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I happened to have a Ubuntu live CD from a March edition of a Linux mag so I thought I'd take it for a test drive.
I was a little perplexed by my findings and am surprised that this is considered a beginner's distro.
After booting, the keyboard worked but not the mouse so I had to edit Xorg.conf. Then sound wouldn't work so I had to configure alsa. mp3's wouldn't play (no codec), my all-in-one printer wasn't detected and nor was my graphics tablet. All of these are do-able for an experienced user but must be daunting for a newbie. Since I wasn't going to install on my HD I gave up at that point.
By way of comparison, Debian detected everything but my tablet upon installation and I had to install media codecs but sound worked out of the box.
What do I think of Ubuntu? Based on the live CD it didn't live up to its reputation.
I used it for about 18 months and it's hard to quantify because each release can be so different, not in terms of appearance but stability and quality. It's like Jekyll & Hyde. Edgy was OK, Feisty something of a masterpiece and Gutsy a slow, unstable, horrible mess. The fixed point 6 monthly release cycle means you have to upgrade to get recent versions of applications (might not matter for some, but vital for others) but the result can be very unpredictable even by making a clean install of / what to speak of doing a dist upgrade from the repositories. Will you get a stable system? Will you get inexplicably broken packages and inappropriate configurations? Will you get a nicely sorted default system? Impossible to tell & looking at reviews doesn't help because most people only review the installer and the first couple of hours of use. 6 months ago I couldn't really find a reason not to recommend Ubuntu to a new user, but now it would be near bottom of the list. It's also become completely unsuitable for older/lower spec machines. Plenty of new users have heard the evangelists and expect it's going to run great on their PIII with 256 MB RAM and are disappointed when they realise XP whips its ass. I noticed minimum memory requirement for the desktop CD has risen from 192 MB in Dapper to 320 MB in Gutsy and now to 384 MB for Hardy. I think doubling in 2 years is pretty lame particularly compared with other installable live CD distros such as this week's release of Zenwalk 5.0 live. I played with Hardy desktop CD and Zenwalk live this week. Hardy took over 10 minutes to boot for me and was unusable, not just a bit sluggish but completely unfit for purpose, whereas Zenwalk live booted fast and was snappy and nice to use (Pentium-M 1.6 GHz 768 MB RAM). At the moment if a new user wanted an installable live CD to try out that will also have proper support via forums/IRC when installed to HDD I'd recommend Zenwalk over Ubuntu every time, it's very attractive to look at, easy to install, works extremely well, will run happily on a PIII with 128 MB RAM and on newer hardware it flies. I don't have Zenwalk installed btw (though have done in the past) so not a fully dedicated fanboy :-) I think Ubuntu has gone in a certain direction (Vista heavyweight league) and that's a shame.
I've been on Ubuntu since 6.04. My experience has always been good with each release an improvement requiring less special handling. My box isn't a hot rod -- AMD Sempron 2800+. My configurations isn't vanilla -- TV tuner, bluetooth USB, Wacom Graphire4, touchpad as well as laseer mouse. I'm surprised at how different some user experiences can be. Mine has been so good that I even bought a Dell Ubuntu 1420n laptop which I upgraded from 7.04 to 7.10 and everything works well with the exception of hibernate which I can live without. I look forward to 8.04.
I perfer slackware and gentoo because theyre more customizable and more for linux hardcore fans like me, otherwise Ubuntu is just for people who wanna get away from windows, but still be able to use it.
By far Ubuntu has been the easiest distro for me to install and use as a workstation desktop, and has also been a good server environment. I tend to configure Ubuntu as a workstation using both X and relying on daemons running for development.
Ubuntu 7.10 has been a good release, but not without a little bit of tweaking concerning sound. Other than that, I would concur that the installations have been getting better, and there has been less fussing with each installation.
Ubuntu isn't necessarily the easiest to install, there are others just as easy, or even easier (like Mepis) but from the live CD it makes installation easily accessible to people who might be put off by text based installer. I think Ubuntu's strength is its appeal to new users more than in the actual experience of using it which I found can vary considerably release to release. When Ubuntu makes a good release then it's a great introduction to the free desktop and ultimately good for all the other distros (because people gain confidence and like to explore the different choices available) and when they make a bad release it probably leaves more people frustrated with free software in general than if a lower profile distro stumbles. Anyone familiar with ubuntuforums can't fail to have seen numerous threads/posts where someone grandly announces that Ubuntu isn't good enough for them and they're going back to Windows....they almost never announce to the world that Ubuntu isn't good enough and they're migrating to Slackware/Debian/Gentoo/Arch etc whereas I think it's more likely that if someone tried say Slackware and struggled their direction would not be back to Windows but more likely towards an "easier" distro. For many people (unfortunately) Ubuntu=Linux and a bad Ubuntu release reverberates widely though not in terms of reviews which in Linuxland seem to be stuck in an evangelical see-no-evil-speak-no-evil mindset, which all adds to raised expectations and correspondingly greater disapppointment when it's found that Ubuntu isn't perfect, despite the modest claim at ubuntu.com that Ubuntu
Ubuntu is not my fave at all.
I am finally able to install newest versions successfully including bootloader - this has been a problem since day one for me. I'm going to play around with the new kubuntu beta later today. I've never had much luck with wireless and am hoping this will work out well too. I'm hoping to be a convert someday.
I've always been a little bitter and amazed at its popularity when I've always considered it inferior to so many others.
am highly dubious of the concept of something being too easy. "I removed the steering wheel from my car because steering it and avoiding injury, expense and death was just too easy" "I never use oven gloves to handle hot from oven dishes...too easy to avoid terrible burns and messy accidents" "ladders? too easy, I prefer stilts, good luck and free emergency medical care".
easy is good if it works. If something does work easily and well then avoiding it is in most cases merely perverse and not something to own up to in public.
On the poll, I am a linux newbie, forced out of Windows by Vista, so I can't comment on other distros, although I tried several live CDs before I installed Ubuntu. I have a technical background (database programmer) but don't want to spend anymore time than is necessary to get the hardware running, and Ubuntu came up and ran perfectly out of the box with my monitor, mouse,network, audio, etc. I did have to download wireless drivers, but that is easy and expected.
There is a lot less stuff in my way when I'm trying to get my work done in Ubuntu than there is in Vista. And I love Synaptic.
BTW "What say you?" substantially pre-dates Bill O'Reilly.
By at least several hundred years in England, I believe.