more rewriting history

Story: Why Ubuntu has become the flag bearer for LinuxTotal Replies: 26
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Jul 05, 2009
2:40 AM EDT
Quoting:But by 2004 there was a good chance that a standard installation would just work, and Ubuntu was on the inward wave of distributions taking advantage of this new-found stability. From the first release, Ubuntu developers have been canny enough to work only on what's important from the perspective of an ordinary user.

This was true of Mandriva in 2000., and that fact is precisely why I'm using Linux today.

Jul 05, 2009
6:52 AM EDT
Pretty much the same experience for me. Mandriva was the first Linux distro I managed to install and end up with a working system. Over the past five years, at different times, I could say the same for OpenSUSE and Fedora, as well. As for the past year or so, Kubuntu has offered me the best Linux experience on my systems. Likewise, Kubuntu has helped me convert several Windows users to the world of Linux.

Jul 05, 2009
7:54 AM EDT
Here's a howler:

Quoting:Rather than throwing everything into the cooking pot, the Ubuntu developers recognise what's important and make sure that it works first, even if that means being late to the OO.o 3.0 party.


Jul 05, 2009
7:55 AM EDT
It's the usual 'equate desktop linux with "linux" and ignore the server' piece. :(

Jul 05, 2009
9:34 AM EDT
I switched to it when the first version came out in 2004. The reason? Because of the Debian superstructure. For three years I had been considering a switch from Fedora/Red Hat basically because of the superior package management of Debian. Unfortunately at that time the Debian installer was a nightmare so I went with Ubuntu whose installer was a piece of cake.

Since then Debian has become easier to install (and use). I wonder how much the pressure from Ubuntu induced the positive changes in Debian.....

Jul 05, 2009
12:37 PM EDT
I'm sorry, Ubuntu was hardly first for any of these, nor was it the flag bearer or single handedly do anything at the time. isolinux had been out for some time, Klaus had his livecd going from a long time, and most distros worth their salt pretty much just worked.

Mandriva gives a nice GUI inteface that makes sense to everything on the system, something that Ubuntu has yet to do. Sabayon gives the user the chance to update the installer prior to installing, something that I have yet to see in any other distro. You want innovation, people are innovating the heck out of things, and things that Ubuntu isnt even thinking about.

Jul 05, 2009
12:50 PM EDT
I used slackware first in the mid 90's. Then I switched back and forth between redhat and debian. Then I bought mandrake at Sam's club and that became my distro of choice from then on.

Then I switched to ubuntu when it came out. I like the fact it was just one cd and you could get a working computer in just minutes. I haven't changed since. I have always like the "humanity to others" motto.

Apt-get is the cat's pajamas as far as I am concerned. I guess that is because I struggle with redhat and solaris everyday at work and apt-get is just nice to come home to when I need a piece of software or just updating my home box.

I just installed 9.04 on Imac tangerine that was built in 1998 and has made it very useful for educational stuff for my daughter. I don't keep up with Apple releases but I think they are two or three releases past anything that would run on this machine. I think that speaks volumes for the quality of software that makes up Linux. While all the other proprietary companies continue to increase the requirements and suck more power from the grid Linux continues to run on older hardware and require less power.

I just don't understand why people continue to throw their money away on proprietary software when it isn't needed. You can do anything with Linux without all the baggage that comes along with proprietary software.

Jul 05, 2009
6:38 PM EDT
Quoting:Here's a howler:
Hmm, I don't get the joke.

At any rate, I see that ubuntu hating is a favorite sport around these parts, and I'm not sure why. It sort of reminds me of the disdain that freebsd users have historically had for linux.

I've been a unix user and sys admin since the early 90s, and after all the flavors of unix and the different linux distros that I've used on the desktop and in the server room, I'm using ubuntu right now, and recommend ubuntu server wherever it makes sense. Why? It works well for me, with no muss or fuss. Sure, it's not perfect, and I'd love to see something like yast, but give them time.

