[ubuntu-za] Automatix bad

Morgan Collett morgan at penguinlabs.net
Thu Dec 14 08:26:52 GMT 2006

> recommended that you either make use of the Automatix [1] or EasyUbuntu
> [2], scripts that download and install all of this for you
> automatically. Alternatively, you can add the necessary support manually
> by following the Ubuntu Guide [3]. The Ubuntu Guide can also assist you

I recommend NOT using Automatix.

Scott James Remnant, one of the core Ubuntu developers, reported[1] that
the use of Automatix caused a lot of problems upgrading from Dapper to

One of the issues with Automatix is that it installs packages from
non-official repositories which, while they work once installed, have no
upgrade path when the next release of Ubuntu comes out. This means that
people had packages being removed or downgraded during the upgrade
process - since non-official repositories may contain packages with a
different version numbering scheme than the official packages.

The other issue is that the Automatix people have a lousy attitude
towards support. Their website[2] tells users "If someone on #Ubuntu
told you that Automatix caused a certain problem don't believe him/her.
Its a known fact that the #Ubuntu channel spreads misinformation about
Automatix. If you ask us for help and you mention that your were told by
someone on #Ubuntu that Automatix caused the problem, your request for
help will be ignored."

Considering that #ubuntu is the "official" support IRC channel, this
approach can only cause fragmentation and frustration. Rich Johnson
(nixternal) wrote[3] about this issue and I agree with him.

So what should one do?

I recommend following officially supported and community supported
guides - RestrictedFormats[4] and the Ubuntu Guide. I minimise my own
use of third party repositories, and I am prepared to *uninstall* all
the non-official packages from my system before upgrading to Feisty.
That's nearly impossible if you use Automatix.

I personally have found I can't live without some extra bling though -
once I saw Beryl SVN trunk I was hooked. This needs the latest NVidia
driver on my laptop otherwise I get the black window bug, so I have
Alberto Milone's repository[5] for the NVidia stuff - something I can
easily remove and revert. He's an Ubuntu member and has taken some
responsibility for testing an upgrade path to Feisty.

[2] http://getautomatix.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
[4] https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats
[5] http://albertomilone.com/driver_edgy.html

I hope this helps - it's not intended to be a rant or an attack, just a
statement of what I have seen and a recommendation.


Morgan Collett <morgan at penguinlabs.net>
+27 82 555 9574
PenguinLabs - Linux Hardware Compatibility Testing

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