most stable and certainly not for the masses. Ubuntu claims to be ready for mass consumption, which it clearly is not.


"Except for the computer hobbyists out there most people don't upgrade every six months."

I don't have any numbers but my impression is exactly the opposite. I may be wrong, though.

Thanks for your comments,
Oncle Jean

With all respect madam, I think your post holds no water for the fact that you have contradicted yourself with your arguments.

You point out that Ubuntu is not a good torch bearer because it breaks, in the next breath, you admit that the LTS versions of Ubuntu are very stable and reliable. Which is it?

It is simple, if you want stability, you stick with LTS. If you want cutting edge, prepare to get things broken. I know not of a single distro that can work by the standard you set here.

No one is under any obligation to upgrade their OS every six months. The normal releases are supported for a good 18 months. Whichever you use is a matter of personal choice.


8.04.0 released with a default app (F-Spot) that _didn't even run_ in the 64-bit version. That's on top of the PulseAudio mess which made sure everyone had "pulseaudio -k;pulsaudio" on friggin' speed dial. Oh, yeah, and libflash*** was pulled two days before release because they couldn't get it to work relliably with PA' meaning that Flash and PA got into fits of confusion over which owned ALSA. None of that was fixed until 8.04.1.

I've reported bugs which had a simple text replacement as a "patch" (in order to get the error/recommendation text to line up with the actual menu items or commands that needed to be refernced, but those were marked "invalid" because
1) they'd be fixed next release, and
2) committing the fix would "break translations" (which we already broken since the error/recommendation couldn't be carried out as written).

Face it. Ubuntu's bug fixing is awful. They have thousands of bugs that don't even get triaged before the support cycle ends.

I use it. I've used every version since 4.10, when I switched to it. I write about it. I know Caitlyn's words to be true.

@Oncle Jean: It's easy based on what you see on the Internet to come away with the impression that a lot of people upgrade every six months. Remember who writes the blogs and posts in community forums: it's the Linux hobbyist that dominates.

I do Linux/UNIX consulting for a living so I get a good long look at the business side of things as well as how non-geek, non-hobbyist users do things. Frequent upgrades are not on the agenda. The predominant attitude comes down to "if it ain't broke don't fix it."

Oh, and please accept my apology in advance if I've made an incorrect assumption about where your conclusion is coming from. If you do Linux professionally and still see six month upgrade cycles please do share your experiences.

@ghabuntu: There is no contradiction in my article. Canonical touts regular, standard Ubuntu as "Linux for humans." LTS is touted mainly as a business solution. In addition, I stated that LTS is only stable after a maintenance release or two. Initial releases are every bit the buggy mess the standard releases have been. Read what I said again and please don't put words in my mouth.

Lots of distros do a much, much, much better job than Ubuntu in terms of releases including Mandriva, SUSE, and Pardus. Yes, I wrote a negative review of the last SUSE release but their releases, more often than not, are very good. In point of fact, every other major distribution and quite a few smaller ones do better than Ubuntu both with their releases and with timely bug fixes. Any one of them would be a better standard bearer than Ubuntu.

This entire post is based on the premise that your Ubuntu is garbage because your printer did not work. No doubt there is no such thing as perfect OS. However, I really find it very unfair to Ubuntu when it is judged based on the negative experience some people encounter.

You mentioned somewhere in the post that the word Ubuntu is itself becoming synonymous with Linux, have you ever asked yourself why?

Because for 90% of the time, it just works. Like that. And honestly madam, that is what the average Joe wants. Contrary to common perceptions in the FOSS world, everyday people do not like to fidget with their software. They just want it to work, and Ubuntu does that so magically.

No, my article is not based on my one experience with the printer. It is based on six years of experience with far more serious bugs, like Intel video chipsets not working. Perhaps you don't remember Xubuntu releasing with a non-functional desktop. Read my review of Feisty Fawn for O'Reilly at: http://www.oreillynet.com/linux/blog/2007/05/xubuntu_gets_feisty.html How about Gutsy Gibbon, with a Network Manager that hung and dropped wireless connections regularly with some very popular wireless chipsets? The printer issue was the latest in a long string of issues, the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Ubuntu doesn't work 90% of the time. I haven't seen a release without major issues from Ubuntu since Edgy Eft. Karmic Koala was the best of a really bad bunch.

Why is Linux becoming synonymous with desktop Linux? Marketing and hype, the same thing that propelled Microsoft's success. Technical excellence has nothing to do with it.

Yes, the average user just wants their computer to work. I think I said that in the article. That is where Ubuntu fails miserably and why it is such a poor standard bearer for Linux.

Funny. You actually said marketing hype when in fact I have not seen any official Ubuntu ad anywhere before. I prefer calling it community publicity :-).

I always like to see or rather look at Ubuntu from the angle of contribution it has made to bringing desktop Linux to the limelight and notice of more everyday Joes and Sarahs than all the other distros.

That I doubt, could have happened if it did not just work. For me, every release just works, maybe I have a simple computer that does not need a gazillion things to make it functional.

I also am not disputing that every release has a bug. Heck even the multibillion dollar Win7 had suffered bug issues when it was launched. My problem with critics like yourself madam, is that you paint the picture as if Ubuntu never works and is just "garbage salad." As if it has done no good or brought nothing of substance to the FOSS world.

With your vast experience and expertise, I am not eager to believe that you think creating a functional OS for a diverse range of devices is an easy task.

Community hype and media hype is still hype. The best advertising in the world is free and I guarantee you it comes from Canonical offices in the form of everything from press releases to interviews. You don't need an ad to have a hype machine and Ubuntu has a very good one.

I do know what goes into developing a distro, both peripherally from my time at Red Hat and with my current project. If you clicked through to my O'Reilly bio you'd know that I am a lead developer for the Yarok Project. No, there have been no public announcements or releases yet. In the light of what my article says would you like to guess why? We're an all volunteer project, a handful of developers, tackling a couple of very specific niches which Linux doesn't serve terribly well at present. We won't release until it works and neither should Ubuntu. Rigid release schedules are recipes for disaster as Ubuntu has so aptly demonstrated.

Yes, all distros have bugs. Ubuntu has more bugs than any other major distro (and I've evaluated them all) and tends to have more show stopping, really big bugs than the others.

Oh, and pray tell, what good has Ubuntu brought to the FOSS world? How many kernel patches have they submitted when compared to Red Hat, Novell or even Mandriva? How many major Open Source projects do they fund? How many developers do they have on staff? What do they really give back to the community? Compared to the other major distros I believe the correct answer is they've done precious little for the FOSS community.

I was quoting Andrew Wyatt when I used the term "garbage salad." He's not far off IMNSHO, which is why three rather popular Ubuntu distros (Mepis, CrunchBang and Linux Mint) have jumped ship or are jumping ship for Debian. Have you wondered why that happened if Ubuntu delivers such wonderful code? I notice you didn't respond to the list of past issues I gave you after you falsely claimed I was trashing Ubuntu over one printer problem.

Look, I get it, you're a true Ubuntu believer. I am hardly alone in my view that other distros do a much better job with Linux for the mainstream than Ubuntu does. I would much rather see a newcomer try Mandriva, for example. The chances of success are simply better.

I'd be glad if you actually retract the "after you falsely claimed..." part of your reply. I made that statement because the central theme of your post is a bug that makes your printer not work. Thanks.

I did not respond to them because there is no need to. You still are not getting my point. Maybe I am not speaking the English good enough.

To claim Ubuntu has brought nothing to the FOSS world is, to put it in a nice way, very delusional. With all the other 'better' distros you claim, why do people day in and day out keep calling Linux Ubuntu?

You put that to hype. Well in the world of FOSS, hype does not work well. If Ubuntu were anything near the garbage salad that you quoted, it would not have passed its first three years. For every one Mandriva user or any of your chosen distros who is satisfied with it, I can give you a hundred Ubuntu users who are pleased with it.

Oh, and I'm just wondering why those who actually know coding or are geeks do not fix their own issues but resort to lambasting. I thought FOSS is about DIY when you ain't satisfied with what you are given.

Excellent read. I am very glad that other distributions are starting to see the light and are moving upstream.

I agree with you on all points.

RedHat, and its forks are stable because of their distribution model. Take the kernel for example, it is based off of 2.6.18 released in 2007. New drivers and fixes are back ported to this kernel and even though we are now at version 5 update 4, vendor drivers are still binary compatible.

That's 3 years of binary compatibility with RedHat, where with Ubuntu you get 6 months. Who wants to incur the cost of rewriting their drivers every *6 months*?

The real issue in my opinion is that the team building the distribution is thin (on man power) and very immature (as developers). They make a LOT of rookie mistakes and it makes "Linux" look bad because this is *THE* "consumer" targeted distribution. To the common consumer "Ubuntu" is "Linux" as you imply in your article. Unfortunately even today, 6 months after I first called Ubuntu a "Garbage Salad" we still see devastating rookie mistakes being made.

It is yet another rookie mistake to think that consumers prefer social media and shiny themes over stability. They seem to ignore the mistakes Microsoft made with ME, XP (pre SP3), and Vista as they are making the exact same blunders today.

What's going to happen when users find yet another bug that deletes all of their data, or renders their drive inaccessible because it's flagged bad by a bug in one of their libraries?

My $.02.

You still don't get the point, do you? The problem is not that each release of Ubuntu has bugs. Every fresh release of any software has bugs. The real problem is that in Ubuntu, these bugs don't get fixed in the same release. Not even if somebody actually does all the work for maintainers!

You can argue all day that geeks should fix those bugs themselves on their own machine but that doesn't change anything about the fact that fixing bugs in the distro itself once and for everybody is the whole friggin' point of actually running a distro.

@ghabuntu - Ignore my comment below, it wasn't aimed at you but rather Caitlyn.

To respond to your comment, Ubuntu is a garbage salad proven by the devastating issues found within every release.

Why do they call Ubuntu "Linux"? It's pretty easy to figure out, it's called the Canonical marketing machine.

That's also the only reason it's gotten where it has today, because it surely isn't based on their ability to build good software.

I completely agree. Every six months its the same old story. Big whoopeedoo hype before release, bigger letdown afterwards. I bet this will be EXACTLY the same scenario with the release this month. There will be major problems with it just like every release before it. I don't give a damn about "LTS". The mantra should be "If its broke....fix it BEFORE you release it". Don't just release cause its been 6 months. I do credit Ubuntu with getting many things right but in the area of 6 month releases and LTS and bugs up the ying yang its failing miserably. (same with Fedora BTW)
If you want it to be accepted by the general public, if you want it to act as an alternative to Winblows then you have to go one better....no several better than Windows. It has to work flawlessly! Then you can hold up Ubuntu as a destination computer users and implementers use instead of the status quo.

Honestly, you can't get the most stable and most leading edge versions all at the same time. You can do things to manage expectations and improve quality however. Within Fedora, we are getting more and more explicit about what we want to accomplish within the distribution so that our users know what to expect from Fedora.

One recent example is that Fedora Board finalized the target audience for Fedora


We are also working on improving the quality of the distribution by doing a number of things.

* Splitting up the development branch from the next release development (ie) http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/No_Frozen_Rawhide_Implementation

* Setting up more focussed test days

* AutoQA, a framework to run a series of automated tests against all the package builds is under heavy development now

* Fedora Board has also issues a statement on what they want to see from Fedora updates


Once the implementation details are in place, such a policy will take affect. In short, we all have to work on conveying what we are targeting to our end users.

Lol who are you to judge these distributions ? Have you developed anything ? No, you're one reporter that knows nothing but considers itself an "expert" because uses linux and decides to blame the work of thounsands of developers because your hp printer isn't working.

Honestly, you should be at home taking care of your children and doing the laundry. If your children can stad you.



You gotta learn to use that web-browser thingy and follow the link at the beginning of the article.

Caitlyn Martin *is* a developer....

You should learn how to keep your thoughts buttoned up, Women are better suited at multitasking

I bet you keep your wife chained to the kitchen sink, with the kids tied to her ankles to keep her in place (if you have one)

Stop being a bigot and grow up

lets have some more stuff from the sexist guy!

Carling; while you spoke in defense, "woman are better suited to multitasking" is another generalization that is a little hard to back up. and suggesting that sexist guy "keeps his wife chained to the sink" in fact denies sexist guy's wife agency. if sexist guy has a wife, then she probably chooses to over look his sexist comments, or perhaps finds them charming. in either case, suggesting that she is kept chained to the sink is not so different from telling the author that she ought to be with the kids.

i agree with the Caitlyn that Ubuntu releases are often terrible. However, after about three months it is usually worth the upgrade. I run Ubuntu 9.04 on one of my computers and 8.10 on another, and have had very few issues. The key was waiting to upgrade.

Howe, I started my career as a developer. I wrote proprietary software which became an industry standard. I moved on to network engineering because there was more money to be made at the time. I last held a Systems Programmer/Analyst title in 2001 but I have never stopped writing code, mainly for process automation and monitoring. I've also worked as a consultant for Red Hat. I have 30 years as an IT professional, 15 with commercial UNIX, 12 with Linux.

So.. what was that about my knowing nothing? Oh, and hey, that sexism at the end of your post says nothing about me but it says a lot about you. I'm sure many will find your post most entertaining.

Linux is getting better all the time , nothing you can't do about it. Het licht gaat uit vanacht we halen het beest naar buiten...(the opposite)

Well one point you have correct: I sure do. And use your vast experience to fix your hp printer. Perhaps some distro makes it work out of the box and gains your prize of best one ?

To the others, you don't know anything about me so don't say I'm sexist or whatever, when it's the opposite. Just tired of hearing people who knows nothing of nothing saying crap about other products, with irrelevant arguments, just because they can blog about it.

And I keep all my comments who didn't like it, come talk with me personally and we'll talk.

All that knowledge and experience, a developer to boot - and you can';t fix a printer issue??? You are overpaid.

I'm not saying you should have to fix it, yes, it SHOULD work out of the box, yes, Linux, Ubuntu, etc, is flawed and not perfect in many ways, etc.

The above isn't my point.

My point is you're like a Ferrari mechanic that can't rebuild the tranny.

From your words, Linux/UNIX is what you do, it's your gig, and you can't get the printer to work?

No, I am not a device driver programmer, at least not in the last 24 years or so. That is a very specialized skill. A Linux consultant, a professional and well paid one, can earn his or her keep and do a spectacularly good job without having to re-engineer the low level functionality of the operating system. Your auto mechanic analogy does not fit and is completely fallacious.

Second, you, like so many are utterly missing the point. This article is not about a regression in printer support in Ubuntu. It is about a pattern of large numbers of regressions and bugs and a deliberate choice by Canonical not to fix them within a release cycle. The printer issues was an EXAMPLE. Why is that so terribly hard to understand?

Actually, I can answer my own last question. You don't care to understand. I've said your favorite Linux distro is more flawed than most in a fundamental way and since you have no facts to challenge that assertion you resort to throwing the stones. Don't like the message? Shoot the messenger!

I am pleasantly surprised to see you use SALIX Os. A truely fine Slackware based distro.

@Rahul Sundaram: I agree with the statement you opened with and appreciate your detailed information on what the Fedora Project is doing to improve quality, increase community involvement and provide realistic expectations to the user community. Thank you very much for posting.

I think my main gripe with Ubuntu is not that they have bugs. They have more than many other distros but even that might be excusable if they portrayed themselves the way Fedora does. If LTS was "Linux for humans" I might very well buy in on that. My complaint is that they hype and market themselves as something they simply are not and then give many people a false and negative impression about Linux.

@Marcel Geijsberts: When Vector Linux announced they were moving away from Slackware I started seriously looking for alternatives. That, plus the lack of a 64-bit release, finally made Vector a no-go for me. I've run SalixOS since November of last year and I have been favorably impressed. Expect a review from me in the not too distant future.

"My complaint is that they hype and market themselves as something they simply are not and then give many people a false and negative impression about Linux."

How so madam?


I have been a (GNU/)Linux user since 1998, and I have been using Linux exclusively since 2005.

I've used RedHat, SUSE (before Novell bought it), Slackware, Ubuntu, Debian (testing/unstable branch), and a non-distribution Linux system I am messing with for masochistic reasons.

I had tried Ubuntu for approximately a day. Based on my brief "experience" with Ubuntu, I think Caitlyn is right on the money.

Let's face it, Ubuntu is, in my opinion, the AOL of Linux.

Caitlyn I stand by your side on your comments, I agree 100% with you, My last comments to Lxer website was "What is it with Ubuntu" "Is this the only distribution you can write about" Every linux journalist rants and raves about how good ubuntu is, to me every commercial version of Linux is rock bottom when it comes to stable standards,

Before any Ubuntu lovers start shouting back I downloaded 10.4 last night did the 100 plus updates. What did I get a crash report this and that shut down unexpectedly. never mind the full release is due out in 20 days,

for myself I always inform people stay away from the commercials versions and keep to the community releases they work out of the box and are ripe for the new users, Linux Mint is my choice with my recommendation to anyone that want to try Linux Mint 8 after mint it's Knoppix 6.3

In fairness you can't judge Ubuntu by alpha or beta code. I'd expect 10.04 to be buggy at this point as it is still in development. There is a lot to complain about with Ubuntu but in all honesty that just isn't a fair complaint.

I also completely disagree with you about commercial Linux. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is rock solid stable. SUSE Linux Enterprise is also a very strong contender. Then again, I work in the business world where a lack of commercial support would disqualify a Linux distribution from any sort of consideration.

I think you make a fair point about bug-fixing in Ubuntu. I've been using it long enough to have some annoying bugs that seem to never get fixed. I still have to install and pin ncpfs packages from Hardy, because it's been broken in every subsequent release and they won't backport fixes even to replace a COMPLETELY NON-FUNCTIONAL VERSION of the package.

That said, if it's so bad why do so many of us keep using it? People say "they should go to a 12/18/24 month release"; but plenty of distros already do that, why aren't you using them?

The answer is, of course, because those release models have their own problems. Show me a Linux enthusiast who runs Debian Stable and I'll show you someone who either has the patience of Job or knows how to backport his own packages.

Now, if I can take you to task on one thing, it's this statement:

"Joe and Jane User doesn't really care about FOSS philosophy or even technical merit the way Linux geeks do. They want things to "just work". "

What does that have to do with it? Did FOSS philosophy get in the way here, or just immature bug fixing? Why do you place FOSS philosophy in opposition to things "just working" in this context?

My comment about FOSS philosophy wasn't well explained in the article. Sorry. FOSS philosophy, "software freedom", is often touted as a reason why people should abandon Windows or Mac. It's a reason that simply does not resonate and one that most people don't understand. In order for people to migrate from Windows or Mac to Linux they have to have a significantly better experience with their computer at doing the things they want to do.

Is that a bit clearer?

Yes. Thanks!

OK, I'll take you up on that.

I have run Debian Stable. With Stable, you don't have to worry about always installing some new version of package X. You can have confidence that the system will work. You have the security that bug fixes are done right, and tested before you get it. All thee are the pluses.

The minuses: Some things are not available. You never see the newest version of anything. uhh, that's about it.

I found that Testing will almost always work with Stable, and that the newer versions are usually there. With Unstable, the newest versions are always there, bot often don't work.

So, as I don't like to upgrade often, I DO like Debian Stable, with occasional forays into Testing.

With that said, I am currently running Xantic, based off Mepis/Debian. And have for about 1 1/2 Years. I am considering going back to Stable. I only like to update every couple of years. I'd rather USE my computer than keep constantly keep tweaking it.

I may not be "typical".

Its getting better every release. I'am happy. My name is Joe. Nuff said.

For many folks Ubuntu has been a bridge into the *nix world. For whatever reason, nothing else -- including Fedora -- compelled me to really shake away from the Windows-only world until the day I installed Warty Warthog on my desktop at home. I think Ubuntu/Canonical deserve some credit for that. I fully appreciate the main point about unfixed bugs, but second the thought that for stability the LTS versions (so far) have proven to be reasonably solid, and if you want to play with more bleeding edge the 6 month releases are there. This article just comes across as sour grapes. I've been happy with LTS for the servers at work and at least trying each new 6m release on the desktop at home. Didn't like 9.10 desktop as much as 9.04, so I'm still running Jaunty there rather than running 9.10 and complaining about it.

If Ubuntu marketed LTS as the ready for prime-time version and the standard releases as bleeding edge I would have nothing to complain about. They don't and that really is a big part of the problem.

Call it "sour grapes" all you like but taking a realistic look at the problems withing the Linux community and with Linux distributions is a big part of pushing for change that needs to happen. You also seem to be missing the main point: it's not that Ubuntu is horrible but rather that other distributors do what Ubuntu strives to do and do a much better job of it. Despite that Linux gets equated with Ubuntu and THAT really is a problem.

Interesting take on Ubuntu, but I take issue with your fundamental point. As far as I'm concerned we don't want to lure Joe and Jane User away from anything. If they want to take part in the greatness that is free and open source software, they must come of their own accord. Otherwise they feel they are owed something because it doesn't "just work" the same way that windows or macs do.
Of course neither windows or macs "just work" either in 100% of cases, but Apple hid that fact for many years by only selling matched hardware. Maybe the linux community could learn from that.

