Shooting for the Perfect 10.10 with Maverick Meerkat

Mark Ellse me at
Thu Apr 8 11:36:06 UTC 2010

I would like to add my support to the comments by Bob.

I am a very enthusiastic supporter of Ubuntu. I am grateful for all that
Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth have done for the whole linux community. But
there is one thing that really doesn't help - the glossy spin, compared with
the nitty gritty of addressing those things that really stand in the way of
Ubuntu and linux adoption.  Here are two examples.

1. Jono writes: " We don’t just want to be connected to the internet, we
want to be connected to each other. Social from the Start is our initiative
to make the desktop a collaborative, social place."

This is politician speech and it gets things nowhere. I wrote to Jono a
month ago asking if the bug making Lucid and Karmic unusable on many Intel
graphics boards (Bug 456902) is getting any Canonical attention. It's a bug
that totally wrecks Ubuntu for so many users.

I know it's an upstream issue. I know that we are all far too busy and we
can't do everything, but no reply to simple questions like this is very
discouraging. It makes you feel that Canonical are just like our politicians
- they spout eloquently but have their own agenda and are pretty much
indifferent to what the man in the street actually thinks.

I run a school where there are now a lot of linux machines. If I were
confident of the support, all but a half a dozen would be linux. But I am
not confident of the support.

A little while ago I wrote to Canonical asking about paid support. At the
time we were having problems with Ubuntu machines failing to browse a
Windows peer-to-peer network. You can see from the bug report how
significant this, and related bugs, have been.

I wrote a simple letter asking "If I pay for support, will you be able to
help me solve this problem?" to which I had no clear reply. I pushed the

"> Really, I do need some information about whether Ubuntu is aware of,
> and active in dealing with, this bug and can give a reasonable
> prediction about the possibility of fixing it. If so, I am very happy
> to part with pennies, either in direct support fees, or sponsoring a
> fix.

I don't know the specifics of your bug so can't really comment.  And I'm
certainly not offering a guarantee that for 1400 GBP we're going to fix
every bug you have in an operating system consisting of millions of
lines of code.

What I can tell you is that your support subscription means that bugs
that effect you will get more attention."

I'm sorry, but such a "politician's" answer won't help. If Ubuntu users are
going to trust Canonical - and those of us who use Ubuntu are tremendously
positive towards what Canoncial are doing and do want to support it - then
Canonical has to improve the way that it communicates with the community.

2. Forever we are told about the glossy future rather than the practical
present. About "the perfect 10" Jono says " we’ll have a new design track,
and a “cloud and server” track".

This sounds great. But there is a big hole in the the general Ubuntu
provision with the lack of a simple server. At my school we use SME server (, which is a simple to set up as an Ubuntu workstation. But
it can't handle the authentication for linux machines on the network (though
it is an excellent file/proxy/almost everything else server). The lack of an
"out-of-the-box" server solution to work with both Ubuntu and Windows
workstations is a great disadvantage.

This is not rocket science. It is not new ground. It won't produce great
headlines and reams of oratory from Jono like " This is a time of great
innovation and change in the Linux world, with major new initiatives from
powerful groups bringing lots of new ideas, new energy and new code."  But,
in the end, it is simple, clear practical solutions to these problems that
will make linux mainstream.

Mark Ellse
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