[ubuntuforums] Three great structural problems about Ubuntu and Debian-like distros

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by eldino, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. eldino macrumors member


    Mar 8, 2007
    Hi, I'd like to mirror here the post I sent today to ubuntuforums.org and hear your opinion about it. It's not strictly-Mac related (also if Macs appear somewhere) but I hope you will have the patience to read it all... :)

    The original link is: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=2822149#post2822149

    An the post is:

    Hi all,
    I'd like to post some opinions about Ubuntu (and Linux in general) but trust me, I don't want to flame, but just search some answers to some questions, if they exist. I'd like to read some stuff from some devs and some commercial-involved people as well, not just fanboys. Fanboying is cool but not so good by a pratical point of view :) Ok, let's start.

    Some weeks ago I got by mail the nice Ubuntu 7.04 cd from Canonical. Nowadays it's so fashion talking about Ubuntu, testing Ubuntu, installing Ubuntu etc that I decided to give it a try. I used linux for 2 years (2002-2004), then I quit because there were more problems than advantages into using it, and I was using the most user-experience-focused distro available at that time (Mandrake 9.2), or at least the best between those I tested (Debian 3.0 Woody (shipping with preistoric software on it), Red Hat and some derivates (let me decide the packages I want to install, b1tch!), Gentoo (it needed some geological eras for a complete install!), Slackware, Knoppix and tons of other live cds).
    I put the cd inside my Toshiba M30 laptop, the nice graphical boot appears, fine. Gnome loads: "Nice orange theme" I think. I start experimenting with programs, menus, icons etc. Everything is "inspired" by Mac OS X but there are some original ideas as well (like the "Enlarge icon" thing for the desktop icons). "Ok, everything seems working" and I install it. The partitioning step is a bit buggy (if you choose an option and then go back, all the text formatting messes up) and it's not as cool&easy as in Mandriva, when you really have control over things. Btw it works. "Now I have 25Gb for Windows and 12 for Ubuntu! Well done!", I say (my disk is 40GB). The importing-user-image-from-Windows is very nice as well. Ok I restart the machine and I boot into Ubuntu.
    Let's list what I disliked :) I'd like to say that some points are not strictly Ubuntu-related, but I write theme here because behind Ubuntu there is a commercial company that -I presume- have interest to make a commercial-level OS (or sort of). Corollary: more quality we give = more possibilities to get back the invested money.

    1) The italian localization is in the reality a 80%english+20%italian localization.
    I have no problem using english-localized apps, but at least the operating system and the browser must be localized, don't they? How many Kbs are all the localizations? 100Kb/each? And don't tell me there is no space for them on the cd, because you lie. And don't tell me "localizing teams work slowly and they have not completed all the translation work in time". I'm a Joe User, I don't care about your excuses. The volunteers don't work? Pay somebody to do the translations for them. I'm a Joe user, I want the OS in my language to get a good initial opinion of it, I don't think I'm asking so much. Imagine Apple or Microsoft shipping their OSes partially translated..WTF! People'd piss them off! "But Ubuntu is free".. True, but free doesn't mean unprofessional or crappy. Or if you mean that, you are wrong. Stop using the "cost=0$" variable as a shield for the crappyness. If you want to really compete with commercial OSes, you have to offer the same basic functions and the right localizations. I hope you will start considering this as a priority.

    2) There are no codecs to listen a simple mp3 from my Windows partition or to watch a dvd movie. This is just absurd. You could tell me "Fire up Automatix or Synaptic and get all of them in a breeze". Wrong. That's not the right approach.
    a) I have not internet connection at home, and many people are in my same situation. But, when I format and install Windows XP on my machine I have nearly-everything out-of
    the-box, without any need to waste additional time and money. Same thing when I install Mac OS X Tiger on my Mac (except for the fact Apple nicely provides for free more software than Microsoft, like the iLife suite for example). Imagine to buy a car provided out-of-the-box without tires but just with the address of a nice mechanic who will give you the tires for free when you will go to his shop, located somewhere. Is it frustating, doesn't it?
    b) I don't care about the fact you fear to be sued by some license-owner and then you don't bundle codecs into your product. Really, I don't care. If you want to push me, a Joe user, to appreciate your product you may satisfy my basic user needs - and nowadays the ability to listen a mp3 is considered a basic need, doesn't it?
    Being a commercial reality involved into spreading a Linux distro without codecs is like being a car brand (ex. Mercedes) and selling cars without Goodyear or Bridgestone tires, because you fear to be sued by Goodyear or Bridgestone since you didn't pay a buck for their licensing, and pretend to make money with it. WTF! Licenses cost? Pay for them and increase the value of you product. "Free as in freedom" is a good philosophy, but in the reality is not always possible to apply it. Stop dreaming.
    98% of people listen to their music saved in mp3 format, so you have two ways to attract them with your product: push'em to convert, use, rip, love, share music in the better Ogg Vorbis format (better by the licensing and audio-quality points of view) or provide them a way to listen out-of-the-box their mp3s. The first one seems really impossible to happen to me.