Jul 05, 2009
7:42 PM EDT
IMO, the "feature" that has pushed Ubuntu near the top of linux distributions is the community. I appreciate the focus on treating others with respect, no matter what their technical knowledge. I like the fact that "Open Week" is presented every release cycle, to recruit more help with docs, development, and community.


Jul 05, 2009
8:11 PM EDT

I think Bigg was pointing out that Ubuntu does indeed throw everything--plus the kitchen sink--into every release, heavily patches the kernel to make it work, and has loads of bugs filed at Launchpad for some time after a release hits the servers.

Ubuntu, while it does an acceptable job for those who use it, is not exactly the picture of careful and efficient development. Carla Schroder had an opinion piece along these lines recently as she traded Ubuntu for PCLinuxOS.

"Release early and often" has been applied to Ubuntu several times before. This isn't to take anything away from what Ubuntu has accomplished; it's just that Ubuntu, when held up to other distros, doesn't seem to have their 20,000+ packages vetted with the same care as other distros.

And, as someone who started their Linux experience with Mandrake in 2002, the claim that Ubuntu was first to market with all of these user case features denies historical evidence to the contrary.

It's one thing for Canonical to usurp the Linux moniker and make it one with Ubuntu in the minds of many. Kudos to their marketing department. But at least, let's be careful (and honest) when appraising Ubuntu's merits so that we do not ascribe to it praise which solidly belongs to other distros which paved the way long before Ubuntu ever came along.

Anachronism lives... (NEWS FLASH: Canonical has just invented the wheel...details at 11.) :-)

Jul 05, 2009
8:24 PM EDT
Quoting:I see that ubuntu hating is a favorite sport around these parts, and I'm not sure why. It sort of reminds me of the disdain that freebsd users have historically had for linux.

@ herzeleid, I use Ubuntu, 9.04 on my personal machine, my partner uses Ubuntu 9.04, because I upgraded her last month. I'm selling Machines preinstalled with Ubuntu or Ubuntu derivatives (EeeBuntu works better on the MSI U100 netbook, for example).

The article was an obvious rewriting of history. either that or no research was done at all, and the author based everything on his own personal ignorance. With the cavaet that I've not bothered to look further, Mandriva, in 2000, was certainly everything that the author claimed of Ubuntu in 2004, and continues to be.

Canonical/Ubuntu do not deserve the credit for being the innovators all things Wonderful and peachy in linuxland. There are others who lead the way, producing what Ubuntu is now being showered with praise for.

I think these Ubuntu cheer leaders need to spend a bit more time doing their research, and less time rewriting history.

Jul 05, 2009
8:32 PM EDT
Quoting:the "feature" that has pushed Ubuntu near the top of linux distributions is the community. I appreciate the focus on treating others with respect, no matter what their technical knowledge.

That is probably the feature that Canonical introduced that was and is still lacking in some Distribution "Communities".

Having said that, my experience of the Ubuntu community was not particularly good, and it's unlikely I'll ever rejoin the Ubuntu Forums.

Jul 06, 2009
4:18 PM EDT
Yes, the article is historical revisionism. The author also doesn't understand the difference between a cloned distro, say a respin with a different theme and a slightly different package list, and a derivative work with significant original content. Ubuntu is a Debian derivative but Canonical have developed a number of apps and tools. Many of them have ended up in other distros. As already has been mentioned the kernel is not the only place to contribute significantly.

I find community matters less than it should. If the quality of the community really mattered distros like Vector Linux and Wolvix would be top of the popularity rankings. Puppy Linux wouldn't be popular at all. Ubuntu, IME, isn't bad considering the size of the community. With such a large user base it's hard to remove all the bad apples.

Jul 07, 2009
5:47 PM EDT
Somewhat related observations:

  • A distro w/o long-term support is missing a huge swath of users:
  • Ubuntu has an actual LTS with a defined period of support
  • Every RHEL is a long-term release
  • PV supports every Slackware release for a very, very long time
  • By virtue of its development cycle, every Debian release has about 3 years of support, meaning it's pretty much an LTS distro
  • NetBSD and FreeBSD support their releases for a long time (exact length of time escapes me at present)

    I'm probably missing a whole lot here; my Mandriva and Suse knowledge is lacking.

