Ubuntu Lucid Lynx: free OS that Just Works

By Cory Doctorow


Today, I got caught up enough from my tour to update my ThinkPad to the latest version of Ubuntu. Lucid Lynx went in like butter. The update ran unattended, took about 1h including downloading the whole OS, updated all of my apps without a hitch, and is running smoothly. I'll let you know if anything breaks, but this looks like yet another flawless Ubuntu update for me, making me a very, very satisfied user indeed.

I know I once promised to document my Ubuntu Linux changeover in detail, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. To be honest, there just wasn't much to write about. I bought a ThinkPad (currently using the X200, lusting after the X201), downloaded and burned a CD, stuck it in the drive, turned it on, clicked "Install." To move my data over from my old Mac, I booted it into USB-drive mode and dragged the files over. Getting DRM'ed audiobooks out of iTunes was the hardest part (all hail AudioHijack, which let me capture the files, though it took a month's constant playback on three old Powerbooks to convert my thousands of dollars' worth of Audible books to MP3 so I could take them with).

Since then, it's Just Worked. When I need to do something new -- edit audio, say -- I go to the software center and look at what apps exist for that purpose, select some highly rated ones, download them, try them, keep the one I like (all the software is free, so this is easy). Migrating to new machines? Easy. Just take my list of installed apps to the new machine as a text-file on a USB key and ask Software Center to download them and configure them. Backups? Easy: external generic USB drive and rsync (exactly what I used with my Mac).

For the first two or three weeks, there was some disorientation. None of the things I used were where I expected to find them. It was the OS equivalent of when we remodeled the kitchen and it took me two weeks to remember where the new cutlery drawer was. Then the OS vanished: of course it did. It's plumbing. You're not supposed to notice plumbing. If you have to notice plumbing, there's something wrong with the plumbing.

Do I have to type in a lot of arcane command-line gibberish? No. I sometimes choose to because I like having little pythony things lying around that friends have written for me or that I've pieced together myself, but that was true on my Mac as well. I could happily do all the important things on my machine without ever touching the terminal.

Does everything work? Hell yeah. Ubuntu's support for arcane stuff like 3G modems is vastly superior to anything I've seen on the Mac or Windows: just plug in the modem, wait for it to autodetect, confirm its guess, and go. The sexy multifunction Logitech mouse? Just worked -- no drivers required. My HP all-in-one scanner/copier/printer? Just worked. Webcams, USB mics, etc etc? Never had to download a driver, never had to install a driver: they just worked.

Oh, sure, sometimes I don't know off the bat how to do something a little arcane (after I replaced the UK keyboard my ThinkPad came with with the US version, I had to figure out where to tell the OS about it, for instance), but it's never more than one or two googles away. And sometimes apps crash, but not often -- and the OS itself has crashed so infrequently that the most common cause of my reboots is running out of battery.

The folks at Canonical were kind enough to give me a comp support account, and I've used it a couple times for weird, dire things, like recovering from serious hardware errors or getting the crypto stuff on my encrypted partition just right, and they are excellent, but these are the kinds of problems I expect to need a hint or two from an expert with.

So there you have it: Ubuntu: It Just Works. Install it, spend two weeks wondering where the cutlery drawer is, watch it disappear. Thereafter, only notice it when it does something amazing, like flawless OS updates or very simple transfers to new machines.

You can download and burn a Lucid Lynx CD free, boot any machine from it, and give Ubuntu a test-drive. Try it!

Lucid Lynx

Published 8:56 am Thu, Jun 10, 2010

About the Author

I write books. My latest are: a YA graphic novel called In Real Life (with Jen Wang); a nonfiction book about the arts and the Internet called Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age (with introductions by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer) and a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.

123 Responses to “Ubuntu Lucid Lynx: free OS that Just Works”

  1. toilet says:

    Missing letter in that heading :/

  2. p96 says:

    For all who feel Ubuntu’s standard Gnome desktop seems incomplete, try Kubuntu, with the KDE desktop: http://www.kubuntu.org/

  3. lionelbrits says:

    One day Wireless will work easily for me under Linux… then I will switch.