    3) Ubuntu's way to install stuff is wrong. But that's is not its fault, but it depends by the fact it derives from Debian, the less user-oriented distro ever, great for programmers, nerds and people who likes to waste time babysitting their computers and saturate their DSL bandwidths every time they mess up things and need to reinstall all the software again. Same thing happen to the users of many other distros. Let me explain why.
    As I said, I have no internet connection at home, so it's nearly impossible to install stuff on my new, shiny Ubuntu installation. Ok, you can download the .deb packages with another computer/OS, save them on a pen drive, bring them at home and install them from Terminal, typing manually the following lines:

    cd /folder/in/which/you/downloaded/your/deb/packages
    dpkg -i *.deb


    "configure-make-make install" if the software you need is only distributed as source files inside a nice tar.gz package. Sure you can do all this procedure. It doesn't look exactly user-friendly but it can be done. Ok, try to do it with Amarok, for example. Go to Ubuntu Packages site (that is well done), type "Amarok" in the search box, download it together with all the dependencies it needs (they are nicely listed on the same page of the app) and after like 30 minutes of work you have everything you need, maybe. You go back to home, type in Terminal the right commands and you get a bunch of errors, complaining that you miss the libxxxx or the libyyyyy that respectively need the libzzzzzz installed for proceed. WTF! To install an app all this stuff???? You are kidding me, doesn't you?
    When I need an app for my Mac, I just open macupdate.com from a friend's computer or an university computer or even from my PSP (using some nice wifi hotspots), I type the app I need in the search box, I click "download" and I have everything I need inside a nice .dmg file. In the rarely cases the application needs some additional libraries or software (read: max 2-3 additional downloads), they are nicely linked on the application page: "Application X need Y software to work. Click here to get it, it's freeware". Same thing happens when I need a Windows app.
    Using the Mac or Windows approach, you are 99% sure that when you come back to your home computer with the .dmg or the .exe file inside your pendrive, you can surely install the software you need without any problem in 3 steps, and start immediately to use it. Using the Linux approach you are sure you will need 3-4 additional days of browsing and dowloading to get stuff done. More time wasted, more frustation, less productivity.
    The Mac or Windows approach gives you the freedom to choose how get your applications, Linux doesn't. With Linux you are dependant from a repository. Do you really like that way? I don't. Mandriva solved partially the problem, giving you a lot of apps (and also all the codecs, except the one for video-dvds) inside its installation dvd. Ok urpmi is proprietary, but who cares? you don't spend a buck for it, it works and it provides nice descriptions, mostly localized as well, for every package. Mandriva is the only Linux-involved company I know that has designed a nice bussiness over Linux. Stuff is good enought if you'd spend money for it. And I admit, I'd spend money for Mandriva PowerPack. I actually run Mandriva 2007.1 On Mandriva, installing Amarok and make it working inside Gnome without wasting time into babysitting procedures is easy: just select, click and install.
    What I'm talking about is not that Mandriva is better than Ubuntu or other distro, but it's that the Linux way of installing stuff must be re-designed. Software may be provided in a single, big package, that can run on all the distros and on all the architectures in 2 clicks. Like Apple does with Universal Binaries.
    There is no sense to have the same stuff packaged singularly for Debian, for Ubuntu, for Mandriva, etc.. they are all Linux, they have same libraries, same kernel etc, so stop doing single package but bundle everything inside a single .linux (or .whatever)package. Next, every distro have to include every library, to satisfy every dependency without pain.
    Finally, setups files have to be like "Next-Next-Finish" .exe setup files or simpler (like Apple's "drag .app into Applications folder. Done." way).
    When all those points will be satisfied, Linux will start to be an alternative to commercial OSes, not just something to play with or experiments. Programmers and geeks are maybe 3% of the market. Pc-babysitters are 7%. The rest is made by Joe users. I hope it will be your priority to point to that 90%.

    If I missed something, tell me.
    If you are really sure that Joe user wants to have joy with Terminal for just installing an app, tell me.
    If you think Linux is ready for every desktop, don't tell me anything, but write some lines for Digg, somebody will trust you.

    Just my 2 cents :) too harsh uhuh?


    ps. Please don't go off topic.I'm talking about desktop experience and Joe user productivity. I know that Linux rocks as server os, as render-farms os, as Google-backend os etc.. I'm talking about everyday use. In the everyday use of you car you don't open daily your engine, right? Ok. So why in the everyday use of your computer you have to open the Terminal to install an app? :)
  2. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    I think you are right, without internet connection, Ubuntu does not fit you at all.

    But this is not a problem in general with linux, there are many commercial distroes out there that offer as much as multimedia power as osx/windows by default(internet NOT needed), such as SUSE commercial version, Xandros, etc.
  3. eldino thread starter macrumors member


    Mar 8, 2007
    True, in fact i installed with Mandriva 2007.1 now :)
  4. r1ch4rd macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2005
    Manchester UK
    In Linux the desktop is not part of the operating system. It is a completely separate program. The default in Ubuntu is Gnome, you may have used others such as KDE. It is the localisation for Gnome that you have the problem with, not Linux. The same for your browser (Firefox).

    I don't seem to remember Windows XP coming with a codec to play DVDs, I remember having to install Cyberlink PowerDVD to watch them. Linux distributions do, in general, come with quite a few codecs. Usually only for open formats though. However, you have to keep in mind that the Linux community is trying to push these open standards and so you can understand why they would want to do that.

    Have you tried using Synaptic? I find this much easier than installing things on Windows. Also, you are not bound to a single repository. You can use any that you like. Even set up your own if you don't like the current ones. I bet a lot of Windows and Apple software companies would not to too thrilled about you passing on their software though.

    It is worth noting that in the proprietary world it is up to the people who write the software how it is distributed, it has nothing to do with the OS. In the open source world this isn't the case, it can be transferred or exchanged in any way you like. You can even set up a business selling on CDs with other peoples software on it if you so wish.

    I think the problems that you really have are with the distributions, the desktop managers, the package managers etc. rather than the operating system itself. This is fair enough, if you don't like it then don't force yourself to use it. Go back to using your Mac.

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