One thing Ubuntu is guilty of is hype, in that I agree. But judging by the comments on several well known websites, the people they are attracting would have issues with a pocket calculator !

I have been a mostly satisfied RedHat user for over 10 years now, and a user of Fedora since the beginning.

When Ubuntu was first announced to the world I could see trouble ahead. They made claims that could never be realised.
Despite that, I decided to give them a go and requested several live CDs from their official distribution program.
These discs arrived in good time, and were good quality professionally produced discs.

Not one disc booted !
When I posted a comment to this effect on the website, I was asked for a bug report ( ??? ) and basically told it was a problem with my hardware. My hardware had no trouble with knoppix or DSL but not one of the 10 Ubuntu discs I received would boot.

Hardly an auspicious beginning.

These days I cringe when I hear somebody mention Ubuntu as the Linux system they are intending to try out. And I definitely do not recommend it to anyone.

What people seem to forget is that it is only 15 years since windows 95 was new, and what a bag of *@%& that was ! It's taken microsoft 15 years to get from there to where they are now, and they still don't get it right.

"How do we make people outside of the Linux community aware that Linux does not equate to Ubuntu?" I'll tell you how.

You put up a post called Ubuntu is not Linux. Mobs arrive at your gates to burn you at the stake. You try to clean up in a subsequent posting. More mobs arrive, with pitchforks and torches and buckets of tar.

The flames become fanned to the four corners of the Earth - to this day, there are posts about me translated into dozens of languages I do not speak condemning me for being "the anti-Ubuntu guy," going around in circles of people who NEVER EVEN READ MY ACTUAL POST, but are just going on title and what so-and-so says about me.

Nearly two years later - and you're still getting flames about it - you sit down to painstakingly compose a seven-part mugnum opus entitled "You Can Hack an OS, But You Can't Hack People", explaining everything in flabbergasting Kindergarten clarity with cute little map cartoons and citing every word with a source to back it up.

Then people go "Oh! I think I get it now." and then forget about you.

And then you resign from Maggie's Farm (it's a Bob Dylan reference) saying that's it, you're done preaching Linux sermons. And everybody comments "But why? We need you!"

LOL, Pete. Sounds about right based on my experience :)

Where I disagreed with your take on Linux==Ubuntu back in 2007 as well as now, is probably semantic. Ubuntu is Linux in that it's built on a Linux kernel. As we see Linux on everything from tiny embedded devices to mainframes I think it's fair to say that the Linux kernel, and therefore by definition Linux, is flexible enough to fit into many different roles and many different spaces.

Where you hit the nail on the head was in pointing out that Ubuntu has an entirely different target audience than many older, established Linux distributions and that means it isn't going to satisfy those who want something different than what Ubuntu is trying to deliver. Folks who want and like a UNIX-like free OS and folks who want a Windows-like free OS have very different goals in mind. It seems Mark Shuttleworth wants Ubuntu to be Mac-like now :) Anyway, people were ignoring your valid point back then, as you now say, and taking what you wrote as an attack on their favorite distro. You never said "Ubuntu sucks", did you? I'm honestly treading a lot closer to that territory than you ever did.

Anyway, my point, which is entirely different than the one you were making in 2007-08 is that Ubuntu is failing in a key area in delivering to it's intended audience. To get people away from Windows you have to be better than Windows.

Finally, where your pieces and mine converge nicely is on the point that defining Linux in terms of Ubuntu does a great disservice to Linux. First, Linux is so much more than one general purpose distro. Second, Linux can appeal to people who would find nothing of interest in Ubuntu, as you said in your own special way. Finally, if Ubuntu doesn't even do Linux for Windows refugees as well as Mandriva or OpenSUSE or something else then it really shouldn't be our standard bearer, should it?

That still doesn't translate to "Ubuntu sucks." It says that Ubuntu isn't a model distribution and others are doing a better job at the moment. Of course, Ubuntu is a commercial product. Canonical pays a lot of lip service to community involvement but the decisions are based on what Canonical perceives as best for their business. I would argue that's what's best for Canonical right now isn't what's best for Linux as a whole. I would also argue that what's best for Linux isn't being closely identified with Ubuntu.

If people hate me for expressing an honest opinion, well... that's there problem.

> "I would argue that's what's best for Canonical right now isn't what's best for Linux as a whole. I would also argue that what's best for Linux isn't being closely identified with Ubuntu."

That's an excellent bottom line! I think almost anybody can agree on that. In keeping with that, one of the original points I was going for back in '07 was to just let the "Linux" tag fall off of Ubuntu. Market it on its own. It would be better for Canonical. Market adoption would also be more successful for the small percentage who have shied away from Linux because either they tried it ten years ago and got command-line-ophobia, or because they have been force-fed a stream of FUD by the Usual Sources.

Google understands this. They're just calling it "Android." Yes, it has Linux guts - but does anybody but a geek care? The Google name has stronger marketing pull than the Linux name. To me, it doesn't matter so much if Linux does or doesn't get more famous through Android. When the number of Linux-in-disguise products reaches critical mass, the news will explode out on its own.

@Penguin Pete:

Having read your link, I recommend that you have an 15 HDD machine, with Minix, Kolibri, Syllable, Bluebottle, Haiku, MenuetOS, Haiku, ReactOS, MikeOS, BareMetal, ShoockOS, Visopsys, TomOS & DexOs installed on 14 of them, & Plan9 installed on disc 15 to act as a server interface for all of them.

Alternatively, use ALL the versions of 'Linux' to create a 'macro-kernel'-based OS built upon Linux 1.0. It should require ONLY aboot a petabyte of RAM.

Please do this! Save the world! Give us real Freedom! Stop the polar meltdown, so that penguins can have somewhere to live!

I still use Ubuntu even though I had a dist-upgrade (7.10 I think) that hosed everything. I liked a Crunchbang VM I tried and now that they're moving to debian I would probably migrate to Crunchbang or debian testing if it didn't mean rebuilding symlinks and copying config files.

At some point one does have to choose between stability and feature set. Linux is at a disadvantage with average users because of, surprisingly, the packaging system. Most users expect to be able to download a stand alone installer and the idea of waiting for a version to make it into repositories or, heaven forbid, managing a backport, is so foreign to them that it is almost nonsensical. In this respect Linux is a different animal.

Caitlyn; I believe that Ubuntu is not all it is cracked up to be. A friend of mine has 10.04 LTS Beta2 and will not keep flash player and flash plugins installed once leaving a web page that requires it.

To me Ubuntu should follow Mint's or Pardus's lead. I have never had any printer problems or wireless problems using those two. I am about to give Knoppix 6.3 a try also.

I think Ubuntu misrepresented itself and is not a good Linux OS. I had gOS aka Ubuntu 7.04 LTS and that worked fine. Seems that is the only Ubuntu I have had any luck with. To make a long story short just stay away from Ubuntu. You'll save yourself from having a lot of heartache and be much happier.

Ubuntu still, for me, by far has been stable on almost everything I throw at it.

Incidentally,starting with Lucid for sure, but it may be on Karmic as well, you can install mainline kernels. That is, a kernel that has not been modified by Ubuntu. I would try this before laying waste to Ubuntu.

If you are a developer, why don't you HELP Ubuntu fix this printer issue by providing bug reports and patches? You may have done this, but basing this on what I see as 3 separate issues from over the years of development is just idiotic. There may have been others, but what Linux distro doesn't have these? Oh...yeah...super old stable Debian. Yup. That's the one. But then there's a lot of things you WON'T have since Debian stable is usually quite old.

You can switch if you want, but Ubuntu has done more for the Linux desktop than any distro has. That's a fact.

@Gorkon: It's not a fact. Red Hat and SUSE have done far more for desktop development than Ubuntu ever has. Those two companies employ most of the GNOME and KDE developers between them. How on earth can Canonical compare with that? Give me a break!

Three problems over years? I can name more than three serious bugs per release. Others have already done that, from the fiasco that pulseaudio was under Ubuntu initially. ALSA didn't work with intel_sda audio chips under 8.10. That release also didn't work worth a darn with most Intel video chipsets. How long was networkmanager problematic? Three releases? Four? How long a list of problems, serious problems, show stopping problems do you want? Let me know because I can go on listing Ubuntu bugs all night.

I've added to Ubuntu bug reports in the past. The printer issue has been well documented by multiple users over the past two months. I'm not an early adopter so I rarely am the first to report anything and I have nothing to add other than to say "yep, me too." I'm sorry but other distros, the big ones anyway, aren't anywhere near the level of mess that Ubuntu up through Jaunty has been.

You want me to fix printer problems (really a udev problem) in Ubuntu? When and if Canonical makes me a suitable job offer I'll be happy to work on it for them. Huge clue: I haven't applied. Please remember that Ubuntu is a commercial venture backed by a well funded company with a billionaire in charge.

Stable? Any Red Hat Enterprise/CentOS/Scientific Linux release for starters. Any Slackware release would qualify as well. SalixOS 13.0.x has been rock solid for me. Heck, even itty bitty VectorLinux has a better track record than Ubuntu.

Sorry, gorkon, but no sale. You are defending the indefensible as far as I am concerned. There is no way Ubuntu should be considered representative of Linux. It is a poor representative indeed which is, after all, my whole point.

Ubuntu's problem is size. They take on too much. They need to find a way to use Launchpad and PPAs to shift all non-essential stuff out of Ubuntu (and stop importing 20,000 packages from Debian unstable all the time) so that the core functionality can be seriously tested before release. Individual devs/MOTUs can test their own packages and deal with their own bug reports, without that software being supported by Canonical.

Right now, the bugs that get reported during the alpha/beta cycle don't even all get triaged before the next version is released. Ugh! Too big! Less is more.

I have had two nvidia cards that worked fine in Mandriva and Fedora that Ubuntu cannot seem to handle. The problem with Ubuntu is not just with Printers there are thousands of bugs in Ubuntu you will not find in many other linux distro's. I will never understand why ubuntu is so popular I just hope someday they get their act together.

Here is my theory about Ubuntu's popularity.

It is marketed well for average computer users. It may have issues compared to other distros, but the issues pale in comparison to what average users had to deal with before they moved to Linux, so they feel it is 'good enough'. It also makes it easier for an average user to install software to display patent/copyright restricted formats. Not to mention the aesthetics that non-techies are attracted to. And I bet non-techies are about 90% of the human population.

Other distros like Fedora seem to cater to more savvy users who know or want what Linux is really capable of. It helps that it is backed by a proven industry in the enterprise space, which is no small feat. The desktop side is also good, but not as alluring as Ubuntu's.

I personally tried both Ubuntu and Fedora myself, and Ubuntu was good enough for desktop use, but not for something I wanted: a full fledged cutting edge workstation in a networked environment. Fedora has all the signatures of stability for this type of environment, which Ubuntu CAN be made to have, but not without some effort.

I think it is good to have a variety to cater to different audience, and each distribution can also learn from each other's focus area and improve. It's all good for the users.

Well I like to see good critics against Ubuntu from time to time,cause all I see in this distro is just hype,and features they brag about,wich are Gnomes or Red Hat innovations.Ussualy I wouldn't care about this distro,I left it some time ago,not only beacause of the bugs...but the passion that those fanboys are putting into this crappy distro,I mean c'mon,have you ever tried PCLinuxOS,now that's a linux os for desktops(to bad it hasn't got a 64bit edition).
Sorry ubunteros you suck,the main reason I'm not using Ubuntu!

you have a good point Caitlyn,regarding ubuntu bugs but than again i never found a distro that can match ubuntu .mandriva is to buggy last time i checked (a crash report every 5 min),opensuse loses connection to the net and a simple task like playing a dvd can be a hassle let a lone trying to install them . fedora ammm you need about 2-3 gigabytes of updates also buggy .
i understand that ubuntu is the most famous distro thats way everyone love to hate it .
''they hype and market themselves as something they simply are not and then give many people a false and negative impression about Linux.''
the fact is that there is negative impression about Linux IT IS HARD TO USE AND ONLY GEEKS USE IT, a simple user wants something thats simple , backed by a company , and it dos't have the word linux attached to it .

best regards

Hello madam..
I'm a student doing Engineering.. I've been reading this article since quite some time to see the comments. I am a noob in the world of linux, so i'll like to mention the point of view of a noob.. I started using linux since ubuntu 9.04 (before that I had ubuntu 8.04 installed but never really made a complete switch from windoze) and now i use LinuxMint-KDE64 (which is again ubuntu based) and planning to switch to OpenSuse 11.2 (I've downloaded and installed OpenSuse ISO along with Mint - i'm yet to switch) and my final aim is to be able to successfully run and administer an Arch-Linux installation (had problems when i tried once, then decided to get my basics clearer and try later).. So basically it was ubuntu which introducced the curious me to the world of linux.. So I, and I'm sure there are lots more like me, who are thankful to ubuntu for this, though I use a different distro now.. Yes, it might have a lot of bugs, I'm not trying to deny that.. More than that, I'm not eligible to deny that cos I've not really tried many other distros..But there are few things in ubuntu which appeal to a new user to start using linux at the first place.. I'll tell my experience here: As soon as I install a distro, I first try to check if it can connect to the internet through my motoroala gprs phone, either through the network manager or wvdial (cos that's the only source of internet that I have in my hostel, and my phone just won't work in windoze no matter which version I try, so it's very important to get it working under linux).. Next I'll want to play video and music files in any distro (any home user would want this), and in ubuntu I've to just double click on a media file, it'll tell me that I need to download a few codecs, I just have to click "OK" and connect to the internet.. (In OpenSuse I had to google to install this!!, not a big thing for regular users like us, but totally alien to a noob, they just want things to work, remember!!) Next, I want the main thing which attracted me to linux, i.e. awesome 3D graphics, ubuntu tells me that I need to install n-vidia drivers, again all I've to do is click "OK" and then install "compiz", and at this point, I consider switching to that OS.. So ubuntu has succeeded atleast on my comp to get these things done.. That's the reason it appealed to me and probably many other users.. So basically, a noob needn't know anything about linux (other than "it's another operating system like windoze"), to start using ubuntu.. Of-course, if one is totally ignorant of the open-source philosophy and continues to use linux, it doesn't really solve the purpose of having made that person switch, but then again, these things are learnt over time.. Like, now I've learnt what are repositories, what's a package manager, what exactly is a linux kernel, what is GNU, gnome and kde, what's open source all about n why did it start, I've learnt some bash-scripting too to make my way through certain tasks easier when required.. And it doesn't end there, I've introduced and influenced so many of my friends to use linux (more than a 100 installations of my custom ubuntu based distro which I, with the help from many of my friends, had compiled for popularising linux in my college), often I myself go and install it for them (used to install ubuntu before, now i recommend LinuxMint cos it'll be easier for me to help them out in case of problems since I also use the same).. Even my girlfriend has been influenced enough to use ubuntu as a complete alternative to windoze, (a long-dist reln, so the next time I get to meet her, I'll install LinuxMint on her comp :) ) All this wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't started using ubuntu at t first place.. I definitely do not know whether ubuntu has contributed code to the kernel, or gnome or kde, I just found out from you that they haven't, but they sure have done a good job in attracting a crowd to linux and I support ubuntu for this.. And this very same crowd will definitely try a different distro if ubuntu doesn't satisfy their needs or they just want something better (like I am doing now), the quality will speak for itself.. One thing is for sure, that it's definitely better than the windoze (esp vista) that I used before.. Madam, I would please like to know why a developer with 12 years of experience with linux would want to depopularise any linux distribution for that matter.. Cos honestly, i'm not able to understand how talking cheaply about a distro is going to help FOSS, other than helping to create flame wars.. It's not wrong to criticize it, not at all, but please try to be a little less rude to ubuntu, cos it might drive new users reading this away from linux.. I've just mentioned my point of view here, if I've said anything wrong here, please bring it to my notice, thank you in advance..

Spot-on, Caitlyn, & much more eloquently than I've put it elsewhere.

I started with 7.04 thru 9.04, which worked fine (apart from not being able to install my many fonts - & therefore not be able to read & edit documents composed on MS Word - & not having a music player/recorder that came close to i-Tunes) & my mobile broadband & printer worked (even if it did take an unreasonable amount of time in terminal, installing CUPS - but such things are to be expected in the world of FOSS: part of the cost of 'freedom').

Come to 'upgrade' to 'Krippled Kitten', & all of a sudden: no printer & no driver available - which is (of course) the fault of the printer manufacturers (!), because apparently no-one in FOSSland seems to have bothered to make executable programmes work (you know: those exe. installers that come with proprietary hardware), & the CUPS which worked perfectly before suddenly didn't. At least I still had mobile broadband (which I didn't have with OpenSolaris/PC-BSD/Pardus), but KK crashed 'by default'. The 'upgrade' turned out to be an almost completely new version, & a lousy one at that! 'Stable'?! Yeah, sure! I've tried 'Alphas' that work better.

In the long run, a printer is essential for my work, & I'm not going to go out & buy a new one just because the current 'stable' release of a distro recognises it (will it still do so in six months' time?). I also want a reliable OS, which is what I have with my very 'hacked'/debloated (official) XP(SP2), which is faster & more stable than ANY 'Linux/Unix' distro I've tried; & I haven't even run nLite yet!

(Incidentally, from a complete reinstall, it took me less than two hours to debloat & streamline my XP. In comparison, I spent six hours in terminal trying to install my printer according to the guidelines(s) given by the Ubuntu forums, before reinstalling XP).

I don't care much for updates when something already works, & 'support' means little to me (I'm not a commercial end-user). Don't even mention the forums, let alone the fundamentalist/elitist 'L-users' who seem to take pride in changing OSs more often than they change their socks, & can obviously afford to spend their 'lives' either in terminal (are they all rich-kids who have no human relationships whatsoever?), or, in blogspace abusing anyone who doesn't agree with them. 'Towards humanity', huh? And why do so many recommend either using Wine or dual-booting alongside 'Windoze'?

Sure, I'm not a programmer/developer, but I don't see how people are going to be persuaded to 'convert' to an OS that doesn't recognise hardware, etc., etc., when the alternative is a bootlegged XP clone that simply works & recognises (nearly) everything (other than OGG). Ylmf ('Ubuntu-XP', apparently made by the same people who make 'clone XPs') probably comes closest to achieving this (I actually have Ylmf 1.0 (English Edn.) installed on my 'test machine', & reckon it's probably perfect if you have a netbook & spend your computer time on the grid, & it's your first OS ever). I think the idea(lism) behind 'software-libre' is ethically sound, but if Ubuntu, or any other 'free' OSOS, is going to live up to its name, the developers need to take account of what humanity actually wants, rather than dictating what they're going to get: I think it's called 'market-research'.

'Freedom' does actually equate to 'choice', in this case. Furthermore, 'free' does not necessarily mean 'better' (Gimp v Photoshop, hmmm? Although MSOffice doesn't come close to OpenOffice(my experience/opinion)).

Every time I've tried a 'stable' 'Linux' distro, I've reverted to a reliable OS that works, recognises hardware/exe./etc., & on which FOSS either works better or actually works (e.g.: OpenOffice/i-Tunes). Furthermore, it is 'my computer', so I have total access & administrative 'authoritah', & never need a password. (For those who love speed, it boots-up in 28secs: Ubuntu takes at least five times as long, and then there's the bloody passwords!).

XP wins, hands down, EVERY time: no contest! And realistically, XP IS a benchmark, still standard issue on many netbooks, & I haven't noticed ANY machines lately on the high-street sporting 'Linux' OSs.

I'm not even going to try 'Languishing Lemur'. I've more faith in ReactOS or Haiku. If I want to spend time making an OS work, there's always DexOS or MikeOS, neither of which claim to be anything more than a hobby OS.

The hardware detection issue is known with 9.10 that should be fixed for 10.04. The problem was a switch from HAL to device kit. 9.10 was a feature release so its not guaranteed to work in its entirety stick to LTS releases if you want to base judgement on the releases. The feature releases are for building up the features and testing before the LTS releases. They are usable but they have some issues.

"most people don't upgrade every six months..."

I agree with Oncle Jean. Most Linux-users actually do upgrade every six months. Perhaps Linus was right when he found six months cycle very "challenging" (meaning perhaps almost impossible).

On the other hand i have the same experience with Caitlyn - Ubuntu 8.04.01 LTS was very good and stabile. I could even said that since august 2008 everything worked fine. I used Hardy until 9.10 release but unlike Caitlyn i have had any problems with printers or other devices. Besides - i don't trust uppgrade at alla - i always make an clean install, just like geeks have always mentioned.

Without Ubuntu millions of people would have never adopted Linux. And besides Microsoft has always promised new "Wovs" and what we have got? Just the same old virus/trojan/malware-sucker and thank-you-for-your-money.

Hardy Heron was my first Linux-distro and without that very successful try i won't perhaps ever move to Linux. Thanks to people of Canonical. I've Ubuntu 9.10, Mint 8 Helena and Mandriva 2010 One KDE on my computer. I installed Mint 7 to my old father and in may i've promised to install Lucid Lynx to my sister's pc.

