Two simple suggestions to improve Ubuntu

Everyone seems to know that you don’t upgrade Ubuntu straight away but rather wait one month so that major bugs can be fixed. If that’s acceptable, then my first simple suggestion is for the update manager to not prompt the user to upgrade until the stable release has been out for a month (or whatever time frame works. It could even be dynamically flagged when ready).

The problem as I see it, is that the average user gets notified and upgrades straight away. Problems occur and they’re stuck. Ubuntu (and Linux in general) looks bad.

Simply delaying this a month or two means they are blissfully unaware of the newer version until all the major issues are resolved. When they do upgrade, they should have a much more trouble-free experience. Advanced users can upgrade straight away, discover problems and get them fixed.

Secondly, it seems to me that many of the problems faced with a new version of Ubuntu are due to the fact that it’s a time based release. Come hell or high water, it’s released in that scheduled month. The problem with this is that there’s no room to slip the release, especially when it’s due date is already at the end of the month.

So my other suggestion is simply to schedule the release for the 1st day of the month. If all is well, release it. If there are major bugs that need fixing, then you’ve got 4 weeks to slip the release and still make that month. It won’t solve issues with a fresh install, but many bugs seem to come from upgrading an older version.

Perhaps these two simple suggestions will help overcome some issues users face when upgrading, and will help to make Ubuntu more trouble free and therefore better quality.


16 thoughts on “Two simple suggestions to improve Ubuntu

  1. Chris Post author

    There are different types of users out there; the more technical who can fix thing and will put up with stuff not working and the newbie users who can’t fix anything and get frustrated when things don’t work.

    The former group (probably the majority of current users) would be the ones to upgrade, find and fix problems while the newbies are blissfully unaware of its existence. So there is still the same people finding, reporting the bugs to get them fixed. The difference is that the latter group (who wouldn’t report bugs, but just go back to Windows, reinstall or whatever) can get a more smooth upgrade experience when they do it.

    It would be trivial to implement and I think could make a huge difference to the overall perception of Linux for new and inexperienced users.


  2. Chris Samuel

    I’d have thought a lot of the more techie folks would be the ones already running the beta releases (or earlier in some cases, ahem) and (hopefully) reporting bugs. If not then doing yet another release candidate (which is effectively what you’re suggesting here) is not really likely to help that much.

    On the other hand, I could be completely wrong! 😉

  3. Chris

    I’m sure that there are lots running the betas, but certainly more will be upgrading at the time of the final release.

    My main concern is for Ma and Pa Kettle who aren’t tech savvy – they need an OS which will just work. Seeing as there are still so many unresolved issues at the time of release, perhaps letting most tech savvy people upgrade and then Ma and Pa Kettle a month or so later will help.

    There’s nothing to lose anyway. If it works perfectly at the time of release, on worries – but if not, then this gives extra time for them to sort out bigger issues found from a larger audience of upgraders.

    I don’t care about techy people, they can fix problems themselves. It’s the average user that I’m thinking about – the people who come to Linux because it’s better than Windows, and who need things to work properly because they aren’t interested in fixing things.

  4. Damon

    I think I agree. Ubuntu this time around is just a bit undone. Examples: I could not get a dhcp or use a static address with netmanager. Looking around it seems that the default gateway was not stored correctly. Installed WICD and it worked (probably not using netmanager would have worked also). Another annoying tick is trying to use applications from the administration menu. They keep asking for root password NOT $USERS password. As you know, there is no root password in a default Ubuntu install.

    These are two simple design errors that would bring a “joe-internet” to his knees. Which is it, give a root password or give the users password. This is not even a function deep in the OS. It was right on the surface.

  5. phloidster

    Chris is right. The first comment is wrong.

    Time based releases are evil. Period.

    Quality and stability matter far more than many in the linux ‘community’ seem to understand.

  6. Gireesh

    In my laptop, Karmic hung each time I open a window (the first window after login to GNOME session). I found a workaround to this.. login using GNOME failsafe session once. From next login onwards, I can login using normal GNOME; I don’t see any issue.

  7. UndiFineD

    Hello, I think you are absolutely right.

    I upgraded to karmic even before offical release time,
    and have filed some bugs. that was a month ago.
    as an experianced user you can life with that and move on.

    now the official release has been made and upgrades fixed some issues
    for me, great. the experianced people can life and move on, but their systems are no garrantuees for other home users with lesser experiance and different kinds of hardware.

    an upgrade delay for lesser experianced user I do recommend, but it is no promise for flawless upgrades.

  8. Chris Post author

    Yeah, the delay doesn’t guarantee a flawless upgrade, of course. It should however improve the experience, giving the best possible chance of a more successful upgrade.

  9. Chris Post author

    Hi Thang,

    Not at all. It doesn’t change anything really. Ubuntu is still released every 6 months, just that for some people that 6 month upgrade frame will be a month or so later than everyone else, but it’s still the same amount of time.

    Also, Ubuntu will still release early to get it to the people who need to test it (and use it if they want to).

    This does raise another interesting questions – what is “early and often” in this context? Is once a year often? Is 12 times a year often? The definition of how early and how often must change depending on the open source project. Perhaps one release every 6 months is too often.


  10. Samantha Mathews

    That’s why I move to debian since ubuntu looks flimsy. I’ve hearded people say ubuntu is a special distribution of unstable debian, right?

  11. Chris Post author

    Pretty much. It’s built from Debian unstable (Sid), then they try and fix issues with it. Lucid will be based on Debian testing apparently, not Sid.

  12. Ron Herring

    My biggest gotcha came from the fact that something that worked before (my wifi card) got broken in the new release. The solution offered was “that manufacturer doesn’t provide sufficient information to resolve the issue because this is proprietary information”. If that was true, why did it work in the previous version? So I downgraded the machine so it would at least work! Incidentally, the “broken” part was that it would NOT connect to any router using channel 6 – any other channel worked fine. Returning to the previous version fixed the problem. Strange, but true. But the response itself was a big irritant, since it was patently untrue.
    Also, the network manager in the new release was itself broken, so I had to manually set the network parameters! Having been a Linux user since 1995 (and Unix admin since 1977), this was yet another big disappointment.

  13. Chris Post author

    Yeah, that’s frustrating. The same thing happened to a friend of mine. Out of curiosity, what was the wireless model?


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