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Shuttleworth Answers Ubuntu Linux's Critics 382

climenole writes "Technomancer wrote: 'Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu Linux's founder, maintains that he and Ubuntu are doing right by the Linux community and the even larger open-source community. In recent weeks, Ubuntu has been criticized for not giving Linux enough support. Specifically, the complains have been that Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, doesn't do enough for producing Linux source code.'"
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Shuttleworth Answers Ubuntu Linux's Critics

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  • Crowd sourcing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WarJolt ( 990309 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:51PM (#33581566)

    Ubuntu has encouraged me to submit bugs and even maintain a ppa for packages I couldn't find on ubuntu. Ubuntu has encouraged me to contribute because the community is active and friendly. Redhat never did that for me.

  • by Jorl17 ( 1716772 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:54PM (#33581600)
    I have Ubuntu installed on 8 machines and agree. It solves all my problems and...whenever I mess it up, which I sometimes do, the huge community or the ease of use helps me repair it. I once even deleted the entire MBR + parts of the partition table and then managed to restore it before I rebooted.
  • Re:Proper link (Score:5, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:00PM (#33581684) Journal

    I like this article even better: []

    To summarize:

    Atari vs. Commodore!
    ST vs. Amiga!
    Nintendo vs. Sega!
    Mac vs. PC!
    PS3 vs. Xbox 360!
    Ubuntu vs. Debian!

    All stupid and silly arguments that serve no purpose. Especially when Debian and Ubuntu are both part of the same family. (Of course that didn't stop Catholics and protestants from fighting.)

  • by c0d3g33k ( 102699 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:04PM (#33581722)

    I've been paying attention for a long time. I've done the distro hopping dance for years, and I've been advocating Linux all the while. In 15 years of Linux use, for me personally, Ubuntu comes second only to OpenSUSE as far as getting out of my way and letting me get my work done. Ubuntu is the clear favorite among family and friends whom I have foisted Linux upon over the years. I've gotten far fewer "tech guy support" calls than any other distro, spent less time dealing with computer issues over the phone and I have definitely gotten fewer complaints. Therefore, I *am* inclined to believe the stats. They are doing something right, as much as it pains some to admit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:07PM (#33581750)

    Odd. Myself and a couple of my colleagues recently got laptops preinstalled with SLED at work. The experience was generally less positive than with other (free) distros. The SLED repos are only installed after you register with Novell, and trying to get any sort of multimedia setup going on it was a nightmare. OTOH we have openSUSE on several desktop machines, works like a charm.

    I guess the only advantage of SLED would be that it plays nicer with Microsoft solutions, but we don't use those too much at work.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:40PM (#33581978) Homepage

    > To put that in perspective, I have OSX running natively on my desktop PC with 0 KPs since 10.6, with all components working except a PCIe NIC

    That's interesting since I've had Ubuntu happily running on 2 generations of genuine (mini) Macs.

    Real Mac hardware seems to like Ubuntu better then your Hackintosh. That's a bit odd considering the fact that you wouldn't expect MacOS to be able to deal with much of anything that deviates from a genuine Mac.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Interesting)

    by g4b ( 956118 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @08:58PM (#33582144) Homepage
    Well, so to sum up:

    * You tried the tailored Operating System to your Hardware.
    * You tried Ubuntu
    * Ubuntu was worse, than the tailored Operating System to your Hardware.

    If your Hardware has errors, or some specific quirks, which may not be detected by an overblown Debian fork (which however wasn't in the summary of tried Operating Systems - only the tailored Operating System to your Hardware was) you blame Ubuntu for not being userfriendly, as response to a post describing he was glad, that Ubuntu tried to fill small gaps for the end user experience, (I am speaking for those who still remember kernel compiling because of unsupported binary drivers, if there was something more interesting to do), and tried to satisfy the need for especially those people, who simply want to install linux, without really wanting to get deeper into the system - at least not every time. You blame Ubuntu for something, which it actually does. It tries to be easily installable by people, who do not want to learn kernel compiling and manual patching or for those who want to learn it, but not do it every time and for every machine they encounter - with mostly typical driver problems caused by licensing issues.

