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Operating Systems Software Linux

A Gut Check On Gutsy Gibbon 390

jammag writes "Linux pundit Bruce Byfield looked inside the pre-release of Gutsy Gibbon and found what he calls 'Windows thinking.' His article, Divining from the Entrails of Ubuntu's Gutsy Gibbon, notes that Ubuntu is the dominant distro, having achieved a level of success that might be leading to complacency. He opines: 'Only once or twice did I find a balance between accessibility to newcomers and a feature set for advanced users. At times, I wondered whether the popularity might be preventing Ubuntu from finishing some rough edges.'"
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A Gut Check On Gutsy Gibbon

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  • On one page? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:55AM (#20681915)
    This article is another one spread over multiple pages, so you'd think that the print version might be sane.... but no, the print version is multiple pages, with many [blocked for me] adverts and a big grey navigation box at the bottom. I can only assume that the blocked ads are for shit like toner, ink and paper! Anyway, here's the article, minus the annoyances:

    Divining from the Entrails of Ubuntu's Gutsy Gibbon
    By Bruce Byfield
    September 20, 2007

    According to the 2007 survey, Ubuntu is the distribution of choice for 30% of GNU/Linux users. The exact figure is questionable, but Ubuntu's dominance is not. For an increasing number of people, Ubuntu is GNU/Linux. Yet, looking at the pre-releases of Gutsy Gibbon, Ubuntu 7.10, I found myself becoming disturbed by the degree to which this popularity has translated into uncritical acceptance.

    Make no mistake -- due to the energy that the Ubuntu community and Canonical, its corporate arm, have put into improving the desktop, this popularity is well-deserved. Yet, at the same time, I find myself wondering whether user-friendliness must inevitably mean discouraging users from exploring their systems or taking firm control over them. This question keep nagging me each time I installed, went through the selection of preloaded software, explored the desktop, installed new software, or examined security. Only once or twice did I find a balance between accessibility to newcomers and a feature set for advanced users. At times, too, I wondered whether the popularity might be preventing Ubuntu from finishing some rough edges.

    Many releases ago, Ubuntu settled on installation from a Live CD. To begin the installation, you boot your computer with the CD in the drive, then click an icon to add Ubuntu to your hard drive.

    Little has changed in the Gutsy Gibbon release. The installer opens with a warning that you are using a pre-release version that installation of might mean over-writing existing files, then leads you through an eight-step wizard.

    To its credit, the installer makes adding an operating system to your hard drive as easy as it can probably be. However, while even novices are unlikely to have much trouble if they accept the defaults, straying beyond them is difficult. For instance, in the keyboard selection step, the only way to know the differences between two U.S. English International layouts or the classical, left hand, or right hand versions of the Dvorak keyboard is to know them beforehand, to research them on another computer, or to try each systematically in the field provided for the purpose.

    Similarly, at the partitioner, if you choose the Guided option, you quickly discover that it's a misnomer. "Guided" really means automatic, and gives you no choice whatsoever. I can't help comparing this lack of choice unfavorably to Debian 4.0's presentation of different partitioning schemes that you can either accept or modify as you want.

    The installer does a better job with Advanced options on the final screen, tucking away controls for choosing where to install the bootloader or participate in the package Popularity Contest a button-click away from the top level screen.

    Yet, for all its convenience, what most characterizes the Ubuntu installer is the lack of choice it presents. Users cannot even choose the initial software to install. This lack is not only frustrating, but violates a main principle of security. After all, you can hardly secure a system if you do not know what is going on it.
    Bootup and Desktop

    Like the installer, the desktop in Gutsy Gibbon has changed only in minor ways from earlier versions of Ubuntu. And, in many ways, that's not a bad thing, because Ubuntu's default GNOME desktop has always been well-organized. Its menu avoids overwhelming users with choices, and its organization of panel applets or logout options into several categories helps you locate what you need more easily. Sensibly, too, Ubuntu continues to offer only two virtual w
  • Re:evidence (Score:3, Informative)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @12:10PM (#20682131) Homepage Journal
    The 8.04 release will be Hardy Heron. []
  • Re:duhh (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @12:28PM (#20682491) Journal

    With Linux I've noticed that user control is inversely proportional to user-friendliness.

    That's not so. A user who expects a large amount of control is going to find a "user friendly" OS that limits him to be very unfriendly.

    Operating systems like Ubuntu are made with user-friendliness in mind and that comes at the price of user control. It's quick and easy to set-up and use which garners alot of favor from the Windows crowd.

    Except that it doesn't come at the price of user control. A Ubuntu system can do pretty much everything a plain debian system can. The shell is still there and fully functional, same with apt-get.
  • by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @12:37PM (#20682655)
    I, much like you, grew up on RH and was mocked and ignored whenever I had issues. I also use FC7 now. But Ubuntu offers something to newcomers today that we didn't get 10 years ago: a community that doesn't suck.

