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Is Ubuntu a Serious Desktop Contender? 463

Posted by Cliff
from the land-of-the-heavy-weights dept.
Exter-C asks: "2006 was the year that a large amount of people started to talk Ubuntu as a possible contender for the Enterprise Linux desktop. There are several key issues that have to be raised: Is Ubuntu/Canonical really capable of maintaining Dapper Drake (6.06 LTS) for 5 years? I know this is not a new question but the evidence after 6 months seems to be negative. A case in point is the 4-5+ day delay for critical updates to packages like Firefox. Given that such a large percentage of people use their desktop systems on the web critical, browser vulnerabilities seem to be one of the core pieces of a secure desktop environment (user stupidity excluded). Can Ubuntu/Canonical really compete with the likes of Red Hat, who had patches available (RHSA-2006:0758) the day that the updates came out?"
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Is Ubuntu a Serious Desktop Contender?

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  • Aren't they really (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joshetc (955226)
    Competing against Windows? I'd say a better idea would be to compare cost / exploits / patches to Windows on the enterprise desktop rather than Red Hat Linux...
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @08:42AM (#17375398) Homepage
    I gave Ubuntu 6 a shot as my exclusive desktop for about a month and a half, but switched back to Windows XP Home a day or two ago for a variety of reasons, all of them desktop related.

    1) I got sick to death of having to run CD burning software with sudo.
    2) A lot of software I as a .NET hobbyist like is simply not there.
    3) I hate to say it, but Windows XP actually runs consistently faster under load on my laptop than Ubuntu. The GUI in particular is more responsive under load than GNOME or KDE.
    4) Things like easily configuring wireless connections really do work out of the box better on Windows XP than they do in Linux.
    5) Windows has far more good software options.

    For me the final straw was when I tried playing the high def trailer of Halo 3 in VLC on Linux, and it sucked. Choppy as hell. MPlayer handled it better, but then it was using a minimal GUI and actual Windows codecs. VLC on Windows can handle that stuff with no problem on the same machine.

    It's a light weight contender at this point. I would recommend it to geek and nerd friends who will understand its limitations, but not a normal user who uses their machine for anything other than things like office functions and web browsing.
    • by simm1701 (835424) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @08:54AM (#17375468)
      Just a note for your point 1)

      You can fix needing to run your cd burner as sudo by either:

      easy way: SUID root your CD burner software (major security risk though - atleast in unix terms, no worse than always loging in as admin under windows)
      slightly harder but much more sensible way: add group rw permissions to the CD burner device and make sure your user is a member of that group (I'm actually a little surprised and disappointed that that is not the default on ubuntu...)
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by lavid (1020121)
        My experience with Edgy (since late betas) and Feisty have been that it was not required to sudo to burn anything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by raddan (519638)
          My experience with Edgy (since late betas) and Feisty have been that it was not required to sudo to burn anything.

          Same here. In fact, I was pleased to discover that in Ubuntu 6.10, all I needed to to was right-click on a disc and select "Copy disc" to make an ISO. Cool!

          But if you do need to run a program with elevated permissions in GNOME, the right way to do it is with gksudo. You will get a prompt in the GUI to enter your password. If you add the NOPASSWD option to your /etc/sudoers file (rememb
      • by ProppaT (557551) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:49AM (#17375810) Homepage
        The thing is, you shouldn't have to do this. CD burning should work and work easily, especially for a desktop solution that's trying to be an easy desktop alternate to WinXP. The original poster did nothing but common desktop tasks that I would expect most people to do on a regular basis with XP. CD burning on OSes should be trivial at this point.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by wpmartin (575707)
          Right click iso image, asks for cd to be put in drive, then click write, it burns, no password required. Put a blank cd in click "Make data CD" button opens a file window, can drag files into window, then click write to disc, writes files to disc, again no password needed. Not sure why you are getting that problem.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jimmay (1009425)
          You've got to be kidding me!

          First, Ubuntu has not required root to burn since Breezy Badger. The "back to XP for my childish trailers guy" was lying on this one or doesn't know what he installed.

          Second, I find it funny when people complain about Linux usability. Have you ever tried to burn a CD out of the box on Winblows? Oh wait... you need to spend $90 on Nero??? Even then, it takes 100MB of RAM and 2 hours to actually _find_ the "burn" option. For all the people that complain about options in KDE,
        • CD burning on Ubuntu is trivial.

          I have no idea why he requires sudo, but I have no problem using GnomeBaker to burn CDs without sudo.

          The permissions look correct to me, out of the box. I've never touched them.

          cdrom:x:24:haldaemon,colin
          brw-rw---- 1 root cdrom 22, 0 2006-12-27 14:07 /dev/hdc

           
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hitmark (640295)
          cd burning will never be trivial as long as you have to fire up a seperate program to get it done right. for it to be trivial one should be able to just drag and drop files onto the burner from inside the file manager and thats it...
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by grcumb (781340)
            cd burning will never be trivial as long as you have to fire up a seperate program to get it done right. for it to be trivial one should be able to just drag and drop files onto the burner from inside the file manager and thats it...

            Why is this insightful? Both Windows XP and Ubuntu support exactly this behaviour.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MMC Monster (602931)
          The thing is, I think the poster that was using sudo for CD burning had done something to serious mess up his system.