    But on the other hand:

  • Fedora does not have an LTS; if the project had a little more independence, it could roll out a 3-year distro and make a lot of people happy. I understand the RHEL issue, but the desktop repos of Fedora dwarf those of RHEL (and I still don't see all that Fedora work being a) ported to RHEL and b) maintained after that), and it's hard to compete with Ubuntu if you don't compete on all levels
  • Vector, Wolvix, ZenWalk, Puppy, etc. are all great in their own right, but I don't know any of these that let you run the same release and patch it for very long. The three Slackware-based distros (Vector, Wovix, Puppy) push out patches, but as far as I know only until the next release; and for all the upgrade path seems either uncertain or unavailable
  • I'm actually running Ubuntu's LTS right now. It works pretty well, but I wonder just how much effort goes into chasing down bugs in the LTS vs. pushing out the regular six-month releases. I'd track the regular Ubuntu releases if only my hardware would cooperate (and it ain't doing that).
  • OpenBSD rarely patches applications between release cycles, and patching the base system is not apt-get easy; nor is following -current, which is what developers recommend (and do themselves)

    I'm at a point in my working life where once I get something that works, I stay with it until it stops working. I need as close to "professional" security patching as I can get. And I can't have production hardware broken by new "improved" Xorg releases, among other things ...
  • herzeleid

    Jul 07, 2009
    5:54 PM EDT
    @Steven - this is why I'm still running ubuntu 8.04 LTS on my desktop at work. It works, no surprises, and no time spent fiddling around. When the next LTS comes out, I'll run it on a test box and then upgrade as time allows.

    Jul 07, 2009
    5:55 PM EDT
    @Steven: Vector actually patches the previous release as well. Each version is supported for at least 2 years. Having said that, it is decidedly desktop oriented and isn't appropriate for server use.

    Slackware (plus Vector and Wolvix) do not implement PAM which, IMHO, makes them inappropriate for enterprise use where multiple methods of authentication are the norm. They also don't implement SELinux.

    Novell offers support for SUSE Linux Enterprise that is long term. Their offerings are very similar to Red Hat's.

    Jul 07, 2009
    5:57 PM EDT
    Quoting:Novell offers support for SUSE Linux Enterprise that is long term. Their offerings are very similar to Red Hat's.
    Right, Novell offers 7 years of support for SuSE Linux Enterprise- it breaks down to 5 years normal support, and then at least 2 years of 'extended' support. We asked them about it at length because we are a SLES shop here, running the infrastructure on SLES 9, 10 and 11.

    The openSuSE gets only 2 years of patch support.

    Jul 07, 2009
    5:59 PM EDT
    Slackware doesn't implement PAM because, like any tool, it can be used for good or for evil.

    Imagine the result of elevated privileges and a rogue PAM module. Even more scary than a rogue Firefox add-on.

    Jul 07, 2009
    6:04 PM EDT
    Right now, I need to gauge whether or not the added performance I'd get with Debian Lenny (or Vector or ZenWalk or even Slackware) is enough to get me to dump Ubuntu.

    As I've said recently, I'm sure there's a reason why Lenny hasn't updated Iceweasel/Firefox since 3.0.6 ( and Testing remains at 3.0.9 (, but I can bet it isn't a good one.

    If I want my critical apps (Firefox and Thunderbird) to remain unpatched for MONTHS at a time but want everything else to be "stable," I guess I'd be OK, but that's not what I want/need. And my experience running Debian Testing wasn't such that I'm eager to move to Sid (or Sidux).

    As much as Fedora's lack of an LTS troubles me, I'll probably give it a tryout just to see how one of my laptops reacts to it.

    Jul 07, 2009
    6:14 PM EDT
    @Steven, two remarks:

    1) Debian does patch IceWeasel for security issues. They recently even patched IceWeasel 2.0.x on Etch. That's longer support than even Mozilla offers.

    2) It's trivial to run upstream Firefox/Thunderbird (or most other apps) on Debian. Grab the upstream binary .tar.gz package and dump it in /opt. Then update your menu items with the menu editor. All done!