  4. Hugh says:

    I visited a friend last week. She lives on an island, on a little boat next to the pub she waitresses in.

    She has a wee netbook so she can check emails using the pub’s wireless signal. That is the limit of her interaction with the world of computing.

    I used her netbook to look up ferry schedules, and I eventually noticed: “hey, this thing is running the latest Ubuntu”.

    “Yeah”, she said in between cigarette drags, “Windows melted so I found that and it just installed and works”.

    Ubuntu on a technophobe’s boat. The long-awaited promise of linux arrived and we missed it, just as it should be.

    • theLadyfingers says:

      We gave my parents (in their 60s, only vaguely computer-literate) an ancient ThinkPad with Linux on it and never had a day’s trouble.

    • Dewi Morgan says:

      No OS “just works” for all people, all the time.

      However, Ubuntu “just works” for enough people that it’s now definitely a worthy contender.

      A friend had windows “melt”, didn’t have the money for a new copy of Windows, so kept pestering me to use my laptop.

      I considered giving her Linux, but decided against it: too complicated for her, I thought.

      But eventually, I caved, asked her to bring me her laptop, installed Ubuntu off a CD, and it “just worked.” I’ve had exactly three questions from her:

      “It’s saying I should install Flash. Should I click OK?” [Yes.]

      “Firefox has gone funny. Should I restart it?” [Text was all inv vid: restarting FF fixed it]

      “Firefox isn’t showing the image upload thing.”
      [Reloading the page fixed it]

      Compared to how it was in the early 90s, Linux “just works”. Heck, compared to how Windows was ten years ago, it “just works”.

      “sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras” looks interesting. Might try that.

  5. CC says:

    Working for me. Still like the Mac for Coda and FCP but for everything else I’m happy with Lusty Lynx.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s been mostly good for me, but things that Just Worked on a previous Mint install didn’t work, like my USB wireless controller installed using ndiswrapper. My NAS drive made Banshee and then my system crash. Seems to be working fine now, but not without wee tweaks!

  7. jhires says:

    I wish I could agree with you on the “just works” part. I spent the better part of two days trying to get it to install via USB and finally burning a DVD and installing it that way. Only to have it go into a no-boot state after running updates.

    Thinking it was hardware causing the problem, I tested it on a second much newer machine only to run into the exact same issues.

    I ran into similar issues with updates when I purchased one of the Dell laptops a few years ago with Fiesty Fawn.

    My experience with Ubuntu has been less than stellar.

  8. luketheobscure says:

    For my desktop, you can pry my Snow Leopard out of my cold dead hands… But I run Easy Peasy on my netbook (Ubuntu derivative for Netbooks). Love it. http://www.geteasypeasy.com/

  9. Anonymous says:

    If you want built-in plugins, and a MUCH more comprehensive software center, there’s Linux Mint.

  10. mrmcfeely says:

    I’ve had Dell laptops over the past few years, and despite several attempts with Ubuntu, I could never get wireless to Just Work. Bummer. I’m sure I could follow some 9 step process on some forum somewhere to get that working, but on the other hand, I could just boot back up into Windows 7 and go back to getting things done. Sucks… I actually am really interested in giving Ubuntu a try, just don’t have the patience to wrestle with the OS to get all the basics working.

    • MattBD says:

      I’ve got a couple of Dell laptops that run Ubuntu pretty much perfectly. Wi-fi doesn’t work out of the box, because the wireless card is the notorious Broadcomm one. Still, it’s not hard to get it working – mine detected the card and told me what drivers I needed to install, and I connected it to the router by Ethernet and used that to install the drivers, then rebooted and they’ve worked fine ever since.

  11. rhoderickj says:

    How in the hell did you get your multifunction mouse working? X doesn’t support any more than the standard buttons — left click, right click, and up/down scroll wheel, and back/forward side buttons — so I have never been able to get any of the additional buttons working reliably, despite the many attempts at workarounds.

