Wednesday 9 November 2011

Goodbye Ubuntu - probably

Ubuntu has been great. I've had years of top-notch software, for free, and with access to the source code which I have had to hack about from time to time.

But it may be time to say goodbye. Ubuntu's direction is entirely their concern but it is getting in my way.

So if I can't like it, and I don't want to lump it, I may have to leave it.

The Ubuntu/gnome strategy seems to be to replace a nearly-done application with a much less done application which will catch up real soon.

For instance:
  • gthumb image viewer gets replaced with eog (eye-of-gnome) which can't print more than one photo to a page
  • rhythmbox gets replaced with banshee
  • beagle gets replaced with tracker
  • gnome 3 shell gets replaced with unity
  • tomboy gets replaced with gnote
and so on.

And then there are problems with using launchpad their issue-tracker. The typical ubuntu bug-report scenario is like like this:
  1. file a bug
  2. wait 1-2 years
  3. bug gets marked as invalid
    This doesn't mean it isn't a valid bug, it means the bug team can't/won't work with it - perhaps because the person who reported the bug got a new computer after a couple of years, and so wouldn't be able to confirm if a fix was ever released.
  4. If you are lucky, the bug was fixed upstream and you may get the fix in a future Ubuntu release, along with some different long-term bugs.
Bug reports languish dreadfully. For instance, the bug lifecycle for printers is twice as long as I keep a printer for. I can be on my third printer before a fix comes out.

Ubuntu use of launchpad seems designed to disuade people from using launchpad. Rather than the point of "report all bugs" it is the point of "being insulted for reporting any bug".

In an effort to fix this (it seems) bug reports are now automatically closed if no-one from the Ubuntu team has responds in an arbitrary the time-frame.

What makes it worse is that Shuttleworth abandoned his bug-bounty idea; so it is impossible for individual users financially support Canonical or Ubuntu, or get support or contribute to support on issues that matter.

Individual users (non-enterprise customers) are reduced to the level of beggars who can contribute if they don't mind being insulted by launchpad. But any value in the contributions will likely leak away through inaction.

I like ubuntu but they don't like me, and there is no way to pay them any money as I'm not corporate enough to be worth bothering with.

I think that Mint is where it is at; while ubuntu is "debian done nicely" - Mint seems to be: "ubuntu with the bugs actually fixed"

so long, and thanks for all the fish.

It's been really great, and if it's been mostly one-way, it's not for want of trying.


  1. I was just saying to someone today that one of the things I really hate about Ubuntu is that Long Term Support doesn't mean what I think it should mean. Buggy or broken software for an LTS that is fixed in later releases doesn't make it down as an update, and might as a backport if you are very lucky - even if no work needs doing. Today I manually installed XMLTV from the unrelased 12.04 onto a 10.04 and it just worked but why did I have to?

  2. My main system is moved over to Mint12 which my children much prefer - on account of Mate (gnome2 replacement) working in accordance with their expectations, unlike Gnome3 which were using, or Unity (which we were not).

    I prefer Gnome3 but multi-monitor support is rubbish and I have a 3 monitor desktop at work, using 2 graphics cards with xinerama (no randr support even now for multiple cards) - both in 16 bit colour mode because one of them is a usb graphics card using udlfb driver which doesn't yet have a fake 24bit or 32bit mode.