Saturday, 16 January 2010

Could Canonical care less?

Happy new year,

I ask myself, is it happy really? After installing 9.10 on most of my machines last year, I run into every little error that one can imagine:
  • Left mouse button constantly not recognized (requires restart of GNOME)
  • Fan operates at full speed (acpi reports hot components even though machine is quite cool)
  • Suspend to RAM takes for ages (3 minutes fan runs on full speed, machines does ... what exactly does it?)
  • Resume from suspend brings the machine to sleep (have to wake it up again) every second sleep
  • scanning with xsane does not work (scanner still not recognized)
  • printing large documents sends garbage to the printer (large documents being 1 page documents with one picture on it) which terminates with CRC errors
  • CUPS does not allow canceling and restart of print jobs. Requeue does not work either
  • burning CD images is not possible. Brasero eats raw CDs
  • OpenOffice does not honor screen settings (like font size). Every other launch, my menus and fonts are microscopic
  • OpenOffice screen updates provide spurious artefacts (some lines are drawn only half in height, tables are squeezed, images are cut in half). Page down and up usually resolves this
  • Launchpad does not accept errors being reported the conventional way. It requires to send error reports from the help menu
  • Evolution terminates when sending mails to distribution lists that contain members with quotation marks and without in the same list (no kidding you). Distribution lists cannot be edited if there are similar entries in the address book.
  • SD cards are not recognized or automounted on most notebooks
  • Screen resolution cannot be changed on notebook screens. External connectors do not allow to choose between screen duplication or extension any more
  • Battery charge lasts for less than two hours on my major notebook. The same notebook with an 8.10 image reports 4h36 minutes on a full power pack
What annoys me most is that all these issues used to work in previous versions. Some stopped working as early as 6.10, sime as late as 9.10.

Were they reported? YES

Were they fixed? NO

Linux a franchise system

In a franchise system you have an idea about a business. You buy into it, get the proceedings, marketing material and the right to pretend to be part of something bigger. Franchise systems are more or less stringent. In the end, you save on preparing the market and can start the business right away.

A Linux distribution is similar. You decide which distribution you want, install it and live with whatever you got. Take SuSE, get a green GUI and KDE as the engine. You get a load of applications, need it or not. Take Fedore, you get blue and can choose between desktop engine and apps. Take Ubuntu and you can be sure to end up in the brown.

Initially Ubuntu claimed to provide well selected best in breed applications.

I'm not sure this is the case anymore. Telepathy follows Pidgin, PiTiVi follows GIMP, ...

Does Canonical care?

I have read about initiatives at Canonical to reduce the number of open errors. At the time, I was delighted.

Today, I look back at times when errors where treated as what they are: ERRORS.

All of the above mentioned errors (name it issues, problems, shortcomings, what ever) where not there in previous releases. They were introduced as part of system upgrades.

I reported these errors only to have them change from new error to either incomplete (at best), triaged (whatever that means, usually an acronym for: we wont fix it), fixed (interesting, no new version issued), wishlist (printing is more a requirement than a wish for some of us) or next release (which usually comes with recomendations to install e.g. 10.4 pre-alpha).

Frankly: I do not think that Canonical cares any more.
Frankly: I think Canonical lost focus
Frankly: I think we should seriously evaluate alternatives

Could Canonical care less?

I don't think they could care less than they do right now. I wished some executives had the insight that this is neither going to help the open source community nor Linux nor Ubuntu nor Canonical in the long run.