Linked by Christian Paratschek on Mon 25th Apr 2005 20:11 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Welcome back to another issue of my reviews of Linux distributions. Not really surprisingly, this time I decided to take a close look at the second version of the most popular Debian offshoot, Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu's performance probably was the biggest surprise that 2004 had in store for Linux users. Just 9 months ago, almost noone even knew that there was a new project underway, but then things went really fast: after a preview version in mid-September, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, released version 4.10 in October. Being based on Debian, Ubuntu has a solid base and, despite not being supported officially, all the (18.000) Debian packages available. Ubuntu 4.10 proved to be a decent operating system (especially for a first try) and had overall pretty positive reviews (here's mine).
Order by: Score:
Ubuntu 5.04
by TaterSalad on Mon 25th Apr 2005 20:28 UTC

Thats a pretty good review. I like Ubuntu 5.04 also, the layout is nice and it detected my soundcard/nic/mosue and just about everything else so I can't complain about that. I just have some minor gripes about trying to compile a certain application to the newer version because I'm stubborn and didn't want to use the older version thats in the repositories.

Oh, one more thing to note. Its probably not a good idea to mess with sound settings, I found out the hard way per ubuntuguide.org. In short, its along the lines of wanting alsa and esd, like having my cake and eating it too. Now I gotta figure out how to make the two work together again ;)

Good potential, but still needs
by Martin on Mon 25th Apr 2005 20:34 UTC

I like ubuntu's philosophy and sane defaults. The aesthetics are also unique, but those who prefer a different look may easily change to one of the other preinstalled themes.

The part that I found kind of hairy... is that, to get the level of functionality that many come to expect from a desktop OS, you have to enable external package repositories. Following the documenation on http://www.ubuntuguides.org, I was able to install just about everything I needed... but this came at the cost of stability. Enabling GLX and the nvidia driver, in addition installing some multimedia packages, left my system highly unstable. The machine locked up frequently at seemingly random times.

Oddly, I have not experienced the same level of instability using the same software titles and NVIDIA GLX on other distros. Particularly, Xandros and Linspire (both debian-based) worked fine. Even my Gentoo install, using all "unstable"/"bleeding edge" sources exhibited greater stability.

regardless, I enjoyed what I saw in Ubuntu, and i look forward to their future releases. I would just suggest that they try to expand their Ubuntu-repositories, so i wont have to "taint" the install with unsupported debian packages.

good review
by Anonymous on Mon 25th Apr 2005 20:37 UTC

..can't say much more than that. Great job.

Disappointing Security
by Andreas on Mon 25th Apr 2005 20:58 UTC

I am a little bit disappointed by Ubuntu's security.

Hoary's Firefox 1.0.2 still has unpatched critical security bugs which are fixed in Firefox 1.0.3 but so far they neither updated to 1.0.3 nor did they backport the missing secutiry patches. These are issues the Firefox devs called "critical".

Warty's Firefox looks even worse.

So far the only security update in Hoary has been an updated kdelibs package last week. This package is broken and uninstallable. Not yet fixed.

I understand that most Ubuntu developers attent the conference this week but I would have hoped for a faster response time when the browser of a desktop distro has citical issues. At least some information about this would have been nice.

@TaterSalad: esound and alsa
by Nisse on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:01 UTC

The sound config in Hoary is probably the only thing I don't like about Ubuntu. According to bug 7565 it was decided that only esound should be used for sound, which is a really bad choice (doesn't work well with video, for example).

Re: Disappointing Security
by ralph on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:02 UTC

Ehm, hoary's firefox has the fixes backported.

Nice installer
by dr_gonzo on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:12 UTC

I helped a friend install Linux on his laptop this week. He was having trouble installing Suse. I found Suse's installer to be reallly slow and a bit confusiing. Maybe I'm just used to the Debian installer...

Anyway, I took over and installed Ubuntu on it. TBH, I was aching to try it out ;) I was really impressed with how easy and straight forward the installer was and how quickly it installed. Even though I was a KDE fan before switching to Mac OS X, I found the GNOME environment really nice. Installing packages was a snap too. If I ever get an x86 box again, I'll deffinately install Ubuntu.