    Articles like these are disingenuous. I have used Linux for years, but pretending that it all “just works” is a lie. That all depends on your hardware, so check it first with a Live CD/DVD. And even if it works now, kernel updates later may break it. I lost USB 2.0 support for two years after Hardy and the kernel team refused to fix it. And don’t get me started on suspend/hibernate.

    Additionally, my household’s shared HP printer never worked over the network, despite hours trying to configure it. I have never had reliable video playback on any of my hardware over the past few years. Sometimes it works perfectly, other times it fails miserably. And what if you want to continue buying Audible audio books because physical media is annoying and more expensive? Well, you can’t do it legally because circumventing DRM is a crime.

    Be honest about Linux. As always, your mileage may vary. What works perfectly for Cory may not work for you. Check it first.

    • k88dad says:

      Circumventing DRM is not a crime, it is fair use (as least as described by Cory.) The DMCA is unconstitutional and will eventually be either thrown out or weakened significantly.

      As for the Ubuntu, glad to hear that it’s about ready for prime time. Options good; fire bad.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I work at a elementary school. I just blew away XP on our netbooks and went with Ubuntu Netbook Remix (looks just like Easy Peasy from what I can tell). I didn’t really like the look and feel of it so I went and put the regular Ubuntu 10.04 on and it works fantastically. I’m in the process of imaging the rest of the machines. I’m currently getting my home laptop setup on 10.04 after using Win 7 (which I like) on it. Linux just makes sense in education.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I have used Ubuntu for about 2 years now. When I first installed it on my Dell Inspiron it was quite a step learning curve in getting the wireless working (using windows driver using NDISwrapper)…less than 6 months and 2 versions later. I decided reinstall from scratch. Clean up all the junk I had installed and testing different applications for video conversion and music players and all that type of stuff. This time, it installed my wireless and looked even more sleek and since then, I haven’t gone back.

    If anyone does any video conversion from avi to dvd or anything like that(DEVEDEE), I strongly suggest Ubuntu. Especially for older computers. Very stable, and so much documentation on everything. Ubuntu has beginner users and very talented experienced users and there is documentation for both, and people in the community are just more friendly than the Windows community. I am a MCSE/MCSA and do Windows support/architecture/design/networking for a living, and I prefer Ubuntu strictly based on documentation and versatility….as well as all software being free.

  14. thebelgianpanda says:

    The biggest reason I haven’t switched my Netbook over to Ubuntu is just fear that I would have issues with my Cisco VPN. I’ve found articles on how to set it up, but it is such a critical show stopper if it doesn’t work it makes me hesitate to even try.

    Any thoughts on VPN reliability in Ubuntu?

    • Volker says:

      > Cisco VPN.

      Just give the live image a spin. You don’t have to install it to try out.

      Right-click on the network applet, Edit Connections, VPN, New, Cisco compatible is the default.

    • downdb says:

      I have had no problems using the “Connect to VPN” functionality in the network manager applet to connect to my companies Cisco VPN system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cisco VPN works well in Linux. Cisco has an official client with support and everything, if you run a supported Linux flavour. The only problem is a lack of 64-bit support last I checked.

      But I still recommend to go with the open source option first, “vpnc”. It is well integrated in Network Manager in gnome and gets updates with the rest of the system. I work as a network consultant and use it from time to time and it’s always worked flawlessly.

    • nlvivar says:

      I used to use the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Cisco VPN quite frequently. It used to be slightly annoying to do by command-line, but now it’s dead simple.

      I used to have to do all this:
      http://femto.cs.uiuc.edu/~sbond/vpnc/

      But now there’s a module for the Gnome wireless network applet that will take care of all that for you. Just install “network-manager-vpnc-gnome” from the Ubuntu Repositories, and set up the VPN.

    • Anonymous says:

      I use VPNC on Ubuntu for connecting to my customers’ Cisco VPN infrastructures and I’ve never had any issues. VPNC also integrates with the network-manager if point&click interfaces are your thing (I use the command line).

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve been connecting to a Cisco VPN for a few years now with Ubuntu. I’ve not had any problems. You can either use the vpnc plugin for Network Manager (search for network-manager-vpnc in the Software Center), or I believe Cisco have a Linux version of the VPN client available from their website.

