First thoughts on Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn

First thoughts on Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn

Summary: Yesterday I downloaded a copy of Ubuntu's latest release, version 7.04 Feisty Fawn. The download took some hours because of busy servers but I think that it was well worth it.

TOPICS: Open Source

Yesterday I downloaded a copy of Ubuntu's latest release, version 7.04 Feisty Fawn.  The download took some hours because of busy servers but I think that it was well worth it.

Go Ubuntu!If you're not a Linux or Ubuntu user, I've compiled a gallery here of images I collected while running Ubuntu from the Live CD, the installation process and the running of the OS after installation.  Check it out!

I don't want to overhype anything but I can say with all honesty that Ubuntu 7.04 is by far the best and easiest version of Linux that I've used.  The Live CD worked flawlessly for me and allowed me to road-test features without the hassle of installation.  The installation was also a snap and the step-by-step wizard is really easy to follow - as easy, if not easier, than a Windows installation. 

I can't say that the Ubuntu installation process is a fast one, it isn't, and felt a lot slower than installing Windows Vista, but the end result was an OS that worked, was snappy and has loads of apps pre-installed.  Nice.  Very nice!

Just as I was writing this I came across an Ubuntu post by Preston Gralla entitled "Why Linux Will Never Take Over the Desktop".  In this post Preston makes a point that's quite valid:

But ultimately, it’s an operating system that only a devoted, hard-core computer aficionado could love. Here’s just one example. As soon as I installed it, I received a notification that updates were available. I clicked the notification, and was told that 129 updates were available. Here’s a small representative sample of what was available:

version of ‘host’ bundled with BIND 9.x

simple interprocess messaging system (utilities)

package maintenance system for Debian

Pixbuf-based theme for GTK+ 2.x

I could keep going on, but you get the idea. Microsoft messages and updates are difficult enough to decipher for the average PC user. But this? Forget it. People simply won’t have a clue.

Preston must be talking about an older version here because I only had two updates for 7.04 earlier, but he makes a very good point.  Ubuntu is nice, it's solid, it's fast and it's robust (so far anyway), but it's also way too geeky in spots.  Don't get me wrong, overall Ubuntu is nice, friendly and convivial.  But there are dark corners that absolutely reek of Linux geekdom cliquiness that average users aren't going to feel at home in (I don't feel at home there).  Ubuntu updates are one such area where you need a high level of know-how to understand what's going on. 

What the Ubuntu dev team need to do is find, I don't know, 100 people who aren't Linux geeks and stick them in front of the OS.  Use these people to get feedback on different aspects of the OS.  As soon as users start to look confused, scared or go bug-eyed then something needs tweaking.  If your average home user is going to look at Ubuntu as an alternative to Windows or Mac, all these geeky corners have to be smoothed out. 

That said, Ubuntu represents a huge step in the right direction for Linux and offers PC owners a simple (and safe) way to experiment with Linux.

Go Ubuntu!

Check out my first thoughts on Kubuntu 7.04 here.


Topic: Open Source

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  • Your feedback is important to their success

    [i]Ubuntu is nice, it's solid, it's fast and it's robust (so far anyway), but it's also way too geeky in spots. Don't get me wrong, overall Ubuntu is nice, friendly and convivial. But there are dark corners that absolutely reek of Linux geekdom cliquiness that average users aren't going to feel at home in (I don't feel at home there). Ubuntu updates are one such area where you need a high level of know-how to understand what's going on.[/i]

    This is EXACTLY the kind of feedback Linux engineers need, and they need it from multiple sources. Their software is excellent, but there is too much geekiness especially in installation and configuration areas. That's because the program the system the way THEY would want to see things, and they want that geeky stuff because it's helpful to them. They need to find a way to not necessarily eliminate that stuff, but hide it from the people who do not need to know the details but also allow those who do want or need the information an easy way to get it. In the example you provided, a keystroke, a simple clickable link, or an expandable list that is collapsed by default may be all that's necessary to hide the geeky stuff from the average user but allow the power user to obtain the information they need. Or maybe just an express/advanced option like MS has.
    Michael Kelly
    • It's the religion..

