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Friday, August 8, 2008

An Open Letter to Ubuntu

Don't get me wrong on this - I love Linux and Ubuntu is one of my favorite distros, but there were some problems that temporarily turned me away when I was introduced to Ubuntu (and Linux in general) that I've noticed are affecting a lot of newbies on #ubuntu, too.

Intrepid Ibex (8.10) is coming this October and here are some things that should be brushed up, especially for new users:
  1. Screen resolution and desktop effects are really hard to configure out-of-the-box with NVIDIA and ATI hardware.
  2. In package management, the names "universe", "multiverse", etc. should be replaced with something more understandable, like "free with source, proprietary, etc"
  3. It would be nice if it were more obvious on how to install themes, because the first thought is to extract the (usually) .tar.gz compression.
  4. Please, more support for networking devices!
  5. Make sound configuration easier and better support for some speakers that might otherwise reproduce very very soft sound. Forget alsa, pulseaudio, and all those names that don't make sense; make it simple.
  6. Imitate GoboLinux and Mac OS X filesystem-wise.
  7. Better built-in documentation would be greatly appreciated by new users.
One good idea would be to do like the early Macs and Windows versions: include an optional tutorial on how to use Ubuntu; even though the interface is simpler, it may be unfamiliar on some terms. I was switching from Windows and I was surprised that Preferences was under the Edit menu instead of the Tools menu. It's those tiny differences that count. (Maybe offer a separate tutorial CD?)

I'd like to see how well Ubuntu would do on a Mojave Experiment test. That would bring more results as to what needs to be reworked.

See also here.


Jayson said...

for a unix geek, you sure sound like a Windows or pointy-clicky MacOS user.

Daengbo said...

I've been calling for an opening video for Ubuntu for some time now, much like the one Lindows used to have.

There also used to be a proposed project for hooking screencasts into the desktop help system. That's another beautiful idea.

jldugger said...

It's a nice sentiment, but there's just no way we can do what much of what you're asking for and still be "collaborative".

What is possible: Renaming repos All user facing interfaces and documentations could use descriptions instead of code names. Add/Remove does this, as does Synaptic's repo manager. The documentation however, is not clear, and often references command line stuff. Making the repo names themselves in line with your suggestion require patches to apt (to handle spaces) that I don't see getting accepted. Plus, anyone and any software that depends on repo names will have to re-evaluate their code.

An introductory video or lesson would be nice, but unfortunately, we're at an impasse with the liveCD already. A whole ton of stuff gets put in, filling up a CD. I agree that putting one on makes sense, but until such time that DVD burner/readers are reliable and universal, something else has to be thrown out.

MattBD said...

It wouldn't be a bad idea to have video tutorials on the Ubuntu website - that would get round the problem of having to fit them on the install CD. Of course that would be no use if you couldn't get your Internet connection working in the first place. Maybe a separate Ubuntu tutorial CD available to download might also be a good idea - it could include video tutorials and other resources for newbies.

Exsecrabilus said...

No. Universe and Multiverse are already defined in Software Sources.
Ubuntu needs to be more distinct and different. Stop mentioning Windows or OS X. Network Manager 0.7 will have more support for more devices. Note that Microsoft makes a distribution release every like 5 years, and Apple every 1 and a half years. Ubuntu? Every six months. It's not that easy to fit everything you said into one distribution while still worrying about bugs. You say like it's so easy to do all that. Instead of just telling them to fix this, fix that, why don't you give us a solution?

Anonymous said...

My open letter would be to forget putting new bleeding edge stuff into a release every six months, but fix the stuff that doesn't work. For example dual monitors, still don't work 100% and quite fidly to set up. While I agree that NetworkManager is coming along in leaps and bounds, networking is still a major headache, especially wireless (and before some troll bites my head off, I know that it's not 100% Linux fault but the hardware manufacturers). Also I think that maybe Canonical should look at getting a designer involved like what Apple did and sorting out the desktop and the look and get it more polished (again, I know that it would be hard) but as a well known UK supermarket says, every little helps :)

Finally, like it or loathe it, Ubuntu sure has made it easier to get Linux on your PC. I should know as I have been 100% Micro$oft free and 100% Ubuntu now for over 3 years.

lydiax said...

openSuse just Rocks !

Fedora is great too.

have a good one ubuntus

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