Ubuntu – why it sucks

Earlier this year, I switched from Debian to Ubuntu on both my netbook and my desktop machine, because it quite pleased me how well it worked. For the netbook, this was sort of appropriate, when ignoring the fact that a netbook is slow by principle, but with my desktop, my choice might have been less than wise.

Jaunty, 9.04, left me with occasional random crashing of my X server, and applications sometimes only starting at the second try, if at all. You’d get situations like banshee firing up, drawing the window on the desktop, and then locking up – which my compiz duly acknowledged by shading the window after about fifteen seconds. You kill it, you restart it, everything works.

Add to this some other applications (like Evolution, Nautilus and Tomboy), along with the fact that GNOME Do just seems to randomly evaporate into digital nothingness in the course of my uptime, and voila, you have a system that works mostly well, but just sometimes annoys the hell out of you, especially when the X server crashed the system because you did something like Alt-Tabbing while you had two applications running fullscreen on different monitors. Yep, it happened.

So, alas and behold, comes the saviour: Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala! It shines, it glitters, and it saves kittens from trees! Everything is so much better with it!

… not.

Karmic, in the vain hope to be so much greater to the common good, tries to optimize and dumb down things for the users. Which, according to others, seems to work splendidly – but absolutely failed on my end.

My woes with the rare animal

odin (the desktop)

For the record: odin’s specs are something along the line of a Core2 Duo, GeForce 260 linked to two screens, a couple of terabytes of hard drive and a SoundBlaster SB Live! 5.1, after the onbound soundcard started acting up and being generally retarded on the gaming OS.

  1. Boot time has gone way … up. Even though it’s supposed to be optimized for quicker boot and whatnot, my previous “less than ten seconds” boot time somewhat diminished in the face of the optimized bootup, which made my resolvconf (which I haven’t even touched!) for no apparent reason, adding a 30 to 60s timeout on the top.
  2. It solved the crashing problems … not at all. The only it actually managed is to get bug-buddy to be all “It looks like nautilus crashed” with a nice dialog saying I should report a bug to Ubuntu. Which I won’t, since there’s nothing logworthy to submit, it just dies and that’s it.
  3. The sound interface has been made super-easy! And, also, bloody hard to configure correctly. The new sound preferences eschew any kind of knowledge about your sound card and just presume to know better than you, which is exactly why it thinks it should fiddle with the Master volume of my Soundblaster when on four way stereo mix up, which controls only two channels, and not the PCM, which then regulates everything. Jaunty allowed me to change the mixer control to one I deemed best – no dice in Karmic. I now need to fire up alsamixer for that, and can’t use my keyboard volume wheel without fiddling.
  4. Speaking of sound, it has become even more annoying to find a way to turn off the logon sounds with GDM, since gdmsetup has been replaced by something which does quite about nothing at all.
  5. And, of course, hibernate doesn’t work anymore. As if any distribution would ever get that right.

baldr, the netbook

  1. Boot time has gone way … up. Yes, even one the famed “we sooo lurv you” Atom notebooks Karmic pretends to like so much, performance pretty much went down the drain.
  2. Improved external monitor support! Plug in a second screen, get none of the real estate! As soon as I plug in the VGA display while the laptop is still running, screens go irreversibly blank until reboot. Having it plugged in while rebooting allows you to run 800×600 on both displays, cloned, without the ability to change the resolution.
  3. Hibernate doesn’t work. Even though it did before.
  4. And myriads of minor nuisances like stutters and all that jazz.

May I note that this even happens when being freshly installed from source on the netbook, so this is no tale of the common upgrade blues.


Well, I’ll probably be changing distribution soonish, yet again. Fedora might be a neat idea for the netbook, not yet sure if I will revert to Debian on odin.

The Karmic Koala is becoming increasingly extinct and fails to reproduce appropriately even with an accepting mindset.