Eating Crow

Over a year ago adamw and I got into a circular pissing contest, when adamw wanted to know why it was that I spoke so glowingly of Ubuntu (version 7.04) after having barely installed it and just getting to know the distribution. I shot back with a tripe-laden response which brings nothing but embarrassment for me these days, especially in light of what I am about to do.

But first, I'd like to publicly apologise to Adam. It's been over a year in coming, but Adam, if you're reading this, know that you were right and I was wrong.

I've taken actions to back up those words. I've purchased a Mandriva Power Pack subscription and I've got the DVD burned and ready to install Mandriva 2008 Spring over Ubuntu 8.04.1. In addition to purchasing a Power Pack subscription I also purchased the USB key version. I'm waiting for it to arrive, hopefully sometime next week.

I could spend the next hour of my personal time (and a lot of digital ink) listing in detail what has gone wrong over the last year, as I've migrated from Ubuntu 7.04 to Ubuntu 8.04.1. In fact, the Linux Haters Blog is surprisingly close to documenting most, if not all, of my gripes, although it misses a few. The irony in this is how I found it: it was linked via a story on Boycott Novell. Thanks, guys, I really needed that. I laughed so hard I cried. But here's a very short list of what led me to this action:
  • I have an ATI/AMD X1950 Pro video card. I use the ATI/AMD drivers because the free drivers are pure unadulterated crap. Most of the time this works, enabling 3D hardware acceleration and as a consequence the Compiz desktop. But somewhere during the last three updates on the path from 8.04 to 8.04.1, Compiz support broke yet again. I use the current 8-6 drivers, and they did work two updates back, but now I've got a desktop in which Compiz refuses to work again. fglrxinfo returns the proper ATI driver version, and glxinfo says 'yes' for direct rendering, but Compiz stubbornly refuses to work. This isn't the first time this has happened to me between Ubuntu and ATI drivers. But it's going to be the last because I won't be running Ubuntu any more.
  • Again, during that transition between 8.04 and 8.04.1 I lost the ability to play videos, both DVD and transcoded from DVD. I've had the ability to play movies on europa since before I was running openSUSE 10.2. And now, for reasons which I don't fully understand, neither VLC nor Kaffeine will play back any video. Meanwhile, back on my other system (rhea), which has the free version of Mandriva 2008.1 installed, I can play videos and DVDs all day long, even after the numerous updates that have been pushed onto rhea. Talk about things that make you go 'hmmmm'.
  • And finally, I purchased two Apple iPod Nano's, one for my wife and one for my daughter. I decided to transcode my ripped movie collection into movies that my wife could play back while she was recuperating in the hospital in May. So I went out to google how I might do that under Ubuntu and found out about mp4ize. The problem with mp4ize is its use of ffmpeg with all the extensions built in. Works great on Mandriva, but for versions of current Ubuntu (i.e 8.04 or later) you have to rebuild ffmpeg for this to work. I can feel the Wow!
  • Which leads me back, yet again, to having to rebuild K3b, just like I did for Ubuntu 7.10, so that I can rip my DVDs.
Ubuntu has got a serious quality problem. Applications that should work and did work in prior releases stop working for no good reason. Applications that should work but don't can be found working on other distributions. And the attitude of many of Ubuntu's supporters and a few of its developers is one of grand indifference, if not outright hostility towards critics. And once again you can get a pretty good idea from the comments left on Linux Haters Blog.

This will be the last time I personally buy Linux for home use. If this doesn't work out then my next stop will be an Apple Mac. And yes, I've worked enough with current Macs and OS X to easily make the transition. I am way past the politics of Linux. I want decent quality that works well consistently from release to release.


  1. I just want to say that what happens with ubuntu it's just human.

    They grow to much, too fast and because they still a qualified bunch of super qualified amateurs and the situation it has gone over their head.

    Their release cycle has stayed the same while the complexity of the task and the exposure has increased at a much faster pace, so it's impossible for them to stay afloat.

    I hope Mr. Shutelworth and his guys will rethink the whole think and avoid a big flop for the Linux community.

  2. never mind the linux stuff, Im shocked that you would buy ipod nano's for your wife to watch video's on. wow

  3. AnonymousJuly 05, 2008

    Well, now you made *me* feel bad about *my* initial post. :)

    Actually I just feel the same way I did the day after I initially wrote it - I feel like the first bit was needlessly pissy and inflammatory, I was probably in a bad mood when I started writing it. The important bit is the rest of it, which really stands on its own, and I think is still valid - although I think its notable since then that other distros (including Mandriva) are starting to learn those lessons. I think other distros are trying to make their users feel like rock stars a bit more these days...

    Interesting times. :)

    But glad your Mandriva systems are working well, and sorry to hear about your problems with Ubuntu. I'm sure they're doing their best to resolve them.

  4. I am a major Mandriva fan and back in Ubuntu 7.04 days I was mocking it quite a bit - ... - but it seems that the actual love/hate relation is VERY hardware-related - depending on some special hardware part of one's setup (which now very much seems to be about (3D) video cards, wireless drivers and the ability to suspend/hibernate/resume) different distributions will work slightly different ... and the latest versions from both Mandriva and Ubuntu have been quite not-so-impressive for me - ... !!!


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