My Hardy disappointment

This is no joke: Since last Thursday, I’ve done anywhere from 22 to 30 Ubuntu 8.04 fresh installations on three different machines, plus two Gutsy-to-Hardy upgrades (and one Dapper to Hardy upgrade, but I want to try that again). At least five of those 22+ were full Ubuntu desktop systems. Two or three were netboots. The remainder were minimal installations or lightweight graphical desktops built up from command-line installs.

After that flurry of building and rebuilding, installing and blanking, tweaking and poking, I can sum up my biggest problem in three words:

It’s too easy.

No, really. It’s not fair. I started with Breezy two years ago, and I can only imagine the immense amount of work the Hoary and Warty veterans must have suffered through to get things installed and working. Breezy was bad enough, and I won’t be going back to that any time soon.

But Hardy is what Breezy users dreamed of. You want Flash, Java and mp3 support? Click, it’s installed. You want firmware for your wireless card? Click, it’s installed. You want the proprietary driver for an ATI card that gives you solid acceleration on the erstwhile infuriating Radeon XPress 200M, a card that was released (as I understand it) as three different versions all under the same name and distinguishable only through cryptic BIOS settings? Click, it’s installed, and working like a dream.

I know what you’ll say next, and you’re probably right. “Well bully for you. My (insert component name here) doesn’t work and there’s no help on the forums and you guys all SUXXORz and Ubuntu does too and I’m going back to WinXP while I wait for Fedora 13 with USB hair dryer support.”

Okay, it’s true. The machines I used are not very new (they’re the Sotec before it quit, the Inspiron and the Pavilion, if you want to know specs). The “freshest” is already about four years old. There’s nothing that even approaches a dual core in there, and the best video hardware I’ve tested thus far has been that 200M I mentioned already. I don’t ride cutting edge, and that’s by choice.

But I’m not just talking about hardware compatibility. I’m talking about ease of use, preprogrammed user-friendliness (like command-not-found, which is sometimes annoying but for the most part a nice touch), accessibility and automation of routine tasks. So many things that were relegated to the command line two years ago are now accessible from two-click menus. You want an example? In the old days if you wanted to switch servers for repositories, you had to edit sources.list by hand to select a different one. Now? You pick it from a nifty list of options, all nested in a wonderful array categorized by nation.

My hat is off. Ubuntu has come to a point where the things that irritated or annoyed me the most — and that statement does include hardware compatibility — are gone or smoothed over to where I don’t notice them any more. There will always be rough spots, or hardware that doesn’t work quite right. But from where I stand, the fun, beautiful and easy-to-use Linux system I wanted two years ago … arrived last week.

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18 Responses to “My Hardy disappointment”


  1. 1 Jonas 2008/04/30 at 6:11 PM

    So why did you reinstall hardy so many times on those three machines?

  2. 2 Onyros 2008/04/30 at 9:32 PM

    I upgraded my remaining Ubuntu machine to Hardy a couple of nights ago.

    Apart from the usual tweaks (fonts, compiling XMMS – which is my battlehorse these days -, disabling Tracker AGAIN, etc) it was the less problematic of the whole bunch. We’re talking about a computer that went through Breezy – Dapper – Feisty – Gutsy and now Hardy. Gutsy was the hardest of the lot, with neverending problems until it was really, really stable.

    I still haven’t done a fresh install to test things out, but at least in my setup I’m experiencing a few quirky things. Apt seems a lot slower – there’s a huge lag when it reads the database, the boot process is slower than Gutsy’s but I still haven’t reprofiled it since the upgrade, so I suppose it’ll improve. And I’m still growing accostumed to having beautiful urxvt fonts without having done much… with the same .Xdefaults file I had from Gutsy.

    Other than that, I’ll have to say this: kudos to Dapper, the previous LTS version. It was more than worthy of that title. It was one helluva version.

    Not to underestimate Hardy, though. I don’t even question the “bling” oriented decisions anymore, I understand them and acknowledge they ARE necessary: those of us who don’t like Compiz and the like, are the same people that know how to disable it easily. The defaults have to be set for those who don’t; the others will work from there. Give ‘em the full monty, the tweakers will always know how to… tweak.

    I pledge allegiance to Ubuntu’s cause, entirely. I know who I’ll recommend it to, and to the others I’ll recommend my personal favourite (Arch). But those “others” are less than 5% of the people I’d recommend Linux to, to start with :)

    BTW, wifey just bought a MacBook. Leopard is solid, simple as I remembered… but I can never get rid of that whole “kiosk-effect” feeling with OS X. You know what I mean?

    And something must be wrong there (or really right, depends on the perspective), as even she asked me to have Linux back!

  3. 3 K.Mandla 2008/04/30 at 11:33 PM

    Jonas: Tweak testing. I wanted clean, default systems for each tweak, so I could be sure it was actually doing something and not just riding the coattails of some other adjustment. Repetitious? Yes. Necessary? Also yes.

    Onyros: With a wife as intelligent and wise as that, you should definitely give her anything she wants. :)

  4. 4 matt 2008/05/01 at 12:06 AM

    Does there exist many fund-raisers or conventions where you can watch install-parties and competitions?

