Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ubuntu, the end is near....

I was a huge ubuntu fan. They got it *right* for a few years there, from 9.10 through 10.10 which I currently run on my netbook and desktops. My son's machine is still on 10.04, and now I have a problem.

It seems they just decided that 10.04 is reaching end of life and now I can't perform updates on his machine. Further, the option to easily upgrade to 10.10 is no longer available in the update manager, they want us all to move to 11.10.

No thank you. To be fair, I have given 11 a test drive, a long one over two weeks on my Commodore Vic Slim desktop machine. Simply put, I *HATE* unity. It is extremely unfriendly to the desktop user, getting in the way, buggy, too tabletesque if that's a word I can use.

Apples iPad is certainly a game changer in the consumer world of popular computing. Now the big three, Apple, Microsoft, and Canonocal are moving their desktop interface in the direction that makes them friendly to a tablet form factor. And there's really nothing wrong with that. I understand that the consumer world likes the convenience of the tablet for media consumption. But there needs to be a classic desktop mode available for those of us that still want to use desktop machines.

Gnome 3 is not quite stable yet, I may give it another spin and try harder to adapt and live with the bugs, but I still love Gnome2. It's stable and reliable. I like that my machines just work. I like having a few important bits of information available via panel applets. I like the classic desktop paradigm, it works for me and the way I use my computers.

There are still too many problems with the new interfaces and the new kernel. Frankly, I'm afraid to run the new kernel on my MT101T eeePC netbook, I've read about a few people who've had their MT101T bricked by the new kernel and had to send them in to Asus for repair.

Soon, Ubuntu 10.10 will reach end of life and lose it's repositories. Soon I will have to migrate to something else and go through the trouble of reloading my machines. Kind of a pain since linux is so stable, I'd hoped to be able to just use my machines until the hardware died.

Wouldn't that be nice? To have a system where I could just worry about work I want to accomplish on the computer and not have to worry about the OS and keeping things running? Isn't that supposed to be an advantage of going with Linux on the desktop? Build it and just use it day-to-day without things breaking? I know that's what I want.

But these days, software companies and organizations seem to be in a race, a race to introduce new features and out do each other on *new* stuff. Rather, they should be spending time on fixing and trimming and speeding up existing software.

Ubuntu 10.10 got many things exactly right and was nearly the perfect desktop for me. But soon, Canonocle will force me to change by dropping support of one of the best Linux desktops that ever came along. This leaves me sad, and very hesitant to recommend Ubuntu to others.

So now, the search begins for another desktop OS. And I'm left a little sad.


  1. Check out Linux Mint or PCLinuxOS.

  2. Pardon me, and I'm certainly no Canonical / Ubuntu apologist (I don't even use Ubuntu)... but there are more traditional desktop environments in the world than GNOME 2.

    The death of GNOME 2 wasn't Canonical's idea. GNOME 2 is basically dead... unless of course some group comes together and decides they want to pick up the ball and then actually do run with it. I don't see that happening but it is possible.

    Try another desktop. People seem to like XFCE and LXDE. I myself have been using KDE for about 14 years and prefer that. KDE still has some quirks but I'm guessing it is closer to the traditional desktop experience than Unity and/or GNOME 3 Shell are.

    In reality Unity and GNOME 3 Shell aren't really that different. The still offer most everything from a traditional desktop except they put the panel on the left side and take away the quickly accessible program list. What most of us do is just add all of the programs we frequently use to the doc and then that's 95% of the work done right there. KDE switched their default menu some time ago. It's still does provide a list of everything but you are so rewarded if you hit alt-f2 or type in a search in the K menu popup... what you want shows up immediately and all you have to do is click on it or hit enter.

    I think new people coming into these environments actually like them more than the traditional desktops we grew up with... because flashy and shiny seems to be more important to them than us.

    Give Unity and GNOME 3 Shell more time and I think their rough edges will wear down some... as will the hardcore users'. :)

    If not your only option I think is to switch to a RHEL6 or clone because it has the GNOME 2.x desktop and it is going to be supported for a few years yet. You won't get any new features in GNOME but what's there should still work for at least 6 more years.

  3. Linux Mint wouldn't be bad, but unless you like KDE, I do NOT recommend PCLinuxOS. While PCLOS offers 6 different desktops to choose from, their support for anything other than KDE is absolutely PATHETIC. Being an Xfce fan, I tried their Xfce version -- it SUCKS!

    Mint Xfce I've had on my computer before and it's not half bad, although when I tried it on my wife's laptop, it wouldn't detect the wireless, so that was a deal-breaker for me.