Caitlyn - I think you are right. Here's my pet peeve - https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ubiquity/+bug/539086

I think I have debugged the entire thing, I have suggested a workaround and verified that this is a regression against previous releases.

Yet there has been no activity - I understand that the developers are busy. But this is an issue that prevents me from, basically, _installing_ the much-vaunted LTS release at all. I just ask that somebody tell me if my debug was good enough or is there some other info required for further debugging.

If 9.10 is not stable then why is it linked on the front page with a huge button? With the tag-line "If you are unsure, play it safe..." no less.

This is the real problem - pushing new versions onto users too quickly. Home users may want the latest and greatest more than businesses do, but not at the expense of stability.

At least the situation is better than it was 10 years ago when my impression of Linux in general was "doesn't work properly on any computer I or anyone I know owns" - meaning nothing other than the bare-bones command prompt worked, and even that was hit and miss.

"This is the real problem - pushing new versions onto users too quickly. Home users may want the latest and greatest more than businesses do, but not at the expense of stability."

One word: Debian.

This is the reason for which I ultimately chose Debian after several years of distro-hopping. The testing/unstable packages are, generally, more stable than some other distribution's "stable" offerings.

I only hope that Debian knuckling under and doing a regular release cycle won't hurt Debian in the long run.

Perhaps ½ year- cycly is indeed too challenging as Linus has mentioned. I haven't installed Debian coz i'm one of those who "like to hop". But - yes indeed - installing only stable Ubuntu LTS could be a fine attitude. But then there is one annoyinging thing. You've to use browsers, OpenOffice,mail-applications with old versions.

Ubuntu 8.04 has support untill spring 2011, but Firefox 3.0 don't. You know, not everyone loves "ubuntuzilla". Tell me one good reason why you can't uppgrade easily your browsers and OO's if you have old LTS-version.

Linux never was about quality.
It was never meant to have standards.
Linux developers work in "bazaar" mode and they are also
proud of doing so.
Never had a small core development team.
Questionable quality bits of code flying into
the kernel from random people..
The worst kind of license, GPL ...
No serious incentive, except being a cheap replacement
for the Windows product...
Linux distros are nothing more than a bunch of shell scripts
and background pictures trying to keep the whole thing
from falling apart...
Unix never was intended for an average home user.
It was made from computer scientists for computer scientists.
Linux is only a pitiful try to take away all this from Unix
and make it an average home user's desktop product.

And now we have a revelation from a clueless chick,
that "Ubuntu' or whatever, has no standards..

I mean lol ... u guys/girls give Unix a bad name.
Seriously, get a copy of Windows and settle down.

(@ksm: Why the sexist attitude? Would the opinion have been valid if the journalist wasn't a 'clueless chick'? Did you actually read the article?)

Linux is NOT UNIX: it's originally a 'UNIX'like' monolithic kernel-based OS that borrowed heavily from Prof.Tanenbaum's microkernel-based Minix OS, which still serves as an excellent educational OS (It's a great pity it never made the mainstream).

UNIX was actually written by computer scientists for industrial/telecommunications applications, servers, etc., as a replacement for the Multics system. UNIX was not written just for other computer scientists (your claim is absurd!): that's who research OSs are (sort of) written for.

If UNIX is SO great, then why did its creators come up with Plan9 (which is weird & wonderful)?

Personally, I'll stay with NTFS hybrid-kernel-based XP, which WORKS, & I'll keep an eye on ReactOS! It'll take a lot to 'convert' me to considering any bloated, slow, crash-prone, password-bound 'Linux' distro as a viable quotidian OS, or as anything other than a 'toy-OS' for people who can afford to spend all day trying to make it work.

@VX37.285Gamma: "XP (SP2) is faster & more stable than ANY 'Linux/Unix' distro I've tried;"??? and "XP wins, hands down, EVERY time: no contest! And realistically, XP IS a benchmark, still standard issue on many netbooks"?? Oh is it? omg.. i feel so sorry for you, I think you should go ask for a refund from the Linux distros you've tried.. Sorry for the sarcasm, but you really need to understand what linux and open source is all about before you make such comments.. One needs to know why he is using linux, if it's just to get a free version of windoze, he's going in the wrong direction.. Read the post by "ksm" above, and better yet, read this post >> "http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm", a must for linux users..I'll tell you where linux benefits people >> I'm not a software engineer, I study electrical, but linux has given me a very good opportunity to study this really big piece of software called "operating system" which is exactly what linux is meant for, "spreading knowledge", an "open mind".. It's not here to compete with windoze..
Quoting lines directly from the link above:

If you want an OS that doesn't chauffeur you around, but hands you the keys, puts you in the driver's seat, and expects you to know what to do: Get Linux. You'll have to devote some time to learning how to use it, but once you've done so, you'll have an OS that you can make sit up and dance.

If you really just want Windows without the malware and security issues: Read up on good security practices; install a good firewall, malware-detector, and anti-virus; replace IE with a more secure browser; and keep yourself up-to-date with security updates. There are people out there (myself included) who've used Windows since 3.1 days right through to XP without ever being infected with a virus or malware: you can do it too. Don't get Linux: It will fail miserably at being what you want it to be.

If you really want the security and performance of a Unix-based OS but with a customer-focussed attitude and an world-renowned interface: Buy an Apple Mac. OS X is great. But don't get Linux: It will not do what you want it to do

All these posts make me wonder if it's microsoft which creates FUD or are the linux users themselves more responsible..

And as far as stabililty of ubuntu going down the past couple of releases is concerned, Shane Fagon (post above) seems to know the reason.. The developers are doing a lot of changes, replacing the HAL, writing a new startup mechanism "Upstart" to improve boot speeds, a new software manager "Ubuntu Software Center".. So all these reasons might have lead to a little unstability, but they might get solved in the next couple of releases, giving us a distro to really look forward to.. So don't lose hope..

And the line said by Anders (post above) can simply not be ignored:
"Without Ubuntu millions of people would have never adopted Linux" (Me included)


@Abhay: You're right, Ubuntu doesn't do what I want of an OS. IT has failed to convince me.

As driver of my own XP machine, I don't need a chauffeur: I have the (registry) keys, & I don't need passwords for anything. I'd not say the same for GNOME.

But, I don't get Windoze 'security' updates, or any other of their updates. I also avoid 'those' websites where most trojans, worms & viri come from. And so what, I use AV, etc. And guess what? No infections!

And I've got an efficient OS that I've tailored to my own requirements, because I learned how it works.

You hinted at a very valid point that many would miss: Ubuntu IS a great place to learn, but ONLY aboot how 'LINUX' operating systems work (or not).


Minix, MikeOS, DexOS, & other such 'research/toy-OSs' serve a similar purpose, & are probably better for that purpose, given that they're amenable to learning from the ground up.

Let's put things into perspective:

According to the logic of your argument, 'Linux' is purely an educational OS for people who want to learn how to operate 'LINUX'-based OSs, people who DON'T want an everyday PC type OS? Fine, then it's nothing more than an Alpha release, at best, & shouldn't EVER be vaunted as either a viable desktop OS, or, as an alternative to Windoze, & certainly never as a 'stable' release.

Come on, Abhay, do you honestly believe that 'Linux' is aboot 'spreading knowledge'?

Just what 'knowledge' is being spread? Dozens of different opinions from the forums that are less helpful than ANY MS 'Help' dialogue (something else I don't use)?

'Open mind'? Idealism is ALWAYS closed-minded!

'Not here to compete with Windows'? So why do SO many 'L-users' make such a big point of pride aboot NOT using Windoze, & how 'Linux' is THE way to 'freedom' from Microsoft?

By the way, I DO understand the underlying dogma behind FOSS, the idea of a free & open-source alternative to UNIX, etc., so your 'sarcasm' is lost.

As for refunds, will the 'Linux' faction refund the time I've spent/wasted on their OSs, not realising the truth that they're not really ? I think not, but that's the cost of tasting 'freedom'.

If you want to learn aboot operating systems & security, then read some Andrew Tanenbaum.

Oh and I'd like to add @ksm:. what you said about linux is something i agree (so does the article http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm), even I'm trying to say the same, and ask people not to create FUD, but do verify what you are saying before you call a person "clueless chick"

"And now we have a revelation from a clueless chick,
that "Ubuntu' or whatever, has no standards.." ??

cos the writer has supposedly been in working as a linux developer since 12 years, before which she worked for UNIX for 15 years..

Anyways. tc..

Hi Caitlyn,

I'm pretty new to Linux and found this article after Googling Fedora 12. I have to say that I disagree with your comments. As a developer you may be looking at this from a developers perspective rather than from an average users.

I came across Linux about 18 months ago after getting thoroughly disenchanted with Microsoft. I tried a couple of distros and ended up finding what I needed in Ubuntu. Similarly a number of colleagues have switched after my recommendations.

Most of us have encountered some minor issues but none were show stoppers. None worse than any other OS for that matter (I recently installed W7 for my better half, and had no end of issues with WiFi drivers). The point is that no OS will support every type of HW and every firmware version.

As a relative newcomer to Linux I also think that there are way too many distro's. I think this is hampering the average Microsoft user from migrating as they often appear confused by the wealth of choice available.

Actually, my day job is not doing development work. I'm a Linux/UNIX consultant. My perspective is serving businesses and occasionally individuals from those businesses, most of whom are not computer savvy.

I accept your description of how Ubuntu has worked for me. "It works for me" is never an answer as any consultant will tell you. It has to work for pretty much everyone. My point, which you seem to be missing, is that you would have had equally good or better experiences with other distributions like Mandriva or PCLinuxOS or Mepis or Pardus. I have never recommended Fedora as a good choice for newcomers, BTW. The difference between Fedora and Ubuntu is that Fedora doesn't market itself as being suitable for mass consumption while Ubuntu does.

Regarding hardware support my example with the HP printer applies: Ubuntu doesn't support it well while other distros do. It is NEVER acceptable for something to magically stop working because of a simple upgrade. That, as I've stated before, is only one example of many.

Linux, as in any modern distro, supports more hardware than Windows 7 does natively. That isn't unique to Ubuntu. If it was then Ubuntu would really be something special. It isn't.

My point, which I'll repeat again, isn't to say that somehow "Ubuntu sucks". My point is to say that it shouldn't be equated with Linux. Ubuntu as a standard bearer does as much harm as good. There are better choices out there which, based on your comments, I believe you have not tried.

I tried Mandrake (now Mandriva) years back. Though I liked it, it was a bit hard for me and "left" Linux.

In July 2009, I tried Ubuntu 9.04, then 9.10, Linux Mint 8 and even 10.04 beta as well as Mepis 8.5. Admitted, none of them were perfect but Ubuntu, as a desktop for most ordinary users, fits the bill and is still, in my experience, about the easiest to install and start using right away, e.g. I can view Asian languages like Chinese in Firefox immediately and not like Mepis which has, till now, frustrated me.

In fact, teenagers are adopting Ubuntu (and Linux Mint) and slowly dropping XP. Speaking of which, I find it strange that VX37.285Gamma finds XP faster. For myself and my students, we all agree that Ubuntu is faster running applications (e.g.Openoffice, the Gimp, Avidemux) and web browsing. It boots up about 3 times and shuts down about 4 times faster than XP.

I recently bought a mini-notebook with Ubuntu 8.10 pre-installed (saved US$120 by not getting the Win 7 version) and replaced it with Ubuntu. Everything worked straight off the bat - wi-fi, even all the function keys for sleep, dual display output, screen blanking, etc.

Before this I had a notebook that came with XP. The function keys did not work in Ubuntu. Goes to show that if manufacturers come out with hardware that is tested fuctional with Linux and Windows, things would work well. Trouble is, this is still a Windows-centric world and it's a bit unfair to over-criticize Ubuntu.

It's not that the Ubuntu releases are perfect. I had my gripes with 9.10 when it first came out, but when the glitches were (mostly) ironed out, 9.10 was (and is) a delight to use. I have no printer problems. The only hardware problems still unfixed for me are my TV cards which happen to be not in the supported list.

Yes, Ubuntu does break things with the initial release of each upgrade (9.10 and 10.04 beta for me) but they become better and more stable and even faster with subsequent updates.

I have had no problems booting up and installing Ubuntu on 4 different notebooks (Asus, Lenovo, NEC, Olevia) and 6 to 7 PCs from single-core Celerons, Semprons, Athlons to a quad-core AMD with an Nvidia 9800GT display card with the hardware driver installed (actually being used by a student). This particular student has completely abandoned XP after his hard drive was wiped out twice by malware despite having Zonealarm and Avast anti-virus installed.

Ubuntu is not a perfect candidate for representing what Linux can do, but it is bringing Linux to the masses who are not software developers and advanced users.

In fact, I have read many blogs from advanced users to IT professionals who have installed Ubuntu for people like their fathers, mothers or grandparents who run somewhat old PCs with e.g. 512 Mb of ram with 40 to 80 Gig hard drives. Calls for help become much less, almost non-existent, for half a year to a full year. And, by word of mouth, friends of these elderly users request to have this new "Windows" installed on their PCs too.

My experience and others that I have helped as well as that of other bloggers or posters show that Ubuntu, despite its short-comings, has done a lot to introduce Linux to the Joes and Janes in the street.

Yup.. I totally agree.. ubuntu is doing a lot in bringing linux to the masses who are not software developers.. A few of us might have had problems but majority haven't had big issues, that explains why millions of home users use ubuntu.. And just like windows certified and mac certified hardware, when we start having all the hardware supported under linux, these hardware issues won't arise.. Already we see many vendors coming forward to supporting their hardware on linux by providing drivers, so that day is not far..
Also, as you said as a reply to VX37.285Gamma, "For myself and my students, we all agree that Ubuntu is faster running applications (e.g.Openoffice, the Gimp, Avidemux) and web browsing. It boots up about 3 times and shuts down about 4 times faster than XP" >> ofcourse it's faster.. one of the main reasons why people migrate from windows, I currently have 19 tabs open under firefox (11 in one window and 8 in another) along with amarok playing music, open 10 tabs in windows without it hanging or slowing down and show me..

What percentage of systems sold today have Intel graphics chips? That's the percentage of people who would have found Ubuntu 9.04 basically unusable as released and never satisfactory. Sure, the majority didn't run into that issue. Heck, if Ubuntu only didn't work for 30% of the people we should give it a free pass. Is that what you are saying?

Have you tried Mandriva 2010? It's not for the masses either and I dare say it's easier than Ubuntu to get started on. There are a few people here who seem to think it's Ubuntu or nothing. My point is to say that there are other, more worthy, standard bearers for Linux for the general public.

@ Orion:

Please note that I've 'hacked' the 'standard' XP that came with my laptop. I've removed what I can, & disabled what I cannot (until I run the entire OS disk through nLite & make a custom install, which should only take a few hours). I also ran 'services.msc', 'regedit', etc., & as a result, have a slimline, fast XP that runs at near optimum potential. Also, I don't have ANY interaction with MS updates, etc. It's not perfect, yet, but it doesn't leave me greatly displeased & sorely vexed, & I don't need to waste time in terminal trying to make things work.

I first tried Ubuntu partly because of dissatisfaction with the clumsiness of XP, partly because of the novelty value, partly because a friend who is qualified in computer science recommended it. Initially, I was VERY impressed, especially by the speed, but had to revert to XP for practical reasons I've mentioned above.

I've also tried LinuxMint, Pardus, OpenSolaris, PC-BSD, Mepis, & Ylmf, all or which are similar, but found all of them to be unsatisfactory, although the developers of Ylmf (English edn.) seem to have looked at what people want (I wouldn't be at all surprised if Ylmf resolved the executables/install 'issue').

Good luck to anyone who does find that 'Linux' OSs work fine. For the first-time user of any operating system, then Ubuntu is probably perfect (you won't know anything else), & certainly more affordable (Fair point on that! $120 could probably buy some useful peripherals (as long as they'll work in 'Linux')). When 'Linux/Unix' come up with an OS that does what 'I' need it for, sure I'll take a look; but as I've taken at least 8 looks already, I remain (understandably) sceptical.

If all the 'freebies' got together, did some market-research, & co-operated to produce a single pcOS that would incorporate existing hardware (with as many GUIs/desktops as they like), rather than coming up with scores of different ones, then they may be able to propose a genuine 'challenge' to MS hegemony.

[The Mensheviks could never have caused a revolution in Russia; it took the unity of the Bolsheviks to make the successful challenge & overthrow the status quo. After all, isn't this what the 'FOSS-niks' want: to 'liberate' the masses from dependency on 'Windoze', so that 'humanity' become dependent on the 'Linux' committee/politburo to govern their computing lives?! Ah! The tyranny of 'freedom'! If wealth were more fairly distributed, then we'd all be able to afford Apples!]

Well, you're way above the normal user. I couldn't hack XP the way you did.

Whether Linux will develop into a tyranny, we'll have to wait and see. If it does happen, we have until then, hopefully at least a couple of decades, to enjoy some freedom.

From your description, a pretty amazing hack.

It's not very difficult to hack XP, given that it's wide open, so nothing that amazing.

Which raises this point: why do Linux afficionados persist in turning people away with the 'Linux is difficult/not for 'newbies'/go back to the one-dimensional world of Microsoft' attitude?

While it's true that (sudden) hardware incompatibility is a valid reason for not using Ubuntu, it doesn't help when the forums are a confused mess - the problems don't even seem to be organised by version, and the solutions offered by the 'experts' are often obscurantist. There are far better resources available elsewhere.

Having solved a couple of Ubuntu problems by far easier methods than those proposed by the forums, I couldn't post them, because I'm not a signed-up card-carrying party member, and am therefore excluded: "sudo aptitude install alienation".

Your experience with the Ubuntu forums is completely contrary to my own. I actually find the forums to be one of Ubuntu's greatest strengths.

"Linux afficianados" do no turn people away as a rule or claim Linux to be difficult. There is a very small but sometimes vocal minority within the community that feel that way. To be honest, they are more likely to be found on the "advanced" distribution forums than on Ubuntu's. Generally for every person like that there will be someone helpful who will tell you to ignore the naysayer.

Please remember that there is almost always more than one solution to an issue in Linux. What you consider obscure might seem simple to someone else and vice versa. I don't think people try to be obscure in their solutions on purpose.

One point you do make that I agree with is that the Ubuntu forums are not well organized. Once again, this is an area where some other distributions do better.

The purpose of registration to the forums is, in part, to block spammers. It's not about "card carrying party member"ship but rather about keeping the forums useful and controlled. The idea that somehow registering to use a forum is an endorsement is pretty funny. If you can't be bothered to register I actually have very little sympathy for your position.

@Orion: You tried Mandriva a few years ago and found it hard. I accept your judgment at that time but I need to point out that ALL Linux distributions were harder a few years ago. If you compare Ubuntu today with Mandriva today I don't think you'd come to the same conclusion. Ditto Mepis or PCLinuxOS or Pardus.

I also accept your report about some teens you know adopting Ubuntu and that it's faster than Windows. No doubt. Would they have the same or better results with fewer problems with some other distros which are also designed to be easy to use? That's my point. This isn't an "Ubuntu sucks" article. I present the idea that there are other, much better choices for newcomers which, in turn, means that the equating of Ubuntu with Linux does more harm than good.

What I was trying to say that despite being a "poor standard bearer", Ubuntu is actually helping spread the word for Linux. At the moment, I'm actually using Linux Mint, albeit built on Ubuntu. but I prefer its interface.

I actually liked Mandrake and tried it because at the time, it was one of the best distros receiving lots of praise from users.

I re-started my association with Linux because of Ubuntu. I have had little experience with other Linux distros other and Mint and Mepis. Why I've stuck with Mint (and Ubuntu) is the number of repositories and packages that support them. I'm not saying that Mandriva or other distros do not have an equivalent or bigger number. I am as yet, in comparison, to the rest of you, a noob.

Mepis was the first distro I tried before Ubuntu. I loved the interface and it actually ran bit faster too, but what made me switch to Ubuntu was I could read Asian characters in Firefox and Mepis just gave a lot of squiggles. I tried installing language support in Mepis but was unable to find it. So, I settled for Ubuntu and as I delved into the OS, I found the Ubuntu community, which to me at least was a lot bigger than that for Mepis, as well as many sources, repositories and packages available with a simple search. So for a re-born noob, Ubuntu was easier to navigate and install software (even using the terminal because of the many samples I can just copy-and-paste). This made me think of the kids trying to find their way in Linux. Most of them can't even fix XP, so ...

Please understand I am not challenging your statement that Ubuntu is a poor standard bearer but for the masses, perhaps because of the coverage in the IT media and Shuttleworth's backing and efforts, it is making users take notice. It's the signpost pointing to Linux and I like the idea because a lot of poor kids in this part of the world just cannot afford genuine proprietary OSes and software as well the latest cutting edge hardware to keep up.

I have helped several of these kids keep and speed up their relatively old PCs and notebooks by installing Ubuntu which works just fine with Facebook, messaging and online games.

