*buntu rant

I've noticed several negative news stories regarding the latest (7.10) release of the Ubuntu Linux distribution from Canonical. I feel I owe it to the good people working on this fine operating system to defend them on a few points.

First, I want to comment about stories such as this one that complain about the bugs found in Ubuntu after it's release. The article talks about the broken IPv6 / DHCP implementation. To start with, the article seems like it was written on a whim after a single reader wrote in to complain. I quote:

Our reader told us that Gutsy Gibbon's internet access "whether by wireless; ethernet or USB DSL modem is either impossible without some deft work at the CLI [Command Line Interface] or is incredibly slow (mostly from delay in resolving DNS)".

Hmmm... Perhaps in the future they should stick to reporting only what they have personally researched? And the poor journalism doesn't stop there - they then use a quote from Willie Faler's blog completely out of context; to quote the article again:

While blogger Wille Faler, who pointed out that many routers do not support IPv6, has offered a possible "work-around" for a problem he described as being a "big flaw in Linux's handling of DNS-servers".

However, if you actually read the article on his blog, you'll see that he wrote

Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit that my dismissal of Ubuntu as, shall we say “not too good” was a bit premature. I eventually found the cause and fix to my network problem. It is not a fix for what I consider a big flaw in Linux’s handling of DNS-servers, but it is a workaround that should be sufficient for most people, including those that spend considerable time on the go, like me.

What on earth is happening at The Register?

Anyway, regarding the actual release... I have a deep sympathy for anyone working on the Ubuntu project, volunteer or otherwise. I write code for a largish sized application suite, and I know how hard it is to test every possible permutation of software combinations - I can't imagine how hard it must be to test an operating system for a wide variety of hardware. I suggest that the author of the offending article spend a few months fixing bugs for any large software project; perhaps he will gain a better understanding for the issue.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind people that Ubuntu relies, to a certain extent on community support. I encourage anyone who wants to help out to download the beta releases and release candidates and report these bugs as soon as they appear. That way, we can hopefully reduce the number of such incidents along the way.

Incidentally, I stumbled upon this blog entry by Matt Loney - he expresses my thoughts on the Microsoft Vista operating system better than I ever could. He writes:

Why did Microsoft ignore the first rule of usability and ditch all familiar methods of doing stuff that I'd spent 15 years getting used to?

I couldn't agree more! Further, in the XP to Vista upgrade Microsoft deprecated many of it's APIs; this creates a whole lot of work for application authors. I understand that APIs need to be updated as the technology improves, but many of the libraries that were removed were still functioning and widely used. Why remove them? The cynic in me suggests that there must be a monetary motive at play here..

But I digress; this post was supposed to be about Ubuntu! If you haven't tried it already, download the new 7.10 release of one of the Ubuntu projects!

A new beginning

Well, this is the first post for the new-and-improved tech-foo blog. I used to maintain a blog-like website on my own web server back home, but the hard disk crashed and burned. For a long time I couldn't be bothered keeping a blog, but this post from Coding Horror convinced me otherwise. Hell - even if no one reads this it'll help me offload after work. If this blog seems more like a therapy session than an actual tech blog you know why!

Hopefully I'll have the mental discipline to keep this blog going. So many of my friends cite lack of spare time as the main reason why their blogs died. Personally I think that's a bit of a weak excuse. Please remind me of that when I stop updating this blog.

Anyway, welcome to the blog, please feel free to leave your mark in the comments section!