      I suspect if this change DID happen - the lack of geekyness would be a turnoff to the Linux zealots who see OS's as a religion, not a tool.

      People need an OS that just works - and installs without a lot of fuss. What the geeks miss is - most people use computers as a tool to get things done, they don't see the computer (and OS) as an end unto themselves.

      They want to write something and need a pencil - they don't want to build the pencil - they just want to use it.

      When Linux gets to that point - they might actually be viable.
      • Show what you know...

        [i]"I suspect if this change DID happen - the lack of geekyness would be a turnoff to the Linux zealots who see OS's as a religion, not a tool."[/i]

        It would make no difference. Ubuntu would become the distro for the masses. The zealots will stick where they are now - with Gentoo, Slackware and the more specialised distros.
        • Re: Show what you know...

          [i]The zealots will stick where they are now - with Gentoo, Slackware and the more specialised distros.[/i]


          none none
        • I'll stick to Mandriva

          Because it really is easy to use.
          tracy anne
      • What I am suggesting

        is a happy medium. Hide the geeky details upfront so the masses can just click on through but make it easy to get the geeky details for those that want it. It does need to be thought out, but I don't think it would be overly difficult to find that happy medium.

        I don't think the masses mind if geeky details can be obtained, they just don't want it shoved in their faces. And I don't think the geeks would mind having to make one extra keystroke or click to get what they want as long as it's there.
        Michael Kelly
      • RE: It's the religion..

        >>>...I suspect if this change DID happen - the lack of
        geekyness would be a turnoff to the Linux zealots who see OS's
        as a religion, not a tool...<<<

        Since 1998 when I first tried Linux as a curiosity, I have come
        to value it for the things it can do that Windows cannot do. A
        large part of that stemmed from the fact that the 'geekiness'
        was very visible and accessible for any who cared to get into
        it. I have no objection to seeing user friendly Linux. I
        think that hiding the 'geeky' parts ultimately does the user a
        dis-service. Current distributions are very easy to install
        and use and the migration from Windows is almost seamless. For
        those of us who wish to 'get under the hood' the hood latch is
        up front and highly visible making it very easy for the casual
        user who might be interested in delving into the depths of
        Linux to more easily begin to do so. Hiding the 'geeky' parts
        of Linux is a step backward almost forcing the user to
        surrender control of the computing experience to others.
        • Re: Re: The Religion

          I think you hit the nail on the head. With Ubuntu you get a signal that there are updates. You give it your password and then you get a list of the updates but you also get an icon where you just click it to install them all. That is all you have to do to update - password and one click. Should you want to look more into the updates you just click the update and it explains it. I think this whole "hide the updates" that the M$ people go through is really just so they can do just that - hide all their updates.
      • When Windows gets there, I might even use it

        You talk about Linux like it's more difficult, or less user friendly than your toaster.

        So is Windows. The difference is you are USED to WINDOWS.
        • That is a prime example of what the public is talking about.

          Almost astonishing; to see the words flowing onto the page stating out loud the very point that most people complain about when it comes to Linux. The difference between the average PC computer user and the typical Linux user is so vast that even significantly experienced Windows users complaints about the difficulty of using Linux falls on stone deaf ears when you are talking to a typical Linux user.

