Okay, I admit, I am an impatient person. I hate waiting in lines. I have a superiority complex and a tremendous arrogance where I believe the world revolves around me. Hey, I'm a New Yorker, it comes with the territory. My wife, Rachel, is infuriated by this -- whenever we go to a restaurant and there is even a fifteen minute wait, I walk right out the door. On a Friday night, I've been known to walk in and out of five or six restaurants until I get immediate gratification.
If I wasn't such a Linux addict I probably would have walked right out the door with Ubuntu Hardy Heron as well. The demand for downloads and updates to the newly released Linux distribution was so tremendous, that the repositories are totally overwhelmed -- you can't connect to the US or central Canonical archives if your life depended on it today. According to a close industry source, Ubuntu saturated 20 Gigabits of bandwidth from both its main repositories and download locations over the last 24 hours. It's like the Seinfeld episode where they go to the Chinese restaurant and the bunch are stymied by every attempt to get a table.
With the growing popularity of the Ubuntu distribution, Canonical needs to get the repository infrastructure built, or we're all going to be walking out. They need to partner with someone like Akamai where the repos can be cached and large amounts of users can get to packages reliably.
Of course, there is no doubt that the service is expensive, and even with Shuttleworth's billion plus dollars net worth, its probably a rather big pill for Ubuntu and Canonical to swallow. What I'd like to see is a large organization -- perhaps with philanthropic aims to support open source -- eat that Akamai or hosting bill. It just so happens that Akami has a large hosting partner already, and that partner is Microsoft.
Microsoft could score huge points and extend a major olive branch by allowing Ubuntu to use its Akamai infrastructure that it uses for Service Pack and patching delivery and MSDN downloads to distribute Ubuntu and serve repository packages. After all, they are serious about making inroads in interoperability and being nice, right? Of course if Microsoft wants to decline the offer, I am sure Google or another large vendor would be happy to step in.
The repos aren't the only thing I am impatient with either -- it seems that Heron being released with Firefox 3 beta5 has caused a bunch of interoperability issues with sites that I frequently use. In particular, it has to do with unsigned security certificates -- if you go to a site that has an unsigned certificate, Firefox 3 stops you dead in your tracks. On many sites, it will allow you to hit the "exception" button, it imports the invalid certificate, and then lets you through. But on certain sites, such as hotel Internet service login pages, and private VPN gateways, Firefox just plain wont let you through, at all. In order to get onto my hotel Internet last night, I actually had to boot into Windows, download the Opera "static" distribution for Debian systems (use the static, because the qt-mt library is not installed on the system by default), toss it on a USB card, reboot to Ubuntu and install it before I could get on the Internet and Firefox 3 would let me browse anywhere.
It's clear that as good as Firefox 3 is, it isn't ready for prime time yet, and Ubuntu should seriously consider having more than one browser installed by default. A side by side install of Firefox 3 and Firefox 2 or perhaps Opera (which my buddy Larry happens to like as well) would solve that problem.