    Perhaps it is dumbing Linux down. My response: so what. People who find Ubuntu to be useful may be likely to try more advanced distros in the future. This is a foot in the door; the gateway drug so-to-speak.
  • Power user features? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @12:46PM (#20682843) Homepage
    You have a command line, emacs, vi, the gcc suite, perl, clisp and sbcl. What more could you possibly want?

    As long as there's a terminal available and gcc, you just can't complain about lack of power user features in Linux.

    He complains about the multiple package management programs. There's no problem here, since they all use the same underlying database, and a newbie would never know about the command line ones, and wouldn't need to.

    A new user will get along just fine with the simplicity of Ubuntu on the desktop. A power user will hit the command line and have no problems.

    It seems like this guy knows just enough about Debian to be dangerous, and is now cranky that Ubuntu is slightly different.

  • A different take... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MrFSL ( 958006 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @12:48PM (#20682887)
    So many people like to proclaim that Ubuntu is for the novice Windows convert. I contest that assertion! I have been managing a fairly large and quite diverse network for a few years now. Our servers range wildly from Debian varieties, to Windows 200x, and Solaris. Personally, I have been using Linux for several years and am not afraid of any "advanced-user" functions. I recently switched to Ubuntu (about a year ago) and won't be going back to my Debian roots anytime soon. Some like to spout that Ubuntu is the *nix O/S that "just works" - I feel differently about that too. Gentoo, Slackware, Red Hat, ... the all "work," it's the operator/administrator that "just doesn't." The question is should the administrator have to? Should time be spent in making the O/S work; or should time be spent configuring the Services and Applications to work? The answer is simple - Ubuntu gives me a well-secured, base system with excellent hardware support and updates. On more then one occasion I have found the need to break the default Ubuntu base system (removing a default package in favor of another system) and was shocked to see a seamless transition. Try messing around with udev, hal, dbus, and hotplug on any other Linux distro and see what happens. Try swapping out X servers and welcome to Linux hell! Lastly, Ubuntu has achieved what no other Linux distro ever has and that is their Exceptional support community. The Ubuntu forums (coupled with their online Community contributed docs) is one of the single greatest achievements in the Open community (IMHO) in the last 3 years. The support on the Ubuntu forums is not limited to Ubuntu and I see several non-Ubuntu users linking to Ubuntu forum threads, or asking questions there directly. The support I have received from the forum rivals all other *nix support I have ever dealt with including paid support for Red Hat and Solaris. I even ask questions on the forums non-Ubuntu related. I have asked Perl programming questions and got answers faster then I could through any other Perl or Linux forum. This is the true power of this Distro!
  • by cwgmpls ( 853876 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @12:50PM (#20682927) Journal

    The Distrowatch ranking is only a count of how many people click through to get to a distribution.

    Because the Ubuntu name is so well known, the vast majority of people downloading Ubuntu do it by going to directly, or get directed to by Google.

    PCLOS, on the other hand, is practically unknown. I would imagine that most people have never heard of it until they went to Distrowatch and saw it near the top of the list, and decided to click on it. In fact, that is how I first learned about PCLOS.

    Since most people are discovering PCLOS through Distrowatch, while most people are downloading Unbuntu via, it makes sense that PCLOS would show up higher on the Distrowatch ranking.

    In fact, if you look at Google Trends [] more and more people are searching for "Ubuntu" on Google, even as the amount of people searching for "Linux" is dropping. You could argue that Ubuntu is becoming a replacement for Linux in the common lexicon. Meanwhile, "PCLOS" and "PCLINUXOS" hardly even show up in any Google searches.

  • Re:Name? (Score:3, Informative)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @01:01PM (#20683159) Homepage
    "Janus"? "Frosting"? "Wolfpack"? "Hydra"? [] How about "Sixpack"? "Ides of Buster"? "Pigs in Space"? [] You're either a troll or an imbecile, I can't decide which. The codenames for Ubuntu are no more or less "weird" than they are for any other company, and all things considered, significantly less weird than many.
  • Re:Wait for next (Score:5, Informative)

    by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @01:09PM (#20683327)

    Not having to make choices at install time is EXACTLY the reason that ubuntu is good. After a couple of simple questions, you are up and running with a very well configured system with the best one of each type of app installed that most people want. You dont have a huge stack of apps installed that you dont need.
    Absolutely agree with above. The problem with earlier distributions was that at installation I had to choose which office package to install, which text editor, etc. That's fine, now that I have used Ubuntu for a couple years, but back then I kind of shrugged, made a few wrong choices, and called the distribution "unusable".

    Sensible defaults and the ability to make changes later on is much preferable.

    Now how about installing ntp by default. :-)
  • Re:Wait for next (Score:5, Informative)

    by init100 ( 915886 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @01:33PM (#20683835)

    Short of implementing SELinux, sudo gives me what I need for right now. I can see a day where SELinux will be more appropriate for some things, but until then...

    I think that you have misunderstood what SELinux is all about. It is not a replacement for su or sudo, it is a completely different system. It allows the vendor/administrator to explicitly specify what privileges a specific process should have in fine-grained detail. Even though e.g. the apache account has read access to every file that everyone can read, SELinux enables you to specify that the apache process should be denied access to anything beyond its configuration file, its plugins and the web tree, even if it would have access according to the ordinary permissions system.