Ubuntu rocks
by Anonymous on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:13 UTC

Ubuntu is the best Debian theme ever !!

by . on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:29 UTC

Most of the speed improvements aren't Ubuntu specific. A lot of it stem from the fact that GNOME has gotten much faster, GNOME-2.10 that is.

heheh
by broken windows on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:35 UTC

"Ubuntu is the best Debian theme ever !!"

debian theme. i like that, couldnt hav said it better myself. like xandros, linspire, libranet. all just THEMES for the best base OS out there.

Nice review
by Uno Engborg on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:37 UTC

The free desktop is looking better and better. This is
one of the best I have seen so far.

However, I really agree with the auther on the window closing behavior. Is this a "bright" ideda of the Ubuntu team or should I send a bug report to the Gnome people?

What was wrong with the Gnome 2.8 spatial model? The disappearance of open windows as new ones are opened gives the desktop a nerveous feel. In a spatial desktop, things should stay put. If you want windows to close, as you open new ones, you would better use the navigational model.

By the way, does anybody know if there is any way to turn it off e.g. in GConf.

Disappearing windows
by Anonymous on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:54 UTC

SUCK!

Change it here:

gconf

appsnautiluspreferencesno_ubuntu_spatial

Re: Nice review
by ralph on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:55 UTC

"However, I really agree with the auther on the window closing behavior. Is this a "bright" ideda of the Ubuntu team or should I send a bug report to the Gnome people?"

It's a bright idea by Mark Shuttleworth himself.
And yes, there is a gconf key:
apps -> nautilus -> preference -> no_ubuntu_spatial

RE: Nice review
by John Meuser on Mon 25th Apr 2005 21:58 UTC

However, I really agree with the auther on the window closing behavior. Is this a "bright" ideda of the Ubuntu team or should I send a bug report to the Gnome people?

This is Ubuntu's "bright" idea. There is an extensive debate going on in Ubuntu Bugzilla:

http://bugzilla.ubuntu.com/show_bug.cgi?id=8516

By the way, does anybody know if there is any way to turn it off e.g. in GConf.

The gconf key is here:
/apps/nautilus/preferences/no_ubuntu_spatial

RE: Disappearing windows
by Anonymous on Mon 25th Apr 2005 22:09 UTC

appsnautiluspreferencesno_ubuntu_spatial

THANK YOU!! It wasn't there the first day or two this "feature" made it into the repositories, and I haven't followed it since. Nice to know you can revert back to the real way.

@Martin
by Chris on Mon 25th Apr 2005 22:18 UTC

Probably a bad release of Nvidia. I've had major issues with 7174 (I think), and it seems to be the only one that works with kernel 2.6.11. I ended up dropping back to an older nvidia driver and 2.6.10. I'll upgrade when someone swears it won't break me again.

@John Meuser
by YAAC on Mon 25th Apr 2005 22:23 UTC

[/i]This is Ubuntu's "bright" idea. There is an extensive debate going on in Ubuntu Bugzilla:[/i]

There's no debate at all. The whole thing was the idea of the rich guy who signs the checks at Ubuntu, and he said it isn't going to change. Game over.

Ubuntu a overrated distro?
by 0_o on Mon 25th Apr 2005 22:28 UTC

I do not understand all this buzz around Ubuntu lately. Sure, it is ok distro with very nicely selected packages, but that's about it. There are problems on my machine with Ubuntu that I have not seen before with any other distro I tried. X windows just fail to start and all I get is a blank screen right away after install. After some configuration at xorg.conf it's all fine, but that certainly was not the best first impression i've had. My network did not seem to be recognized automatically and there were some other minor gliches. Warty, Hoary- all of them showed exactly the same. Im a bit dissapointed with Ubuntu, but because it is such a young distro I'm willing to wait a year and maybe then give it another go. As it matures and the hype decreases it actually might turn into a fine distro- somewhere in my top 10.

RE: Martin
by poofyhairguy on Mon 25th Apr 2005 22:32 UTC


The part that I found kind of hairy... is that, to get the level of functionality that many come to expect from a desktop OS, you have to enable external package repositories. Following the documenation on http://www.ubuntuguides.org, I was able to install just about everything I needed... but this came at the cost of stability. Enabling GLX and the nvidia driver, in addition installing some multimedia packages, left my system highly unstable. The machine locked up frequently at seemingly random times.


Well, I don't know what to tell you about the Nvidia drivers (I have a laptop and a desktop that uses those drivers all day and I only get crashes when I mess with xcompmgr). But as for the other things, I advise that you stay away from debian repositories. The backports repo has everything like that:

http://backports.ubuntuforums.org/size.php

I know what the Ubuntuguide says, but he doesn't tell you to use the backport repo because of a spat with the backports in the past.