          I've installed various versions of Ubuntu from 5.04 to 6.10 on a number of computers, all with gnomebaker CD burning software. Not a single one ever asked me for password to run the application (only when installing it).

          I have no idea how he managed to get Ubuntu to require a password to run without messing around with permissions of the CD drive or something like that (which would probably
        • CD burning on Linux (Score:3, Informative)

          by alizard (107678)
          is trivial at this point. Use K3b, as I am doing right now. (I'm burning the second DVD-R of a 10-disk backup volume) I haven't had trouble with setting it up since Fedora Core 2.
    • by jimstapleton (999106) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:10AM (#17375544) Journal
      1 has alread been answered
      2 If you are talking about Visual Studios, ok, I understand that, but for the rest, Mono works quite nicely.
      3 I've had that experience too, but I think it's partially due to the generic compilation used. I have not had that issue in either FreeBSD or Gentoo, where I had the exact opposite experience, when handling multiple tasks, they are much more responsive than windows.
      4 No argument there
      5 very little argument there. With WINE you can get some nice options, and if you are willing to search long/hard enough, you can find nice OSS options for linux/BSD

      As for the video, again I'd blame Ubuntu, it is one of the slowest distros I've used.
      • I wouldn't say that (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MikeRT (947531)

        As for the video, again I'd blame Ubuntu, it is one of the slowest distros I've used.

        I've only used fairly mainstream ones, but it's the fastest one short of Gentoo that I've used. Gentoo was the fastest only because I chose the painful option of compiling everything from source. Of all the major ones I've tried, Ubuntu was about tied for the fastest. Which is scary considering how slow some of them can be compared to a normal installation of Windows XP on the same hardware.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by lpcustom (579886)
          Try Arch...Gentoo is only faster if you optimize your machines compiler settings. Most everything has to be compiled from source in Gentoo. Arch is compiled optimized for 686 and up. It's a lot faster than Ubuntu on my machine. I use Ubuntu currently but Arch is impressive for speed. It's not as easy to set up for most people. I'm not advocating my distro of choice here. I'm just saying that you'll notice a speed difference between Arch and Ubuntu. Ubuntu isn't bad but the mainstream distros you are talking
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As much as I love linux, your comments point to a more general problem. On no machine I've owned in the last 9 years that I've used linux has ANY linux distro supported ALL the hardware of the machine without some level (often minor but needing knowledge, like setting the burner device to RW as one other responder comments) to complete lack of support.

      The closest I managed was an ancient Performa 6360 from 1997, and that's because it's about as basic as it gets. Technically it WAS completely supported, but
    • by jdh41 (865085) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:51AM (#17375820)
      I gave Windows XP Professional a try as my home desktop for 3 days a while ago, but switched back to linux finally for a number of reasons:

      1) I got sick to death of having to install different programs to burn CDs correctly, with the drag and drop interface terribly annoying and confusing.
      2) A lot of software I like as a programming hobbiest is not easily available with a simple command like apt-get install
      3) I hate to say it, but virtual desktops and fluxbox leave my desktop a lot less cluttered and much easier to work with than windows does out of the box, and my computer is under load from its graphics a lot less often
      4) Things like configuring wireless interfaces were endlessly confusing. Theres about 4 different places to enter a wireless key - but only one of them accepts my home key, as the rest claim it is too long! With linux I just typed it in and it worked.
      5) Linux has far more easily accessible and non-crapware solutions available to be easily installed from a secure and trusted source.

      The final thing which did it was when I wanted to play a video - WMP has gone through many funcitonality decrements over the years, and when I finally switched to mplayer it coped a lot better with partially missing files, keyboard shortcuts and general niceness than the MS equivilant.

      Windows is a best a memory hog of a contendor at this stage, while linux is fast and nible, but with the true power of unix behind it.
      • by xtracto (837672) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @10:48AM (#17376324) Journal
        I know you are trolling but one of your was interesting to me:

        3) I hate to say it, but virtual desktops and fluxbox leave my desktop a lot less cluttered and much easier to work with than windows does out of the box, and my computer is under load from its graphics a lot less often

        I use XFCE for my XUBUNTu desktop but I have not found a way to "tile windows" and "cascade windows" or anything equivalent, I found the ION [cs.tut.fi] window manager which pretty much an overkill solution for what I want to do (just automatically tile more than one file browser and terminal window...).

        4)Things like configuring wireless interfaces were endlessly confusing. Theres about 4 different places to enter a wireless key - but only one of them accepts my home key, as the rest claim it is too long! With linux I just typed it in and it worked.

        Can you name the FOUR places where you had to enter your wep key? you just need to run the network wizzard and it is done, in contrast with Linux where, well, it depends the distribution you are using the program you will have to use but only *if* your wireless network card is supported (my notebook network card just keeps turning on and off but does not works... oh and I have the "supported drivers" and the firmware... go figure).

        he final thing which did it was when I wanted to play a video - WMP has gone through many funcitonality decrements over the years, and when I finally switched to mplayer it coped a lot better with partially missing files, keyboard shortcuts and general niceness than the MS equivilant.

        hmmmm... I use VLC in Linux to play movies etc, I had to install it (as the applications that come with Xubuntu are terrible to watch video, and ubuntu and on any other distro you MUST download all the "restricted", "no open source" "devil" "god forbid them" whatever codecs). Oh! and the installation was a time consuming... even to make it play the same types of video I *used* to play with the same program on WINDOWS. So yeah, nice troll there.

        1) I got sick to death of having to install different programs to burn CDs correctly, with the drag and drop interface terribly annoying and confusing.

        Why? just intall Nero the NERO Burning ROM CD that came with your CD-RW (or DVD) recorder. If you bought your computer chances are they are already installed. if you pirated windows just pirate it from the same site. Not that I did not need to install a program to burn in Xubuntu... oh! and it was a PAIN in the ass to burn with more than the lousy 8.3 format and more than 7 nested directories... I had finally to sucumb and download KDE's K3B program which I dont like because each time I have to start it it takes ages while it loads all the KDE crap (talk about memory hog) like kdesyscoca and whatever else.

        2) A lot of software I like as a programming hobbiest is not easily available with a simple command like apt-get install
        Name 1 (ONE) programming language or software that you can run on Linux that can NOT be run on Windows XP. ...
        hello? ...
        Thank you.

        • by jb.hl.com (782137)
          Name 1 (ONE) programming language or software that you can run on Linux that can NOT be run on Windows XP. ...

          Amarok. Would probably be pretty easy to compile using Cygwin or something though.
        • by aaronl (43811)
          I think you missed the point. A Linux user that tries Windows is not going to like it, because it is very different. Likewise, a Windows user that just up and tries Linux is probably not going to be that thrilled. You need a better reason to switch platforms than hearing it was better.

          3) You can auto-tile or auto-cascade windows under MS Windows? I never found anything of the sort in the 17 years that I've had a copy around.

          4) I haven't seen the problem you are having. Maybe the poorly/un-documented in
        • by Vaevictis666 (680137) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @12:34PM (#17377604)
          2) A lot of software I like as a programming hobbiest is not easily available with a simple command like apt-get install
          Name 1 (ONE) programming language or software that you can run on Linux that can NOT be run on Windows XP. ...
          It's not about whether or not you can get them, it's how easy it is. After having used linux for a few years now, finding software in windows is becoming one of my biggest gripes. When I do a reinstall, I need to hunt down every little utility I want, whereas on linux I just hit the package manager and say I want foo, bar, and baz. A similar package manager for windows would be absurdly useful, but inconvenient to do at this stage.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by lahvak (69490)
            Exactly!

            Lack of software used to be one of my main reasons for not using Windows on the desktop. It is no longer the case, thanks to Cygwin, and many other porting efforts. But as you said, even though most software I use is actually available for Windows, hunting it down, installing it and keeping it upgraded is a major pain. Stuff that's installed out of the box on Linux, or that is available for an easy installation from centralized repositories, has to be downloaded from 50 different websites and ins
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Can you name the FOUR places where you had to enter your wep key? you just need to run the network wizzard and it is done, in contrast with Linux ...

          I think he was exagerating, but in windows, a lot of wireless cards come with thier own wireless configuration tool, which may or may not be in use. So it is fairly common for users to enter in their WEP key in the the netwrok wizard, have it not work and then have to enter it again in the wireless cards own configuration utility (which has disabled the windows

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by parvenu74 (310712)
        Since when does a parody of a more serious post earn a mod score of 5? The original 5-point list (six if you count the video comments) addresses common issues that are going to be on the short list of complaints of anyone who is looking to switch from Windows to Linux for more than a few hours. And make no mistake: the benchmark by which Linux will be measured a success or failure as a desktop O/S will be how would-be refugees from Windows take to the experience.

        Addressing only at this point the home users,
    • by burner (8666)
      Hmm... I wonder what software you're using to burn CDs? The stuff that comes with Ubuntu 6.06 LTS runs under your user account (nautilus's integrated CD burner, serpentine audio CD creator, rhythmbox's music export) without any sudo requirement.

      As a .NET hobbyist, I'd think you'd be interested in getting involved in Mono?

      #3 is probably accurate. Somewhere in the switch from the 2.2 kernel to the 2.4 kernel, changes in the VM manager really killed interactive performance under load (IMHO).

      #4 isn't fair becau
    • by div_2n (525075)
      The first suggestion I have is that you re-evaluate what it is you want. Based on #2 and #5, it sounds like one of the things you want is a complete one to one conversion. If so, you are barking up the wrong tree. Switching from Windows to Linux is something that requires either A) Researching the availability of the applications you want/need based on either vendor ports or WINE compatibility OR B) Accepting a new way of computing and find suitable replacements.

      If option B is completely unacceptable, you h
    • 3) I hate to say it, but Windows XP actually runs consistently faster under load on my laptop than Ubuntu. The GUI in particular is more responsive under load than GNOME or KDE.


      I found the oposite to be true for machines that spend most of the time online. If you share a machine with teenagers, the Windows machine quickly becomes bogged down and requires rebuilding every 3-6 months. I stuck on Ubuntu Breexy Badger and later upgraded to Dapper Drake. For the 99% online stuff they do, it simply doesn't bo
    • by Trelane (16124)

      1) I got sick to death of having to run CD burning software with sudo.