    By restricting rights on this level of detail, a cracker exploiting a security hole in the apache process would not be able to access any file beyond those explicitly specified in the SELinux policy.

  • Re:Wait for next (Score:2, Informative)

    by modecx ( 130548 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @01:34PM (#20683865)
    Exactly. I recently installed Ubuntu on my dad's computer because I finally got tired of reinstalling Windows because he downloaded some virus/trojan/worm, and having the anti-virus shit not work time again. After going through the install, I know he (a mostly computer illiterate old fart who can e-mail and readily find virus laden porno sites--and not much else) could have installed it on a fresh drive, but I did it because I wanted to make sure his Windows partition was preserved, and because I was putting Ubuntu on a second drive.

    It has been a long time since I tried any of the more user friendly distros, I was surprised at how easy and straight forward it was, and that most of the good stuff was there by default. Linux newbies don't really know what they need, so why bother confusing them with five (or more) different, but vaguely related apps that all do basically the same thing? If they want, they can use the add/remove programs dialogs to search for what they need, after the install is complete. After a few minutes of moving his Thunderbird and Firefox profiles over, it was done.

    He's loving it, and he rants and raves to his friends about how easy Ubuntu is--even though he can't pronounce the name. I for one think the Ubuntu guys have done an excellent job. The one thing I think they could have done is made firestarter a default app, configured to get the firewall running by default. Come to think about it, I'm not sure if the firewall is enabled and working before installing and using firestarter; could be for all I know, I didn't test it. If it's not, I think a firewall rule or two should be default.
  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @01:39PM (#20684007) Homepage
    You should be able to add an

    Option "Rotate" "UD"

    To your device section to show the display upside down by default. It'll work with most drivers.
  • For crying out loud! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vexorian ( 959249 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @01:47PM (#20684199)

    If you want gentoo use gentoo , If you want debian use debian, please don't expect every distro to follow your own ideas of the perfect distro and for god's sake, don't even think that your idea of the perfect distro should be considered dogma.

    I think that as much as the author blames ubuntu for complacency out of popularity, the things the author is complaining about are not specific to this release which kind of destroys the whole article, as if the guy didn't know the things he is complaining about are exactly the reason ubuntu is so popular.

    I RTFA this is a summary:

    • Installation : "Is easy, but I want it to be hard, complicated and specific"
    • Boot: "Grub doesn't show up when there are no choices to make! OMG that's profanity"
    • Desktop: "But man, I like fedora fonts" Side note: he says icons are too small at high resolutions which is probably huge BS.
    • Add-remove: "Look, I'll complaint about a gnome feature and blame ubuntu for it"
    • Security: "After so many ages ubuntu used sudo, I'll complaint about gutsy using sudo. And I'll demonstrate how little I understand of it and how much I ignore about sudo actually making things more secure" And accessible root account makes your computer less secure, sure people could initially give administrator priviledges to everyone in the family (this is a desktop computer, damnit!) but once they learn about it is as easy to remove sudo priviledges, it is also very easy to exchange the sudo priviledges and all without really having to give someone the root password...
    • Debian: "I want ubuntu to be debian and friking restrictive ubuntu won't let me convert it into debian by adding a bunch of overcomplicated options, for some reason I think that not willing to complicate the user for no reason is 'windows thinking' and I actually think it is a bad thing because Linux must be hard and punish the user with a lot of choices even for trivial things, even though I complained before about how ubuntu offered 3 ways to install software, this is a clear contradiction but I'll include it in the article"
    • Conclussion "I'll complaint about software that is in alpha stage calling it unpolished. I'll call things that aren't new in gutsy as proof ubuntu is dropping in quality. I don't understand that ubuntu's objective is to be easy for everyone and not to be overcomplicated and flexible like the distribution I like more."

    Color me unimpressed by this article.

  • Re:Wait for next (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <[knuckles] [at] []> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:27PM (#20688335)
    When Ubuntu is installed, you don't know the root password, true. But if you can find a way to know it, or reset it, then yes, you can login as root

    No! Please let this myth die! Read this: []

    By default, the root account password is locked in Ubuntu.
    In /etc/shadow, the root password is set to "!". The md5 implementation guarantees that this character never evaluates to a valid password -- there is no password to be known, because non exists.
  • Re:Wait for next (Score:2, Informative)

    by porl ( 932021 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @08:56PM (#20690791)
    first of all, the only user that gets sudo by default is the user that actually sets the os up. every other added user has to be given sudo permissions manually. how is this different to the first user having the root password (which they had to know to install it in your 'better model'.

    your example above is no different from one user with root access changing the root password. if you don't trust them implicitly then DONT give them sudo/root access.

    the advantage of sudo is the ability to do things like allow a user to use sudo to run some specific backup task or whatever ONLY. no access to rm as root etc. this way if a user requires root access for one program they can be given it without compromising anything else (provided, of course, the program they are given access to is trustworthy and secure in itself).

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel