Alternate title: So disappointed with Hardy Heron.
(If you want to skip with my rather long life story with Ubuntu and go straight to the Hardy Heron bit, skip the next five paragraphs and start reading from (And now Hardy Heron))
Let's start from the beginning of my story with Ubuntu. A few years ago, I came across a blog entry in my.opera.com about an icon set for a thing called Ubuntu. I had never heard of Ubuntu before, so I decided to do a search for it. I found it, and I thought, hmm, I've been wanting to retry Linux for some time now, but the CDs I have (OpenSUSE and I think Red Hat desktop) are a few years old. Clicked get Ubuntu, was disappointed to find that it was 690MB big. A few more clicks, and I was wonderfully surprised to find that they would send me a few CDs, even a suggested five, to anywhere in the world, for free! I thought, why not? And ordered some. Some people wonder why Ubuntu is spreading so fast compared to other Linux distros, and for some reason they seem to forget shipit. If Canonical asked for donations I'd donate to shipit.
Ubuntu Dapper Drake was new to me. I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of programs that exist for Linux (I'd believed the myth that programs are only really written for Windows), by the live CD, by GNOME (I liked it better than the vague memory of OpenSUSE's KDE) I was unpleasantly surprised by the number and the size of the updates, the fact that sound didn't work at all, the fact that couldn't get something called '3D acceleration' to work, and how slow Ubuntu is (as slow as Windows). Running gedit still takes a random amount of time to load, sometimes a whole half-minute. Why? Ubuntu jammed quite frequently as well. Troubleshooting sound gave me a headache (it still does), and I was disappointed to learn that S3 has no decent linux drivers for their graphics and probably never will. I had to compile a driver from source, thankfully there was a guide to step me through that. But I was most impressed by the Ubuntu promise and the Ubuntu philosophy, and decided to keep trying it, because those were causes that I wanted to help, instead of Microsoft's causes.
Edgy Eft came out. I tried to upgrade to it, and was disgusted with the huge amounts of uninterrupted downloads Ubuntu needed, but I did it anyway. Sound still wasn't fixed, compile from source again. It was so frustrating.
Downloaded and burned Feisty Fawn's live CD, only to discover you can't use that to upgrade, so I did a fresh install. Sound now worked (yay!), and I discovered Amarok. Amarok is what made me stay with Ubuntu for over a year, I just loved it. (BTW, Amarok is now planning to make a Windows version of its software, a bad move in my opinion.)
Release after release, Ubuntu fixed one or two hardware issues, and things just got better if I waited. This is how it should be.
Then I bought a laptop. I really wanted to get a Ubuntu Dell laptop, because I wanted to support Ubuntu and I was fed up with hardware issues, but in the end, a got a Packard Bell laptop with Vista on it, because I couldn't wait for it to arrive in the post. (Long story.) The hardware issues returned to haunt me. I couldn't get the wireless working (in Ubuntu, not Windows of course), despite the 'wonderful' Network Manager that was now included by default in Feisty (or was it Gutsy?). It would only work if I made the wireless security virtually nil. I can't stand Ubuntu without Internet; I need the community, I need to search on the Internet if something goes wrong, I can't just ask friends and family: they only know Windows. The headphones refused to work, and so did the microphone jack, so goodbye Skype, goodbye music, goodbye Amarok :`(. I returned to Windows, even Vista, until I finally discovered Wicd. Wicd fixed the Internet problem, I returned to Ubuntu. Tried a bunch of stuff to fix the sound problem, including installing OSS and pulseaudio, nothing worked.
Gutsy came out, I got to play with a decent Compiz Fusion. I love this stuff, I really do. Subscribed to the Linux Action Show, got into the community, discovered games: Tremulous! Warsow! Spring RTS! These were fun, and they actually worked better than in Vista! (OpenGL drivers aren't functional yet for ATI graphic cards under Vista) Gutsy detected and installed a network printer with ease, Vista still can't print. I was now torn between two systems: Vista for music, Ubuntu for printing and other cool stuff.
The hardware support wasn't perfect, but the wireless worked, and 3D acceleration worked, I was happy. I couldn't hibernate or suspend, the screen sometimes became very dim for no reason, the headphones and mic didn't work, but none of these, except the sound stuff, bothered me very much.
(And now Hardy Heron!)