          I have used Linux for awhile on my desktop, SUSE about a year and a half ago and I fully admit it was a pretty impressive product. But the fact remained that it gradually became a pain it the arse to do slightly more complicated things that I am sure regular Linux users would find to be a breeze. Easy as using a toaster for them. Its just ridiculous that Linux users just cant seem to see that what is toaster easy for then IS computer difficult for most of the world and until Linux overcomes that its just not ready for prime time.
          • You said it

            Thanks for speaking out for all us OS-dummies out there
            Now I agree that Ubuntu and other Linux distros are more stable and secure than Windows versions(all of them including Vista), and they don't burn a hole in your pocket. I've used Windows for around 9 years now, and consider myself a fairly competent user. I can troubleshoot most problems with Windows I run into(and yes there're a LOT of them). I'm still learning to use Linux(Ubuntu 6) but it's been uphill all the way...every time I look for help it's in a language I don't understand... too geeky for someone like me. I'm a doctor, and how would you feel if your doctor were to speak to you in purely technical terms when all you want to know is why your arm hurts?
            Please spare a thought for the few million of us out there who would like to try alternate OSes but aren't programmers or IT pros.
          • Another point of view.

            I have not obtained (differentiation between bought or accepted as a gift) a Microsoft product since 1993. As such I am not familiar with this vendor's peculiarities. I have used IMB's OS/2 Warp and its successor eComStation. I am currently using Linspire 5.0 Linux distribution.

            Linspire was a small learning curve from OS/2. Linspire has also made it easier to find things when I am forced to use a Microsoft product as it was deliberately modeled after Windows. I found this to be the cause of most of my difficulties in gaining proficiency. I started with a Commodore VIC20, on which I wrote a dedicated database manager in Commodore basic, followed by a Commodore 128 (included a C-64), GEOS on the Commodore 128, and then to a 386DX40 with Digital Research DOS 6.0 and Geoworks Ensemble. Eventually I was persuaded by friends to install Win 3.1, which required a patch from DR and the overcoming of the Windows Setup virus which changed the DRDOS OS. It was my introduction to the BSOD, although according to my friends I had fewer problems than they had. It was also harder to use, and at least to me provided no benefit from the GUI. Batch files and a menu provided equal or better access to applications and the DRDOS task switcher provided near instantaneous switches between apps and allowed cut and paste between apps as did Geoworks Ensemble.

            I rate Windows as the least user friendly and least stable system that I have used.

            Had the DOJ properly filed against Microsoft when the illegal anti competitive DOS preload agreements first made their appearance, we might have never been subjected to the Microsoft Destruction of other software vendors.

            Win 3.1 apps ran much better in the OS/2 windows emulation and isolated memory spaces than they ever ran in Microsoft's product.

            Are there more apps available for Microsoft products now? Of course, but the question should be if the DOJ had done its job to prevent illegal monopoly actions and contracts when they were first initiated, how far advanced would we now be?

            Does no one else remember that Microsoft even broke its own applications with upgrades and patches/
            Update victim
          • Familiar, nor intuitivly or other missused terms

            How do you make a better experiance on desktop when one friend of mine hade sta through a live demonstration, and his main complaint, was that the OK and Cancel buttons was "in wrong order".

            You are there, just at a higer abstract level. You don't find the buttons at the same place on Suse as you find them on MS Windows. That doesn't mean MS Windows has right. It just is another place.

            This is your (and many others) problem, you don't want a better experiance. You want MS Windows XP on a Linux. And with MS Vista, you wont get that either. So why not learn something new (and better) when you are at it either if you stay with MS or not?
          • Vista / Linux

            Actually, I believe that Linux Distributions are getting close to Vista, at least in the visual front. I haven't used or seen Vista myself(Nor do I want to), but I hear that the biggest difference between it and XP is that there are some special desktop effects and maybe some other things. I've experienced myself some really cool desktop effects on Linux. One being a cube desktop switcher, where by you can switch desktops by holding a key and moving the mouse and the desktop would zoom out and you could see each one. It was really cool. Another would be windows that stretch and contort when you move them or minimize them. (Which you could do in XP with a product Stardock)

            Anyway, the choice is still up to you if you want to stay with Microsoft or not. But I'd rather go with Linux, since it's almost just as good and in most cases free. ^.^
          • Beryl > Vista

            Vista doesn't have the workspace cube or burning windows or anything. It just has transparent window borders.

