Could Ubuntu Be Too Cute?

Okay, so I was able to boot my IBM from the Ubuntu 6.10 CD, thus getting an impressive preview of what Ubuntu offers should I decide to install it on the hard drive. But getting to that point was not as easy as I may have made it sound. And my experiences since then have raised a number of issues. In other words, all is not perfect in Ubuntu-land. As with many things in life, it is all about perception v. reality.

Ubuntu has strived to create a warm, fuzzy, "fun-and-easy-to-use" image. Now, even at this early stage of our relationship, I am prepared to accept that it is a warmer, fuzzier, funner, and easier Linux than those I have tried in the past. But...I did have to download two different versions of Ubuntu to find the one that worked nicely, which was 6.10 (the same hardware just stalled when trying to boot from 6.06). And I spent quite a bit of time failing to boot two older machines with either 6.06 or 6.1o (more on that later).

In the process I found you don't have to look far to see the geek beneath the gloss at ubuntu,com. For example, one of the suggestions for those having problems with the install is to use Knoppix. It goes something like: "Grab the latest debootstrap_*.tar.gz from [WWW] ...Save the archive into the /home/knoppix/tmp directory because /tmp is probably too small...Uncompress and extract the archive...then cd into the newly created directory and build the program."

This is very useful technical information and I mean no disrespect to the authors, who are clearly driven by the best of intentions, but it is not warm and fuzzy. I can see your 'average user' giving up at this point. Granted, this advice appears in the "Advanced" section, but the non-advanced section is pretty short on answers to questions like "what to do if you start the install and the machine just sits there churning all night with a blank screen." Recourse to posting in the support forums is quite likely if you run into install issues. The good news there is that answers come pretty quick, as I hope to relate in my next post on Ubuntu.

Now, to briefly address just one of the questions Dave raised in his comment on my last Ubuntu post, my IBM NetVista P4HT booted to the Ubuntu graphical desktop in exactly 2 minutes. Considering that this is booting from a CD, not a hard drive, I think it is impressive. After all, one of the big attractions of Ubuntu is that, if it does boot from the free CD you burned from the download or requested from the web site, you can test drive the OS and the apps on your hardware before doing an install. And I mean really test drive, like surf the web over your internet connection and play your music CDs (if you have a second CD drive). Now that is impressive.

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