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Ah Mark Shuttleworth, You Never Fail to Disappoint

A post after a long time. Not really because I was busy, but because I am lazy, and tired having to relive my frustrations by writing on this blog.

No Mom, I am not really frustrated, that is just a funny way of writing this blog!

But it is hard to be completely happy when you have a Narwhal taking up 20 odd GB of space on your laptop.

I am sure that by the time this post would be published, I would have lost a lot of friends on facebook, those who appreciate and like Ubuntu.

Note to self: One line paragraphs are not fun enough... loads of the <p> and the </p> tags.

But I digress... coming back to the person I want to bash today... Mark Shuttleworth, a South African entrepreneur and a person so insanely rich, that he has funded his own space trip, making him Shuttle-worth-y. Unfortunately, it is through his benevolence that we are blessed (?) with the Ubuntu Operating System.

Firstly, the reasons I use(d) Ubuntu

  • Back in 2007, when I first fired up Linux, Ubuntu was user friendly, and I liked the GNOME interface.
  • I am not a fanatic like Richard Stallman all for freedom. Like Linus Torvalds, I like software that does the job. Ubuntu was far better at this than Fedora
  • It used up much less battery on my laptop, making it the choice when I was away from my trusted wall socket
  • Power-up and power-down times are decent
  • It used to be fast and stable
  • Hardware support gave a few hiccups, but it was possible to find hacks on the forums to fix any such issues
  • I cannot appreciate anything without taking it apart. I want to feel that I use the software on my computer, and am not merely another dull input for the computer (This ideology of programmers and engineers would prove to be fatal many times 30000 feet in the sky, but that is another post
  • I need some Linux specific applications, like SSH and the X server

I now go on to show how Mark Shuttleworth took away many of the reasons I use(d) Ubuntu.

Karmic Koala was by far the best distribution I have used. It solved most of the hardware issues I had with my laptop, and had a very stable kernel and a window manager (GNOME). I had many expectations for Lucid Lynx, as I believed that Ubuntu was simply getting better. But I was disappointed. It seemed as though the team, on Shuttleworth's guidance had decided to make it an operating system to woo away the average windows user. Bad choice. I don't think that Canonical can ever compete with Microsoft, which has over 30 years of making software. What I noticed was that every release of Ubuntu over the past year has tried a completely wrong approach to solving bug #1 in Ubuntu, filed by Mark Shuttleworth himself.

Confused? Let me tell you how and why the approach is wrong.

Let's face it, all of us, who have used computers for long have some dislike with Windows, mainly because of the Vista fiasco. (Not to say that Vista is that bad an OS, I have been using Vista for the past 3 years and counting.) What happened was virtually a PR disaster with the way Vista was handled. Similar to the famous "You're holding it the wrong way" disaster of the iPhone4, MS decided to blame the users for the poor reviews. They spent huge amounts of money on ad campaigns that told the users that they were stupid to believe that Vista was all that bad, get your facts right, they said.

No one likes to be told that they are stupid, the plans backfired, and MS released a different looking version called Windows 7.

But are we any happier with Windows 7 than with Windows Vista? My college is part of MSDNAA, and hence, I was lucky enough to be able to try Windows 7. My personal experience was that Windows 7 ran slower on my computer than Windows Vista, when I had all programmes and drivers loaded. Also, I lost out on the bundled software that came installed with my laptop when I purchased it. Result, I was back to Windows Vista in less than a month.

But this post is not about my experiments with Windows. Rather, it is, or should be about the things I would expect from Ubuntu, or any other OS for the OS to catch my fancy.

Well, I suppose the major issue with all of today's operating systems is that they have origins in computing 30 years ago. At that time, software came on little disks, and no one had ever thought of having terabytes of storage. As a result, we had tiny files in tiny directories leading to a tree like structure in all file storage systems. Is a tree the best way to store data? Can we do better? Don't GMail labels look much better than the folders from email clients from yesteryear?

What happens when you have many tiny files? How should a file system handle such a situation?

Are we bound to the operating systems from yesteryear? Can we not have better operating system ideologies that take into account our changing uses, and which adapt to the same in an effective manner?

These apparently are not concerns enough to the designers of the operating systems for the computers that we all depend upon. Instead, all they bother about is eye candy, and try to sell hopeless systems with a lot of make-up to the users. Ubuntu too has unfortunately chosen that path to solve bug#1. However, they have done the most shoddy job ever, and the result is an OS that changes faster than fashion. Using the new Unity interface is, to say the least, a less pleasant job than taking out the garbage. The window manager crashes every now and then, causing me to lose work the same way if I had pressed Ctrl+Alt+backspace. Only, I don't press the said key combination, rather it is done in the weirdly wired electronic brain of my computer. Unity at best has a quality comparable to an alpha release, and I have no idea how or why was it made the default window manager in Natty Narwhal.

Power consumption in Ubuntu far exceeds the consumption in Windows Vista. On Ubuntu, my laptop battery lasts for only half the time it lasts on Vista. I think this is a bug with the latest Linux kernel though, and not an issue with Ubuntu as such.

Ubuntu has taken away all the openness that is associated with Linux. Instead, hacking Ubuntu for common fixes has become as difficult as changing the behaviour of MS Windows.

I'm bored.

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