    Jul 07, 2009
    7:08 PM EDT
    I'm not saying Debian doesn't patch Iceweasel, but I'd like to know why they're running 3.0.6 in Stable. I don't think they're backporting patches from 3.0.11 to 3.0.6; they're just NOT updating the app in anything approaching a timely manner.

    If Iceweasel and Icedove in Stable were a week or two or even three behind the latest patches from Mozilla, I'd understand, but we're talking MONTHS here.

    If there are actual security-based reasons why Mozilla patched Firefox FIVE times since 3.0.6, it would seem that Debian users have a Stable base that is unfortunately running woefully dated apps with the potential for serious vulnerabilities.

    If there was some actual work going on on the packages, I fail to see how that work can take many months. It seems that the packages are being neglected or ignored.

    And it doesn't instill much faith in Debian on the desktop.

    Sure I could pull my own tarballs of Firefox/Thunderbird and then manually update my menus, but once I start doing that, I have two fewer reasons for running Debian than I did before.


    Jul 07, 2009
    7:30 PM EDT
    Quoting:I'm not saying Debian doesn't patch Iceweasel, but I'd like to know why they're running 3.0.6 in Stable. I don't think they're backporting patches from 3.0.11 to 3.0.6

    Yes they are. Debian updates Xulrunner, which is where the security issues reside. It's two separate packages. They only update the main IceWeasel package (and the version number) when they bring in a complete new build based on new Mozilla code.

    Debian is only days behind upstream Mozilla on security fixes. Please see:

    IceWeasel 3.0.6 on Lenny is fully patched and just as safe as the latest Firefox 3.0.x

    Jul 07, 2009
    7:45 PM EDT
    But look at the changelog for Iceweasel in Debian Lenny:

    and Firefox in Ubuntu Hardy:

    [url= build2 nobinonly-0ubuntu0.8.04.1/changelog][/url]

    Only one change has been made in the Iceweasel package in 2009.

    Five changes have been made in Firefox 3 in 2009 ...

    I can't imagine anything more apples-to-apples than that. I assumed you meant that Debian patched the Iceweasel package but didn't bump the version number. But it doesn't look that way.

    How can Debian be only days behind Mozilla if they haven't updated the package but once all year?

    I genuinely don't understand how Debian's Iceweasel can be patched just because Xulrunner has been patched.

    Wouldn't Ubuntu handle patches the same way?

    Jul 07, 2009
    7:49 PM EDT
    You're looking in the wrong place. Read my previous post more careful. There is hardly anything in the IceWeasel package. Most of FireFox is in the Xulrunner package. That's what gets updated.


    Last update was June 12, fixing all the security issues also fixed in the last Firefox 3.0.x release.

    Jul 07, 2009
    7:57 PM EDT
    I went to the changelog for Xulrunner:

    I think I see what you're saying. Looks like Debian does things VERY differently than most other distros. I'd love to read more about that approach to patching the system.

    Jul 07, 2009
    8:03 PM EDT
    It's really easy. Firefox is 70% Xulrunner and 30% chrome. Thunderbird? Same thing. Sunbird? Yup. Debian splits all that into separate packages, which makes updates easier, allows sharing libraries and thus reduces the size of the installed applications. Xulrunner is just another shared library, like GTK or libpng.

    Jul 09, 2009
    6:25 PM EDT
    Here's something I saw in the Debian user mailing list, which also explains this well:

    Johannes Wiedersich to date Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 9:11 AM subject Re: iceweasel 3.5? mailing list Filter messages from this mailing list

    Duque Gorlois wrote: > By the way, how could I update Iceweasel browser in order to always > run a safer version in my machine ? > > Is it through "apt-get update" ?

    Yes. The stable version of iceweasel gets security updates from debian's security team. The security fixes are backported to the version in lenny/stable. The idea is that no new features and/or bugs and/or (unknown) security problems are introduced into a stable debian system.

    Upstream (mozilla) always fix security issues with a new version that usually also contains new features and thus may contain new bugs etc.


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