RE: Christian Paratschek
by poofyhairguy on Mon 25th Apr 2005 22:34 UTC

Hey Christian Paratschek, this was a good review. Thanks.

v No chance!
by sLiCeR on Mon 25th Apr 2005 22:40 UTC
RE: RE: Martin
by Martin on Mon 25th Apr 2005 22:42 UTC

Thanks! I'll def. check that out! =)
________
"Well, I don't know what to tell you about the Nvidia drivers (I have a laptop and a desktop that uses those drivers all day and I only get crashes when I mess with xcompmgr). But as for the other things, I advise that you stay away from debian repositories. The backports repo has everything like that:

http://backports.ubuntuforums.org/size.php

I know what the Ubuntuguide says, but he doesn't tell you to use the backport repo because of a spat with the backports in the past."

RE: No chance!
by Anonymous on Mon 25th Apr 2005 23:33 UTC

Ill stay with my Gentoo, dont even try... ;)

I was actually thinking of switching....

hm
by Diego Viola on Mon 25th Apr 2005 23:34 UTC

i'd like if they put "use autoscrolling" by default on firefox... ;)

v @YAAC
by Uno Engborg on Tue 26th Apr 2005 00:41 UTC
boot times & hardware
by Anonymous on Tue 26th Apr 2005 02:38 UTC

If your going to put out some figures like boot times. Please list the hardware that you are using for this distrobution. It helps the reader guage if this particular distro/release will be adequate for their particular set up.

Just my humbile opinion

PS: sorry if I sound a tad bit rude, it is not intended.

Spatial
by mjmam on Tue 26th Apr 2005 06:08 UTC

A like the idea of spatial here in Ubuntu, rember in Warty if you click a folder with the middle mouse button it will open the new folder closing the parent, now in Hoary it's the opposite if you clik a folder with the middle mouse button the parent folder still open.

If it doesn't work for you...
by Anonymous on Tue 26th Apr 2005 06:23 UTC

...file a bug report. Seriously. If Ubuntu doesn't work out of the box on your hardware and you're sure that it should (there are Linux drivers, if works on other distros, you've fixed it yourself), it's a bug. Please file a bug report.

There aren't going to be (m)any other people out there with the exact same configuration as you, so if you don't report it, it may never be fixed. So get off your butt, and do something to help.

https://bugzilla.ubuntu.com/

RE: esound and alsa
by Cosmo on Tue 26th Apr 2005 07:19 UTC

The sound config in Hoary is probably the only thing I don't like about
Ubuntu. According to bug 7565 it was decided that only esound should be used
for sound, which is a really bad choice (doesn't work well with video, for
example).


I don't think esd is a particular bad choice for a sound server, but if you do
not require software mixing, you can easily disable esd (System -> Preferences
-> Sound, uncheck ``Enable sound server startup) and are left with plain
ALSA...

By the way, you can tell many apps that do not use esd by default (like
mplayer for instance) to actually do so (``mplayer -ao esd ...'' or edit
/etc/mplayer/mplayer.conf). That works very well on my machine...

Re: Disappointing Security
by Andreas on Tue 26th Apr 2005 07:40 UTC

> Ehm, hoary's firefox has the fixes backported.

No, as I wrote, it has *some* of the fixes but not all. Have a look at the ubuntuforums, they have more detailed information on it, including results of test cases with the Ubuntu firefox 1.0.2. It has still unfixed critical security issues. Especially that java script issue is concerning. That is the reason jdong (thank you very much) made it a top priority to get firefox 1.0.3 (form SID without the Ubuntu patches) into his backport repository.

https://bugzilla.ubuntu.com/show_bug.cgi?id=9926
https://bugzilla.ubuntu.com/show_bug.cgi?id=9927

And the 0.9.3 from Warty got less love and has more unfixed issues.

Well...
by poofyhairguy on Tue 26th Apr 2005 09:05 UTC

You want the new Firefox for Hoary? Here it is:

http://backports.ubuntuforums.org/backports/dists/hoary-backports-s...