As for Intel chipsets, funny thing is I just installed Linux Mint on an Intel chipset board with Intel onboard graphics. Mint ran with graphics, audio and ethernet driver out of the box, but it took me almost two days to get it running properly on XP. The fault is mine because I am pro-AMD and have little experience with Intel boards.

Anyway, I am not trying to argue or criticise - only to point out that Ubuntu, bad or otherwise, is helping and I'm trying to help too - to help people save money and prevent MS pulling the wool over people's eyes and spreading FUD in their drive to make $$$.

The Intel graphics chipset problem was corrected by the release of Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) so it does NOT affect current Ubuntu or Mint releases. It was an example of an additional serious problem that affected lots of users. Earlier on people were trying to say that it was all about my printer not working as it should when, in reality, that regression, which affects a whole class of printers and some additional devices as well, was only the most recent example of a long string of problems.

Ubuntu may make people take notice of Linux but the frequent poor experiences with Ubuntu then drive them away permanently. They would do much better with other distros and the Ubuntu hype may do more long term harm than good.

The original poster has a point: Ubuntu is (a) not the only type of linux, and (b) not for your grandmother (yet). The rapid release cycles and (as was said earlier) enormous scale of the project contributes to this. Yes, it is often buggy, and yes, it does occasionally fail.

But it is still what I would recommend to a new/inexperienced user interested in moving to Linux*. I've worked with a lot of different distributions, from the 'easy' to the 'hard' (ubuntu, fedora, etc. to arch linux, gentoo, etc.). Ubuntu, IMO, although occasionally unstable, has enough of a good mix of features and stability that it acts as a good introduction to what Linux as a desktop is capable of.

Why? Because most of the time, on most hardware, it works, and works pretty well. And when it doesn't, they can usually learn how to fix it with a few Googles (which I think is an important skill for anyone interested in using Linux on their desktop at this point: there is never going to be a 'perfect' OS, but Linux is still not ready for the 'average end user' by any means**).

*The interested in moving to Linux part is key.
**It may be hard to see this, coming from the tech world where even the managers could probably use Linux, but go and work Geek Squad for 6 months and you'll see what I mean. It is not for your Grandmother, not yet.

All I know is that I took a very old laptop that could barely run Windows XP effectively - required reboots all the time, couldn't run more than a handful of apps without significant issues - and installed Ubuntu instead. Now I have a fully functioning laptop that had 0 issues whatsoever and it has become my primary development machine.

I compare Ubuntu to Google. Both companies are driven by revenue while simultaneously providing free software for the masses. This means, however, that other things take priority over bug fixes in the log run. Patience is a virtue and eventually these issues will dissipate. I'd much rather see Ubuntu as the distro for naive users and have a small percent turn away because it doesn't work than a distro stuck in a time warp fixing bugs instead of advancing itself as a whole.

Fixing bugs and having a reasonable release schedule are not mutually exclusive. Madriva does it. openSUSE does it. Fedora does it. Smaller distros like Pardus do it. Why can't Ubuntu? None of the distros I mention is "stuck in a time warp". I honestly think Mandriva or Pardus do a much better job at providing a Linux distribution that is ready for mass adoption than Canonical does with Ubuntu. Those are far less likely to drive people away.

Trust me on one thing: if someone tried Ubuntu 8.10 or 9.04 as their first taste of Linux and basic things like sound or video didn't work they aren't running Linux today.

I was very surprised to learn that you dropped UBUlinux and glad you have new ideas;

however, to remain fair, Ublingtu has two HUGE advantages :

* excellent how-tos, at least in French. Every Fedora/CentoOS sysad recommands them at work.

* excellent training: I have used Mandriva for 5 years for leisure (and White Boxen+CentOSes at work), with lazy installs of Wolvixes (betas), Berangers Nostalgix, Scientific Linux images on USB sticks for one year, all of them having a functional GIMP. But I am less trained to trouble shooting than a friend of mine, who is the best expert in bugs at work and a UBUlinux lover (he fully installed it on a Windows XP home "net""book" and he remains happy with his version -he wo not change it, as it seems to work-).

I never said Ubuntu doesn't work for anyone. I'm saying that it fails for too many people. Those ideas are not mutually exclusive. For example, if we go back to Jaunty (9.04) we have a release that doesn't work with most Intel graphics chipsets which are incredibly popular, especially in netbooks and laptops. Yes, that was fixed in the next release but I ask you to consider how someone who was trying Linux for the first time when they realized that performance was slow and that 3D graphics either didn't work or caused their system to lock up. What impression do you think they have of Linux now? Do you think many of them saw the next release? I doubt it.

I have not been using linux for a long time, only a little bit over a year, but i have to say that i somewhat agree with the statement that "without ubuntu, millions of people would have never adopted linux", the first distro i used was a variation of ubuntu 9.04 made for the eeepc line of netbooks called "eeebuntu" (go figure), but what got me to look for a linux distro was that windows xp had failed on me and i needed something to be able to use my system, i tried fedora and i felt that i could really use and get used to it, but i went with ubuntu, not because it is better, but because it was more popular.

from my experieces, distros that are based on ubuntu are much better than ubuntu itself for the obvious reason that these other distros take ubuntu, find whats wrong with it and fix it, something the ubuntu team cant seem to do. when i first used eeebuntu it worked flawlessly, i mean everything i could possibly throw at it couldnt break my system, i installed regular ubuntu 9.04 on another hard drive and it was riddled with problems, fn keys did not work, my favorite program pidgin had many problems, needless to say i stayed with eeebuntu.

now eeebuntu is a part of the large number of distros that are moving away from a ubuntu base, i am currently running a beta version of eeebuntu called eb4, eb3 was the release based on jaunty, and it is rock solid for me, and it is based on debian, and i personally find it better than ubuntu, and before anyone says anything i am a part of the eb dev team, after a year of using linux i am taking part in contributing back.

I agree that Ubuntu marketing did increase Linux adoption. There is no doubt about that and, provided Ubuntu works for those people, that has value. I also know too many people who tried Ubuntu as their first Linux, found it broken in very basic ways (i.e.: failing to work with common hardware that should have worked) and concluded that Linux is crap. Had they tried a different distro, say Mandriva, and avoided an Ubuntu-specific failure, they may still be running Linux.

Marketing has value. You have to deliver a quality product. All too often Ubuntu doesn't.

also like to add that i work with Andrew Wyatt, Caitlyn, he is a developer for eeebuntu in case you didnt know, i have to say that i agree with him on almost everything he says, i do know that he tends to exaggerate some things, which is probably why he is somewhat hated in the ubuntu community now, but if you read his blogs, a lot of what he says about ubuntu make sense, and just so you should know he likes linux mint, i remember he said something about it along the lines of "linux mint is what ubuntu should have been."

Hi Caitlyn,

Why don't drop Mark Shuttleworth an email, maybe he can explain you how to connect a printer?

use windows or mac, if you dont want - then read again ubuntu`s description - you get it - as is - so if you have troubles - try to fix (becase - PLEASE REMEBER - you are a part of the comunity), if not - wait for a solution, if not - use windows or mac and pay!

And, i`m sure, you must know - hplip is the driver for hp devices in ubuntu which is an open source project, take a few moments and write a piese of code to fix it.

Stupid articles, goes from people who dont read licenses and descriptions.

Why on earth should I use an inferior product like Windows? Perhaps it is you who need to read Ubuntu's website. They don't offer Ubuntu as a do-it-yourself tinkering project. They offer it as a finished operating system to compete with Windows and MacOS.

Yes, I'm part of the community. That does not obligate me or anyone else to work for free for a well funded for-profit company. That also doesn't change Canonical's responsibility to deliver a product that delivers what it promises.

Do you really think I can fix devicekit (which is where I now believe the bug I described lies) in a few minutes? The problem isn't in hplip, which works properly, BTW. I, at least, took the time to look into the problem and the cause. Also, if it took Intel engineers the better part of a year to fix their video driver for Linux what makes you think that someone like me can do a fix in minutes? Nobody is that good, least of all me.

I've read the GPL and other FOSS licenses in detail. Nowhere do they indicate that the product delivered should have lots of bugs and should require development skills to repair problems before use. Perhaps you should take your own advice before calling someone else "stupid."

Not to be obtuse......
And I believe I understand what you say, that that printer example is just one of the type of annoying bugs/issue that tend to crop up in the quick release schedule.......

But I was wondering about that specific issue.....as an example

Was it working for you previously in an earlier version?
If so what was the impetus to upgrade?

Not knowing your work-flow & network arrangement, and I hazard a guess, that you normally have the printer connected to another machine..... could you not serve the printer from that one, or set up a (wireless) print server, or transfer the file to that machine? If this is something you do on a semi~regular basis?

Could you have written a script, to manually turn it on when you have the need, or automatically poll the USB connection?

Again this is Not any criticism, Only a query as to how you solved, or worked around the issue..... (if I missed it in the blog or subsequent posts, I apologise.)

It seems to me with your skill-set & experience that it would be a no~brainer, but I understand your complaints/perspective..... that because of all the press/hype Ubuntu gets, other maybe more deserving distros are not highlighted enough.
And if Ubuntu is going to be the one to carry the mantel to the masses then they should become even more organised & consistent in their releases.
(and even be more in line/cooperative with their parent Debian)

Those who are aware & interested in the Linux exosphere already know or learn their preferences & options....

That being said... I have been a Debian user since '01~02 and back in the days when Ubuntu first came out, I thought it very interesting, but I was more interested in distros like UserLinux & GeniOS. Fast forward to today while I still use Debian and play/test various distros, not as much as I once did, I spend most my time with Ubuntu 8.04/9.04... and looking forward to 10.04, but will wait till release or first update... been using/testing the last beta with no major complaints so far....

Although... strangely enough... a recent issue croped up..
(to which I have not found a solution to, as yet)
I have 9.04 on a netbook (900a Asus) and a notebook (4330 Acer).
In the past couple of days Suspend no longer works properly on the Acer.
The odd thing is the Acer is updated, every other day it seems and the netbook is not. As it as the limited 4G space and filled it up with what I use (it has not had the last dozen updates or more).

So I think I understand what you saying.., but would not dismiss Ubuntu entirely, as they have done good "?" in making Linux more available....... but can/should do better?

There are some great questions here. Some I have already answered but I'll go through it again to try and give a concise history.

First, it's not a printer issue per se. It's a device kit or udev issue that affects at least two models of HP printers and one model of Minolta printer that I found with the most cursory search. I suspect if I spend a bit more time digging through Launchpad I will find more printer makes and models which are impacts and possible other devices as well.

Yes, it worked just fine under 8.04. My impetus to upgrade to 9.10 was mainly that Hardy was 18 months old and no longer fully supported everything I have. I needed some of the features in applications offered in the newer release and support for other peripheral devices. I also wanted the Intel video chipset to take full advantage of the latest driver which improved performance.

You are correct that the printer in question is normally connected to my desktop which runs SalixOS 13.0.2a., the latest release. I wanted to be able to plug the USB cable directly into the netbook for two reasons: first, it was the fastest and most convenient way to print the document in question and, second, in case the desktop ever fails. Sure, I could have shared the printer or scp'ed the file across. I also did get the printer working under Ubuntu. Both of those facts are besides the point. The printer worked without having to be switched on and off and on again (in other words flawlessly) under the old release of Ubuntu. It is just unacceptable for a simple, supported upgrade to break basic hardware support. Sure, I can work around it. Can the masses on non-computer savvy people Ubuntu claims as their target audience do the same?

I also don't dismiss Ubuntu entirely. Having said that they have a track record of failure over several years now. They fail to fix things within a release cycle or, in this case, work on the bug in question at all. They have more bugs than other distros and respond poorly if at all to users needs when it comes to fixing them. Read what Chris Smart wrote about Karmic Koala (9.10) for Linux Magazine at: http://www.linux-mag.com/cache/7600/1.html It's not just me and it's not one problem. He lists 40 for this one release alone, some of them serious, and provides links. His follow up which quotes Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu Community Manager, is also instructive: http://www.linux-mag.com/cache/7607/1.html

My take on all of this is similar to Chris' I want Ubuntu to succeed. Nowhere did I say "Ubuntu is crap" or "Ubuntu sucks". What I do say is that Ubuntu has problems that need to be solved. In the interim I believe that Linux as a whole would be better served if the community does all it can to decouple the name Linux from the name Ubuntu and publicize some of the other choices out there.

I completely agree. I never recommend any of the *buntus to people because I haven't had any success with any of them on several different platforms.

FWIW, I'm running a Debian server, PCLinuxOS desktop, sidux laptop, and play around with Zenwalk and Vector Linux on occasion. Unlike any of the *buntus, these have all "just worked" on my platforms which have 512KB up to 2GB of RAM and range from P3 and P4 to AMD64 AthlonX2.

But to be sure, every distro has some characteristic(s) that can justify some complaining. The distros with more conservative upgrade cycles get criticized because they don't upgrade fast enough. The ones with aggressive schedules get criticized for being too bleeding edge and thus have bugs.

I think for the *buntu supporters to intensely defend their distro is naive. If they really understand what's going on, they would know about the ongoing issues that the distro contributors are trying to resolve.

As to why I don't think/consider *buntu to be the GNU/Linux (once for Richard) standard-bearer, it's because of that attitude of blind allegiance. The *buntu supporters seem as though they have lost their objectivity. If their dev team has too, then their distro is set to deliver lots of opportunity for the Linux critics to condemn Linux as a whole.

Just because someone has a lot of money to finance a distro does not automatically assign some special status re stability and performance to that distro.

There are better distros to recommend.

Caitlyn, I 100% agree with this blog post. I'm just not sure if telling users who have come to know of Linux through Ubuntu, that Ubuntu is a horrible distro for daily Desktop use is a good idea at a point in time where Linux desperately needs more desktop users. It could send mixed messages about Linux in general.
I used to use Ubuntu but seeing the quality of even their LTS releases has made me move to Gentoo even for Desktop use at home. Since I am very familiar with Linux I have set up Gentoo for everyone at home. I do realize however that Gentoo cannot be considered as a Desktop distro for a new user. But since I'm in control here no one at my house even cares. They just go on using KDE like nothing even happened. As far as they are concerned , as long as all their hardware works and the equivalent software works they really don't mind investing their time in a little learning/continuous education.
I left Ubuntu for another reason than its instability, its Mark's arrogance. Saying things like Linux is not for girls (I'm paraphrasing) and more recently that its new theme design is no longer open for discussion puts a dent in Linux's image in general.
Great article though!!! Keep at it.

Using Suse Linux for 10 years, never had a printer issue yet.
I started with version 7.1 of Suse.
OpenSuse 11.2 is very stable.
I don't see what all the hype over Ubuntu is all about.

I completely agree. but I still like Ubuntu :-)

I use Ubuntu since 8.04. Before used Slackware on server and Mandriva on desktop.
Ubuntu is the best OS for non-American version, as Canonical did great job introducing launchpad where community can easily translate strings.
Debian and any other distribution cannot compete in localization. It also cannot compete in stability/innovation. It is not great achievement in stability using OpenOffice 2.0, when Ubuntu uses 3.2.

When you buy hardware which is not well supported, you actually buy weapons for enemies and claim your allies that they can't defend.

I am multilingual and my family is scattered all over the world so localization is very important to me. I am particularly conscious of bidirectional language support. When you say that Debian or Slackware cannot compete with Ubuntu in terms of localization I do wholeheartedly agree. When you say "any other distribution" cannot compete then I believe you are way off base. Fedora, Red Hat/CentOS/Scientific Linux, openSUSE, Mandriva and StartCom all do a fantastic job of localization. Can you tell me where current releases of any of the distributions I just listed fall short? Please, I would really like to know.

As far as I know I don't own a single piece of hardware that is not well supported under Linux. Yes, a bug in Ubuntu 9.10 related to either udev or devicekit caused a problem with one of my printers. That printer worked perfectly under previous versions of Ubuntu. It works perfectly under SalixOS 13.0.2a, a Slackware 13 derivative. It worked fine when I was running VectorLinux 6.0 and Slackware 13. How is it not well supported?

If we go back to the Intel video driver issues under Jaunty I will point out that those same Intel graphics chipsets were well supported by previous versions of Ubuntu and are well supported under Karmic. Some distros, including Fedora 12 and Slackware 13, managed to avoid those problems, which tells me Ubuntu could have as well. Mandriva 2009.1 had the same problem at first but their developers fixed it. Ubuntu developers did not. Why is that?

About localization probably this is true for "big languages" such as Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish. But not for Latvian, Lithuanian, etc. for which whole number of citizens is less than number of Ubuntu users :-/

I'm really surprised by this since both Red Hat/Fedora and Mandriva do a very decent job with Hebrew and Yiddish. Can yo give a specific example of how these distros do a poor job with Lithuanian and Latvian?

"I never said Ubuntu doesn't work for anyone. I'm saying that it fails for too many people. "

I agree it fails for too many people, but parts of these people seem to get an excellent training to fix broken linuxen: therefore, I trust my friend, who is an die hard ubunt(h)ero, to fix my failures on a Centos (it however never happened, as far as now)! Thats why I think it gives an excellent
training for bug fixing by oneself!

"Those ideas are not mutually exclusive. For example, if we go back to Jaunty (9.04) we have a release that doesn't work with most Intel graphics chipsets which are incredibly popular, especially in netbooks and laptops."
Mandriva had the same kind of issue : after noticing it took 10s so open a terminal (and 60s to browse a menu), I remembered one of Caitlyn Martin's "posts" in DWW warning agains it... and waited for the next release which works very good on an USB stick (a full install, not a lazy one : I just had to remove the swap partition and compile anything I needed (if missing) on the hard disk (5 times faster, even on NTFS) of my W7 netbook -I still remember it has seven in it-....

" Yes, that was fixed in the next release but I ask you to consider how someone who was trying Linux for the first time when they realized that performance was slow and that 3D graphics either didn't work or caused their system to lock up. What impression do you think they have of Linux now? Do you think many of them saw the next release? I doubt it."

So do I (doubt) and have been for years (and never will advise anyone something I have not tested- and I am very conservative-). The advances in live CDs (and in unetbootin) makes it now very easy to test for ones HW, even a beginner with some common sense!

Basing GNUlinux on Public Relations and other people's work is a kind of intellectual crookery. The emphasis on PR for something which should remain technical is, to be very kind, an error....

FYI : I deeply distrust articles like
and the non technical, bazaar "psychology" one:

and never found any technical advantage in UBUlinux.

I (and am not alone) however found that their help and howtos are excellent, at least in french (they were recommanded by Centos sysads at work UBUlinux/Mandriva users at home).

I think Ladislav had a valid point in the second DistroWatch article you linked. People will hate whoever is seen as the most successful distro just because. At one time that was Red Hat, now it's Ubuntu. I honestly don't hate Ubuntu. I just want them to get their act together and release a good product consistently.

You are correct that Mandriva 2009.1 had exactly the same problem as Ubuntu 9.04 with the horribly broken Intel graphics driver. The difference between Ubuntu and Mandriva: Mandriva fixed the problem within the release cycle. Ubuntu did not, saying it would be fixed in the next release. Considering that 9.04 is still a supported release I find that completely unacceptable. Mandriva 2009.1 was a terribly buggy release, the worst I have ever seen from Mandriva. You are correct that I wrote an overwhelmingly negative review of that release for DistroWatch. They, at least, get credit for fixing the bugs as quickly as possible. I had none of the same complaints about Mandriva 2010, BTW.

It shouldn't be necessary to test hardware again if you are doing a simple upgrade and the hardware has worked all along. My complaint is that hardware that worked in one release of Ubuntu stopped working in a later release.

You are correct that Ubuntu has excellent documentation. No question about it. Now if they would just fix bugs and put out legitimately stable releases to match those docs...

"The difference between Ubuntu and Mandriva: Mandriva fixed the problem within the release cycle. "
But they *sold* live USB with an unfixed one . That is why I remembered your post!
(I had waited, but serial production can lead to unconsistencies and I lost my bet! -the difference of price +-5% -I really do not know the sign- between a full USB with Mandriva and an empty one was tiny enough, as I buy USB sticks in shops, at retail price- I might have made a good economical bargain, once reformatted...)

And stable distributions use UBUlinux execllent docs and have less bugs (and do not introduce new ones while "up"grading!).

FYI: some sysads use Mandriva 2009.1 for work on workstations -between servers and desktops, for about 8 people on remote connections : it works, but they suffered (it was the only way to have some support ; the 7 other users did not notice it unless they asked) -
I had issues with Mandriva2010.0 on gnome (hibernation) , but is was a real install and might be linked with my absence of skills (are all beginners skilled?).
And their KDE4 version never (yet) crashed for me, eats about 300M (that is not that much, as I like to install everything) but has some weird [0.3, 0.6] second lags, at random times. I have other too specific complaints about Mandriva 2010.0 and might sooner or later go back to Scientific Linux for home ...

And I hope Red Hat will remain the most successful distribution, in terms of economical profit (not users base: it is volatile) ... If I am (considered as) a Ubingtu hater, it is not linked with its "success".