    But I found last winter that CrunchBang detects the Broadcom wireless card on my wife's laptop perfectly, and so that's what I also have on my desktop box as well (yes, I'm picky like that). CrunchBang originally came with Openbox, but now offers a choice between Openbox or Xfce, and since it offers an Xfce version, I'm SOLD on it! B-)

  4. Give Linux Mint 11 a shot.
    You will immediately say: *Why* didn't I try this sooner. Promise.

  5. I saw the writing on the wall at 11.04, and bought a MacBook Pro. I know, I'm a sell out, but it's like what I wanted ubuntu to be.

  6. Install 11.10. After installing go to the App Store and install gnome-shell. Log out and find several new entries in the desktop options. Select Gnome Classic and log back in. The trick to learn is to hold down the alt key when you right click on the top toolbar to add stuff. It is Gnome3 with a Gnome2 face. One minor limitation is the placement of icons on the tool bar - you cannot just drag them along to where you want as they auto arrange in a group. Otherwise continue on as before, but with the latest versions of all your applications.

  7. Try the Enlightenment desktop. Installing Bodhi Linux is the easiest way of doing so.

  8. I'm not quite sure what you mean by the initial comment:

    "It seems they just decided that 10.04 is reaching end of life and now I can't perform updates on his machine..."

    10.04 is a Long Term Support (LTS) version.

    It does not reach End Of Life (EOL) until April 2013.

    See here:

    The only version which appears to be EOL is the netbook version (who knows why? Seems like a strange thing to do. PS. I like the Netbook GUI).

    I have 10.04 running on three laptops and four desktops and NONE of them have problems with updating.

    Your concerns regarding Unity not withstanding (I'm a KDE man myself), there should be no reason to do anything at present if you are happy with 10.04.

  9. You are apparently annoyed with the need to upgrade your whole system whenever the distribution of your liking dies away. You have the symptoms of someone needing the medicine called “rolling distribution”. Me too I suffered from the same symptoms and now I am cured with Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE, not to be confounded with Linux Mint 11 or some other number, which is based on Ubuntu and not a rolling distribution). As its name suggests, LMDE is based on Debian, not on Ubuntu, and never ever needs to be reinstalled; your system is kept updated just running Update Manager once in a while. You can enjoy peacefully your Gnome2 and now they are working to support its fork MATE. And you can discover, as I did, the wonders of LXDE, a desktop so good looking, fast, flexible and configurable that you are going joyfully to forget even Gnome2. Specially its panel deserves mention, way more flexible and configurable than Gnome2's, and everything running with 68MB RAM idle (ymmv). Add Kupfer (Synapse requires annoying zeitgeist) and you are in heaven. Say goodbye to your sufferings and try a good rolling release with LXDE, or XFCE, or Gnome2 while is lasts (to be replaced with its fork MATE).

  10. Head over to, we have GNOME 2.

  11. Wow, quite a few comments to my story. I read through them all, and quite a few didn't catch all my points in the article.

    I have tried mint11, buggy buggy buggy.

    I kind of like the latest knoppix.

    But I hadn't heard of Linux Mint Debian edition. That sounds like a good possibility. I run Debian6 on a workbench machine presently and also on a couple of servers at work. I'll give it a look in a virtualbox VM. (My favorite way of test-driving things.)

    I know 10.04 is supposed to be a long term release, but synaptic suddenly can't find many of the canonocle repositories and I haven't figured out why.

  12. Move to debian, it's your best bet. You wont regret after using it for a while.

  13. Unity is quite convenient if you know how to use it: You can pick your nose and drive your screen with the same finger.

    What is buggy in LinuxMint 11? I found it much better than Ubuntu 11.04 (where LM 11 is based from). Otherwise LinuxMint also have a rolling release based on Debian (LMDE).

  14. Try this:

  15. I would agree with most of the users that are using Linux Mint. Either the Gnome or KDE variations are both good. LMDE does have a few hiccups, but it's not bad at all. If you wanted to try something like Fedora with KDE you could, but If you like Ubuntu, and want to keep with Gnome 2.x I would jump over to Linux Mint, and choose between the Ubuntu based version or Debian Edition.

  16. Linux Mint Debian (LMDE) is the best imo. It is a rolling release which means you never have to re-install to do an upgrade. Could not live without it....and I have tried many distros.

  17. Continuing with the "move to ..." theme, I just gave up on 11.10 after being with Ubuntu since 4.10 and being a "unity has potential" cheerleader. I went to F16 and, after fixing the fonts, am extremely happy.