I had high expectations for Hardy Heron. Now that the daring enabling of Compiz Fusion to compete with Aero was over with, I hoped the Ubuntu team would concentrate on hardware issues. My number one hope was that they would fix Network Manager, Ubuntu without the Internet is like an Oasis with no water. It's useless. And I knew it was possible, because the GPL'd Wicd managed it.
I downloaded the beta of Hardy. I was so disappointed. It had problems. Today, I installed the final release of Hardy. It had exactly the same problems, despite so many people having reported the issues! Unfixed problems:
- Network Manager still wasn't fixed, it was just as bad as before, I had to install Wicd again. Wicd had improved though, GUI-wise. I had reported the bug before 24Aprl, just to be marked along with tons of others as a duplicate of a well known bug. This bug wasn't fixed for the 24th. People, without Internet, Ubuntu is despair. Don't disconnect people from it. A release codenamed, not even, publicly named "Hardy" should make that a priority. No-one can blame the hardware manufacturers, because the open source Wicd managed to do it right.
- The headphone and microphone jack still don't work. Reported bugs, nobody seemed to have a clue how to go about troubleshooting this. Taking the trouble to file a bug, just to have ignored, is frustrating.
So my high hopes for Hardy Heron were dashed. Unfortunately, Hardy Heron seemed determined to upset me even more, because it broke things that worked perfectly in the Gutsy release. New problems:
- Setting a MS-Workgroup name for your computer renders Ubuntu useless, because it breaks sudo. This bug was reported way in advance by a lot of people, you have the duplicates and the many forum threads to prove it. Running anything with sudo gives you an 'unable to resolve host-name' error, using the administrator tools of course are even more frustrating, since gksu always fails silently. You just sit there wondering when on earth the app's going to finish loading. There is a work-around, but apparently, the Ubuntu developers would rather people do this manually then do it for them. The workaround is editing /etc/hosts (as root of course, despite a broken sudo), and removing one word. That's it. Was that so hard?
- The text installer's broken. Choosing install or even check CD will just give you a blank screen. You have to add vga=771 to the boot options. How anyone is supposed to figure this out is beyond me. I only knew how because I remember somebody mentioning it in the forums. The F1 help included just isn't friendly enough for a beginner. May I remind you again, that I didn't have this issue with the Gutsy text installer.
- Ubuntu Heron freezes randomly. A total crash, nothing moves anymore, and ctrl-alt-F1 to F7, ctrl-alt-backspace have no effect. I reported a bug, this time, I was given assistance on troubleshooting, but it required another computer and on SSH connection, and I couldn't do that. I hoped it would be fixed before the final release, but it wasn't! I've been running Gutsy since before it was released, and I never had this problem. I've had this problem several times with Heron. To be fair, it might be Wicd'- fault, but I can't go without Wicd since Network Manager doesn't work.
Hardy Heron did fix some hardware issues, for example, hibernate now works, and the screen brightness panel applet actually works now. But I'd rather go without them then go without the Internet and go with constant crashes.
I've always loved Ubuntu. They haven't fixed some problems as fast as I would have liked, but they did fix stuff, slowly but surely. They moved forward. Now I feel almost heart-broken because they actually moved backwards in a release called "Hardy", and what's more, an LTS release, which probably will be distributed on shipit.
I loved Ubuntu, but I did not recommend it to anyone, because of these hardware issues. Despite that, several people have asked me to install Linux on their machines (it is gaining momentum), and every single one of them have had deal-breaker hardware issues: X and the networking system. X would refuse to work on an installed Ubuntu despite working great on the live CD, installing a restricted driver would break X (the new bulletproof X never showed its face)... I always had issues getting people's wireless to work, as well as they USB ADSL modems. But at least I didn't recommend this headache to them, I enjoy troubleshooting my own stuff, but I don't want to have to do it for other people's systems just to get the basic necessities (X and a connection to the Internet)
I love the Ubuntu community, more often than not, they help you out with your problems. But no Internet access means no community, no X means no graphical browser. I had to learn how to use lynx, not a user-friendly program.
I dislike the fact that we're encouraged over and over again to file bug reports, only to have them ignored. You don't even get a 'read' flag.
Why did we have to rush Heron? Dapper LTS was released in June, we rushed Heron to April, even if that meant including beta software. Yes, Firefox on Hardy is beta!
I guess for now I'll stick with Gutsy Gibbon. Not that Hardy doesn't have some great features (speedy boot-up, for one), but I would be more than satisfied with a Hardy that is Gutsy minus hardware problems.