Just plugged in my HP 1020 (cold) and it printed perfectly on 10.04. HPLIP is installed. Without HPLIP you are likely to have problems. (Sometimes I have to unplug the printer while booting or it can't reach the login screen- so that's a bug)
Although Ubuntu surely isn't perfect it's pretty silly to say "Ubuntu doesn't work 90% of the time. I'm an Ubuntu user since 2005.

It's good to know that the bug is fixed in 10.04. Having said that, 9.10 is a supported release for another year. They need to fix it in Karmic as well. Failing to do so in a supported release is completely unacceptable.

Who said that Ubuntu doesn't work 90% of the time? I sure didn't. I said it has more failures than other big distributions and that they fail to fix their bugs within release cycles like other distros do. What part of that is inaccurate in your opinion?

Mediocrity is not good enough. If other distros do significantly better than Ubuntu then equating Ubuntu with Linux is harmful. That is the point of the article which you are completely ignoring.

There is a point I do think is actually relevant:

Ubuntu is NOT Linux!

Ubuntu is actually VERY like Windows in certain ways (I'll point out the obvious fact that I'm not referring to the inner-workings of the OS):

1: Ubuntu IS a commercially-backed & self-superceding product that IS 'marketed' as a stable & up to date OS for everyday desktop use (& as a replacement for Windows - 7 for Vista for XP/10.04 for 9.10 for 9.04 for any MSOS anyone?).

2: 'Updates/upgrades' that equate to 'a new version' mean that hardware or drivers no longer work or are no longer recognised. (Furthermore, the 'terminal protocol' for installation that worked in the previous version no longer works).

3: 'Updates/upgrades' that mean that certain applications are no longer available/usable (unless of course you're a grand master hacker, like some of the contributors to this blog OBVIOUSLY are).

Does any of this sound familiar to people who have been using Microsoft OSs since way back when?

Actually, Ubuntu is worse in that the OS is effectively replaced every six months - paraphrased from the horse's mouth, 'this version of Ubuntu is no longer supported'. How long was XP been around for before being downgraded to 'extended support'?

I've learned a great deal from this 'can of worms'. Many thanks to Caitlyn Martin for opening it! I can go in peace & look for a 'real' Linux OS, now that I'm enlightened to the fact that I was deceived into believing that Ubuntu equated to Linux.

Most important of what I've learned is this:

Just as Windows is NOT NTFS, it's NTFS-based; Ubuntu is NOT Linux, it's Linux-based: nothing more, nothing less.

Therefore, Ubuntu has no right to be even considered as THE 'standard-bearer' for Linux, that's if there actually IS a 'standard', per se.

So can we STOP calling Ubuntu & ANY of its flavours 'Linux'? 'Canonical-Ubuntu' seems far more accurate.


Try #! statler (crunchbanglinux.org) and you won t be disappointed!

more stable than Ubuntu, ease of use like Ubuntu and a fantastic community!

As most of people posting I had issues with Ubuntu and I prefer now use forks cause not happy with bug resolving in Ubuntu.... It s a pity cause they do an incredible work to make a linux version that can be a real alternative to Windows or Mac.

Positive point is that thanks to basics learned with Ubuntu you re now armed to try more "complicate" OS like Debian, Arch Linux or Slackware....

But definitely Ubuntu can t compete with Windos and Mac if they are not able to solve bugs quicker and offer more bug free releases....

I haven't gone though the whole comments list, but one thing that strikes me is that the problem experienced by the writer of the article is a printer that is not supported.
So did she check the box it came in to see if there is a driver CD in it? no, because Linux is not officially supported, and it will only be when there is a critical mass install-base to warrant it.
Ubuntu is it, like it or not - and when Canonical (Linux community) can show that Ubuntu is everywhere, HP will start reacting when the latest version of Ubuntu does not support their hardware. Any support/drivers they supply will trickle down to the "Linux" community.
It's the old chicken and egg problem and Mark Shuttleworth/Ubuntu is laying the eggs. We just need enough people to actually sit on them and make them hatch.

"the problem experienced by the writer of the article is a printer that is not supported."

It was supported and an "up"grade broke it.

Unless I do not understand US English,
she was ***very*** explicit about it (> ) As UBUlinux claims for long term support, it is felt a shame (and AFAIK, that Red Hat clones (Centos and Scientific Linux, White Box 5 years ago) seldom upgrade, but their upgrades are useful and do not break anything.

She also knew about the Intel drivers bug (are on most of the "net""books", and "net""books" were a huge part of GNUlinux fractional adoption by the masses in 2008-2009)
In the case of her printer, the Linux communauty had already made the drivers... not a matter of eggs (already layed and grown)!!!
And trusting a company which is so off hands with support (other linux companies are serious, even with their communauty : therefore one is ready to pay for more serious -but perhaps simpler- things than desktops) might be useless within 3-4 years.

"I haven't gone though the whole comments list"
You really should have gone to the blog's text!

I think the real problem is that you lack reading comprehension.

We'll have drivers when we have a stable ABI or long term release cycle that guarantees binary compatibility for more than 6 mos.

Shuttleworth is laying eggs alright, rotten ones.

There is a reason that vendors support RHEL, SUSE, and nothing else. That reason is the lower cost of O&M.

Did you read the article? The printer in question was and is well supported by every Linux distribution I've tried it with. It worked flawlessly with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. An upgrade to 9.10 caused it to stop working properly. The bug is in either udev or devicekit and affects a lot more than one printer.

HP provides excellent support for Linux, and not just for Ubuntu. hplip is simply excellent and works with every Linux distribution out there. There is no shortage of users as far as HP is concerned. They've supported Linux and done it well for years and years. Their support for Linux was excellent in 1998 and remains excellent today.

Please, people, read and understand and then check your facts. Don't just throw nonsense out there.

HP provides excellent support for Linux, and not just for Ubuntu. hplip is simply excellent and works with every Linux distribution out there. There is no shortage of users as far as HP is concerned. They've supported Linux and done it well for years and years. Their support for Linux was excellent in 1998 and remains excellent today.
Not only that, but any printer that is supported on Mac's is supported on Linux (you just have to get the .ppd file and install it). HP has done an incredible job of supporting the platform. I personally use Fedora 12, it does everything I need to. If Ubuntu (and Canonical) split 25% of their staff and dedicate them to supporting the current releases, whay Caitlin describes will change. Until then, well...


Well, things that break are annoying - but they happen with WindowsXP updates and MAC O/S updates. Just look at the problems with the new iPAD from Apple. And interestingly, the consensus is not that "the iPAD is not ready for release" but rather "it'll take a little while to work out the bugs, but that shouldn't distract you from this great new technology".

I have also been bothered by spotty printer support, so I just bought TurboPrint - which is a company that charges $39.00 US for Linux GUI drivers for just about every single Canon, Epson and Brother printer made (which typically don't have Linux support).

- CH

For Linux to succeed in the marketplace it has to be better than Windows or MacOS, not an OS with the same sort of issues. The issue isn't printer support, something that Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular have done well. The issue is a simple upgrade breaking support for something that has worked well for years. The problem is a pattern of more bugs, more severe bugs, and a failure to fix them in a timely manner if at all. The comparison is Linux vs. Linux not LInux vs. other operating systems. Your comments are entirely beside the point of the article.

Oh, and you're wrong about Epson. Epson in Germany provides excellent Linux support for their printers. That's been true at least since I started using Linux as my primary OS in 1998 and has never changed.

My Comments in order with your article.

I think the "Standard-Bearer" point is over-exaggerated. Ubuntu is popular for a myriad of reasons with one being they just happen to be the only distro pushing the envelope to comply with the desires and wishes of those providing feedback to Canonical and the community. The hot tickets today is all about social networking and eye candy and Canonical is listening. I think this lends credibility to the mechanisms Canonical has in place to actually listen to this feedback unlike other distros where comments sit on a forum thread unnoticed.

One thing you overlooked too is the desktop running on top the OS. Linux regardless of distro is still the same, it's the GUI's that are driving the ship and right now and it's a mess. Gnome is garbage IMHO and is struggling to get an update and has pushed back it's next major release because of a lack of developer interest. I've not seen anything new for the Gnome desktop of any significance in years. KDE is still struggling in a lot of areas yet it's about the only actively (aggressively) developed environment. Problem is the so-called "rebranding" the distro's do to the standard packages these environments provide. This is where I believe the issues are at.

The HP1020 printer is garbage really. I have the same issues with Windows drivers provided by HP. Until an update, the HP driver wouldn't even install on XP.

Until the distros realise they could do better by opting for an annual release cycle vice semi-annual one, the focus will always be as you state, wait till next release. There's not enough time nor developers to worry about single instance bugs like this (your printer) when the next deadline is due in short time. Let someone else fix it or provide a workaround is the case and Ubuntu is not alone in this.

I must take issue regarding stability; I have 2 Ubuntu servers in my enterprise environment and had it not been for a lone Ubuntu Server, things could have gotten ugly when hardware failures plagued us before our network upgrade.

I see something in all this and other articles; I see two groups here, "Old-Schoolers" and the "Newbs" (lack of better word). The Old Schoolers are those who like to tinker, use the CLI and run a version, code or technology until it's past obsolete. These folks think that everyone should know code, don't like laymen operating computers and still use black lights to get in the mood. The Newbs are those who like change and push the envelope for newer or more things. Their nature though is inconsistent and they are impatient. Neither faction is better than or worse than the other but this disparity is killing the community.

The old-Schoolers need to grow up and accept change and the fact that the GUI and tinker days are over for the masses. People aren't into that today because of the role PC's play in everyone's lives. It's a critical appliance now. People just want to load a system up, get their desktop GUI and off they go. The Newbs need to slow down just a little and realize that their efforts are wasted if some measure of quality and stability doesn't exist. They also need to not take Ohm's Law so literal.

The HP 1020 printer,which you call "garbage", has worked perfectly well under Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and under every other Linux distro I've tried it with. Also, as I pointed out already in the comments on this article and the follow-up, the problem is in udev and devicekit and affects many models of printers and not just HP printers. You can't simply dismiss the hardware and absolve Ubuntu of blame.

It also isn't a "single instance" of bugs. The printer problem has been well documented by multiple users on multiple brands and models. You say the "developers have no time" and that is pure bunk. How do Fedora and Mandriva developers manage it? If they can do it why can't Ubuntu developers do it?

The GUIs don't "drive the ship" if basic hardware support is broken. If the distro doesn't work on someone's hardware they stop right there and go no further. In any case I completely disagree with your analysis of GNOME and KDE, both of which have made huge strides lately IMNSHO. For all their faults they are far better than what Windows users have to live with. That's an entirely separate discussion, though, and beside the point for this article.

Your characterization, generalization, and pigeon holing of users into two classes is entirely off base and irrelevant to the issue at hand. The issue, which you seem to ignore, is how Ubuntu does compared to other distributions. The "standard bearer" point, which you call "over-exaggerated" is painfully obvious and not exaggerated at all when people clearly think that Linux means Ubuntu and Ubuntu means Linux and write that way.

I've been using Ubuntu and Mint since 2004/2005ish. Up until the Lucid Lynx Alphas and Beta releases, I hadnt had much problem with Ubuntu (Aside from the massive Jaunty freeze bug that 99% of users had). I've been lucky in that 100% of my hardware has always been completely detected.

However, Canonical has completely destroyed Ubuntu for the 10.04 release. The new themes are atrocious, and moving the buttons to the left side was a worse decision that electing Bush president. Removing Gimp and picking Empathy (Which doesnt even work) over Pidgin, are just a small sample of the many bad decisions Canonical has made in the past year.

If Canonical continues down the path they are on, it wont be long (a few months more than likely) before Linux Mint (Which actually LISTENS to what the people want instead of doing things how THEY want like Canonical does) will become the #1 GNU/Linux Distribution in the world.

I have often wondered why a vendors like Dell adopt Ubuntu for their "Linux" products. Is this a collusion with MS to kill Linux on the desktop? Why else would they select one of the weaker distributions available?

There are two reasons which I covered in the comments of the follow-up article. First and foremost is outstanding marketing, something Canonical are very good at. Second, Novell had an opportunity but delivered a poor implementation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) to both MSI and HP with severe breakage. Canonical engineers did an excellent job at getting Ubuntu to work correctly on selected vendor hardware. My HP Mini 110 came with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS preinstalled and it, unlike the downloadable Ubuntu, was flawless.

I know the feeling. New bleeding-edge Ubuntu releases (not the LTS) seem to come with a bit of breakage. My UMTS adapter was auto-discovered one release, ignored the next. Encrypted filesystems work one release, need manual fixing the next.

What's worse, now the cute gnome-app-installer is completely gone from Lucid. Only the one-app-per-time Software Center is supported now. (You must use the backport from Jaunty, all else are broken on Lucid.) It's the anti-users-choice decisions that annoy me more and more lately.

However, in the case of your printer. Let's just say the consumer grade 10xx Laserjets are not that supportworthy. If it doesn't know Postscript, don't count on good Linux support.

Actually the HP Laserjet 1020 is extremely well supported under Linux. Yes, that included previous versions of Ubuntu. It was an upgrade that broke support. Other distributions work just fine with this printer. I'll also repeat for clarification that the 10xx Laserjets are not the only products affected by the bug in devicekit and/or udev.

In general I've always found HP printer support for Linux to be excellent and their software for Linux printing (i.e.: hplip) to be top notch.

I honestly haven't looked at Lucid yet. I expect alpha and beta code to be broken. It's still in the test and fix stage prior to release. Indeed, those who criticize Lucid at this early stage are being a bit unfair. I'm not saying that what you've reported here isn't accurate. Quite the contrary: I assume you are giving a fully honest report. I just feel, in fairness to Ubuntu, that Lucid is still a work in progress and should be evaluated as such.

You asked what Ubuntu give to the community ?

Citing from the Mint page about debian based release:

"A Debian Testing base would lack the many innovations and improvements developped by the Ubuntu developers, putting more pressure on the Linux Mint team to achieve the same level of polish." I think Mint autors knows what they mean.

I never said that Ubuntu doesn't give back to the community. I also, in the follow up article, cited some things Canonical has done well. What I did say perhaps needs some clarification and I thank you for making that clear to me.

What I said was that Ubuntu/Canonical give less core code back to the upstream sources. They do relatively little compared to Red Hat/Fedora or Novell/SUSE in terms of kernel development, X development or even UI development. They don't employee KDE and GNOME developers, for example, like the other two do. In that sense, and it's a very important area, they do less for Linux as a whole than their competitors.

That does not mean nor does it imply that Canonical doesn't give back to the community in other ways. If I gave the impression that I believed that then I've failed to communicate clearly and I apologize for that.

Offered for your consideration is this 2007 article for O'Reilly by Carla Schroder: http://www.oreillynet.com/linux/blog/2007/12/ubuntu_innovates_excuses.html Here's one more by Akkana Peck: http://shallowsky.com/blog/linux/ubuntu-aumix.html

They essentially said what I am now saying more than two years ago. Nothing has changed in all that time. How many prominent voices in the Linux community saying the same thing must I provide before some people realize there really and truly is a problem here?


Thanks for the insights into Ubuntu. I've used RH and Fedora for 13 years. It was first because I knew a fairly sophisticated RH user who I could pester for help when things went sour. Later it was as a "line of least resistance" to upgrade to a system that had most of the same configuration tools and files. Finally it has been because I really appreciate the cutting edge of Fedora (I don't say bleeding edge because I haven't been bitten that badly by upgrades).

Without experience in Ubuntu, but from all the hoopla in the media about it as "The Linux distribution for noobs," I have often recommended it to folks who wanted to try Linux. I took the large and enthusiastic community as one of the most important aspects for those new users. I'll gladly suggest a look at PCLinuxOS or Mepis or Mint, but probably after installing them in a VBox and checking them out more thoroughly. I did send my daughter a PCLinuxOS CD a couple of years ago and she found it quite easy to use to get and send email and yet not disturb her roomie's Windows filesystem.

@Penguin Pete,

Thanks for the links to your blog postings. I found them both amusing and insightful.


I can see what you're trying to get across in this blog. But I have to disagree with what you are saying.

I read your follow-up post, where you recommend Mandriva, praising its stability, features, etc., and then you end that paragraph by saying, "as always, your mileage may vary."

Well, very true, and in Ubuntu, your mileage may vary too.

I am a relative new comer to linux. 3-4 years ago, I tried Knoppix, but was not interested in what it offered. And then I found Ubuntu last year. Of course, you can argue that linux as a whole have improved a lot in 2-3 years, and yes, that's true. But part of that improvement is the visibility of Linux. And which distro have done the most work on that department? Yes, Ubuntu. I doubt I would've switched to linux withouth Ubuntu.

As for people saying that Ubuntu is buggy, well, "your mileage may vary."

I have installed Ubuntu and Linux Mint (a Ubuntu derivative) on at least 10 computers now. I have not faced any serious bugs. On the one computer where Ubuntu would not boot, I've tried openSuse and Mandriva, and they wouldn't boot either.

But how come "so many people is having problem with Ubuntu, more so than with other distros"?

Well, maybe because there are more people using ubuntu.

If Ubuntu has 12 million users, and let's say 5% experience serious bugs, that's 600000 people, vocal people.

Compare with a distro that only has 500000-1 million user, let's say 10% is having serious bug problems, that's only 50000 to 100000 people. Definitely less noise than the Ubuntu-problem-haver.

Also, Ubuntu as the leader in linux distro, will always be targeted more. It's always that way when you're number one. People will find more faults with you, and more vocal with you. I agree that the ambitious statements made by Ubuntu doesn't help in this regard. But, without vision, nothing will get done.

About the 'hype' you complain about, many linux people say that linux is missing marketing. And now that a company is doing good in this area, you complain about it?

I disgree entirely with your analysis of Ubuntu vs. Mandriva. Ubuntu has more bugs that impact more people. The big point you are missing is that they don't fix the bugs within a release cycle and sometimes for longer periods than that. Mandriva fixes their bugs. That makes it superior. Further, a larger percentage of people do NOT experience more bugs in Mandriva or other distros as you claim. Please show me something to back up your numbers. I can back up my assertions, and have with link after link after link. Yes, some people go after #1 no matter who that is. With Ubuntu there is good, solid, documentable reason to do so.

With all their flaws I dare say Xandros and Linpus did a better job bringing people to Linux by being preinstalled on the first generation of netbooks. Ubuntu gets way too much credit. Marketing and hype are only good if they paint an honest picture of the product. Ubuntu makes promises and then fails to deliver. That hurts Linux far more than no publicity at all. It drives people away for good. I also am not at all sure that Canonical has a vision for Ubuntu that is good for Linux as a whole or one that will even make Canonical profitable. Only time will tell.

Regarding your experience with a system that would not boot three different distributions: there is such a thing as hardware which is simply incompatible with Linux. In those cases no distribution will work.

All "your mileage may vary" means is that not all bugs affect all people. It is very much hardware dependent. Let me rephrase that part of what I wrote: Mandriva or PCLinuxOS or Pardus or openSUSE will are not perfect and will not work perfectly for everyone. However, you have a significantly greater chance of failure with Ubuntu. Is that clearer?


And I have to disagree with YOUR analysis.

Xandros and Linpus brings more people to Linux than Ubuntu? Please..please..

I remembered before I entered the linux world, I once bought a laptop preinstalled with linux, it was Linpus.

After toying with it for a few minutes, I formatted it, and installed Windows XP. There was no polish at all. Do you have any data to backup your claim that Xandros and Linpus brings more people to Linux?

Your "bias" is clearly affecting you when you made that statement. Otherwise good points get lost in this kind of "bias."

The "link" after "link" and so many documentation that you refer to, does not prove that Ubuntu is buggier than other distros. There are other conclusions that can be drawn:
1. More eyes on Ubuntu, more people report bugs, more bugs found.
2. More vocal people taking on Ubuntu.
3. Of course there are bugs that one distro fix that another doesn't. I'm sure there are bugs fixed in Ubuntu that are still bugs in other distros.

The 12 millions for Ubuntu is from Ubuntu's claim. The other number is just imaginary, just an example. But the point is valid. Ubuntu is almost universally recognized as the most popular linux DESKTOP distro. (Perhaps some would not admit it).

Well, I know I won't change your opinion, so I'll just leave it at this. Neither you or I will be the final judge. The final judge will be all linux users.

If Ubuntu goes from strength to strength after each release. If Lucid is successful, then Ubuntu is certainly doing something right.
If they are as bad as you say they are, then the numbers will definitely gradually decrease.
I don't think linux users will be dumb enough to fall for just "hype."

My score so far:
*Hardy Heron, had to work on the wifi driver on my laptop. Used it for years on a dual boot machine w/XP, never really used XP
*SuSe: installed fine, had to work on the wifi driver (same laptop).
*Insidious Ibex (or whatever): had to work on the wifi driver again. Otherwise, this alpha version is much cleaner than Hardy in some ways and is destined to be the preferred desktop.
*Fedora 12: Complete failure during install (after 98% complete). Absolutely useless error message. Not impressed. Man, talk about hype - RH's ad budget is at least double Canonical's, no?
*Xandros running on the Eeepc: many broken things, but very fun when it works.
*Must try Mint.