Install at your own risk. Kinda like breakmyubuntu

System stability is outstanding - WOT????
by Till on Tue 26th Apr 2005 10:55 UTC

The installer is borked, gnome freezzzzzzzes hard-solid for no reason, Firefox dies every 20 minutes or has a spasm and uses 150 meg of ram and won't respond, DMA on CD/DVD drives are off by default and not easy to turn on. Countless people are having their Master boot records hosed on or after install, not to mention the countless others that get a blank screen upon booting the first time! I hardly call that Outstanding Stability. If only I could get it to install! First off, the partitioning tool doesn't work properly if you already have linux partitions, it won't let you select which ones to format or not, sometimes it does sometimes it doesn't. It won't let you write grub to anywhere but the MBR and not even that's guaranteed, I mean it won't even let you write a boot floppy for Christ's sake!
Then after countless hours screwing around trying to get the stupid thing to boot, it freezes loging into to Gnome - type my name, password and wham, locked hard, solid, kaput, run down the curtains, it was a dead parrot! And I'm not the only one, go read their forums. Tried it on my 3 year old generic lappy and got the same problems - Nope, not Outstanding Stability here boy'o noway Jose! These 6 month release cycles are nuts, there's no way you can test things to a satisfactory level in 6 months, I don't care how good you think you are!

v @Till
by Alexandre on Tue 26th Apr 2005 12:06 UTC
v @Alexandre
by Till on Tue 26th Apr 2005 13:02 UTC
v @Till
by Cosmo on Tue 26th Apr 2005 13:19 UTC
RE: System stability is outstanding - WOT????
by Anonymous on Tue 26th Apr 2005 15:15 UTC

Maybe this distribution just isn't your cup of tea?
Did you try to install it more than once or just gave up right away?
Report a bug perhaps?

There are many alternatives to just complaining. Complaining doesn't fix a problem. If you want something that "just works", you have to work at it. There are products that have been around for years that don't work all the time. Sometimes I wake up and put my pants on backwards. It happens. It is a bug in my programming. But I sure hope that no one will have me removed because I don't function properly all the time.

Why I still recommend Mandriva to my friends
by amiroff on Tue 26th Apr 2005 16:36 UTC

Why I still recommend Mandriva to my friends:

- It has a very fast and userfiendly instalaltion and partition management.
- It has a very good locale support
- DMA on by default
- mp3 and other codecs on by default
- control center, tools and wizards
- detection and automounting of windows partitions
- No X freezes
- Splash screen and faster boot (yes, faster than hoary)
- Keyboard switcher actualy works in Gnome and KDE

Of course, mandriva lacks some professional look and has some glitches, but it's way more configured out of the box than Hoary.

Not everything is so goood.
by viuks on Tue 26th Apr 2005 16:39 UTC

I still use Ubuntu and think, that it is best disto for now, but I cant be so optimistic as Christian Paratschek. Boot time for me is still far away from windoze (about 2 mins). Nautilus hangs a lot. Uses sometimes a lot of pcu, even I am doing nothing. After install there was no 1024x768 possible, so I needed to edit Xorg manually. No fresh updates for Gimp and OpenOffice. Sometimes it is not possible to open CD-rom...
But hardware detection and hotplug is amazing. Automatic updates too.

so far so good on x86_64
by Peter on Tue 26th Apr 2005 18:23 UTC

The official repository could have more dev packages (ide's) to suit my personal taste.Other than that it's a notably good distro.Worth to mention is the hardware report database tool.A lot of good little things that might benefit the whole community.

RE: viuks
by poofyhairguy on Tue 26th Apr 2005 19:08 UTC

Sometimes it is not possible to open CD-rom...

I noticed that in the new release too. I was mad at first, then I figured out the plan- this is on purpose to copy Macs. Gnome no longer wants you to hit the CDrom drive's open button, but to instead right click on the CD icon on the desktop and tell it to eject. It will always pop out when there is no CD. This is a new feature to prevent accedentaly opening the CD drive.

@Till
by 156 on Wed 27th Apr 2005 02:47 UTC

Gees, you went through a lot of unnecessary shit...All I did was put a CD in, booted up and installed, and everything just worked.

Sounds like the problem is between the chair and the PC.

none
by joe on Wed 27th Apr 2005 04:50 UTC

how dare you use the word 'garbage' TWICE! I am reporting you.... ;)

You've hit the nail on the head, so to speak.
by Evan B. on Wed 27th Apr 2005 17:53 UTC

Exactly. Ubuntu Linux just works. Better and more simply than any other distribution I have tried.