    You can take your Mac as an opportunity to learn how Linux works, detect the errors and file bug reports to distributions, you think this problem maybe should concern. Feel lucky. You can learn a lot from this experience. You might even be the one who fixes it.

    Your distro is just as strong, as the people supporting it. Hating canonical for just being successful and not delivering solutions to everybodies needs magically, is not what free software or open source is about.

    For my taste, they could invest a little bit more in the areas, they already do, and don't try to push too much on the server market. And support debian financially and by playing after their project principles. I am still glad about Ubuntu existing and happy user on everyday machines. As I am about other distros, which are used by various other machines I work with - where Ubuntu has nothing to seek.
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:11PM (#33582176) Homepage Journal
    what's up with doing things their own way, instead of the standard way? On every other apache distribution I've seen httpd.conf is the main config file, but not on Ubuntu... it's apache2.conf. I had to look that up. Ubuntu is full of things like this.

    Mind you, their way works, and Ubuntu has great support and lively community and so on... but why do they insist on being different?
  • Re:Proper link (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:14PM (#33582192)

    From less powerful to my most powerful this product just seems to work.

    Granted, Ubuntu works pretty well with modern hardware. I've been surprised at how well it works with pluggable devices like printers, controllers and iThingies.

    Except when doesn't.

    After SMB mount found itself deprecated you wouldn't believe the pain I had to go through to get CIFS mount to work properly with a remote SMB share whose file system contained folders and files with Asian characters in their names. And it still doesn't create folders and files with the correct ugos - they're visible on all the Ubuntu systems, but none of the Windows computers until I specifically chmod them.

    A recent /. story (which I can't find to link at the moment) mentioned that Google reported Ubuntu to be the highest-ranking Linux distribution involved in search terms. In my experience that's probably because people are having the most difficulty with it in getting things working. There's usually several ways to do something in Ubuntu, and each way is implemented slightly differently to every other distribution.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:19PM (#33582208)

    Well... same here in the case of Hardy. And I thought sticking to an LTS release would be safe enough but moving to Lucid presented a few problems. On my laptop (Dell D630), sound just stopped working out of the blue one day and I could not fix it for the life of me. I am back on Hardy now.

    But still ... I do appreciate their work and I think Ubuntu is a fine distro. My hope is that future LTS releases will look more like Hardy though.

  • by kestasjk ( 933987 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:07PM (#33582408) Homepage

    So, the critics need to stfu and stick with their obscure distros.

    Red Hat are the main critics as far as I know, and they're not obscure or trying to look "cool". Their criticism is that they pay a lot of money to develop Linux's core software while Canonical doesn't pay nearly so much, which is true.

    On the other hand you're right that Canonical have no obligation to do so, and you can make the case that Canonical are much less profitable and don't have the sorts of clients which need to kind of support provided by having programmers which work on Linuxes core software.

    It's a gray area and both sides have a point. Personally I hope that Canonical becomes more successful and starts to find it useful to their business to work on Linux to a larger extent, so that no-one has to try and guilt them into doing so (which won't work if it doesn't make business sense).
    I also hope Red Hat take a page from Canonical's book and make a friendlier/cleaner distribution for non-enterprise installations. (Yes I know about Fedora, but clearly Ubuntu has a nicer mix in many ways.)

  • by KRL ( 664739 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:40PM (#33582580)

    ...Thus, there may be fewer people who can trouble-shoot their own problems.

    This creates a situation where lots of people complain about poor UI and UI gets improved as a result. Put a decent piece of software in front of the crazies and the crazies will complain, but I think the software will be better for it.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:50PM (#33582644)
    Getting Linux into users hands with convenient, easy-to-use installers, providing support, etc. = Not Valuable

    I can see how this might be a perception, but it's not reasonable. Lots of good C programmers are quite poor at systems administration. Maintaining a distro can be a horrible task, since you are essentially being sysadmin for a completely unknown system. The situation is made worse when programmers who write the source code you're implementing capriciously change things around (or break them) for no beter reason than to fit some trendy philosophical notion of how it should work.

