Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why I'm probably switching from Ubuntu, pt 2 (present)

As I was saying in my previous post, some things began happening with Ubuntu that I haven't particularly been too fond of, especially recently.

To sum it up, I think the focus of Ubuntu has moved away from a distribution which is easy to use while still pretty stable, to one that is more concerned with features. It seems to me that the developers, and probably the leadership, are more concerned with adding new bells and whistles than they are with spending time making sure what they have works. And that's pretty frustrating when you use Ubuntu on a daily basis at work and home.

To be sure, there are bugs that arise every time a new version of pretty much anything comes out. Even companies with gobs of money, like Microsoft (especially Microsoft), can't catch everything. But it seems like the past couple upgrades of Ubuntu have brought quite a few relatively minor bugs, that are collectively driving me crazy.

I'm currently using Ubuntu 10.04 at work now. It's called a "Long Term Support" release, which means it will be supported for two years. To me, that means it should probably be pretty stable. And it is relatively stable, but it's also got quite a few annoying bugs that I encounter on a daily basis:

Okay, so those are a few of the annoying bugs I've dealt with. Now, for some of the annoying "features":

  • Window buttons (close, maximize, etc.) were consolidated and moved to the left.
    Sounds silly to complain about, I know, but I can't help but feeling like Mark Shuttleworth simply made this decision on his own, especially when I've only heard complaints about it. It doesn't seem to me like this was a community decision, but maybe that's just one of the things you have to deal with when one person has so much say over something. By the way, if you don't like this, you might want to go here and vote: Not sure it will accomplish anything, but it doesn't hurt.

  • Empathy was chosen to replace Pidgin.
    Okay, I ,know telepathy is a better basis for a chat client than libpurple, but that doesn't mean Empathy is better than Pidgin. It's extremely basic and has no support for text formatting or buddy pounces (the developers refuse to implement the latter: As far as I understand, they don't even have a plugins API: How is that better, again? And which Ubuntu users were involved in that decision?

  • Ubuntu One
    I installed the Ubuntu One Firefox plugin. Firefox restarted, never came up. I tried again, nothing I know it's new technology, but did anyone even test this thing? I installed the Tomboy notes plugin, and now they go grey every few minutes (not allowing me to type or even select text), even though I have them set to sync once a day.

  • More bad decisions, like being intentionally excluded from the distro and repositories.

How is it that Ubuntu 10.04 came out nine months ago, and yet these bugs still exist, especially when it's an LTS release?

I guess the bottom line for me is that while all of these issues are relatively minor, they all add up. What they're adding up to is a distribution that's off-focus, and what I'm left with every six months (each time a new version of Ubuntu is released) is a distribution with more new bugs that could have been fixed if a minority at the top didn't have developers spending their time instead on more new features that I didn't ask for.

Am I being dramatic? Perhaps. But when I'm at work, I need to be getting work done, not dealing with a thousand paper cuts that these new bugs and "features" have become.

Up next, the future. Well, some possibilities at least.


  1. Hi I find it interesting that these are almost all things that were just changed. You can re-enable half of these problems. And the others have nothing to do with Ubuntu. Compiz controls workspaces in Ubuntu. install compizconfig settings manager and go to workspaces. I found draging windows to new works spaces annoying because I would be working on something I would move it over and the windows would flip to the next workspace.

    Thunderbird. Ok that has nothing to do with Ubuntu. Evolution while I hate it works much better.

    Ubuntu One isn't finished yet. Check out dropbox. I can connect with your feelings toward it.

    Buttons on the left. I like it only because it puts the buttons closer to the menu. you can easily fix this. Ubuntu Tweak is a simple way of fixing it, and it provides you with a great base.

    Empathy vs. Pidgin? Install Pidgin uninstall Empathy.

    Rythmbox? Install Banshee. Banshee will replace it in 11.04 .

    I think I covered everything pretty well. Now will explain Unity.

    Unity is mostly in response to forward thinking. It is still under heavy development. Though you will be able to use the classic desktop as well. It may have had to do with gnome-shell as well. Gnome-Shell scares me more than Unity. Unity Desktop at least looks very usable. Especialy now that they have a nonfull screen menu.

    If you must move to another distro. Consider the following.

    Debian is a good choice. Crunchbang is a fantastic derivative of Debian as well. Based upon your blog theme I think you will like it.

    Fedora is a good place to start but you may be a little lost at first.

    One Last Note: Ubuntu will work for 90% of users. The other 10% will just fix there problems with it and get on with there life. Same goes with every other OS.

    Nice Blog. I will be subscribing via wordpress and RSS.
    You may also want to take a look at my personal blog

  2. [...] my last post, I discussed why the direction Ubuntu’s taken recently has left me less than [...]