  18. What's wrong with Unity? "Tabletesque" isn't very specific :)

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  20. It all comes down to personal choice. I agree that neither Gnome 3 nor Unity are the desktop for me. When I run Ubuntu I am still dragging along libgtk1.2 from Jaunty so I can build the dock apps I like to run with Fluxbox.

    Then again because I am happy with Fluxbox all the nonsense with other desktops does not really affect me. Even the best of what Gnome 2, KDE 3.5, etc has to offer only holds me for a few weeks before going back to Fluxbox.

    The question you need to ask yourself is what are you looking for?

    If you want to load a Gnome 2 desktop on the computer and you don't need to be cutting edge and you want to not worry about it for 7 to 10 years. I would say go with CentOS 6. It is recent and will have support for a LONG time.

    If you want all of the above but are only looking for a 5 or 6 year relationship with your desktop. I would say go with Debian.

    If you want to be cutting edge with your software I would use ArchBang to install Arch Linux. Then I would rely on the fact that with the MATE project around you can migrate from Gnome 2 to MATE with no problems.

    Others have suggested Linux Mint for Debian. I would put that somewhere between Debian and Arch. They are based on Debian Testing so they are a rolling release. Currently they are running on top of Gnome 2. But you will be at the mercy of when Debian Testing rolls to Gnome 3. Will that be in a year? Three years? Who knows. So it may not be a great fit for you. If I had to venture a guess on who will allow an easy transition to MATE, I am going with Arch Linux over LMDE.

    MATE should provide a decent desktop. Timothy Pearson created Trinity, the official "fork" of KDE 3.5. They have just done their 3rd release. Plenty of bug fixes and they have added their own composter for KDE3.5. Next they are working on an emulation layer to run KDE 3 apps on top of QT 4. Thus keeping KDE 3.5 relevant for the next half decade. I expect that the MATE project will be at least that successful. Gnome 2 should remain relevant far into the future.

  21. The only good option so far is the MATE project. Both lxde & xfce will not meet the standards for some gnome2 migrants, they will find themselves looking for this and that but to no avail. If you can adapt to either then good but I suspect that most will not.

    As for me.. I'm going back to jwm/pcmanfm when the time comes.. but then I'm the stable person who does'nt need nor want the latest and greatest.

  22. Existing users of Linux overwhelmingly hate Unity, and we are abandoning it in droves. It's pretty sad that we all seem to be moving to Xfce (including Eric Raymond and Linus Torvalds).

    Ubuntu has jumped the shark. We hate Unity and we're not tolerating it. We want our desktops to look and act like desktops, not like overgrown smartphones, dammit!

    And since Canonical is openly hostile to our rejection of Unity, there's really no point in staying with Ubuntu anymore. We became Ubuntu users because it had a good looking desktop that "just works." Now we're leaving for the exact same reason.

    I'm really not interested in tinkering. I want a computer that I can depend on. For me, the answer was to switch to stock Debian. You get to choose your desktop at installation time, and the updates roll out in a smooth, predictable stream of updates.

  23. Another whiny bitch. Just what we need! Get a life already.

    I get the feeling most of you haters couldn't compute your way out of a wet paper bag without someone holding your hand. You people are sad.

  24. May I suggest you have a look at Bodhi Linux It runs Enlightenment but it is easy to configure and stays out of your way. It looks fantastic, and I am running it now as the main desktop of choice. Just check it out for yourself, from one old techie to another.

  25. This has certainly been a lively comment stream! I appreciate the longer and more thoughtful comments, thanks to those for taking the time to share their perspective.

    My next post goes into detail of the direction I'm heading, and Debian stable is still on the table, even though I don't mention it there. I do run it on a junk/experimental machine I play on from time to time.

  26. I have to call JohnStanton out. He uses the word 'haters' while his post is the only hateful one that I've read on this page. He sounds juvenile and sexist.


  28. boy, am i in the same boat, or what?
    i used ubuntu since 6.06 and mostly stayed with the LTS releases. Ubuntu 10.04 will expire in 2013.

    i started by moving one machine to Debian 6 Squeeze (stable), and that worked fine (it has Gnome 2).

    The only issue is to find a distro that supports Gnome 2 in the long run.

  29. @ woohoo
    '...The only issue is to find a distro that supports Gnome 2 in the long run.'
    Unfortunately Gnome 2 is not anymore. It was cast aside by its team and they continued with Gnome 3 I believe. This was not a Canonical choice, they simply reacted to it and Unity was chosen. When companies change their proprietary product systems and UI they are backed up by their usual vast monopoly and also some big bucks marketing. Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, whatever, has no monopoly and a near zero marketing budget. So decisions can come as a surprise. I like unity, however I am hoping to like it more when it improves in future.