    I once went down the path of Linux From Scratch, and the experience was a worthwhile learning for a single-purpose system. But doing that for a desktop box is just stupid, since it's just too much work to keep all its components up to date. Now, Ubuntu is emphatically NOT my distribution of choice (that is currently Arch []), but anyone who is prepared to undertake the task of maintaining any comprehensive distro long-term deserves a round of applause.
  • Ostrich algorithm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by notandor ( 807997 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:59PM (#33583092) Journal

    In the blog entry, Mark writes about "... a willingness to chase down the problems that stand between here and there." From my experience, problems are not chased down but rather the Ostrich algorithm [] is applied.

    While running karmic (9.10), I noticed a bug with the network-manager pertaining static IP addresses and wireless connectivity, which made it unable to connect to certain configured wireless access points. Lets take a look at the network-manager released with 9.10: [] , it is (0.8~a~git.20091013t193206.679d548-0ubuntu1).

    Now lets look at the updates for karmic at [] , there is not a single one (!) for network-manager. For the whole six months until the next release of 10.04, not a single update for it has been provided! They just took the git snapshot and left it in 9.10.

    Just compare it to Fedora 12 and their updates on [] , karmic (9.10) was released at October 29th, and one can see the fixes and updates through Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan for F12.

    I do not care about the marketing strategies and public image of Linux distributions, but rather about exactly what Mark said, about " ... a willingness to chase down the problems that stand between here and there."

    For me, Ubuntu did not deliver that.

  • Re:A solid distro (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pentium100 ( 1240090 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:00AM (#33583100)

    Well, at my work we use Linux (Debian) even though users do not like command lines. However, Linux is cheaper than Windows and users do not see command lines anyway.

    At home I use Windows, but have a couple of Linux (again, Debian) VMs. I also like setting preferences in a program using GUI instead of editing Registry (Windows) or config files (Linux).

  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Interesting)

    by walshy007 ( 906710 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:04AM (#33583124)

    and Ironically, the first distro that I could completely get rid of my windows partition was fedora core 3, which was released about the same time as the first version of ubuntu (2005 or so I believe)

    Ubuntu succeeds in marketing more than anything else, they had a clean name already when the linux desktop was becoming easier for the masses, and rode the wave.

    Initially the only difference with ubuntu as compared with other distros was the inclusion of proprietary codecs and drivers.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:10AM (#33583176) Homepage

    (...) you can make the case that Canonical are much less profitable and don't have the sorts of clients which need to kind of support provided by having programmers which work on Linuxes core software.

    I think the last bit is really important. A lot of the core kernel stuff that Red Hat does are things that aren't very relevant to the average desktop user like heavy multi-CPU/NUMA/virtualization/network/other server loads. The average *buntu user would be much better served if they e.g. funded a flash replacement or ran a laptop compatibility testing program or shaved 10 seconds off the boot process. Don't get me wrong, there's things in the core systems that would help the desktop too but I don't feel that's what is holding it back.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:03AM (#33583622)

    But Ubuntu itself? Brown? With crappy wanna-be mac buttons on the wrong side? With some heinous orange and piss colored icons scattered to and fro?

    Many men choose their GFs on visual aesthetics rather than life skills, even counting "looking sexy" as a life skill (the aspects of sexy that can't be defined by a tape measure).

    I've heard all the complaints about the Ubuntu colour scheme before.

    Tell me, when you look at the Italian flag, do you see snot, blood, and semen?

    Now that you point it out, I think I'll move to Estonia. They seem to have gone to extra trouble to avoid colours based on bodily fluids. Gotta like that. Unlike the Italian white, the Estonian white is very pure.

  • by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:27AM (#33583744)
    I have used and toyed with Linux as a desktop OS since the mid 90's, beginning with Slackware, then including distros such as Red Hat, Debian, Suse, Fedora, Ubuntu, Mepis, Gentoo, Mandrake, Sabayon, and several others. I settled on Linux Mint a few years ago, which is known as a "more complete" and better derivative of Ubuntu; Mint is Ubuntu-based but includes a number of independently developed tools and a great user interface, though it is developed by a small group of fanatics. For a change, the Mint team recently released an excellent Debian-based version, in addition to their usual Ubuntu-based releases, which has been met with a lot of excitement.

