Let me tell you about the good old days. …

It’s funny to think it, but I’ve been using Ubuntu for almost exactly three years, and in some ways that makes me an old-timer. I started in late 2005 with Ubuntu 5.10, a full year after the original Warty release and well into the initial swell of popularity. I never think of myself as any kind of a pioneer; those people were the ones who downloaded the first ISO.

But I still have to remind myself sometimes that some people haven’t had the same experiences I have. And that’s part of the reason why I see threads like this, and admit a little confusion at some of the things said.

My video card was working perfectly in Feisty and Gutsy, but never worked in Hardy and Intrepid. Do you call this expectations going higher than development or development that can’t stand on its feet?

I took it for granted that my card will always work fine once it worked with Gutsy, but it turned out that Shuttleworth is playing some card games with his employees.

Editorialization aside, I think it might be worth remembering what things were like back in 2005 and 2006, and the hoops one had to jump through, to get a happy system. Granted, there will always be hardware difficulties — this isn’t so much about hardware, as usability. Consider …

  • Breezy Badger shipped with Firefox 1.0. That’s a one, a point, and an oh. Upgrading to 1.5 was a manual process, but you had the option of an automated script to do most of the dirty work. There was no .deb package, for a while.
  • ATI video cards were often impossible to conquer. At least, for the casual user (which is what I still consider myself. :) )
  • Nvidia wasn’t much better, and different processors had the option for different kernels, making the whole business a bit gnarled.
  • Flash was mired at version 7 for what seemed like an eternity for most people (and we must be able to watch snails race, you see). Installing it was a whole different goat rope, and x86_64 users could only sit around and grind their teeth, with little hope in the foreseeable future.
  • Don’t even talk to me about wireless problems. And Broadcom users were lost in a wilderness of firmware cutters, kernel modules and ndiswrapper. (Nowadays, there are some who say ndiswrapper might be dead.)

I guess I could go on, since I haven’t even mentioned Java or audio and video codecs, or software backports or anything regarding networking or file sharing. All those things were possible of course, but if you think you spend too much time at the command line now, download one of the old ISOs and see how far you get in a push-button-only world.

Unique hardware complaints aside, things are a great deal better and easier than they were three years ago. Occasionally things slip through and break pace with the idea of progress — that happens in every distro — but trust me, things are a lot better now than they used to be. Trust me: The good old days … well, by comparison, they sucked. :|

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7 Responses to “Let me tell you about the good old days. …”

  1. 1 amrith 2008/12/31 at 8:21 AM

    Interesting perspective. I’ve tried Ubuntu from time to time and am still mired in mud with interpid (or is it intrepid?). You mention wireless as being a major source of problems, was it better on a previous release?

  2. 2 K.Mandla 2008/12/31 at 8:54 AM

    Just to be clear, wireless is infinitely easier now than it was three years ago. Particular hardware might have an issue between releases, but on the whole it’s much easier to set up and arrange wireless networks now than it was in the past.

  3. 3 mikewhatever 2008/12/31 at 1:38 PM

    Awesome post, thanks. I didn’t know those old releases were available, guess I’ll download warty to get the feel of old days.
    Intrepid is my favorite so far, runs like a charm on a two year old HP laptop.

  4. 4 bk 2009/01/02 at 11:44 AM

    This is so true. I couldn’t bring myself to completely switch to Linux until Flash was updated. My first install was Dapper Drake in June of 2006.

  5. 5 dave 2009/02/04 at 12:37 PM

    Now if only they can get the sound working again.

  6. 6 lo0m 2009/06/23 at 8:34 PM

    oh yeah! those were THE times.. thanx for the memories

  1. 1 RIP, Dapper Drake « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2011/05/03 at 6:17 PM

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Some recent desktops

May 6, 2011
Musca 0.9.24 on Crux Linux
150Mhz Pentium 96Mb 8Gb CF

May 14, 2011
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Some recent games

Apr. 21, 2011
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