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Yann L

My Kubuntu Flight 6 experience report...

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... or why you shouldn't even waste your time trying to install it. Or maybe the subtitle should read my newly found respect for Microsoft, but that would kind of miss the point, I guess... OK, so this is a rant. It doesn't contain any tips on how to actually make the aforementioned POS work (I don't know, nor do I care anymore). It is purely for your entertainment, maybe as a warning to others attempting the same thing, and as a vent to myself. So I was looking around for a new beginner friendly Linux distro that I could recommend to a few friends who expressed their curiosity about this operating system. With beginner friendly, I mean a distro that is completely installable, configurable and useable by a Linux newbie. No command line, no config file edits, no arcane "specify the root device entry for Grub" or "Please recompile the kernel, kthxbye" stuff. So I opted for the new Kubuntu (KDE version of Ubuntu) Flight 6. While it is still to be considered a beta version, they worked on that release for quite some time now, and went through a few release candidates. So I figured it should be pretty stable by now. And it had that nice and easy "Add/Remove programs" interface to apt-get, which would be extremely convenient to newbies. So I downloaded and burned the ISO. Restarted my test machine. CD doesn't boot. Hmm, I check the BIOS settings - yep, first boot device is the CD. Weird. I try again, nothing. I try my Windows Vista DVD, which boots fine. So I visit the Ubuntu forums. There is a huge thread titled "New Flight 6 release CD won't boot" or similar. Okay, there is a bug in the boot ISO. You'd think they'd check that before releasing an ISO to the public. Because it's, well, like the first thing you do in order to install the OS... The developers comments on the forum are a simple *shrug*, just make a boot floppy. Yeah, good idea genius, I don't have a floppy drive in my machine. We're not in the 80's anymore, thank you. What about you fix the bug instead ? Finally, someone suggests to download the latest daily build, were it would be fixed. OK, that worked. Approx. 2 hours wasted. So, the thing boots. We come to the important stage of any OS install, the partitioning. This step is crucial for every newbie, since this is where he can easily fuck up his existing Windows installation. That's why it is extremely important that this step is fool proof. Have you seen the partitioning procedure on Vista ? Yep, that's how I mean. So, Kubuntu presents the various partitioning choices, and now guess what the default highlighted option is ? "Erase the entire harddrive". No, I'm not joking. The Kubuntu forums are full of posts from people who lost their entire harddrive, because they accidentally hit enter once too much. Apparently, the system won't even ask you for confirmation (I didn't try it). Way to go. After carefully selecting an option that would not kill my data, I continue the install. Suddendly, the system starts to access the internet, and transfer larger amounts of data from/to somewhere. No confirmations, no "would you like to do xyz on the internet ?" query. It silently connected by DHCP to my router, and started doing something on the net. The only way I realized this was because I was looking at the routers LEDs by coincidence. WTF ? I don't like software accessing the internet without my permission. If Microsoft even thinks about doing something like that, they get figuratively beaten to death on Slashdot & co. Where is the difference here ? Yeah, it might only scan a few online repositories - but I don't care. I don't want you to phone home without asking me. Period. So I disconnect the network cable. The installer immediately locks up. Pfff... I repeat the entire installation procedure. This time, I already disconnected the router from the beginning on. Magically, a network config page appears sometime during the installation. I select the "configure later" option. That wasn't so hard, was it ? OK, Kubuntu installs, and KDE starts up. The login and startup "art" look abominable, so I make a mental note to change them ASAP in the KDE configuration pages. I decide to configure the network now. The system shows me a list of all available network cards. My card is flagged as 'disabled'. I click 'enable'. The entry becomes enabled for half a second or so, then goes back to disabled without further notice. I repeat the procedure, same result. I click on the 'configure' button. Maybe the system would like me to configure the card before enabling it ? SIGSEGV. Cool. I reboot and retry numerous times, no way to enable the network card. I am getting slightly upset now. Due to all the reboots, I have been exposed far too often to the horrible login "art", so I decide to modify it. I select a different design and background colour in the KDE config pages, and log out. No changes, still the horror login. I double check my settings, yep, everything seems fine. I reboot. Still the wrong login screen. I browse the help pages about this topic, half of them are flagged as "to be written". Grrr... To calm down, I decide to test the "Add/Remove programs" feature. I select the feature from the K-Menu. A dialog opens: "Cannot access apt cache. Please run apt-setup or apt-get update". There goes the hope of a command line free Linux... I open a terminal, try to run apt-setup. "apt-setup: command not found". *sigh*. I try apt-get update. Error, blah blah, error. The system cannot access the internet. No shit, Sherlock. So I can only add or remove programs, if I'm connected to the internet ? That's superb. Again, MS would have been maimed and killed for anything remotely similar. I'm starting to lose interest, but I'm still curious to see if the system has correctly recognized and installed the NV driver for my GF7800. I start my good old trusted OpenGL information app, a little prog that will write all available OpenGL extensions to a file. SIGSEGV. I open the KDE display object, and select to edit the current display driver config. Screen turns black, lockup. Ugh. Is it only my system ? No, other people have reported similar (and worse) problems on the (K)Ubuntu forums. Some of them 6 months or more ago. Those critical problems were still not fixed. You'd think that after all those years of development that went into user friendly GUI based Linux distros, they'd finally get at least the basics right. Apparently not.

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My experience is almost the other way round:
Ubuntu flight 6: CD booted flawlessly, deleted primary partition with my old windows installation (changed a lot of parts, so I wanted to reinstall win anyway), created some LVM stuff which just works, on the first boot I got a problem with the x-server (doesn't support 7600 cards), but 1 boot to recovery mode and editing the x-config-file to use the vesa driver fixed that problem easily. Everything else I have tried just works.

