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What would you like to do?
No Ubuntu for Christmas
Yesterday, after evangelizing Ubuntu for years and running Ubuntu on my
parents desktop since 2009, I finally "relieved" them by giving them
Windows 7 as a gift.
For years I had the hope that every Ubuntu release would get better
than the previous edition. That the vision of Canonical aligned with my
vision of openness and where user rights are put central. I took the
fact that some proprietary things didn't work for granted and thought
we could fight it best by adding weight to the open source movement and
use open source software while demanding open codecs, standards etc.
I praised Unity, and really think this is a bold and strong move in the
right direction that has to be taken in order to realize the ambitious
goals Ubuntu has set for the open desktop [1].
Harder it was to cope with software that used to work, but broke in a
new release. E.g. it's really frustrating if your webcam always worked
with Skype but suddenly after an upgrade it doesn't (and release after
release, a year later, it still isn't fixed [2]), or if you can't do
simple things like red eye removal, because the new version of the
software you are using is broken [3]. My parents often encountered
these seemingly little problems that completely put a halt on the
things they wanted and were used to do. Regressions are much more
irritating than bugs in new sofware.
Since the news of sending search terms to Amazon by default I'm through
with it. No longer do I feel Canonical puts my rights and liberties as a
user central. No longer can I pull energy from the hope that the next
release will be better. We don't move in the same direction anymore.
Ubuntu, I hope someday we meet again.

First of all I'd like to console you - according to @torvalds there's no regressions in userspace (caused by changes in webcam drivers):

So if your webcam magically stopped working after updates this sounds like you were hallucinating.

Second, I must say you've chosen a wrong way to report about the issues (regarding your webcam in particular). Since the number of a developers in Canonical is comparably small it's quite unlikely that they (actual developers) have ever read Launchpad tickets. Don't believe me - check it by yourself:

  • git clone git://
  • cd linux
  • git log -- drivers/media/ | grep ^Author | grep -i redhat|wc -l
  • git log -- drivers/media/ | grep ^Author | grep -i suse|wc -l
  • git log -- drivers/media/ | grep ^Author | grep -i canonical|wc -l

rrouse commented Dec 26, 2012


What? If Canonical developers aren't reading Launchpad tickets (their chosen bug tracker) then something is quite wrong, and it's not something wrong with Mr. Kuijsten here.

@lemenkov, I cannot figure out if you are trolling or sincere... Either way, frowny face.

a) This person is indicating a real problem, a "percieved" problem. It matters not whether or not Cannonical is responsible, what matters is that it happens on Ubuntu. If you want to make people want to use your software, make your software usable. I know Cannonical puts incredible effort into linux, but as the author points out, maybe they need a reminder where the focus needs to be. Ive had patches clean out my hardware startup files leaving me with no internet, hell no network interface card either. And then it's off to the other computer to debug why the first won't start its internet!

b) The user space regressions... They exist. Trovalds said it himself. He said though that ANY regression in userspace = kernel bug. That is what he said. There was no "they do not exist, har har!" Read your own link again.

"If a change results in user programs breaking, it's a bug in the kernel."

c) Why don't you send this message to tim's parents. Let's have them report kernel bugs. Wait even better, lets find the exact author of the patch that caused the problems, let's get to his/her house with torches and pitchforks. Surely BLAMING is more important than fixing. This makes me feel like you've never worked in a team. Hell I bet that if you find the exact author of the exact problematic line, walked up to him, and said "wtf" he will have NO idea what ur talking about, even after showing him the code. It's been a year or more, nobody remembers this stuff.

d) "So if your webcam magically stopped working after updates this sounds like you were hallucinating." -- go away.

Often the problem with webcam's magically failing (in my experience) is a change in the enumeration of devices. I have this problem with a tvtuner installed. Web cam programs seem to not give the option of choosing which devices is the web cam and seem to only want to check out /dev/video0. Take a look at udev rules and see if that helps.

Ubuntu's ad platform is kinda nasty, I hope they abandon it. But, I understand it as well. The product is free but costs money. They need to monetize some how. While they do monetize through pro support sales, using ads is an inovative way to do so from within the OS. Best part is, though, that you can just uninstal the unity lense. You still have full control and your rights, while infringed upon by default, can be protected with a simple uninstall of a unity plug in.

If a new version of a software is broken, install the old version. It's simple to do. I've done it several times when needing a specific version of something.

It boils down to this: you have options within ubuntu that you can exercise if you want. Or you can abandon it all together. You can try and bring a problem to the devs' attention, or you can just let it continue to fail and just switch to a new platform. One of these creates progress, the other doesn't. I know which one I would choose.

What really bothers me about this though, is that you had a stable platform, upgraded, and then decided to abandon ship because of bugs. Why not just continue to use the stable version?

Using linux takes a bit of work. But then again, running windows takes a bit of work to keep it from becoming slow, laggy, what have you.


timkuijsten commented Dec 26, 2012


What really bothers me about this though, is that you had a stable platform, upgraded, and then
decided to abandon ship because of bugs. Why not just continue to use the stable version?

The problem is it has never been really stable, always something is broken which makes me want to upgrade in the hope it is fixed. Then when it is fixed in an update other things break.

I don't mind doing some extra work as long as it results in a (more) stable platform and experience for the end-user. Every update brings stability in some areas but breaks it in others, these regressions are simply too annoying and combined with the fact that I no longer like the direction of Canonical, I can no longer advocate it's use.

I agree with you about broken things after upgrades, but not about the Amazon stuff (it's a way Canonical found to get more money to fund them). In my opinion Linux is the OS for the power users, let Windows for the rest, Mac OS X for developers and creators, and Linux for the power users. Each OS is better for certain tasks.


timkuijsten commented Dec 26, 2012


I agree with you about broken things after upgrades, but not about the Amazon stuff (it's a
way Canonical found to get more money to fund them).

I have nothing against the concept of commercial exploitation of products and services. I just don't like it when a company sends out personal data to other companies by default. Data I assumed to be local and private, like when searching locally on my computer.

jxn commented Dec 26, 2012

Please update on how this goes after a few upgrades. My parents have been plagued by these problems for the past 10 years or so (on Windows, currently Windows 7), and I had considered switching them to Ubuntu to resolve them. Hardware will suddenly stop working with no upgrades (possibly aside from automatic windows upgrades) and I'll get a call saying that the printer or cam stopped working, or suddenly they could not play DVDs. Surprisingly (they're non-technical), few of their issues have been user error. I've had relatively high levels of success with Ubuntu and hardware, on the other hand. The only thing stopping me from switching them is concern that they'd have trouble finding and installing new software that either might need for work. Your post made me rethink that though. Let me know if windows is actually that much better for you, because it hasn't been on their relatively low-end hardware PCs so far (all Dell, Toshiba, HP).


timkuijsten commented Mar 29, 2013

@jxn: Now that the machine has been running for a couple of months I can tell you the migration has been a success. The installation of Windows 7 went painless. I've installed all the software needed (drivers were already in the OS, since it's 4 year old hardware) and created some non-admin accounts for daily usage.

The only thing I still have to do is install cwrsync for backups. I already have this running on some office desktops with Windows XP so this should not be a big pain.

Best thing is, now that everything works, I don't have to upgrade anytime soon :)

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