      Running as root is not required. Rather, the problem is that users are not in the cdrom group by default (members of the cdrom group have permission to read and write to the CD-ROM drive). To fix this, you need to add your user to the cdrom group. To do this, go to System->Administration->Users and Groups. Choose your user from the list, and click on "Properties". Then check the "Use CD-ROM drives" checkbox (along with others

    • 1) No sudo required to burn CDs or DVDs. It just works, out of the box using gnomebaker.
      2) It's .Net WTF?
      3) XP is only even close in terms of performance when it's using the "classic" interface.
      4) Again, wireless worked out of the box, All I had to do was give it the ESSID and encryption key. System->Administration->Networking.
      5) 20,000 packages in the Debian/Ubuntu respository alone. How many Windows packages are there?
      6) You have a slight point about windows video codecs, but there are reasons for
    • by aaronl (43811)
      It sounds like you had your Ubuntu install quite misconfigured. I'm not sure how that came about, but I made no changes to my system to get these things working. I installed one program (from Add/Remove...) to make my wireless easier.

      1) CD burned works out of box for me, as does DVD burning. I had no need to mess with permissions or run with sudo.
      2) .NET is a MS property designed for Windows. It shouldn't surprise you that a tech that is only supported by MS on Windows does work on Linux. :P There is M
  • by jdbear (607709) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @08:47AM (#17375430)
    While I am forced to use Windows in my work envirionment, while at home Ubuntu is my chosen desktop. I have never been one to insist on instant updates, so a few days delay in a patch does not concern me much.

    Ubuntu (with some necessary updates and enhancements) is a perfectly capable operating system, and the Gnome2 desktop serves my needs just fine. I can do everything (and more) that my windows box can do, plus I get to use my choice of scripting languages to customize my experience.

    Nothing is hidden away from me in cryptic registries, and I run only those things that make sense to me. On my Windows box, there are several programs that have installed themselves over the years, and seemingly cannot be uninstalled. I keep most of them disabled and beaten down, but can't seem to eradicate them entirely. Even tools from my huge international IT industry company don't seem to be able to keep the buggers off of my Windows machine. Number of virii or malware programs on my Ubuntu box? Zero.

    So, yes, Ubuntu can be an effective and pleasing desktop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)
      The Registry isn't any more crypt than Linux configuration text files or OS X plist files. In fact, at least the Registry and plist files have a common defined file format, so I'd say they were LESS cryptic.
      • by Dion (10186) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @11:33AM (#17376818) Homepage
        The registry is a piece of shit compared to plain text config files, there are several reasons for this, but two of the big ones are:

        1) Comments, you can actually add comments to text config files.
        2) You can use a normal text editor, normal version control (ever tried putting the registry in subversion?) and other well-honed text tools to work with text based config files.

  • scenario.
    i have one pc at home.
    it's connected to a wifi network belonging to my landlord on a weak signal.
    i have no control over the ap so i can't change any settings or its location
    or improve the signal
    or run a network cable to it.

    so i look around to find a usb wifi adapter that will work with ubuntu. had tried a pci card but that will not get a good enough signal so it has to be a usb adapter which can be at the end of a 2 metre usb cable.

    don't want to risk my windows partition so i buy a new disk.
    then t
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Reducer2001 (197985)
      My 2 cents on this and similar situations....

      I have a D-link wireless card connecting to a WPA AP. To get this to work from Windows I install the drivers from the CD, install the card and voila.

      From Ubuntu I need to run a CAT5 cable across my apartment to the AP so I can apt-get install NetworkManager-gnome. Then I'm able to connect to the wireless network fine. I've been told that NetworkManager will be installed by default in the next version of Ubuntu. But to me that's always been the Linux problem f
    • so i look around to find a usb wifi adapter that will work with ubuntu. had tried a pci card but that will not get a good enough signal so it has to be a usb adapter which can be at the end of a 2 metre usb cable.


      Forget the trouble of USB and drivers. I picked up a Dlink Access Point. It can be put into client mode. Nice. Plug in a Cat 5 cable and pretend it's a hardwired network jack. I even tested it with my ancient Windows 95 laptop which has no USB and only 16 bit cardbus. I connected to my LAN wi
    • Forgot one thing, for scanning from cmdline do:

      iwlist scan

      To associate do:

      iwconfig eth1 essid foo

      Do a --help for both iwlist and iwconfig for all of the options. If you're looking for wpa support, might want to check the forums as that's a different animal if you don't use networkmanager.
  • by Eideewt (603267) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:07AM (#17375530)
    Looking at Ubuntu (and other distros I suppose), Windows, and OS X the match seems pretty even. All suck pretty hard in significant ways, but all have their strong points as well. Linux would be a great fit for the browse the web/write papers/listen to music crowd. Not so much for the gamers, due to the lack of commercial development, and not so much for the artists (due to the elitism), but it does what a lot of people need. The problem is, as always, getting to those people. Even if they have by some miracle heard of Linux, most will see the work required to switch as too scary or too much of a hassle for the benefits they would gain (a snappier system, better security, package managers that can pull down updates for the whole system, and so on). Oh well, maybe next year will be the year of Linux on the desktop.
  • by porkThreeWays (895269) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:13AM (#17375570)
    I've realised after all these years linux on the desktop for the masses probably will happen last. While some people have seen this as a goal to de-throne microsoft's desktop, others have been sneaking linux into our daily lives. This is the important frontier for linux. Everything but the desktop. Servers, embedded devices, control systems, etc, etc. There are MUCH more of these sorts of devies than there are desktops. The desktop goal has been important to many people because it's what they see everyday, but these sneaky devices are a much more important.
  • by B Man (51992) <bhgraham@yahoo.RABBITcom minus herbivore> on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:13AM (#17375572) Homepage
    I have wondered this for a while and this article highlights it. With all the distributions out there, why so much hype this year for Ubuntu? I downloaded both the Drake and the current, and I have neither time been impressed with it. I don't understand what makes people think its better than Debian, which by the way always seems to work better and with more success. I'm sure there has to be a contender better, anyone would be better. The distributions that get the most exposure (preloads, etc) are not the ones that are getting recognition d(remember we are talking desktop usage). I used Caldera Linux (ack I know) all the way back in 1997 and it was better than the current flock of Desktop OS's. I wonder why someone couldn't bring it back, limit the crap in the install, but make it available (you dont need emacs or vi, you need Write or a notepad). Keep many common services that people may just want on their pc like httpd, ftp, ssh, but get rid of SQL servers and the like for advanced users. Give a good browser (firefox with alot of preinstalled extensions) with a good starting page. Links to office apps, browser, drives, on the desktop. DONT SLACK ON THE NETWORKING (more IM's, browsers, clients, etc). DONT GIVE ME 5 MEDIA PLAYERS, just one really well maintained one would be great (vlc if the comment above werent true). And for gods sake, drop all the extra games, apps, etc. If someone needs anything in particular for a desktop os, they WILL download it. I mean come on who of us uses linux for a desktop that doesnt have access to updates?
    *rant mode off*
    This reply should have been a ASK Slashdot, but we all know we miss actual articles. So I wont put us through it.

    Ben

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)
      I used Caldera Linux (ack I know) all the way back in 1997 and it was better than the current flock of Desktop OS's.

      I'll call that "selective memory".

      I wonder why someone couldn't bring it back, limit the crap in the install, but make it available (you dont need emacs or vi, you need Write or a notepad).

      Actually, no. I don't want any of those because for me there's really two types of text editors - plaintext (config files, code, small notes etc.) and formatted text (OpenOffice/KOffice style). I'd like just
  • sure, but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by robzon (981455) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:21AM (#17375620) Homepage
    Keep in mind that Ubuntu is Free Software.
    And Free Software is not always about being better, it's about being Free.
    After a few years of using only Linux (various distros, Ubuntu for past year) I would never install a proprietary system on my computer.
    Just look where proprietary software is leading - DRM, spyware, adware... It's much easier to hide these "features" in closed-source software.
    Ok, Windows supports all the hardware, Linux does not - oh well, I just check hardware for Linux compatibility before I buy it.
    I just believe that Free Software is the only way we should go. Things like DRM just hurt customers, they simply haven't realized that yet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      Keep in mind that Ubuntu is Free Software.
      And Free Software is not always about being better, it's about being Free.


      That statement sums up why Ubuntu, and probably Linux, will never be a suitable replacement OS on most desktop systems.

      • And Free Software is not always about being better, it's about being Free.
        That statement sums up why Ubuntu, and probably Linux, will never be a suitable replacement OS on most desktop systems.

        Making software Free can eventually result in it becoming "better",
        but making software "better" never results in it becoming Free.
    • by petrus4 (213815)
      And Free Software is not always about being better, it's about being Free.

      It's also about being insular, myopic, smug, and ultimately almost entirely irrelevant. 99.9...% of the human population do not and are never going to give a shit about being "Free."

      Some of us also realise that being "Free" solely means being free to follow the FSF's dictates anywayz. If you want that, you can have it...personally I prefer being able to create/maintain my own definition of freedom, rather than being dictated to by R
    • Things like DRM just hurt customers, they simply haven't realized that yet.


      That is the sad state of affairs. Some consumers are going wow, it works with I-tunes store or Yahoo Music. They see the ability to play DRM sources as a feature, not a liability. Wait for 2-3 hardware upgrade cycles and see what the tune is then when their paid for library simply won't play anymore and mine plays just fine.
  • by Klaidas (981300) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:29AM (#17375674)
    Well, it depends. A contender to who? Windows - no. Fedora, Gentoo - yes. Servers - maybe, but debian is still the leader there.
    Ubuntu has a potential, but it's not some kind of magic distribution.
  • by linvir (970218) * on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @09:41AM (#17375752)

    For fuck's sake, this is not a Windows/Linux article. Please at least read the first sentence of the posted article in future, before taking the opportunity to vent your Windows vs Linux obsession.


    Now, does anyone have anything to say about the Enterprise Linux desktop?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kripkenstein (913150)
      Thank you for that calm voice of reason. Here is my answer to the actual question put forth:

      The only evidence given for the claim is the issue of 4-5 day delays for Firefox patches on Ubuntu, versus same-day response for Red Hat. Now, this is a good point, and Canonical should improve in this respect. However, 2 things should be said: (1) Microsoft does not seem to reply very quickly to critical vulnerabilities - not that this is an excuse, but it does go to show that a few days' wait isn't enough to mak
      • by 51mon (566265)
        The Debian Iceweasel maintainer has previously noted that the Ubuntu Firefox was more different from Mozilla's than Debian's, and it is relatively easy to check.