Windows XP: Booted CD, chose my logical partition as installation target, reboot, nothing happens, the windows bootloader doesn't work. I tried that a few times and now even that doesn't work anymore (setup says it can't find any windows xp compatible partition but lists the NTFS partition just fine in the list below).

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I tend to find that for actually *getting things done* on Linux it's best to use one of the commercially supported distributions, by which I mean Suse, Fedora, Mandrake, etc. Espessially with Suse you just install it and 95% of stuff just works

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Quote:
Original post by Trap
I got a problem with the x-server (doesn't support 7600 cards), but 1 boot to recovery mode and editing the x-config-file to use the vesa driver fixed that problem easily.

See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. What you described is not "easy". This is the point where any beginner will give up, and go back to Windows. Why should you have to edit a config file to get the vesa driver ? Why can't the system detect that automatically ? Imagine what would happen if MS told you "oh sorry, your graphics card isn't supported by default. Windows won't boot. You'll have to boot to safe mode, go into the registry, and modify this-and-that key". Unthinkable ? Yet still totally standard in the Linux world.

It's been something like 3, 4 years now that the "Linux for the desktop" hype started. A lot of things were said and promised, and we got a ton of useless junk like eye candy, fading menus in KDE, themes, aqua-look everywhere, etc. But on the aspects that really mattered, ie. the useability, pretty much nothing was done.

Quote:
Original post by esuvs
I tend to find that for actually *getting things done* on Linux it's best to use one of the commercially supported distributions, by which I mean Suse, Fedora, Mandrake, etc. Espessially with Suse you just install it and 95% of stuff just works

Well, my experiences with Mandrake/Mandriva have been horrendeous in the past. Suse is great (especially since Novell bought them), but not really a distro for beginners, more for corporate users.

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Yann,

My experience was identical except one thing. It didn't have support for my wireless lan so no internet. 2 1/2 days wasted on hype. I did go back and try Ubunto and the install for that was a little better, is still would not configure my wireless.

I'll try again in a year.

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Indeed, Kubuntu is by far the most buggy distro I've ever tried. It's as if they just grab the latest KDE tarballs, add a few experimental patches and push out the deb files with little or no testing. If it weren't for the association with Ubuntu, this distro would probably already have died off long ago. Sadly, ubuntu is not really that much better.

[Edited by - 255 on April 23, 2006 11:08:28 AM]

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kubuntu and ubuntu are complete trash, imo. the closest i've seen to a "newb-friendly linux dist that just works" is suse 10, but after using it for a while i found that it's just as broken as all the other popular, "bleeding-edge" dists. the only dist i've had no problems with is slackware, and it's far from newb-friendly.

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This sounds very different from the discussions we had a few years ago. Who knows, may be soon you'll realize that using a false sense of security is significantly worse than just letting market pressures to sort things out [smile]

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One thing that always struck me as odd was the whole "live cd" concept: we have a basic linux setup so that we can install linux. The livecd is capable of autodetecting graphics cards, ethernet interfaces, and audio drivers, and yet once you have the linux installer running from the CD, you have to configure all this stuff on your own.

I mean, there are some things that could be completely hidden away from the user. I installed freebsd the other day and I was getting audio set up. I had no idea what driver I needed, so I just loaded the generic driver (which loads all drivers) and checked which particular driver the system was actually using. Then, I manually edit a config file so this module loads on startup. Great! I just can't see why that was necessary ;)

(Although it really wasn't a big deal, this was all documented pretty well.)

But I do remember the first time I tried to install linux, it was slackware ~4 years ago. It required me to edit these files, and so I loaded vi and was completely lost. I had no idea how to use vi, and I couldn't even figure out how to exit so that I could check the man page. That was enough motivation to go back to windows.

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Quote:
Original post by CoffeeMug
This sounds very different from the discussions we had a few years ago. Who knows, may be soon you'll realize that using a false sense of security is significantly worse than just letting market pressures to sort things out [smile]

Hehe, I bet you'd like that ;)

Seriously though, I'm in no way against the idea of a sucessful desktop Linux. The idea of open source is also great in theory (well, except the GPL, but that's for another discussion). But if there is one thing I cannot stand, then it is incompetence. And unfortunately, the Linux world is full of it. There are some very bright heads, of course, but they are few. The signal to noise ratio is very bad, and it's getting worse.

Linux, as a technology, has the potential to rival Windows. The Linux community set up goals a few years ago, and many of these goals were good. But they failed to deliver, miserably. By a long, long shot. In corporate speak, the desktop Linux is nothing but vapourware. Microsoft got much better over the years, in terms of quality. Linux however, got stuck in old and obsolete paradigms, holding it back. I always hoped it would be able to free itself from these bonds, given the time the Linux community had to mature. But this didn't happen, unfortunately. Mostly due to relatively few stubborn idiots, and their huge followship.

I mean, let's be honest for a moment. How difficult can it be to design a simple standarized software installation mechanism ? If we had to design something like that in my company, I'd assign a team of ten people for two months, and we'd have a nice prototype working. The Linux community had years, and much more manpower. Yet, they consistently failed to deliver anything worth considering. At the same time, Microsoft releases MSI. Wham, in your face.

So despite what CoffeeMug might think, I still believe that Linux can make it in this fierce capitalist world [smile] It's just really sad, that incompetence locks up a development that could actually sprint forwards, if only the right people were assigned to the right tasks, and the wrong people fired removed from their projects and positions of force.

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