Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Why I hate Ubuntu (even though it's awesome)

Ubuntu pisses me off.

A new release of Ubuntu means another attempt for me to come to terms with Debian's Celebrity Wild Child. I have installed every Ubuntu release since Warty. Each time, I start out being impressed and enthusiastic, become angry when something ridiculous happens, uninstall it in a fit of pique, and then post something on the internet about why I hate it. This time, I am resolved not to uninstall it. I have a second computer, so that living with Ubuntu doesn't mean living with all the time. I want to come to terms with Ubuntu, which is now the most popular Linux distro that ever was, and for good reasons. It's also the most despised distro among the established Linux community... also with good reason. In the past few days, I've read blogposts mocking Ubuntu users as "sheeple" and accusing Ubuntu haters of pettiness and jealousy.

My vague ambivalence toward the Ubuntu Humanity Juggernaut sharpened into dislike when I spent a good part of a frustrating afternoon trying to find KDE in the Butnut repositories. I repeated the experiment last night, with my latest install, and this problem still hasn't been fixed. There is no "kde-desktop" in the Ubuntu repositories. An apt-cache search finds a whole gaggle of KDE applications, but not the desktop itself.

The reason? Because Ubuntu has renamed KDE "Kubuntu-desktop".

Now, at first I was annoyed by the rechristening. I thought it was a pointless inconvenience, but I came to see that this kubuntu-fluxbuntu-xbuntu thing is a great idea for making the major desktop environments comprehensible to new converts to Linux. Looking back to my early days, it was a long time, more than a year, before I understood that Knoppix looked one way because it ran with KDE,and the reason why Red Hat 9 looked so different was because it used Gnome as a default, and that Red Hat 9 could easily be made to run KDE and look more like knoppix. Ubuntu's approach will make this a lot easier for a new user to take in.

This is why Ubuntu deserves its success, because it takes Debian-- one of the most reliable distros, and certainly the one with the richest arsenal of software applications, and makes it available to the Windows-afflicted with some very slick engineeering, engineering that is beyond intuitive. It's actually empathetic. Ubuntu is designed with some real insight into the thought processing of the beginning user.

So why am I pissed off? Because of a lack of empathy for me, the experienced linux user. In reeenginnering Debian, Ubuntu creates detours in the familiar highway of GNU-Linux administration, and then doesn't bother to put up a sign. And so, before I know it, I'm off the road.

The description of "kubuntu-desktop" in the repositories goes like this:

kubuntu-desktop - Kubuntu desktop system.

Redundant, isn't it? The desktop so nice, they named it twice.

Now, here's the thing that bugs me. Suppose they had put it in the repositories like this.

kubuntu-desktop - The KDE desktop for Ubuntu.

That's actually a better explanation, and I also believe that it would have put "kde" and "desktop" where apt-cache my apt-cache search would have found them. That's all that it would have taken for me not to spend an afternoon trying to find the KDE desktop, trying to visually scan all of the hundreds of listing generated by "apt-cache search kde", trying to find something that wasn't there.

I'd love for somebody to explain to me why I shouldn't be angry about this. A huge amount of time, effort, ingenuity and money has gone into adding very slick and intuitive interfaces and features so that the "everyday (i.e., Windows) users" can easily use Ubuntu. But it really looks like not one thought was wasted on me, the demographically insignificant Linux user, trying to find KDE the way he always has, after they've made their changes. It would have taken no time,no money, no ingenuity, to anticipate and solve this problem, and it wouldn't have interfered one iota with their grand design. All it would have required is for them to care. But why should they care about us? We're just the ones who gave them the software.

This is one particularly blatant example of how Ubuntu seems to punish me again and again for being a Debian user. You can grumble about Ubuntu being a mediocre product, but it's not. It's the most important Linux distro in years. In many ways, and, it's the breakthrough we're all waiting for, but I feel like those of us who have worked so hard for so long for Linux to succeed are not being considered at all. I'd just like to be invited to the party, that's all.

Another example, somewhat less blatant, and more geeky: I've often complained about the fact that Ubuntu has no /etc/inittab file, which I am used to editing to change the runlevel (to disable the X server and run from the plain console), and sometimes to add additional console screens. For a number of reasons, I prefer to run X from the console, rather than a desktop manager like kdm or gdm. For the first time in any Linux distro in my experience, the file isn't there in Ubuntu. So how about a text file, telling me what the hell is going on? It could be called "inittab-removed.READ_ME or something. Just a little sign post? Maybe some suggestions of what to look for, so I'm not just left standing in the middle of nowhere with my dick in my hand? If the runlevel can be changed, tell me how. If the runlevel can't be changed, tell me so I'm not wasting any more time on it. What would it cost for you to to show us that much respect for the veteran Linux user, since you've gone so far out of your way to do everything for the Windows user short of wiping his nose for him?

The Ubuntu Code of Conduct says that when there are disputes, consult the community... and that's what I have done here. If anybody has another point of view, I'd like to hear it.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

I'm posting this tonight.