        Now it is entirely possible the Ubuntu folks have suddenly binned all their patches to Firefox, but I think you might be mistaking stuff read on /. for the truth ;)

        Of course it may well be that Iceweasel is more different now, but that probably reflects branding changes.

        But I agree a few days here or there for some fixes (depending on their type) is
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Andyham (633438)
      OK, I will give an answer to the question as best as I can. I suspect that all depends upon the longevity of the Ubuntu organization itself. And how it matures.

      People have noted that it takes longer than the usual amount of time for Ubuntu to issue patches, that perhaps has to do with compatibility testing and dealing with their package management system.

      I have installed Ubuntu for a few people and generally like what I see in terms of usability for your average computer user who really is not all that

  • by bazorg (911295)
    I'm struggling to understand what kind of Firefox security updates can be deemed critical for a linux user... what kind of malware and exploits are they talking about there?
  • LinuxMint makes Ubuntu usable. It has plugins and codecs that are missing from Ubuntu 6.xx. I can finally say that I have found a version of Linux that installs properly and is usable as well! Try it, you'll like it:

    http://www.linuxmint.com/ [linuxmint.com]
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @10:01AM (#17375892) Homepage Journal
    Of all the Linux distributions I've seen, Ubuntu is the only one which has produced a sneaking feeling that it might just have a vague chance of achieving critical mass on the desktop.

    However, it's a double edged sword. The Ubuntu people have apparently thought out a number of different usage scenarios, and an end-user following any of those can do so quickly and easily. The down side is when you're trying to do anything (and I do mean anything) outside of the box...it becomes a nightmare.

    For people who want their computer to be an appliance, with only a few highly specialised uses, Ubuntu could meet their needs...and given that this description fits most end-users, that is the reason why I could see it becoming/remaining the most popular Linux distribution. For anyone who wants anything more versatile, however (and for anyone who cares about a system which follows UNIX design philosophy - I'm talking about the stuff here [catb.org]) both Ubuntu and Debian are to be avoided, in my own mind.
  • by NorbrookC (674063) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @10:08AM (#17375934) Journal

    Ubuntu is a fairly good Linux distribution, with a pretty good set up. The Firefox update issue is probably not a fair consideration, since it's not actually Canonical, it's a function of Debian's issues with Mozilla.

    The problem I have with Ubuntu's push is that it isn't really being pushed as a desktop for business so much as it is a desktop for the average user, to replace Windows or Mac. Unfortunately, it isn't ready for that, and it may actually be hurting itself because of it. If you're saying to people "Just download the CD's, and install it, it'll work with no problems.", you're asking for trouble. The people that are willing to give it a try are not expecting a Windows/Mac clone, but they do have certain expectations! Principally, that they're not going to spend the next three months learning how to debug, compile, edit configurations, and spend hours searching through various wikis, FAQ's, and web sites to actually use their computer for something.

    These are the "first adopters", and the more unpleasant their experience, the harder is to get Linux out of the server/geek realm and into the home. It's been my experience that server OS's tend to make mediocre desktop OS's. That's been true whether it's Linux or Windows or (fill in the blank). The things you need to do on a server are different from what you need on most desktops. There's also a difference in needs between a business desktop and a home desktop. I think Linux is (mostly) ready to be a serious contender on the business desktop. Unfortunately, it isn't ready to be one on the home desktop. I think it could be one, but the community needs to listen and to look at what the average user actually is running into.

    Here's a quote I found about Linux on the desktop on one of the other boards I frequent, that really helps summarize what needs to happen: "Come on nerds, would it really be such a terrible thing to spend $180 for a Linux will full hardware drivers and software codecs plus telephone support or even to pay $50 for a CD that gives you everything in the way of proprietary drivers and codecs ready to go for all your hardware and multimedia as opposed to spending hours and hours and hours downloading just bits and pieces of the solutions from all over the place and fighting to get them working? It's not like people who really want to couldn't still do that, but a simple, truly easy, less expensive alternative to the $400 Vista for the average Joe is what it is going to take to get the average Joe to come over from the dark side--and no one is ever going to have a prayer of winning the fight for open standards as long as all those ordinary Joe's are still living on the dark side."

    • Here's a quote I found about Linux on the desktop on one of the other boards I frequent, that really helps summarize what needs to happen: "Come on nerds, would it really be such a terrible thing to spend $180 for a Linux will full hardware drivers and software codecs plus telephone support or even to pay $50 for a CD that gives you everything in the way of proprietary drivers and codecs ready to go for all your hardware and multimedia as opposed to spending hours and hours and hours downloading just bits a

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trelane (16124)

      full hardware drivers

      This will never happen until Microsoft's monopoly diminishes to the point where it's no longer feasible to provide individual drivers for each of the main operating systems since they can't count on selling enough units solely with Windows drivers, and the vendors must fully implement standards supported by the most popular OSes, and/or a common driver framework is implemented (if there's a market, there's most certainly a way (hint: there's no market until Windows marketshare diminis

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)
      Here's a quote I found about Linux on the desktop on one of the other boards I frequent, that really helps summarize what needs to happen: "Come on nerds, would it really be such a terrible thing to spend $180 for a Linux will full hardware drivers and software codecs plus telephone support or even to pay $50 for a CD that gives you everything in the way of proprietary drivers and codecs ready to go for all your hardware and multimedia as opposed to spending hours and hours and hours downloading just bits a
  • by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @10:17AM (#17376004) Homepage Journal
    RH has a tiny market share. Even if Ubuntu replaced every single RH desktop, it still wouldn't even make a blip on the radar. The competition that (still) matters the most, is Windows. And a 4 day turn around on defects is a heck of a lot better than the once a month for Windows.