  5. 5 Ed 2008/05/01 at 2:49 AM

    I just can’t get Hardy to install. The isos from the Taiwanese and Japanese mirrors are all corrupted and the install process freezes every time. Gusty seemed OK … but Hardy has robbed at least 10 hours of my life.

    A real shame

  6. 6 Alejandro 2008/05/01 at 5:45 AM

    Hardy isn’t really my favorite version. I’ve been using Ubuntu since Edgy, and Feisty is my favorite release so far. Stuff that used to just work now just doesn’t (proprietary 3d drivers and desktop effects, for instance… getting Beryl to work with Feisty took me less work than Compiz Fusion on Hardy, even when the latter is theorically working OOTB). And for some reason I can’t get more than 1024*768 resolution, which I had with Gutsy OOTB. Yes, they’re minor things, and I can live without them, but they used to just work.

  7. 7 atentia 2008/05/01 at 7:29 AM

    Awesome! I have a year old T61 and besides some initial trouble with resolution I have now a smoothly Hardy upgraded from Gutsy. And an older Dell Desktop as HTPC with Mythbuntu just waiting for the upgrade. And as you said, I’m not afraid at all of upgrading, as it will work. It’s boring, the learning factor is decreasing drastically… I love it!

  8. 8 anjilslaire 2008/05/01 at 11:24 AM

    I’ve been using Ubuntu since Hoary; it certainly has come a long way :)
    So far, I’m enjoying Hardy myself as well, and I’m not running new gear either: AthlonXP 3200+ (OC’ed from 2500+) 2 gigs PC3200 ram +nvidia 6600gt, but it runs great.
    My wife’s laptop is a new Inspiron 1420 with a C2D 1.6ghz (1.8 maybe?) with 2gigs and a geforce 8400m running Gutsy still (I commented on it on my blog) and she loves it, posting to her own food-oriented blog and doing everything else she wants, with little assistance from me :)

    Anyway, I love tinkering with hardware myself, seeing what I can get out of old stuff and making it useful. I want to see if I get an ubuntu installed on an old extra xbox I’ve got. I’ve already had Xebian & DSL running on it, too…

  9. 9 Sense Hofstede 2008/05/01 at 11:17 PM

    Nice story! Ubuntu really does become better every release, I think it’s already better than Windows and Mac (except for graphics editing).
    Unfortunately there are indeed things that don’t work yet. But please don’t start screaming and swearing and do noting.
    I ask all people here with problems to report their bugs at http://launchpad.net/ubuntu/ Only that way we can maintain Ubuntu and make it even better!

  10. 10 chris4585 2008/05/02 at 4:02 AM

    I still use Gutsy to this day, I said before Hardy came out “Ubuntu just works,” now I’m saying “it use to work,” Now in my case. My problems with hardy only consist of a few things, but i dislike them very much, Firefox 3 beta 5… can you say constant crashing on a machine that’s only a year old? I know i can install firefox 2 which is no biggy. Then there’s the totem problem, playing video files in totem can be very hectic, I’m not sure but I think I know how to fix this now. And not to mention, how come when I run hardy from fresh install my bottom gnome-panel is hidden??? I had to auto align my screen just to see my bottom gnome-panel, everything works after i install restricted drivers.

    This is my huge disappointment with Hardy. It’s the fact that none of this happened before on Gutsy that I hate.

    “In the old days if you wanted to switch servers for repositories, you had to edit sources.list by hand to select a different one. Now? You pick it from a nifty list of options, all nested in a wonderful array categorized by nation.”

    I nearly cracked up while I was reading this, I didn’t even know of that nifty program to add repo’s until a few weeks ago. I still prefer manually doing it, you can see whats going on and know what is in the sources.list file.

  11. 11 martian 2008/05/15 at 10:00 AM

    I upgraded blindly from Gutsy to Hardy and my RTL8111/8168B network card stopped working. I had to reinstall back to Gutsy, this time 64bit. My favourite release is definitely Gutsy, I hate Firefox 3 and its strangely small fonts in Hardy.
    How can I know they already repaired my NIC driver, so I can upgrade to fully functional Hardy?

    I highly recommend booting livecd before any upgrade, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t.


  1. 1 Matthew Helmke (dot) Net » Some users are expressing disappointment with Ubuntu 8.04 - Hardy Heron Trackback on 2008/04/30 at 5:33 PM
  2. 2 T61 Ubuntu Upgrade from 7.10 to 8.04 « Atentia’s Weblog Trackback on 2008/05/01 at 7:33 AM
  3. 3 Debian & Ubuntu » Matthew Helmke: Some users are expressing disappointment with Ubuntu 8.04 - Hardy Heron Trackback on 2008/05/03 at 6:24 PM
  4. 4 Ubuntu 8.04 on an Asus W3J « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2008/05/09 at 9:52 PM
  5. 5 Installed Ubuntu Hardy on my laptop - Alan Doyle Trackback on 2008/11/21 at 8:56 AM
  6. 6 Let me tell you about the good old days. … « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2008/12/30 at 11:30 AM
  7. 7 Me and ATI: Things keep getting better « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/09/13 at 10:48 PM

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