            Anyway though, going from XP -> Vista or XP -> Linux is going to require relearning the interface because both are different from XP. Don't any of you remember learning to use Windows the first time? If you don't, look at a senior citizen in one of those classes at the library trying to double click. At least you don't have to relearn that!
          • Try changing input focus policy on XP, Vista

            <p>On every window system I've ever used, except one, you can adjust the window behavior to suit your taste. I want the keyboard input to go into the window where the mouse pointer is, "focus follows mouse." Most other people seem to want the keyboard stuck to whatever window they clicked in last. That input focus policy is called "click to focus" and it wastes my time. When I move the input focus I want nothing else to happen. Most others seem to want the window they're typing in to jump on top of everything else. That annoying behavior, coupled with click-to-focus, is called "auto-raise." It wastes my time and my screen area.</p><p>I used to ask MS-Windows users how to switch the focus policy to focus-follows-mouse. They'd gawk at me as if I were speaking a foreign language. Then a Microsoft developer explained to me why you can't do it on MS-Windows, at least through XP. Believe it or not, the window behavior was <b>hard wired into the MS-Windows operating system kernel!</b> How stupid is that!</p><p>But it's not stupid at all. Microsoft wanted to prevent anyone else from writing a window manager for their operating system, or even porting one from somewhere else. "No more Quarterdecks!" One more MSFT design decision to serve the monopoly's needs, and against the users'. And it's why they didn't get virtual desktops until fifteen years after everybody else had them.</p><p>So, can I have focus-follows-mouse on Vista? It doesn't seem like a lot to ask for, from the usability leader.</p>
          • Tweak UI (although not supported) -- As for input focus...

            Tweak UI supports the ability to change input focus.


            1. Open Start Menu, All Programs/Programs, PowerToys for Windows XP, and click Tweak UI.

            2. In the tree view to the left, open the mouse, and click X-Mouse.

            3. From there, check "Activation follows mouse (X-Mouse)."

            4 (Optional). You can also check the "Autoraise when activating" and specify the activation delay in milliseconds.

            5. Click OK when you're done.

            I hope this helps.
            Grayson Peddie
      • Cannot win apparently

        "People need an OS that just works - and installs without a lot of fuss."

        That is what happens with Ubuntu independently verified but still vilification continues.

        Now, I have a question. Do average windows users understand the messages that microsoft provides or do they just click as the Mac ad suggests allow or deny buttons without understanding exactly what implications their actions have?

        Ubuntu supplies an update mechanism that is similar to windows in that it has proceed or abort choices. Exactly what non-geek users can use. and simultaneously allows those who want to poke under the hood to do so.
    • Seems to me

      That is already has this option. When updates are available, there is a notification of their arrival. One click brings you to the update manager. Another click will install them all. Of course, if you want to know, and will understand what's there, you can expand the dialog to include the 'geek' information, but you have no need to deal with it if uninterested.

      Looked to me pretty much what Win does with its updates - except that it doesn't do it entirely behind your back (as it can be set to do in Win). Windows explanations of what the update are no more comprehensible to an 'average' user (whomever that is!) than those for Linux.

      As for ready for the desktop - it is. Same as Windows - no. Free of crapware? Yup.
    • Tried again - and failed

      Encouraged by all warm words about this product, I did download it and tried to install it on the old Dell which has been running Vista beta until now.
      How frustrating! Of course it did not find my WiFi card so no Internet would be available. And when trying to install it on the disk it started some mumbo-jumbo about partitioning. All tries failed.
      I had hoped it would wipe my disk and do what was necessary all by itself. Not so, so I'll wait another year until some Linux distro comes out which actually installs.
      By contrast I just clean installed Vista, and had a ready machine with all old data and settings transferred in one hour flat.
      Could this be something to aim for, perhaps, Linux? Or would it be too copy-cat for comfort - not geek-like enough?