The blogger in question is quite the odd one. She complains that there are bugs in the Ubuntu releases, but refuses to contribute to said bugs.

Now, everybody knows the 6 month releases are development releases. They weren't built to be stable/bug free. If you're looking for stable and bug free, that's what the LTS is for. If you're gonna complain about bugs, at least pick an LTS release and not a development release.

Let's see... I'm an "odd one" because I actually think that Linux distributions, all of them, should be judged on how well they live up to the claims they make. Ubuntu does NOT claim that LTS are the stable releases and the six month releases are "development releases." Show me where that is on the Ubuntu website, please. If that was what Ubuntu was claiming I would have no complaint whatsoever.

Nope, Ubuntu claims the six month releases are stable and are ready for mass adoption. What you are saying here completely contradicts Ubuntu's claims for itself. It's those claims and the expectations that come with them that are the heart of the problem. "Everybody" doesn't know that LTS is supposed to be stable and not the standard releases. How is a newcomer supposed to know that when Ubuntu says otherwise?

May I suggest that you are the "odd one" for arguing that we should not hold a distributor, in this case Canonical/Ubuntu, to their word. You might as well argue that white is really black. It would make about as much sense as what you wrote here.

This page implies it:

What does it imply?
What does it mean?
Where can one find a reliable figure of the Mean Time to Repair in UBUlinux "support" (cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mean_time_to_repair)
Oh, and please do not tell me that THE average Jane and Joe cannot understand this notion (used in the industry for a wide range of products, not only for "software"!) : it is simpler than the notion of "support" -and I doubt, if their "OS" break, they will go to Ubingtu wiki!

...and how much of their website and how many press releases imply or specifically state something completely different?

While it isn't anything particularly explicit, Canonical appears to treat their LTS releases as their stable releases as opposed to their 6 month "development" releases. It's evident simply by the fact that Canonical tends to advertise their LTS releases toward their server-side clients; almost as a way of saying their development releases really aren't as stable as the LTS releases.

However, as a developer, such simple and trivial things shouldn't phase you. You can easily "fix" the issue yourself instead of relying on the OS to "fix" it for you. However, this is the beauty of Linux. You have freedom of choice.

Ubuntu is geared toward new users. I like Ubuntu based on its ease of use for me. I've tried other distros such as Red Hat, Fedora, Suse, Sabayon, Linux Mint (Ubuntu Based), Knoppix and etc. Ubuntu just seemed to work for me. It was easy to find help for problems I had (due to the Ubuntu forums), and its easy for me to recommend the OS to others such as family members and friends. I've hadn't had any issues with bugs or the like since I've used the OS.

You said in your blog that Hardy was more of the stable ones. I remember that version of Ubuntu totally sucking. Nothing worked right in that release. Plus, it was the introduction of Pulse Audio; which was a pain in my side. However, Jaunty and then Intrepid improved upon those mistakes and I was in heaven again.

"Ubuntu is geared toward new users." So you said...what will happen if a new user finds Ubuntu buggy?

10 years ago I tried Mandrake(now Mandriva), that time, Mandrake Linux was not as friendly as Mandriva today, but I managed to get it worked in a few installation attempt. But because during that time there was no broadband in my country, I had to switch back to MS-windows, as the full potential of linux was not to be enjoyed.

About one and a half year ago, I tried Mandriva again, and installation was done in ONE attempt. YES your Ubuntu was quite popular, and still is... so after half a year of toying with Mandriva, I tried installing the your Ubuntu in the Virtual Box, sadly it failed. So I never the chance to get a taste of a SO-CALLED great OS.

If I had chosen Ubuntu one a half year ago instead of Mandriva, then I would still be with MS-windows today. I am not saying that it fails every new user, but imagine how much more new users will linux have if Ubuntu can give a perfect distro.

*** Just a Newbie Point of view

Though I sometimes am satisfied with Mandriva, I would not base my conclusions on an emulator, as one cascades the bugs of the emulator (and V Box is complicated) and those of the emulated system.

Last week end, I tested a complicated Linux with Mandrivas 2010 qemu (I trust more than Vb, though it is much slower) and had issues with X -the emulated one- booting. I compiled a newer version of qemu and could happily play with it.
What is ironical is that the complicated linux http://detaolb.sourceforge.net/ was partly meant as a benchmark for qemu...
And the times to install is not that relevant, if you do not want to distro(s)hop: as I installed it on an USB stick, I was upset by the slow times it took to write (5-10 times slower than on a real HD) and failed (removed the stick, believing something was wrong) 3 times until I realised it was not an hard disk which was slowly written on....

Most of your argument boils down to "it works for me" and I've already explained in the article why that doesn't apply. You say Hardy "sucked" for you and it worked very well for me after the first maintenance release. If I say "it worked for me" (and it did) that does not invalidate your negative report or make your experience any less real or resolving it any less important.

Yes, I can fix things myself. No doubt about that. However, I am not the target market for Ubuntu. Ubuntu is for the masses, for human beings who are not necessarily technically inclined. A distro should be judged based on how well it delivers on what it promises. Ubuntu, in saying they are "Linux for humn beings" are clearly stating that you don't have to know how to fix things to work with Ubuntu.

You say that Intrepid and Jaunty improved on things. You wouldn't say that if you had an intel_sda audio chipset (Intrepid), a Via Chrome graphics chipset (Intrepid) or an Intel graphics chipset (Jaunty). In the case of the Intel issues the number of impacted users is simply huge and it *STILL* isn't fixed in Jaunty despite the fact that the release is under support for another six months. No other distro I'm aware of has let something so major go for so long without a fix or decided not to fix at all. That is the point you and the other Ubuntu defenders seem to miss.

No. You've missed the point. I'm really not saying "it works for me." I'm saying that what you've experienced is something that is very very rare. Hardy _DID_ suck. There's a general consensus that it sucked. The Ubuntu team apologized because of it. Odd how you didn't notice the issues in Hardy but can identity the issues in all the other releases. Then you complain about those issues as if its known and common by the whole world.

Ya know. Windows was also created for the average user too. By your logic, one shouldn't have to "fix" it when it breaks. You have a very elitist view on how Linux as a whole should function. You only notice the stuff that concerns you and blotch out everything else; even though everything else is just as important.

Pfft! I've installed Ubuntu Intrepid and Jaunty on PCs using the Intel chipset. This included both sound and video chipsets. I haven't came across an issue and nor have anyone I've known who have installed it. I've heard some issues concerning *certain* models of those chipsets, but it was more on Intel's side than on Linux's (or Ubuntu's in this case) side. However, you'd probably look at this as a "works for me" based argument, so I'll drop it.

Seems to me that you're just whining, but reluctant to do anything about it. Complaining because the developers at Canonical won't do what YOU want them to; even though you're more than capable of contributing all because you won't get "paid". Well, if every Linux developer thought like you did, Linux wouldn't be where it is today, and I'm happy that wasn't ever the case.

Oh, for Pete's sake! I don't even know where to begin. First, the issues with the Intel drivers have been widely documented and reported in detail throughout the Linux and wider tech press. Your attempt to minimize that issue and claim it's "rare" is beyond laughable.

Where did Ubuntu apologize for Hardy (8.04 LTS)? Link, please. The majority of the comments seem to agree it was a release that had significant problems at first but which was very stable and solid after the first maintenance release. How many here have written that if we want stable we should run LTS? It's a recurring theme, even among those who sharply disagree with me. Your claim that it "sucks" and your attempts to portray that as incontrovertible fact are also beyond laughable.

Before you accuse me of wanting to be paid for any contributions I make to Linux you had best talk to the folks in the distributions I have contributed to. How many packages did I build or maintain for Vector Linux? Didn't I also maintain their repositories for a time? Then there is the Yarok Project. Our first release is tentatively set for June. I happen to be the lead developer and I am not paid a dime for my efforts. Oh, and the bug reports I've submitted to distros, including Ubuntu, count too. This part isn't laughable. It's ignorant and insulting.

What I am "complaining" about is the same thing Chris Smart, Akkana Peck, Carla Schroder and Andrew Wyatt complained about. All the relevant links have been posted already, some repeatedly. Despite your attempts to shoot the messenger and make this about me it really isn't. In fact, absolutely nothing I've written here is new. It's all been said before by respected members of the Linux community. It's not about what I want. Oh, and in case you didn't notice, every other major Linux distribution fixes their bugs. All I am asking is that Canonical/Ubuntu behave like a responsible member of the Linux community the way every other distro does.

I've also said it's not about Ubuntu developers but rather management. You've ignored that too.

Why are you making this out to be such a major issue?

1) They did apologize. Albeit not officially, but within the Ubuntu Forums. The link to the thread in which the apology resides escapes me right now and will be very hard to find considering how large the Ubuntu forums are - and the fact that it was many years ago.

2) Hardy's first maintenance release did fix many problems, but it was _still_ bad. I'm not sure why you're so reluctant to notice that Hardy was a bad release throughout its 6 month cycle. If you remember, the following release focused more on fixing the bugs found in Hardy.

3) I wasn't mentioning the contributions you made to Linux as a whole. You're not complaining about Linux as a whole. You're complaining about Ubuntu. So, what major contributions have you made for Ubuntu besides reporting bugs?

4) I don't care about what Chris Smart, Akkana Peck, Carla Schroder and Andrew Wyatt have to say. I honestly couldn't care less about how they think. I care more about how the Ubuntu community as a whole feels. So far, they're enjoying it and aren't complaining about a printer they they could've otherwise networked because they're Linux developers who have made careers out of Linux for over 20 or so years. I understand your point isn't the "printer" per-say. However, it was the straw that broke the camel's back response that led to this blog being made. A Linux developer who has quite the impressive resume -unable- to get over the fact that they can't print because they're too lazy to:

a) Network the printer

b) Upgrade to an LTS that supports the printer

c) Fix the underlying issue that's preventing the printer from working

d) Submit the fix for the printer to the Ubuntu team

e) Use a different distro and not think twice about it.

I am making this out to be a major issue because the name Linux is being equated with Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a shoddy product, release in and release out, as I have amply documented. That you don't care what other prominent people in the Linux community report, again with ample documentation and, in the case of Chris Smart's second article, responses from Canonical, simply shows that you've made your mind up and the facts be damned.

You keep saying Hardy was "bad" but offer nothing to back up your claim or explain why we should believe you and ignore all the other comments to the contrary yet when I provide ample proof of repeated failure you dismiss it.

Oh, and you seem to have a major deficit when it comes to reading comprehension. The printer works, just not from a cold boot. It has to be switched on and off, sometimes repeatedly. You tell me to upgrade to a newer LTS but, oh wait a minute... there is no newer LTS. It doesn't exist yet. I also can't go back to the previous LTS because, after all, you've decided it's "bad".

FOR THE LAST TIME: It's not my job to fix the bugs in every distro. One is enough for me. If Ubuntu is "Linux for human beings" they have a responsibility to provide bug fixes. You can't deflect that onto the user community, myself included.

You know, I'd use a different distro and not think twice about it if it weren't for the Canonical hype machine which has got the darned press equating Ubuntu with Linux. Instead I have to write articles like this to try and undo the harm Canonical does.

BTW, you're done. If you want to respond further go ahead and write your own article.

Can we not just appreciate how far Ubuntu and other distros have come in the last few years and just enjoy it. I mean the whole point of using Ubuntu was to get away from Windows, and it now does it perfectly. Its great to run an OS without the worry of viruses and spyware, and know my machine will still be running great 6 months on.

Actually, some of us got away from Windows long before there was an Ubuntu. In the Linux world they are a Johnny-come-lately. My point, which you miss, is that Ubuntu isn't the perfect escape from Windows. It isn't even close. It comes with some of the same mediocrity and, in the case of refusing to fix known and serious bugs, the same sort of disdain for their users.

I'm glad your current release of Ubuntu works well on your hardware. Too many people have reported different experiences. The problem is how Ubuntu responds too, or fails to respond to, those people. It's different than other distributions that do a much better job. This is NOT about comparing Ubuntu to Windows. Ubuntu wins that comparison. This IS about comparing Ubuntu to other major Linux distributions. Ubuntu does not fair well in such a comparison and, subsequently, is a poor choice to represent Linux to the world.

So, no, I don't appreciate a lot of what Ubuntu is doing.

Dear Caitlyn, I maybe reiterating some of the comments here, but I do not have the time to sift through every point made.

While I agree with many of your points about buggy releases and critical bugs, I cannot help but feel you're cutting Ubuntu's approach at the desktop linux market off at the head.

They brought the average Joe user to linux, almost single handedly. There have been many accounts of people saying "its going to be the year of the linux desktop" it's becoming something of a joke. Ubuntu (and therefore Canonical) are making the largest inroads to the consumer desktop segment, no other company has been able to do that. Redhat was attempting to do the same thing in the 90's. Many people move from Ubuntu to other distributions, they've probably feed many of the distributions you claim to enjoy and praise many users. I'm probably one of them. A few years back, I was a gamer, now I'm nearly completely windows free with Crunchbang, Puppy, Fedora, Arch, Mandriva and Ubuntu installations on my machines. I largely put this down to Ubuntu introducing me to Linux - if you can't appreciate that, I believe you're short sighted.

My case in point, is Apples iPod, it was most definitely not the best product, nor the first, in its market. But it definitely is the best selling - now I'd take a stab at approximately half of the people here own one. Like it or not, hype gets your name out there and it sells products.

If you truly dislike where Ubuntu are at, and your resume is impressive as you say it is then I suggest you send your CV to them, join their team and make an impact. But I'm going to assume you won't. Writing a blog and complaining about it are a much easier way to get your point across.

I have no desire to work for Canonical. Why should I move and apply to work for a company that I don't see as providing what I want in my career? Canonical has plenty of engineers who are more than capable of fixing the problem. What you are ignoring is that this is NOT a technical problem. It is poor decision making by management and all the development skills in the world, mine or anybody else's, won't change a management situation. However, sufficient complaining from their user community, of which I am a part, might just.

Caitlyn. I think, after this blog you've made here, it'll be extraordinarily difficult to be taken seriously when discussing anything as sensitive as this. I can tell that you seem to lash out rather violently against those who disagree with you. Judging by how you speak and the sudden silence of many people here, it's safe to say that you even selectively remove posts of those you do not wish to be bothered with.

This, I believe, is hurting your bottom line and sending a clear message to those who read your blog: that it's your way or the highway. You say your aim is to get the Ubuntu developers to fix their bugs, but judging by how you attack those who respond to you, I don't believe those developers will take you seriously. I believe they'll look at this as just a simple blog from a bitter woman.

There's gotta be a more pleasant and constructive way of doing this. Instead of arguing with everyone who replies to your blog, why not actually consider what they're saying?

Are you high? You're now saying Caitlyn will "have trouble being taken seriously", and that she "lashes out", both of which may be your opinion, but you have nothing to back any of that up with. You're talking pure shit. She has not "attacked" anyone. Rather, some here have attacked her for daring voice her opinions, which are in fact based on (wait for it) FACTS.

She isn't "arguing with everyone", "some" people are blasting her, and she is daring to defend herself and her viewpoint. For you to claim the reverse shows your blindness and outright bias. Seriously, some of you here seem to take the fact that she won't back down from her claims as an "attack". This viewpoint is nothing short of pathetic. You lot are not looking at this realistically, you're getting on your horse all wounded that someone has dared point out the short-comings in your "favourite". I've used Ubuntu. Still use Mint on some of my machines. It's a better implementation. But Ubuntu (and by extension, Mint) has issues. No distro is perfect by any means. But Ubuntu simply does NOT fix things it should. You're all resorting to diversionary attacks, and strawman tactics, as you don't have anything substantial to reply with, and THAT is just sad. You claim she is unable to be taken seriously? Take a good look in the mirror. She is doing fine. She is arguing rationally, with facts, and despite the savage tone directed at her by a number, has remained quite civilised, far better than I feel i would have. You have no real counter-arguement, you just feel offended she dares to disagree with you, and highlight the flaws in your favourite, and rather than actually respond with anything of substance, resort to character assassination. You are pathetic. Go away, have a good look at yourself, and realise just how stupid you're being. The claims you make against her are complete rubbish, much like the rest of your claims. You have nothing, you just can't bring yourself to admit it. Go away, and come back when you've grown up and matured.

Considering what's been happening in my professional life this week I know that I have no problem being taken seriously. Thank you for your concern, though.

My goal is not to get Ubuntu developers to fix their bugs. My goal is to get management at Canonical to let the Ubuntu developers fix their bugs. I don't know of any company that doesn't take bad press or customer complaints seriously which survives for long. Once again, nothing I have written here is new. It's all been said before, repeatedly, by writers in the Linux community who are far more prominent than I am. Why should I disregard them and instead take the word of Ubuntu fans or zealots who fail to back up their arguments with any facts or citations. Those who make reasonable arguments do get a reasonable response. Those who do not make a reasonable argument, yourself included, still get a reasonable response from me.

I do consider what everyone is saying. I've even written about the kind of comments I am seeing now in a piece called The Problem With The Linux Community last November. As fewt pointed out, those who blindly defend Ubuntu or anything else and dismiss any sort of complaint as bias or sour grapes or complaining are the ones who have no credibility and who damage the Linux community and Linux adoption. I don't know how many times I've read comments by Windows users who have stayed away from Linux because of fanaticism within our community.

For the first day or so after the first article the quality of the comments, including almost all of those who sharply disagreed with me, was excellent. Sadly it has since degenerated into more circling the wagons, shooting the messenger finding excuses, and generally going into denial. That is truly sad.


Aah, I see now, from the tone of your replies and content of your initial blog post, it sounds like you were blaming the company as a whole, developers, marketing team and management and all. I was not ignoring the fact, you never stated it.

I did not really expect you to go and work for Canonical, that was a bit of tongue-and-cheek. But in all seriousness, if you feel so strongly about this you can either complain and hope it gets changed, setup in opposition work against their grain or work with them. Fix the odd bug, upload the odd launchpad entry, whatever that may entail. Its up to us/you the users to decide what we use, and if we don't like what's on offer, what are we going to do about it? That's the beauty of FOSS, we can all choose, but this also means we can't choose for others. No one's forced to use anything.

Bottom line, like it or not, Ubuntu is our (linux users) standard bearer, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. It has money, publicity and software that works well for (obviously) a lot of people.

I disagree strongly with your final point. Much of Ubuntu's success derives from free publicity, in other words it's relations with both the community and the Linux press/media, both traditional and newl Yes, it's true that other excellent writers have written about the same issues before. Yes, it's true nothing has changed. However, if Ubuntu loses the goodwill of the community or gets enough accurate press that isn't complimentary either they will change or they will be far less successful.

I can respect your opinion, but your experience my not mirror everyone else's. 99% of the problems I come across in Ubuntu I've managed to fix. Now I'm a trained technician in Windows, however; I, in no way, would call myself experienced in UNIX like systems I've got approx 3 years of consumer based experience just in my spare time. I've got a server sitting in our lounge that's running Ubuntu 9.10, and it's been as stable as a meditating monk. True the hardware is of popular and common chipsets, but the idea of this server was stability.

Whether or not you agree, is irrelevant, if the software is bad enough, the people will speak - look at Vista... And standards in the Linux world are most definitely higher than those of Joe bloggs the local milkman (no disrespect to any milkmen ;) ) I support you in many aspects, keep prodding the machine, keep it on its toes :)

Like many GNU/Linux users you seem to have a sense of entitlement, Caitlyn. Here are some words of wisdom: http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/open-sauce/37783

You are entirely wrong. I am not forcing my will on anyone. Indeed, I am very satisfied with a significant number of Linux distributions just the way they are.

If you mean that valid criticism of a company misrepresenting their product or failing to fix bugs or putting out a shoddy, buggy, insufficiently tested mess as a "stable" release is making demands as a consumer and that is a "sense of entitlement", well.... then EVERYBODY should have a sense of entitlement. We should not accept broken or mediocre. We should not simply just accept failure as if it is our lot to have crap shoved down our throats. If I wanted that in my computing experience I could run Windows.

You obviously didn't read what I referred you to. Nobody is shoving Ubuntu down your throat. You are choosing to use a free product and then complaining about it. Canonical is under no obligation to you.

Take out a paid support contract with Canonical and then complain. Then one would be inclined to take you seriously.

If you ran Windows or OS-X, you have a right to complain because you are paying for it.

Absolute nonsense! First, Ubuntu's ability to market themselves as Linux means their poor quality reflects badly on the Linux community as a whole. Two, this isn't Windows, it's FOSS. Three, I live in a free country and so long as I stick to the truth and don't engage in libel or slander I am absolutely free to publish whatever I wish. I have every right to point out flaws when I see them. You, on the other hand, have no right to demand that I shut up and go away. Ubuntu touts it's community involvement. They specifically seek out community feedback. That someone else in the community doesn't like negative feedback doesn't give them the right to tell me not to complain when a complaint is warranted.