    -Rick
  • Not yet. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Perseid (660451) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @10:39AM (#17376212)
    I'm a Windows user. XP does everything I need it to and does it well. Occasionally, though, I test out Linux to see how things are going. Every time I try things are much better and much closer to awesomeness. But not yet. My last experience was Kubuntu. Auto-detected all my hardware, set up my Internet access for me all automatically. Amarok is incredible. But once something breaks you're back to cryptic /etc files and other obscure things. Given time to research I can handle this, but the average person cannot. Linux is still more complicated to maintain than Windows, and that is going to be deciding factor for your average schmo.

    And hardware support is still not as good as Windows. There are still a lot of things with no drivers. That never will have drivers. Yes, hardware manufacturers are to blame for this, but that doesn't matter to my computing experiece. And software support is still lacking. Few games are getting ported and while Amarok is at least as good of a music player as WinAmp, there is still no Linux equivalent to the beauty of Media Player Classic.

    So why should I switch? Why should anyone switch? So my answer to your question is still no. It's getting closer. Maybe in a few years. But not now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tinkerghost (944862)

      [blah][blah][blah] But once something breaks you're back to cryptic /etc files and other obscure things. Given time to research I can handle this, but the average person cannot. Linux is still more complicated to maintain than Windows, and that is going to be deciding factor for your average schmo.

      How exactly do you fix things that break in Windows? I ask because it's usually registry edits and magic downloads that end up fixing the problems I have. While there isn't a set format for those cryptic /etc files, there are usually headers that tell you what to do, along with those wonderful MAN pages. With Windows, I have no choice but to google the problem & hope someone else has come up with a solution. Even the few times I've called MS support, I usually get the 'we can't help you - reinstalling

  • My wife likes it... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Yaddoshi (997885)
    My wife, who knows almost nothing about computers beyond web-browsing, e-mail and instant messaging, prefers Ubuntu to Windows. For her the system is more reliable, she doesn't have the same fear of accidentally going to a bad website and infecting her computer with spyware or viruses, and it does everything she wants it to do. She's been using Ubuntu since version 5.04, and does not even want Windows installed on her laptop.

    That being said, I absolutely despise ndiswrapper, which is the only way to ge
  • by ubergenius (918325) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @10:51AM (#17376366) Homepage
    My first ever non-Windows system was Ubuntu, and I haven't looked back since. I'll admit that I was never an amateur in the computing world, but the system was clearly very easy to use, cleanly coded, fast and well designed. It's few drawbacks, such as the obvious "no Microsoft software" and such are outweighed by the immense support offered by the community and the huge number of powerful applications available for free and easily using the package manager.

    If any Linux environment is going to gain serious market share away from the Windows-only non-experts of the world, it's going to be a free and easy-to-use system like Ubuntu.
  • I use Ubuntu (Score:3, Informative)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @01:32PM (#17378462) Journal
    My main complaint has been the sluggishness of gtk2 apps. Mainly text rendering is 20-50x slower than it ought to be, as though glyphs aren't being cached or something silly like that, making apps like gedit feel like they're running on a 486.

    Wine works pretty well for some Windows apps and games, but I use the latest version from Wine's deb repository, not Ubuntu's. I haven't needed to use Wine recently, as I don't play a lot of games anymore.
    I've avoided using the Firefox in Ubuntu because in the past it has always been much slower and more problematic than the official builds I download from mozilla.org.
    Ubuntu Edgy for me has been less reliable than Dapper, in exchange for more experimental features, hence the name Edgy. Everything so far has had a workaround though.
    Totem is a surprisingly good DVD player, when playing discs that don't require libdvdcss.
    I use MPlayer for playing most videos. I naturally had to get the win32 codecs from a third party source, but otherwise it works well.
    On one system I had to configure grub to boot with the noapic kernel option to prevent Ubuntu from freezing at random times. It's a hardware related problem.
    I was able to add kubuntu (kde) and xubuntu (xfce) to my ubuntu system without much difficulty, apart from them overwriting each other's artwork. Even with all that, I was able to upgrade from Dapper to Edgy without losing anything, though it took some careful work.
    DosEMU runs dos programs natively in a window with better performance and compatibility than Windows could ever offer, though I think it took some extraordinary measures to get it installed right on Dapper. I can't remember what though.