Because if I leave it in my browser window all night, I'll lose it... but I'll edit it tomorrow. You might want to wait until the final version before you post your flames about how I'm a paid troll for Microsoft.

Okay, it's essentially complete... FLAME ON!

IIRC it works the other way, too

If you install Kubuntu, and later want to install GNOME, you have to install the "ubuntu-desktop" meta-package, instead of firing up Synaptic and choosing the individual GNOME components you want.

If you don't, you might reboot to find that (even though you can still choose it, instead of gdm, with the "dpkg-reconfigure xdm" command) kdm no longer works. If you prefer kdm over gdm, this is very frustrating. I don't know if that's been fixed in v7.10 or not.

Personally, as a user of Debian, my problem with Ubuntu and its siblings ("hate" is too strong a word; it's just an OS, after all) was said much better than I ever could by Martin Krafft, the guy who wrote The Debian System, in a blog post he made in July, 2006. It's still relevant today.

It's a love-hate thing.

I never thought about it before, but "hate" is a word that is defined by its context with an amazing degree of precision. If I say that I hate oatmeal, or Windows Vista, or "Seinfeld", or Dick Cheney, or my parents, or Catholics, the word means something dramatically different in each case. (None of these statements are true, by the way. Okay, maybe the one about Dick Cheney.)

More in Tux Machines

Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 and 'Squad' Might be Coming to GNU/Linux

  • Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 Improves Compatibility For Origin, GOG Galaxy & More
    Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 was released on Sunday as the newest version of this experimental/testing Wine build. This time around there are some exciting new patches. On top of re-basing off Friday's Wine 2.0-rc5 release and continuing to maintain quite a number of patches that haven't yet made their way into mainline Wine, a few more patches were added. Upstream Wine is currently under a code freeze until the 2.0 release later this month but that doesn't stop the Wine-Staging crew.
  • Release 2.0-rc5
    Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 improves the compatibility of various applications that require at least Windows Vista or Windows 7. This includes Origin, Uplay, GOG Galaxy and many more. Several bugs were fixed in the PE loader to support loading of packed executables with truncated headers and/or on-the-fly section decompression. If you are using the 64 bit version of Wine, you may also benefit from the memory manager improvements, which allow applications to reserve/allocate more than 32 GB of virtual memory. The memory allocations are now only constrained by resource limitations of the hardware / the operating system and no longer by an artificial design limit in Wine.
  • Looks like FPS game 'Squad' might be coming to Linux soon
    The game uses Unreal Engine and we know already how iffy their Linux support actually is. Hopefully they won't come across too many troubles.

Security News

  • Microsoft slates end to security bulletins in February [iophk: "further obscuring"; Ed: See this]
    Microsoft next month will stop issuing detailed security bulletins, which for nearly 20 years have provided individual users and IT professionals information about vulnerabilities and their patches. One patching expert crossed his fingers that Microsoft would make good on its pledge to publish the same information when it switches to a new online database. "I'm on the fence right now," said Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Shavlik, of the demise of bulletins. "We'll have to see [the database] in February before we know how well Microsoft has done [keeping its promise]."
  • Reflected XSS through AngularJS sandbox bypass causes password exposure of McDonald users
    By abusing an insecure cryptographic storage vulnerability (link) and a reflected server cross-site-scripting vulnerability (link) it is possible to steal and decrypt the password from a McDonald's user. Besides that, other personal details like the user's name, address & contact details can be stolen too.
  • DragonFlyBSD Installer Updated To Support UEFI System Setup
    DragonFlyBSD has been working on its (U)EFI support and with the latest Git code its installer now has basic UEFI support.

A Look At The Huge Performance Boosts With Nouveau Mesa 17.0-devel On Maxwell

Landing this week in Mesa 17.0-devel Git was OpenGL 4.3 for NVC0 Maxwell and a big performance boost as well for these GeForce GTX 750 / 900 series NVIDIA "Maxwell" graphics processors. Here are some before/after benchmarks of the performance improvements, which the patch cited as "1.5~3.5x better", when testing a GeForce GTX 750 Ti and GTX 980. Read more Also: Fresh Tests Of Intel Beignet OpenCL

Q4OS 1.8.2, Orion

New version 1.8.2 is based on the the most recent release of stable Debian Jessie 8.7, important security patches have been applied and core system packages have been updated. Q4OS Update manager has been rewritten from scratch to provide a robust and reliable tool for safe system upgrades. Other Q4OS specific fixes and under the hood improvements are delivered as usual. All the updates are immediately available for existing Q4OS users from the regular Q4OS repositories. Most attention is now focused on the development of the testing Q4OS 'Scorpion' version 2.2, based on Debian 9 Stretch. Q4OS 2.2 Scorpion continues to be under development so far, and it will stay as long as Debian Stretch will be testing, the release date is preliminarily scheduled at about the turn of April and May 2017. Q4OS 'Scorpion' will be supported at least five years from the official release date. Read more