There s a Linux press and it will undoubtedly report things that you don't like. There are those of us who work in FOSS/Linux and who write our opinions about it. When I do sometimes I am paid to (as in when I write for DistroWatch), sometimes I do it because I receive other, non-financial benefit (as is the case with O'Reilly), and sometimes simply because I want to (my personal blog). Can you imagine how boring (and also how phony) it would be if we all wrote sweetness and light and praise?

I am the last person to be cited as one who wants everything written about GNU/Linux to be all "sweetness and light and praise." Find out something about commenters who use their real names before displaying your ignorance.

You have every right to write what you like as long as nothing is misrepresented. And Mark Shuttleworth has every right to advertise Ubuntu as GNU/Linux - that's what it is.

LOL. I know preceisely who you are, Sam. I've read your stuff for IT Wire. I've also seen you twist the words of those who dared question the motives and actions of Canonical and Ubuntu before: http://www.theopensourcerer.com/2010/02/15/sam-varghese-got-it-wrong/ I have also read your utter misrepresentation of what I wrote here at: http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/open-sauce/38320-the-main-problem-with-linux-ignorant-users Don't assume I'm ignorant. I know you as someone who goes after anyone who criticizes Ubuntu and doesn't care how much they twist other writer's words or engage in ad hominem attacks to do it. You've already called me ignorant in your headline and things degraded from there.

Your post questioned my right to comment about Ubuntu because I hadn't paid for it. If that wasn't questioning my free speech rights I don't know what is. It was one step shy of a a "shut up and go away" comment I received on LinuxToday.

Your assumption that I don't know who I am talking to and the tone of your comments also shows a level of arrogance that is entirely uncalled for. Your attitude in your IT Wire column comes off as saying that anyone who disagrees with you is an absolute idiot.

You know what? I know precisely who you are and I have utter contempt for you and what you have written. Go shill for Canonical elsewhere. After your piece dated tomorrow you are done commenting here.

"Take out a paid support contract with Canonical and then complain. Then one would be inclined to take you seriously."

In my real world, my boss takes out Centoses and Mandriva free desktops and looks if the support is good and if the ca 300 people/ distro who agree to use them (we can use XP, too) do not get too wild ; then, the commercial backing up thses free support distribution is taken seriously for difficult, strategical boxes.

It's completely impossible to build a quality desktop operating system following the chaotic open source model. Management, vision, and huge amounts of money are needed. All of these is lacking in Linuxland. It's a shame, because much progress would be possible if only everyone would be willing to push in the same direction.

Personally, after trying for many years, I've given up on desktop Linux. For people that really dislike Windows (not that many reasons these days), I strongly suggest them to buy a Mac.

Thank you for the most humorous comment of all. The fact is there are any number of excellent Linux distributions for the desktop. I guess we were about due for an Apple commercial and you were kind enough to provide it.

Personally, I use Windows, thank you very much. But I appreciate the fact that some people dislike it, and would like a decent UNIX on their desktops. That's OS X, and that's the reason why I suggested it.

You want me to tell you what is humorous? You complaining about Ubuntu zealots not respecting your opinion, and later on accusing me of being some kind of Apple shill just because you don't like mine.

The greatest issue that Linux has is not Ubuntu, is not even the very poor desktop software: is the community, totally unable to withstand criticism. But hey, don't worry, I'm sure that Yet Another Distribution will solve everything and we will finally be able to enjoy Linux on the desktop. And now, that was humour.

"Management, vision, and huge amounts of money are needed. All of these is lacking in Linuxland."

I suppose IBM are bankrupt and chaotic and Red Hat do not make profit and are blind....

"It's a shame, because much progress would be possible if only everyone would be willing to push in the same direction."
Except in North Korea, it is a good thing linux desktops are not pushing in the same direction : if KDE gets broken, there remains .... Gnome (or XFCE, or IceWM if one likes them).. If Gnome breaks, there remains ... KDE ( )
and a redundant architecture is reliable and protects from monolithic chaos...

"The problem for both Canonical and Red Hat, of course, is that to support the latest and greatest hardware you sometimes do have to live on the cutting edge."

This is more true with Ubuntu LTS than RHEL (and its derivatives such as CentOS and Scientific Linux) as RH do Update releases which backports support for contemporary hardware. A concrete example of this was a Supermicro X8DAL motherboard my employer has been buying for high-end workstations for the last six months or so. CentOS 5.4 supported it out-of-the-box, Ubuntu 8.04.4 LTS didn't include support for the onboard NICs, and when I filed a lauchpad bug, I was told categorically that support will not be backported.

This has massive implications for organisations that wish to standardise on a single desktop Linux distro release, but retain the freedom to buy newer hardware as it arrives on the market.

[...] the names "Linux" and "Ubuntu" are all but interchangeable.
But isn't this still a better situation to the one in which the general public didn't even know there exists another OS for PC's than MS Win? You have to give credit to the Canonical marketing machine for that. And the fact that the other distributions are not nearly as widely known as Ubuntu is not Canonical's fault, but of the other distro developers and their respective communities.
I agree with you on the Ubuntu's bug-fixing issue, and about being a mistake to follow a strict 6 months release schedule. The argument about the LTS versions being for those who want rock stability doesn't seem to hold, because Ubuntu doesn't use a clear stable-unstable naming scheme, and as a newbie, one doesn't look for long time support, but for usability, and expects to find it also in non-LTS releases, since they aren't dubbed unstable.
Being a linux newbie myself, I have to confess that, despite it's bugs, I do find Ubuntu, and it's derivatives, to be the most begginer friendly distros (possible alternative I intend to investigate is PclinuxOS) out there.
I am using Mint 8 XFCE, because I find it to be more polished than Xubuntu, but, beeing a derivative work, I recognize it stands on Ubuntu's shoulders. I'm also expecting to see how the new Debian-based Crunchbang will be.

Do you seriously want me to believe that IBM or Red Hat give a rat's ass about consumer Linux desktops?

Can't you Linux zealots try something original for a change?

Great article!!
thank you, some one had to say it.
ubuntu is a bad first impression for new to linux,
they get tire of the old bugs so they ad some more every 6 month :)

"Do you seriously want me to believe that IBM or Red Hat give a rat's ass about consumer Linux desktops?

I am not interested in converting anyone...
If the consumers get unhappy with Fedora or Centos support, they will go back to other OSes...
My boss allows users to use Centos (some money and skills, not rats anatomy, coming from RH AFAIK) or Mandriva as desktops (about 300 per distr), even Fedoras for training (2), though the majority of users prefer XP: if free linux desktop users get unsatisfied with support, if bugs were ignored,

can you make *my boss* to believe it is worth the trouble to buy Mandrivas or Red Hat for workstations and servers? (and I hope RH and IBM know there are people like my boss, ready to pay if needed, as he gets things carefully tested and does not loose too much money!)

"Can't you Linux zealots try something original for a change?
I often prefer XP to a broken Linux, and therefore I choose carefully my distributions before using them (Scientific Linux is stable enough for me)

Red Hat and IBM care about the enterprise (corporate, institutional and government) desktops, not consumer desktops. Having said that, if they make a good enterprise desktop it also will, by and large, be a good consumer desktop.

I agree with you that enterprise desktops are very comfortable consumers ones, as one can leave one's leisure PC when it is uncomfortable (in an entreprise,it is not always possible);
the only exceptions I can imagine are sound and radio (enterprises I know fear wireless, and if one shares a room with colleagues, sound might be disabled on PCs ).
But essential parts of the work to get a comfortable and debugged desktop is founded or done by very serious entities, who generate well earned profit.

Really? The fact that so many enterprises are still using Windows XP and IE6 should tell you that needs from consumer and enterprise desktops are quite different.

Really! Windows XP is still being sold preloaded to consumers in stores today. Any enterprise that is still using IE6 after Microsoft has publicly declared that it is not secure and can no longer be made secure has very poor security practices indeed.

Sorry, no sale.

Ciatlyn, your article is fair & accurate, on many points; but I do have a (personal) solution: dual-boot with 9.04 & 9.10. (I also have a point or two to make about your 'standard-bearer' idea.)

(To qualify this: 9.04 recognises my printer & the CUPS that drives it (better than the original driver, may I add), 9.10 recognises my mobile broadband dongle (neither vice-versa: until I figure how to get the CUPS installed in 9.10. (I'm not a professional, & the fora members offer a multitude of optional solutions, often full of unhelpful 'GREPs'!)).)

Specifically, I'm running Xubuntu 9.04 & 9.10 in parallel on an 8/9yo AMD Duron. I have NEVER been happier with an OS/Distro. Furthermore, I am very happy that my XP laptop died a couple of days ago (Built-In Obsolescence Strategy!)!

Xubuntu?: it's beautiful! IMHOTEP: THE BEST; simply because it offers a simple, straightforward OS that can be built upon, according to one's requirements. Additionally, it's ideal for older MacHinery, such as I & many have. Sure, you have to learn how the OS works, but that's the same for any. (Why didn't anyone point me towards Xubuntu before?! Even the old monitor is brighter & better defined.)

One beauty of Ubuntu is that it offers 6 official versions, plus derivatives, to satisfy most requirements, & an educational add-on, all for free; regardless of the commercial backing. OK, you need WINE to run some apps, & you may have to do without some (roll Mac Ad!)

I've tried (GNOME) Ubuntu, & found it very unwieldy. I've tried Kubuntu, & found it less responsive & more uninformative than 'the enemy', but with more pop-ups (Reportedly, Linus Torvalds favours KDE. Fine: he's a programmer/OS writer; I'm not!). I've also tried PCLinuxOS (which looks A1, but it doesn't seem to support a UK keyboard (although it does support just about every other!)), Slax, Fedora, LinuxMint, Ylmf (?!), Pardus, OpenSolaris, PC-BSD, Multics, ... etc.

The most useable?: for me: Xubuntu; for many others: Ubuntu-GNOME, Kubuntu, UbuntuStudio, or Mythbuntu.

I do appreciate that you're a programmer/writer/smarter-than-your-average-'clueless chick!' (please do excuse any misterm), & I do very much agree with you about hardware/drivers working/not working from one distro to another. These are problems that Canonical/Ubuntu need to address. Why should a CUPS/(etc.) that works in one version of a distro suddenly stop working in the next? Is there any reason why drivers should not be available from the supplier of the OS, or straightforward instructions, at least?

But I'll get to your title point.

Who can REALLY fly the flag for Linux?

That's hard to answer. But, to take an 'end-user' perspective, Ubuntu/Canonical is doing a darned good job at making a fundamentally decent OS available, with several desktop/file/GUI options, to suit taste.

They may be (are, IMHOTEP) in error when they say that they're no longer supporting a distro; because that is misleading to people who are either used to using 'the enemy' product, or, don't fully appreciate the fundamental integrity of 'Linux/UNIX' OSs, regardless of 'support' (believe me; I know what 'the enemy's' support is worth!).

This may sound anarchic or hippyish to many (& their ears are their own responsibility!), but the 'Linux standard' is borne aloft by all who operate whichever flavour (whether they be programmers or end-users), & those who promote & encourage, in whatever little way they can. There are people in my life who have never used a PC before: what do you recommend? I know what I'd recommend, particularly because it's useful to know how the MacHine actually works - unless, of course, you're nothing more than a browser/'M-user'!

I do appreciate that you're 'preaching to the converted', but you don't actually propose a 'standard-bearer'. So, your point is, what?! Please can you propose a good standard-bearer.

Nevertheless, Baby Jesus loves Linux, & Baby Jesus loves you too, for ever and ever, Amen!

Please drop the religious stuff, OK. I'm not a Christian, I don't believe in Jesus, and I sure as heck don't want to be proselytized to, OK?

Ubuntu, IMHO does NOT do a good job. I don't think ANY distro should be the standard bearer. Part of the whole point of Linux is choice. I think we should stress that. We don't all eat cornflakes for breakfast, we don't all drive the same car, and we don't all need to run the same distro. We all have different needs and a distro tailored for those needs will generally do better than a one size fits all solution than Ubuntu.

What do I recommend for a used PC? It depends how old it is. Give me the specs and I'll make a recommendation. Xubuntu? Way too slow and bloated for an Xfce based distro. It may actually be the poorest I've seen in that regard. Thanks, but no thanks.

No offence meant: the 'Baby Jesus' bit was actually intended as a joke. I'm not a 'christian' (whatever that means) either, & I do actually have 1st class Hons in Theology (I'm a proselytizer's worst nightmare, if they insist on trying the salvation trip on me!).

My MacHine: AMD Duron 1.20GHz, 1024MB RAM, 79GB HDD, i686 class, 32bit, 8-9yo((?) it still has a zip drive).

I'd welcome your recommendation.

BTW, Baby Jesus hates MS!

"but I do have a (personal) solution: dual-boot with 9.04 & 9.10."
Well, let us take the car analogy : if you have a car without a steering wheel (' mobile broadband dongle') and another without brakes (cups not working), would you happily jump from a car to another if you wanted/needed to halt/change your direction?

And I suppose UBUlinux knows how to have both cups and mobile breadband working: else, it might be very puzzling?
Why cannot they put them in the same distro ([back]port)?

I see the point you're making, but the analogy doesn't quite make sense. I effectively have 2 versions of the same vehicle in the same garage: both of them work fine in their own respective modes.

9.04 is my utility vehicle, my trail bike, as it were.

9.10 is purely for web-browsing, email, etc., my motocrosser.

(I have loads of free time, now that I don't have to wait for anti-virus updates, etc., EVERY time I log-on. I no longer have to run disc-cleaners or defragmenters, etc. Honestly, it's quite weird changing to an OS that simply WORKS, coming from a MonSter that needs to be 'hacked' just to make it work - & it WILL crash on a regular basis, as a result of the hacking (If, as Caitlyn says, Xubuntu is 'way too slow and bloated for an Xfce-based distro', I want to see a fast and lean one: recommendations, please)).

Of course, this is a compromise, but it's a case of making the best of a situation, where every distro has a downside.
I very much intend to figure out a solution & post it. I'd also very much like a single distro on which both printer & dongle work; but how many distros do I have to try? They all claim to be 'the best yet', but still seem to fail on certain hardware installation/recognition issues, & it seems to be a case of simply dropping an application for no good reason whatsoever.

'Why cannot they put them in the same distro ([back]port)?'

Also, why does a set of terminal commands that work in one distro, suddenly stop working in the upgraded version? This makes no sense to me.

For fast and lean Xfce-based desktops:

Of these three, only Vector has a graphical installer. If you are frightened off by a text-based installer use that one. All three of these distros have repositories which are relatively small compared to Ubuntu or Mandriva. If a large repo is of primary concern the Xfce community spin of Mandriva is also a possibility, but honestly it isn't much lighter than Xubuntu.

One note: while I've never had a problem with a Zenwalk install I have read about problems people have had with their installer. My "it works for me" not being an acceptable answer is something I do apply to myself as well, so I thought I should throw that out there.

Many thanks: I'll certainly take a look at these 3.

I'm not bothered about loads of applications, & I generally avoid updates: which is an annoying factor of X/K/Ubuntu - 190+ updates available immediately after install, & 95%+ of them either seem unnecessary, or come with vague descriptions. But the majority were classed as important 'security updates' (For what? I thought 'Linux' was the safest, most secure class of PC OSs available). That all adds up to a lot of data-usage, which can be expensive on a pay-as-you-go connection: that's another potential negative on Ubuntu's 'flagship' status, although they do seem to be trying to target the mainstream consumer, in spite of the '3rd World-friendly' imagery & tribal drums on start-up.

I wonder how many people out there in the world without mains or landlines actually use X/K/Ubuntu on their solar-powered small machines. If 'Linux' is 'out there', I'd bet it's more likely one of the superlight versions, one that one has to/can build - which is what 'Linux' means to me.

If all else fails, I'll get an abacus & a chalkboard - now that's an app & a GUI.


You're under a serious misconception about security. Vulnerabilities will be found in every OS. That is unavoidable. What makes an OS secure is how quickly the vulnerabilities are closed. Ubuntu does security very well indeed. They issues patches for even the most minor issues promptly. This is precisely the opposite of Microsoft, which waits to issue patches and in some (admittedly few) cases can't fix things at all.

Having said that, the 190+ updates are not all security. They do include bugfixes and enhancements. In any case I would not consider a large number of updates a flaw. It's anything but.

[With no apologies for the name association football]

I take your point about updates (for some reason, the number suddenly changed from 190+ to 83, so that wasn't too expensive in broadband MBs).

I also tried SalixOS, Zenwalk, & VectorLinux.

With the first two, I had no mobile broadband, perhaps for a similar reason why this dongle doesn't work in Ubuntu 9.04. As for VectorLinux, which was a more complicated install, I got no further than log-in: "Incorrect username or password. Letters must be typed in the correct case" (which they were). I'll read the manual, again. But, 256MB RAM, 3.4GB HDD space required: not bad. All three looked great, & I would probably adopt one of them if they'd accept my hardware.

Meanwhile, I'll stay with Xubuntu (if I figure out solutions to the hardware installation problems, I imagine they would be transferable to other Linuces.), & I'll see about debloating it & making an ISO image. But if Xubuntu is bloated, then it's like an anorexic sprinter in comparison to ('flag-waving') PCLinuxOS 2010 Xfce 'Phoenix Edition' (for those who like bling without bloat: oh dear!?). I never wanted to be a programmer if/when I grew-up, but I do feel somewhat driven in the same direction & by the same philosophy as Jean-Philippe Guilllemin (Zenwalk): keep it lean, keep it simple. (Perhaps I should go for ASM or Forth-based OSs: now they're REALLY lean: 2-32MB RAM, 100MB HDD space max., 30sec install, anyone?).

I'd still recommend (with cautions) Ubuntu to 'newbies' & people interested in using a better OS than MS (which is a very unpleasant medical condition), as it is a good way into 'Linux', & in many ways a good alternative for people used to suffering MS.

However, I never refer to Ubuntu as 'Linux': I call it by its actual name, & IMHO(tep), Canonical/Ubuntu have no real need to do otherwise. The impression I get is that the 'Linux press' are probably equally as responsible for the equation of Ubuntu with 'Linux' (whatever 'Linux' means!?).

Did you ask about the mobile broadband issues in the forums for either SalixOS or Zenwalk? If not, well... then you have only yourself to blame. Both have helpful communities and there may be a simple workaround to your problem. Neither of these distros tout ease of use but they are incredibly reliable and were offered as lightweight. In general 3G and 4G support in Linux (any distro) is still a work in progress.

With VectorLinux that really does sound like you entered a password during setup that wasn't what you thought it was when you went to login. Yes, it's possible to mistype a password the same way twice. I know because I've done it. Vector is usually a blissfully simple install.

Once again, I'd recommend Mandriva over Ubuntu for new users any day of the week. Recommending Ubuntu all too often results in failure. If 32-bit hardware is used the Pardus is also an outstanding choice.

Cheers Caitlyn: fair point: my error.

It is a 3G issue, & something I'm prepared to put time into resolving. I shall check out the forums (via Xubuntu 9.10!), because I do like the look of the distros you recommended (my only potential issue with VectorLinux is that it doesn't support UK QWERTY, although I can work around that). BTW, Ubuntu forums can be a bit disenchanting.

Pardus looked great, & probably the friendliest install of any system; but again the 3G issue, & I didn't find any help on the forums.

But I won't give up. I find it somewhat sickening that my university wastes resources (money & time) on MSW (& it's written all over), when they could be using a campus-wide Linux-based system , with OpenOffice, PSPP, etc., (rather than expensive MSOffice & SPSS, etc.), & paying for technical support. The Computer Science department could be doing a 'Pardus': think of the research degree potential. 'Linux' is potentially a great opportunity for good working practice & good economics.


I checked out the possible resolution of the mobile broadband problem in the 3 distros you recommended, as well as trying to find a solution to the printer installation problems.Suddenly, Ubuntu/Canonical have come up with an installable driver that doesn't just work, it makes my printer work even better than it did in MSW! In fact, since a couple of updates, everything on this 'old' machine is brighter, quicker & better.

So, I'm sticking with Xubuntu 9.10, & I'll probably check out 'Lucifer's Links'. It's still not an ideal situation, but I don't see the point in using even more of a minority 'Linux' OS that's even more lacking in compatibility, I'm never going back to MS (unless I'm paid to use it, as an employment condition), & I don't see the point of buying an expensive Mac (which failed a recent hacking test). I'll keep my eyes open for those waving banners.

"'security updates' (For what? I thought 'Linux' was the safest, most secure class of PC OSs available)."

Well, unices are secure, too and there is no absolute security: If RH,IBM, FF or other detect security issues (and they can be detected months/years after releases), corrections are made and, **if one is connected to the internet**, it is wise to get them.
Antiviruses are changed frequently : this may avoid a linux PC send infected files (they remain infected, though they do no harm) to his masters friends PC on windows.