    I am already using Linux Mint Debian Edition as my main OS, but I still have a ton of respect for Ubuntu and Canonical. They have done a lot to raise awareness for Linux, and have developed a very usable OS that non-expert enthusiasts can use, as well as providing a great base for many other distros. Ubuntu is not an ideal server OS, or the be-all end-all OS that is absolutely perfect, but Canonical have done a great job with it and have worked admirably to promote free and open source software. If nothing else, they have inspired their competition to make things easier for home desktop users.
  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:38AM (#33583796) Homepage Journal

    There are other distros with equally good installer that are more user friendly in some ways, which still manage to contribute code as well.

    Consider Mandriva. Much less well funded than Canonical. Better installer. Better config (I find myself needing to edit config files in Ubuntu for stuff I can use the Control Centre GUI in Mandriva). Mandriva all time contributions to Gnome 's are about half of Canonical's, and they have contributed significantly to KDE, and are still doing quite a lot of other stuff []

  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @03:59AM (#33584076) Homepage

    I don't know. I'm a fan of Ubuntu, but I find that after three or four dist-upgrades, enough things don't work that it's worth doing a reinstall (keeping all the important customizations and custom installed programs, naturally - /home, /etc and /usr/local).

    Such as right now. One of my customizations was alt+left/right to switch workspaces, combined with a devilspie script to start common applications on particular workspaces. The idea was that since you switch between tabs/open files with alt+up/down in many of those apps, I could quickly move between and into applications where I wanted, faster and with less thinking/watching than alt+tabbing or similar.

    It worked reasonably well, but when I upgraded, it broke badly. It would frequently trigger a bug where all UI elements except menus become unresponsive - text fields, buttons, everything. The bug would also prevent all forms of workspace switching. The only way to get it responsive again would be to open up a menu and close it. If the bug triggered on a workspace with no windows, killing the X server was the only practical fix.

    I had to switch workspace switching to super+left/right (sacrificing elegant in-application switching) and still the bug triggers occasionally. I've tried to report it, but I don't expect it to be fixed - my setup is too unusual for maintainers to care, even though it triggers something that really shouldn't be possible (killing all non-menu responsiveness in Gnome). Next version I expect I'll do a reinstall, reactivate my customizations and hope for the best.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:14PM (#33588584)

    1) Admit that 9.10 was a broken release and just because Mark didn't see any "issues" on his very own laptop didn't mean tons of folks didn't have issues.

    2) Apologize for foisting pulse-audio on us with a horrid config file in 8.04, right before you rushed it out the door (you always do this with LTS releases, you seem to be afraid of being stuck with something you don't like for 5 years). pulse-audio sucks all by itself for a lot of folks, but when you add in a config file that even the lead dev of pulse-audio says is completely broken, that is beyond the pale. Go ahead and try googling today for a solution, it's not simple and many of the threads conflict. You never did fix it and in fact in subsequent releases (I'm looking at you 9.10) managed to launch with a mostly working pulse-audio config and then messed it up during some stupid security update for a lot of machines (especially netbooks, like the Dell Mini 9, probably the most popular Linux netbook on the market). I almost forgive you for tying the earliest pulse-audio packages to a scary sounding package named ubuntu-desktop (which was a meta-package that you could actually safely remove, but you wouldn't know that from the name) since you stopped doing it later, but I'm still abit annoyed about that one as well.

    For what it's worth I do use several versions of Ubuntu. I use Debian too. I recall RPM dependency hell all too well to really love Redhat and its children (I know RPM dependency hell is now in the past, but it was a really big pain for a lot of us). I do think you guys are doing a good job generally, but you have got to lose the "We can do no wrong!" attitude, it sucks, especially when you guys do screw up (we all screw up at times). Also, get your Paper-cuts initiative working again, this was the single, best idea you guys have had in 2 years and you let it die as far as I can tell (and perhaps I'm wrong and it's really going full steam ahead, but it doesn't seem to be).

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.