Comment Canonical's release of a fresh version of Ubuntu has been met with plenty of grumbles. And now we find some other open source players trying to cash in on Ubuntu's issues.
Your reporter shifted from 7.04 to 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) right when the new OS became available. Well, by "right when," I mean after a 26 hour download.
I rarely get excited about software but will admit some giddiness around seeing all Gutsy had to offer in its polished form. As it turned out, that experience was not available to me. Gutsy booted up and refused to start the graphical user interface (GUI) on my Dell Inspiron 1420 notebook.
Embracing the open source "community," I made my way through a few message boards looking for tips on rectifying GUI issues. Nothing worked. I also went over to Dell's dedicated 7.10 wiki page but found no mention of my particular problem.
Being a Linux novice and a self-serving hack, I abused my position as a reporter and e-mailed Canonical chief Mark Shuttleworth about the issue. Shuttleworth was kind enough to put me in touch with whiz Bryce Harrington. "Run - sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg," Harrington told me, and life got better.
My GUI has returned, but I'm now barred from using the 3-D graphics tools that I could use before with 7.04. That's a pain since I'm a sucker for eye candy, but I understand there are a couple of fixes to try.
Apparently other Dell users were hit by the same difficulties, although the GUI conundrum remains absent from the Dell Wiki Known Issues, as of this writing.
Meanwhile, other users complained about serious networking problems with Gutsy.
Systems management software maker Hyperic has seized on these networking issues in particular to promote the 7.10-ready release of its Hyperic HQ package. "If you think you're desktop issues suck, imagine them on a server farm?" - seems to be the marketing threat.
"This being a laptop, of course, I didn’t need a tool to tell me that the name resolving lagged," Hyperic wrote. "But what if this were just one out of hundreds or thousands of machines in a data center? And in that data center, there were hundreds of new machines using an upgraded operating system. How would any ops person know that something was adding a few seconds of lag to each DNS request? Unfortunately, they most likely wouldn’t know until it was too late, ie. after stuff was breaking and business was adversely affected.
"But it’s nice to know that someone *could* know about this problem before the data center was toast."
That is comforting, isn't it?
Ubuntu - even with its gooey, hippy-center - seems to suffer from much of the same bad karma as other versions of Linux. It's just damn tough to please such a diverse set of users on diverse hardware. This helps explain why it takes Microsoft years and years to dump out a new operating system. My mum would be in shock if her GUI disappeared. And I doubt that Bill Gates would follow Shuttleworth's lead and issue personal follow ups.
I can understand and forgive some of the rough around the edges bits and pieces with Ubuntu. I am, however, confused about Dell's role in all of this. How can a company of its size that's presumably moving tens of thousands of Ubuntu machines not make sure that its hardware is ready for a major upgrade? Surely, Dell could detect problems and ask Canonical politely to include the fixes.
Even with all of these complications, my Ubuntu system remains my favorite to use at the moment. It runs with a speed unmatched by Vista and has a certain muscle lost with the Jobsian puffery known as Mac OS X. ®
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