    At home I have Ubuntu on my main desktop (which I bought with no OS) and Windows Server 2003 on my second (cheaper) desktop for the sole reason that I got a free 1 year msdn subscription a few months ago. If being a serious desktop contender means you can use it professionally as your primary (or only) desktop, then Ubuntu has been since its first release. But having been previously comfortable with Visual Studio, I must admit I've been less productive than I was before, lacking a good (imho) alternative, even though Linux solves the main complaints I've had about Windows. Linux is less stressful and easier to administer at least. I don't curse at it every hour. And I don't plan to give MS another dime after all they've done in recent years.
  • by synthespian (563437) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @01:57PM (#17378780)
    I think it's time people just abandon such high hopes with this Debian-derived Linux. We have read recently how Debian developers were stalling once again...And Ubuntu depends on Debian. Good luck with that.

    Besides, Linux distros, as a whole, are a sort of a mess. If you ever had to buy proprietary software for Linux, you know what I'm talking about - unreliable. You better pray that on your next upgrade your expensive software will work. There are too many differences between distros for ISVs to keep up...

    Right now, it seems the best choice for an open source desktop would be PC-BSD, with its install as easy as a Windows or a Mac OS install. PC-BSD, fortunately, is based on FreeBSD and is not a fork or a distro. Just a solution on top of FreeBSD. BSD developers work on the system as a whole. Linux is made of bits and pieces. Some say that it's what makes it evolve faster. I'm not so sure. Of course, we have to keep in mind what firms like IBM invest in Linux development...Apparently, the fallacy that GPL protects your business investment seems to hinder BSD devlopment (20th-century limited material resources type of thinking...)

    I've used Debian for over 5 years. I tried Ubuntu. Ubuntu has has too many problems for my taste, like problems in upgrading, documentation problems, etc. I thought the whole Ubuntu experience was disorganized, in fact, and I thought PHP web forums for support was the most pathetic you could get (hey, NNTP is nice!). SuSE and RedHat have per seat licenses, so where do you go for a decent Linux? We're not in 1996 anymore, we expect shit to work.

    The whole typical Linux experience that made me switch to OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Mac OS. I am not going back to that ever...
  • by isolationism (782170) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @02:30PM (#17379174) Homepage
    I've installed and configured a couple Ubuntu systems now; one with the 64-bit Ubuntu and another with 32-bit Kubuntu, both Dapper (although the former I -- painfully -- upgraded to Edgy, at which point the computer started crashing often, which is why I switched back to Gentoo on my desktop -- Kubuntu is a temporary desktop for my dad while I do some maintenance on his PC).

    A few of my personal experiences with running Ubuntu:

    • Installation, I grant you, is pretty easy. On modern hardware, almost all of my devices installed and worked just fine with no screwing around. The video driver was an exception; it worked, but the driver was generic VESA (when I had an integrated nVidia chip on an mATX motherboard). Not a deal-breaker, although the performance sucked until this was resolved.
    • Fonts are still a mess, not least of all because of Apple's patent on freetype's Byte Code Interpreter. I recently wrote a little article on my blog about how to improve font rendering in Linux [isolationism.com], but this is far from a perfect solution--and it still involves a lot of fiddling around to get right. They should just render beautifully out-of-the-box given how particular Shuttleworth is about appearances.
    • Application choice. I understand there is the question about support, but shouldn't I be able to readily install what I want without having to jump through so many hoops? Users are forever editing their sources.list file to include repositories that contain the package they want, then you have to use Adept or Synaptic (no not that Adept/Synaptic, that one, which is much more cluttered and difficult to read/use). I'm not talking about the latest and greatest version of Beryl, either -- just stuff like browsers, mail clients or office utilities that didn't make Ubuntu/Kubuntu's "short-list".
    • There's always another package to solve functionality problems. For example, I had to install some user-created deb package just to get !@!&* FLAC working in Amarok. The same got replaced as soon as Ubuntu updated the library with something slightly newer--which of course had the FLAC functionality disabled again. Excuse my ignorance, but why the hell wouldn't FLAC support be included considering it's relatively commonly-used, compatibly licenced format? Why am I installing a user-compiled libraries to get this basic functionality so I can do "everyday user" stuff in Linux, like listening to music?
    • Suspend/Sleep/Hibernation. I know this still isn't well-supported under Linux, but again I would expect Ubuntu to do a better job. I've seen articles out there blaming Microsoft for wasting millions of dollars worth of the world's power because of their operating system's power management policy--but really, that's the user's fault for not employing the clearly visible feature, not the operating system's: At least sleep/suspend/hibernate works well on modern hardware under Windows. I can't say the same for Ubuntu: even on brand new hardware I can't get it to work, no matter how much time I spend tinkering with installing and configuring various packages. I confess, none of this was on a laptop (the primary support target for this functionality), but does that mean it shouldn't "just work" anyway? It's the desktops that are wasting >100W of power by being on all the time, not the laptops that draw perhaps 20W during heavy loads when plugged in.
    • Remember that time a couple months ago when Canonical pushed out a package that prevented X from loading properly? I do. A lot of Ubuntu users who had never seen the console (and never want to) filled their pants that day. I cringed when it happened; it wouldn't have bothered me much (inconvenienced, perhaps) but I doubt the same could be said for most of Ubuntu's target audience.
    • And then, there is the speed. I know performance isn't everything, but Ubuntu is almost painfully/embarassingly slow. I have only limited experience with Linux desktops; I've used Ub

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