[ubuntu-uk] fit for the purpose

norman norman at littletank.org
Wed Jun 20 21:11:18 BST 2007

I believe that the very laudable efforts in promoting the use of Ubuntu
need to be tempered with an element of caution. As far as I can tell,
the server application is well covered and taken care of and my concern
is with the desktop user, of which I am one. 

Presumably, one of the 'selling' points for Ubuntu is the frequent,
availability of safety updates and the 6 monthly supply of an updated
system, all for free. But, at some stage there is the need to be aware
of the fact that these updates may cause problems as well as benefits.
For example, take the case of the upgrade to Ubuntu 7.04. Those users
who, like me, could be using Pan Newsreader (supplied with Ubuntu)
suddenly found that, with no warning, the software had been radically

Look at the situation - a fair bit of time has been spent on changing to
Ubuntu 7.04 and you are now ready to carry on with your usual activities
using your super-duper, up to date Ubuntu. Let's have a look at the news
items - oh dear (or similar language) where have all my Pan files gone
and why must I now setup the software all over again. Fortunately, I
know where and how to ask questions and the only way to recover the
situation was to uninstall the new Pan and reinstall the version of Pan
that was supplied with Ubuntu 6.10. Next, I need to scan some drawings
to prepare some teaching material. More expletives, my scanner will not
work. I discover that it is because the new kernel will no longer
support USB scanners of the sort I use which worked perfectly for me
ever since the early days of Ubuntu. So now, every time I need to use my
scanner I have to reboot my system and select the version of the kernel
which was supplied with Ubuntu 6.10. There may be other examples of
which I am not aware because I do not use them.

There are many more examples which have affected the use of computers in
my household directly attributable to earlier upgrades of Ubuntu. I
really want to use Ubuntu so I put up with these difficulties and try to
get help to solve the problems but, if I had to pay for Ubuntu, I would
be there asking for my money back. To those of you who have been using
Linux for many years, these problems I have quoted are mere fleabites
but, to the non-technical user they are totally unacceptable. 

I was accused recently of trying to bring some realism into the work on
the leaflet and I am very happy to accept that comment. We must not lose
sight of the fact that it will be much easier to lose Ubuntu users if
things unexpectedly stop working than it will be to encourage new users.
How you deal with this I leave to the professionals I am merely putting
a point of view.


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