I followed the news-feed links to the latest post at OMG! Ubuntu! (LOLOMGWTF!!!!111eleventy-one) and as soon as I saw the opening sentence thunder that Ubuntu was "a steaming pile of mediocrity," I said to myself, "Gee, I wonder if this is going to be a fair, balanced evaluation?"
I have now been using Ubuntu for most of a year on all three desktop PCs and the laptop, so I'm now in a better position to comment on Ubuntu news. (And to the Ubunuts: You hear that, Ubunuts? You can't dismiss me as an ivory-tower Slackware-using elitist anymore. I'm riding your bus, now!)
Anyway, I, myself, know better than to demand perfection from Ubuntu. If I want perfect, I know where to find it - I will find it in Debian, Slackware, grml, Gentoo, Linux-From-Scratch. But the perfect is the enemy of the good-enough.
Not for one minute after pitching Ubuntu onto my machine did I think that it would "just work," nor did I suppose that it would fulfill all of my needs out-of-the-box. Really, I pick distros partly because of what they will teach me, so this time around I figured to get some experience making the putt-putt distro usable for a power user. Months later, I'm still slinging packages onto it and fixing issues. I still have a half-dozen open problems with Ubuntu, problems which wipe out major swaths of my fields of activity...
Let me explain something about "power users." I know there's yuppies out there who say they're power users because they watch videos on the computer (Ah-hyuk!) but when I say "power user" I mean, for example, that in a month's span, I might render a human mesh to export to a vector-trace, write a script to generate meme images, browse my BBS ANSI art collection, play and review a 20-year-old game on DOSBox, and write a poker game in Flash.
In my spare time. For fun. That's not counting what I do in paid work.
And still be grumbling at the end of the month because I didn't get enough work done.
And baby, Ubuntu can do some of this, but it can't do it all. What distro could possibly do everything I want to do out-o-the-box? You'd have to be stark raving mad to anticipate what-all I'll need. And having such diverse spreads of interests, touching on everything you can possibly do with a computer, I have learned one important thing - let's carve it in stone: THERE IS NO PERFECT SYSTEM.
That applies to Debian, Slackware, grml, Gentoo, and Linux-From-Scratch. Yes, I've tried them all. All of them have required that I tweak something to get it to do what I need it to do.
Now we have Ubuntu, which, as I've said, should not be even considered on the same grounds as other Linux varieties. It's got its own shelf. It is not there to be the gourmet restaurant at the end of the universe where you can order any specialty your finicky appetite can imagine. It is there so drive-by users can grab a bag of greasy fast-food McFatPatties to go. It installs in minutes and gives you the ultimate Suzie-uzer-friendly grandma's Linux experience.
Get back to OMG!UBUNTU!, this guy's a developer on Ubuntu (I'll give that power-user points), and then complains because he has problems developing Ubuntu on Ubuntu? Really? God, no! Next you'll be telling me that Barbie lacks parenting skills! Launchpad blueprints don't "go the extra mile," the menus are botched up (I fixed that. It's a magic spell called "Fluxbox"), the notifier box nerfs everything when it pops up (not a problem on Fluxbox), it can't copy-and-paste text without even botching that up (so the Clipboard memory appears to be barfed), minor quirk in the music syncing something, and the documentation sucks?
Yep, that's our special-needs distro! Deal with it. Ubuntu is not a power distro for power users. Ubuntu is a toy distro for toy users, and toy users need it to be a toy. Ubuntu benefits by being slapped-together, sloppy, easy, cheap, and prone to break if you lean on it. It gets the low-common-denominator users. Don't listen to the Holy Crusaders who preach fire and brimstone about how they can theoretically get it to be powerful enough to serve on Mount Olympus. I'm ten times the geek they are, and I'll be the first to tell you that it's more work to get Ubuntu to do more work than it is to get another distro to do it. I use Ubuntu the way I drive a car with a four-cylinder engine: take off gently, keep under the speed limit, and brake early.
It's good enough for what it is.
It's good enough for the few Joe Sixpacks who venture into Linux.
Let me explain an example: Getting back to that BBS ANSI art, I'm having problems getting the console to render the ANSI text mode font... in fact, I can't seem to get color working on the laptop's console, too. So on both the desktop and laptop I can't get tetradraw to show the correct character set, and in addition on the laptop the console can only show eight colors instead of the standard sixteen. Now, I remember having a beast of a time solving this problem on Slackware, where I had a community of prickly geeks to fall back on.
Now try searching for "Ubuntu console font color" and see what you get. I find a lot of Ubuntu forum posts with people going "What?" and "Huh?" and taking wild-stab guesses at it. Most Ubuntu users are unaware of this "console" thing. The rest have no clue what a BBS is, and have never heard of ANSI character art. The remainder are struck dumb at the prospect of suggesting doing anything with the console font, for fear that if they get it wrong, a demon will leap out of the screen and gobble them up. And that's the difference with Ubuntu's user base.
You know what? It's not that important. I can view ANSI art in gnome-terminal using tetraview and it works flawlessly. It just runs as slow as a tarbaby there. But seriously, I can run a live CD from my distro library and twiddle with ANSI art that way. It's like 0.001% of my current concerns. I'm not done picking at it myself. The point is that I can accept that I'm running on a plainer distro, and not charge around demanding Escargots de Bourgogne at McDonald's.
It's Ubuntu. It releases every six months. Even if they fix all this, there'll be more things that go askew. That's human.
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