The proportion of PC connected (directly or indirectly) to the internet is 50%, according to wikipedia administrators in feb, 2010 (I am sorry I did not remember the link, but IT links are volatile; dates and facts are not) : they wanted to find another way to ship their knowledge than IT links.
Therefore one PC out of two has no simple access to fora/usual ways of fixing, and should be provided with good quality software from the very beginning....

For xfce on Mandriva, I played with it on a Mandriva 2008.1 : KDE, gnome and XFCE had about the same consumption af RAM (+-6M), as I used the same applications -"libgnome**xxxx" and "libked" were both residing: only ICE WM led to a significant decrease 30M: if you have 1G RAM, that make a ...3% gain...
Is bloat really an issue?

And solar cells are too expensive (one needs sophisticated electronics uneasy to repair and batteries, too : if it breaks, it goes into any river) for real 3rd world countries: most use fuel powered generators or wind powered one (with simple car batteries, old car dynamos and gears : if a car breaks, its parts do not pollute that much)..

And BTW having a multiboot to take care of doubles (at least ) the time spent in adding new features and, generally, unless very specific things, one manages to get everything one needs in one version and the other gets forgotten....

"Is bloat really an issue?" Too right it is, & not just because of computer time-efficiency:




Bloat is perhaps as bad as the 'Built-In Obsolescence Strategy' that killed my 4/5yo laptop - it would have cost more to test it that it cost new. I also have a 17/18yo notebook with 4MB RAM/80MB+ HDD, on which I can play with ASM & Forth based OSs, & learn about really lean programming. Why should a useful little machine like that be binned because of software bloat? Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a 'Linux' distro light enough for it (re: Chuck Moore's '1% the code' http://www.colorforth.com/1percent.html).

Apologies for digressing somewhat from the original point of this page.

I was referring to a 1G RAM PC (choosing between desktops can lead to a 5% improvement in available RAM : for a 128 M emulated/old machine, it is relevant) and current use {if my colleagues are out of RAM -I compute the RAM consumption before choosing softwares/programming what misses- I ask them :
are you in a hurry (if yes, one changes machines)
will you reuse it often (and then, and only then, optimisation is attempted)}

Finally a truthful review about Ubuntu! I get so sick of reading reviews saying that Ubuntu is the best thing since sliced bread when I know for a fact it is a regression filled mess.

Ubuntu needs to focus on quality and build releases where things actually work. Bug reporting is a complete waste of time and you are never going to see any package updates for the applications you use every day.

The 10.04 LTS release is loaded with regressions and they will release it on time just the same. What good is an LTS release that never gets updates for popular applications?

Ubuntu is all about building hype not quality and it is a poor representation of Linux based systems.Ubuntu could learn a lot by looking at PCLinuxOS 2010 KDE, it was built the way a system should be.

No matter how many stories hit the press about Ubuntu, it will not make the regressions go away. Unless Ubuntu learns how to build quality releae it will eventuall fall to the wayside just like other distros have in the past.

PCLinuxOS? Are you serious? Can't you get away from blue?

Have you tried LinuxMint-8? It's what happens when someone takes a good idea (Ubuntu) & makes it really work by including all the generally useful stuff that people want, like codecs, drivers, Java, OpenOffice 2.x, etc., as standard. And, it's upstream-compatible. And, somehow, the ISO still fits onto a 700MB CD, & takes only 2.3GB disc space after install & update. How come all the other similarly sized distros lack the inherent features of Mint?

PCLinuxOS seems to be all on the surface/GUI, but seriously lacking in underlying substance; it doesn't even come with a basic word-processor, & then what their repository offers is an old version of OpenOffice. PCLinuxOS is fine if you want a shiny but basic system on which you have to install everything. Is that how an OS 'should be' built? if this is what you want, get slackware, or build your own.

If Ubuntu need to learn a thing or two, then they should look to LinuxMint, which would be a far better 'standard bearer', & one which actually bears the Linux name.

PCLinuxOS was offered as one of several alternatives. Background colors and themes don't matter to me -- they are easily changed and I always customize my desktop. I listed it among my recommendations because it's relatively easy to install and works well. That's far more important on whether it's "blue" or not. I always though OpenOffice Writer was a good word processor, BTW, and other choices are in the repository.

I understand you wanted to write a LinuxMint commercial, which is fine. A small, community project with no commercial support available is fine for the home, hobbyist user. A standard bearer? Neither LinuxMint nor PCLinuxOS qualify, IMHO. Actually, my point, which you missed, is that a standard bearer distro is not a good idea, period. A choice of Linux distributions is no more intimidating than a choice of cars or of breakfast cereals. Let people use the one that fits them after browsing the selection.

I'm not actually plugging Linuxmint per se (they don't pay me), but IMHO, it shows how much better Ubuntu could be in the first place. (OK, it IS a wee bit GREEN, but backgrounds ain't exactly difficult to change). I've had no real problems with it so far, very much unlike Ubuntu. Maybe I'm just getting more experienced.

My point was that PCLinuxOS is NOT built the way an OS 'should' be (which is certainly a matter of opinion): LinuxMint comes as a much more complete standard package, yet doesn't seem bloated, works very well, & was simple to install. And for those who prefer KDE or XFCE, these are available, too.

I also tell M$ users about OpenOffice (& IBM Lotus): some of whom listen & save lots of money. Choice: an expensive, awkward, incompatible office suite, or, a (perhaps new) blank PC on which to put a decent OS & a really good office suite that's compatible with most documents? That's a no-brainer.

I take your very valid point on commercial support (McAfee anyone?). As a hobbyist/home/student user, this is not an issue for me. I've found a very good home-use OS that gives me lots of free time for my hobbies.

I didn't miss your equally valid point about 'standard bearers', I was just making an 'if-then' point. I actually agree that 'Ubuntu is a poor standard bearer': it nearly put me off.

'Linux standard bearer' conjures an image of a Lego Roman soldier carrying a Lego flag!

Oh dear, I spoke too soon! You may laugh!

Well, the Mint died, after an update. First it was a constant web-browser crash, then a(nother) kernel panic, followed by a total loss of launcher icons & the network manager, which necessitates a complete reinstall. I'm writing this from the live disc! I have no intention of reinstalling Mint, & unless Mandriva will accept my printer (I will try again) I have little choice but to install Ubuntu 9.10, which I know works with ALL my hardware.

Perhaps this gives good evidence for the point of view that 'Linux desktop' are more concerned with cosmetic imagery & GUIs & apps than with underlying system integrity.

Personally, I'd be happier to launch useful 'standalone' apps with useful GUIs from a terminal or simple menu, knowing that the underlying system works. Perhaps I'll have to build my own - the inevitable DOOM of the Linux-er!

Caitlyn, I'm sorry if this is not in relation with the article but I have been surprised by something. In a comment above you wrote: "When Vector Linux announced they were moving away from Slackware I started seriously looking for alternatives. That, plus the lack of a 64-bit release, finally made Vector a no-go for me. I've run SalixOS since November of last year and I have been favorably impressed. Expect a review from me in the not too distant future."

Vector moving away from SlacKware? Really? I didn't read this.... Sorry if I'm a little silly here but can you explain or/and give more information please?

hello Caitlyn? is your post controversy? could you spent 10 minutes to printer some file? ubuntu may respond for hp printers ? oh!!!! common!!!!!! please install solid systems like debian / ubuntu / fedora / slackware / suse in lot of plataforms and enjoy ! or buy some support to printer your files or what you want! please do not make salad's with gnu / linux systems

from são paulo - brasil

Congratulations, gilberto.
At least you made me laugh, as Caitlyn Martin is a very talented, courageous tester (she has other programming, writing and political skills, too) :
before having solid systems like the deterministic "debian" (on remote connections?), "ubuntu" (they do not even fix bugs if the bug is known), "fedora" (Red Hat's benchmark : two of my colleagues use it for training in bug detection -yes, they can dare it!- , out of 600-700 linux boxes installed),
such -and better ones- systems should be tested.

And I must thank Caitlyn Martin for serious advices and clear explanations of why many things (did not|) work, before I had the idea of trying them.

i always had problems with ubuntu, one like 6.06LTS,7.04,7.10 worked perfectly other like 6.10,8.04LTS,8.10 were unusable on my machine.

after that i accidentally discovered Linux Mint 6 - after that
i use only this distribution because it is based on ubuntu but is much cooler and everything works fine even if ubuntu edition on which Mint version is based sucks on my machine.


Unfortunately for the readers out there you have given a biased and poor review of a distro that deserved better. I for one recommend that ANYONE wanting to learn about Linux try Ubuntu as a first step.

Perhaps since you have lost your way of thinking and your method's of writing a fair article you should consider going back to the beginning of where you started and relearn what being a "newbie" is about.

"you"(Ms Martin)" have given a biased and poor review"
But is it a _technical_ review (it is not tagged as "review"!!!)?
It rtaher shows the desastrous results of a policy leading to:
a printer could not cold plug and this was marked as "high priority" for months.... It went on working with other linuxen...

During the discussion, it appears that UBUlinux introduced the Intel drivers bugs (of course, it was upstreams fault, as it would have been UBUlinux success if it had worked) : this bug led to many "net""books" having reponse times to mouse clicks in order of (tens of) seconds... Mandriva had this bug, too, but corrected it; UBU linux did not, hinting that they made a political choice, anti users...

What would you think of a doctor who, knowing that colleagues can heal a desease, would let their clients unattanded?

I am not sure that I would equate a "printer" with life altering health issues...

The ONLY issue that I have had to face in dealing with Ubuntu is that for some unknown reason RIM has specifically chosen NOT to work with Linux OS.

There are no other reasons that Ubuntu could be faulted.

issue that I have had to face in dealing with Ubuntu is that for some unknown reason RIM has specifically chosen
to work with Linux OS."

Well, it is wordwide interesting YOU (sorry for the CaSe) had no issues with UBUlinux: this of course entitles
to ignore:

a) this post's tags (it is not a review!)

b) the fact that Intel drivers (which were used on most of the "net""books" -those "netbooks led to a great increase in GNU linux adoption f.Y.i.) had bugs: other ditributors either did wait or spread corrections, UBUlinux
did not -though there obviously were corrections).
As a demo of GNUlinux advantages, it can be trusted....

There are actually two problems here;
1 is that 'buntu users are a noisy bunch of 'tards.
2 is that 'buntu devs are doing insane things, like mixing up unstable patches into ancient versions of packages that they were never meant for -- see 10.04's kernel and xorg for examples on this. This is supposed to be a long term support release, but what it is is an uninsulated high voltage wire in the middle of a school yard.

IMHO, the problems with ANY distro of linux for the desktop is that they are simply far too geeky to be used by 90% of the users out there. I am not anti-linux; I am a software engineer by day. I like it because I am a geek... but, when push comes to shove, with every distro I have ever used, there is ALWAYS something that needs Terminal and "sudo x x x" in order to fix or get something working. Linux will never make it in the general public until there is a user interface for EVERYTHING and the much-beloved command line is strictly optional.

In France, there is an old people oriented PC+OS called Ordissimo: its OS is a Debian (and debian has a fate of being very geeky, if "geek" has a definition..) and it is preconfigured in order that there are no worries about administrative tasks, which are better accumplished with a command line (and simple history mechanism) or made fully automatic.
Thus, EVERY (sorry for the case) administrative task users would not understand (whatever with a CLI or a GUI) is carefully hidden when one buyes an ordissimo (they can afford to advertise on TV) , and it is what most people need (like phones : some are under linux, but there are no sounds like cat, ls, etc coming out their speakers though their screens are too tiny for a GUI..)
Updates never crash this kind of box (it is difficult to repair), and softs are fixed (not broken) ... which whas this page topic with UBUlinux...

OTOH, the first thing I install when I (or my colleagues) get a Windows box is cygwin (plus X), as it is easier than cmd.exe: it is not a matter of love, but of comfort (having an history makes one can understand why an administrative task went wrong).

I've setup Linux for use by an awful lot of non-technical people and in my experience you absolutely can live without the command line. I don't know why you feel it's essential but as far as I can tell it hasn't been in at least 10 years. Ubuntu may have a number of flaws but ease of use is NOT one of them. In my experience your argument here simply does not hold water.

You make my point for me - YOU have setup linux for an awful lot of non-technical people... because they couldn't do it? I have rarely encountered a distro that could be installed from scratch without some kind of necessary 'under-the-hood' tweaking. Granted, Ubuntu comes very close... and to specifically reply to the point of your original article, if any distro has come the closest to the 'holy grail of idiot useability' it may just be Ubuntu. I'm not privy to what some of the other (uber-geek??) responses refer to the way Ubuntu uses this or that version of the kernel, etc. The bottom line, IMHO, is can a non-technical person insert the disc, follow the instructions, and come out with a fully-working OS with default settings and everything "just works"? In that regard, Ubuntu is probably the closest thing I have seen to that possibility. Is it perfect? Of course not. Do I really care about Red Hat vs. Ubuntu vs. Knoppix vs. Whatever? Guess what? John Q. Non-Techhie doesn't know the difference.

Needless to say I disagree with you and I don't think I make any points for you at all. First, let me repeat that the non-technical user generally can't install an operating system. That includes Windows, MacOS, the BSDs or any Linux distro you care to name.

Ubuntu is far from being the best distro for a "just works" results with default settings. Mandriva, Pardus, Linux Mint, and PCLinuxOS all do better, IMNSHO. I don't care about distro debates either. I care about claims made by various distros and how well they live up to them. Ubuntu does not live up to the "Linux for human beings" claim. It's not even close.

"The bottom line, IMHO, is can a non-technical person insert the disc, follow the instructions, and come out with a fully-working OS with default settings and everything "just works""

The fastest and easiest way is to use unetbootin (3 mouse clicks) and live CDs/DVDs iso: as they are meant to be demos, one may expect they offer the best versions (else, the distributor would be mad). It boots faster than with a CD ('no mechanical parts), and works on "net""books" without CD readers...
Wolvix Beta, some versions of Sabayon and Victor Linux had everything I needed... and I could be sure there would not be nasty regressions like a printers giving up working or a screen getting 50 times too slow...

Sorry - don't mean to raise hackles. As is obvious, I am misinformed... so, of the 4 you named, which one should I try first?

Brian M

@Brian M.: There is nothing wrong with differing opinions or spirited debate. You never need to worry about "raising hackles" on one of my posts :)

Which one to try (and I could list a few others) depends on what you want to do. Are you running 32-bit or 64-bit hardware? The reason I ask is that the first 64-bit Pardus is still in alpha and won't be final until Pardus 2011 is released late this year. If you're running 32-bit hardware (including a netbook or nettop) and if you like KDE 4.x then Pardus 2009.2 (which, despite the version number, is a very recent release) is a great one to start with.

If you are running 64-bit hardware I'll say Mandriva with one obvious caveat: the company behind the distro is in serious financial trouble and negotiating a sale of itself. If that goes well and development goes forward then that, IMNSHO, is probably still the best choice for most newcomers. The last release candidate (as the final 2010.2 is held up pending sale) is ready for prime-time.

As always, YMMV, and different distros seem to deliver different results on different hardware.

If you are deploying a server you definitely want to go with the Long Term Release and upgrade as needed.

Six months isn't a long time to test a release for server or desktop. I would always wait until a release has been out at least a month before using it.

As for printers etc-- things a lot better then they used to be but this is always going to be an issue considering all the different manufactures and models of printers.


@Glen P: You seem to have utterly missed the point on the printer issue. It DID work just fine under Ubuntu on one release and then didn't on the next. It also did not get fixed during now two release cycles and that is, in part, by design. The same printer works fine on other distros without any issues at all so this is NOT a general Linux issue with printing.

There is more to being a "standard bearer" for an ideal than does every device in every conceivable configuration work in all environments immediately and to my own personal satisfaction.

Only a fool believes that one distro over another solves all conceivable problems for you... The beauty of the Linux community is that each distro embodies the community segment for which it is tailored.

Ubuntu is tailored to computer users en masse. It tries to provide usage and features that the most people can use and an OS that comes out of the box with little or no tweaking. In general this is exactly what it does, and for the specific configuration problems and issues that do arrive I've found the Ubuntu community *as a whole* (yes we can point out specific instance of people being jerks but over all) responsive and helpful in problem solving.

Ubuntu is not the fastest or most stable or most cutting edge distro. It does not conform to every unix-capable person's view of "how things should be"... However, it does work, and is proven to work for a great number of people. That's how it *became* virtually synonymous with Linux in the minds of the general public.

In my mind the Ubuntu *community* and the commitment to using and implementing features and applications folks want puts it in the lead... in terms of the general consumer public.

Of course there are those who refuse to participate in the community and instead of asking for help... Google, skim, and then complain loudly about specific issues that might not be a problem for other distros, can't be bothered to find out why they were a problem for Ubuntu and then simply assume it's a short coming in Ubuntu...

Funny how negative articles attract more readers then positive ones.

Caitlyn.. i read your article as well as all the commments and do agree that ubuntu should not be the first thing that is associated with linux. i have been playing around with linux for years, starting with redhat then mandrake and fedora never actually keeping a release long enough to get serious use out of it until ubuntu 10.4. i myself have printer issues mine is with a lexmark printer which does not work at all in ubuntu, i run the 64 bit version, which i have read that there is no actually 64 bit driver as yet. what i have resorted in doing is running linux mint 32 bit in VM Ware and moving files back n forth by usb to print its time consumming but from someone who downloads torrents daily switching to another 32 bit OS or even 64 bit windows is out of the question.. it took my almost 10 years of linux/windows dual boot to finally scrap windows altogether. what the end users need to do is research find the closest to best distro u can to what your needs are. right now ubuntu works for me but as i am furthering my research other distros get bookmarked so when i finally take a break from torrents will go to something different.
the main reason i switched to linux was for the FOSS. i was tired of looking for 'cracked' windows plus all the cracked software and virus's etc that comes with it. i was tired of the bloated features of windows. i know have what i want in an OS simple easy to use and virus free. whether i stay with ubuntu or go to another distro time will tell.
what needs to be done, and what has been increasing IS support from hardware manufacturers for linux, not only from the linux community but from the manufacturers themselves that way they may come a time when we wont have as many hardware issues as in the past.

well fair point to caitlin and the rest of the "holy geeks"

im a noob, and i have just one question: which distro is the holy grail?

i dont want two or more names, i just want one that is positively the best and will give me absolutely no issues!!!

if u cannot do that with conviction, then shove it. cos way i see it, this entire drivel is a bit like the railing against microsoft! if its so bad, point to the better in all scenarios alternative!! (i hate MS too, just know better than complaining all the way).

the only thing apparently clear that we all dont know apparently, and u are informing us ms caitlin, is that ubuntu is popular and should'nt be! why, i can only wonder. i think these better distros should up their game too, consumers aint stupid, cos quite clearly like all good geeks i can tell u seem to think YOU are smarter than everyone around and therefore know these "facts" and can't understand why the rest of us are too daft to know too.

great article, move on now pls. or better take out ad space on CNN and NY times to tell the world how bad canonical is, maybe then we will see the light and abandon ubuntu.

I'm not a "holy geek" or better than anyone else. You obviously think you are better than I am since you set up a question and then demanded an answer in a form where you knew it couldn't exist and then told me to "shove it" if I couldn't give you an answer your way. Very nice. Who is the one writing drivel?

You say "i hate MS too". Here is a clue for you: I don't hate Microsoft. I also don't hate Canonical or Ubuntu. However, I am not so blind as not to see faults and report on them honestly.

There is no holy grail distro. There is no such thing as one size fits all. You know that. However, Ubuntu isn't one size fits all either and it is very poor at fixing bugs as a matter of policy. That means a whole lot of distros are better than Ubuntu is.

Anyway, no worries. Ubuntu has removed the name Linux from it's main web page. It seems they don't want to be associated with Linux or the Linux community after all.

I always say that if you want to have a good Linux system, forget the distros that follow a six-month cycle. Fixing bugs is simply not a priority for the developers of such distros. It can't be a priority.

I personally have had no real issues with ubuntu. I enjoy the operating system alot and don't agree with the comments made to the contrary, but that is my opinion and that can only be changed by me and not by anything others could say. With that being said, I have heard ubuntu is considered the aol of linux distros, but I don't see that as a bad thing. Back in the old days of gophers and telnet as the main means of getting around, I remember the aol users coming online and how we hated them due to their lack of knowledge and mostly because we thought of online as being our elitist playground. The idea of non-tech oriented people online irritated us and many thought aol was a horrible thing because it brought more people to the party. If ubuntu is the aol of linux, then it may have the same effect, in bringing more to the party and in turn bringing about alot of the changes and improvements that having all those fresh faced annoying aol users online did for the eventual internet. Once again, just my opinion. Take it or don't. I really don't care, just was something I thought about reading the comments to the article.

I just checked it in Opera 11.52 on my netbook running SalixOS 13.37. The text goes off to the right a small amount and there is a scrollbar. The width corresponds to the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen. This is definitely an Opera-specific issue as the page looks fine in Firefox 7.0.1, Midori 0.3.3 and, indeed, any other browser I try.

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