    • Anonymous says:

      I use Lucid Lynx on both my Desktop in my off-campus apartment and on my HP nc6000 laptop. Both are about 5-6 years old and work great. I have used the Cisco VPN client to connect into my university’s network, and it’s a cinch. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

      Granted, my VPN setup was as simple as visiting a java-enabled web-based VPN portal on the university’s website, but I don’t think a general configuration should be too tough.

  15. seyo says:

    “If you have to notice plumbing, there’s something wrong with the plumbing.”

    Unless it’s steampunk plumbing.

  16. Micheal Kelly says:

    “Do I have to type in a lot of arcane command-line gibberish? No.”

    Ubuntu is a great OS, but it still doesn’t “just work” for everyone. I had to do some serious command-line kung-fu to get it working on my HP Firebird desktop, and it also didn’t detect the sound and wifi adapters in my laptop.

    Not a horrible deal for me – I was a Linux sysadmin and developer for years so I’m not afraid of the bash prompt. But that’s not the case with everyone.

    On a positive note, using the Live CD is a great way to check whether your hardware will work out of the box or not. If you boot it up on your machine and something doesn’t work, rest assured that you can most likely make it work, but you’re going to be spending some quality time with the command line.

    Cory’s experience sounds as though it was pretty painless. Unfortunately, that isn’t as common as I’d like it to be.

  17. Volker says:

    > … Dell laptops … I could never get wireless to Just Work.

    Next time, get the Intel WiFi card instead of the cheapest one (which will be invariably some crappy broadcom part). Better signal and excellent linux support!

    • ink says:

      I installed Ubuntu 10.4 on my Dell Mini9, which is the cheapest laptop Dell has ever made. It works flawlessly — wireless, usb, sleep, hibernate. I’m very pleased with Linux on Dell hardware.

  18. Roy Trumbull says:

    I’ve run Ubuntu on a Toshiba laptop for 3 years. My only complaint is that programs like Audacity have more plugins for the Windows version than for the Ubuntu version.
    I’ll have to try the latest Ubuntu. I have a Canon MX860 printer/scanner/etc.. While all the functions worked under XP and even Vista, they don’t work using Windows 7. Microsoft has me shopping for an Apple. Their klutzy spaghetti code has driven me to it.

  19. dfornika says:

    “convert my thousands of dollars’ worth of Audible books to MP3″

    Woah there Mr. Doctorow, you didn’t bypass any ‘TPMs’ in the process, did you? That’s just the sort of criminal behavior that can’t be by tolerated!

  20. muteboy says:

    I got a freebie Dell 10v from my cable company for being such a good little drone, and I immediately installed 10.04. It all worked straightaway, and I’m very pleased.

    I agree with some commenters that the informal support network of fora, blogs and so on can be difficult to navigate, but with a clean install on new hardware I’ve not needed it much yet.

    I switched to Linux in 2006, and I don’t regret it.

  21. proletariat says:

    I have been an avid Ubuntu user (both desktop and server) for many years now. Lucid Lynx is a dramatic improvement over previous releases. So much so that I finally decided to migrate my technophobic mother from Windows to Ubuntu. She primarily uses the computer for accessing the web and email (with Firefox and Thunderbird respectively) and so the switch was seamless for her. The only significant difference she noticed was that Ubuntu felt faster.

    For those that have encountered problems with previous releases, I would suggest giving Lucid a try. You can use UNetbootin to load it on a USB stick and experience the live environment before making any changes to your computer.

    Thanks for exposing your readers to Linux, Cory!

  22. DrPretto says:

    I like Linux but Ubuntu is not my favorite distro, those are Mandriva, Sabayon, OpenSuse and PCLinux.
    I think I am going to try the new Kubuntu, because I prefer KDE instead of Gnome desktop.
    I was a Distro-hopper in the pst, now I have my base distros, I think everyone using Linux have a similar story.

  23. beergnome says:

    I had pretty much the same experience as Cory. I downloaded and installed it in about an hour. All I had to do was enable the restricted stuff with a “sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras” in the command line (synaptic woulda been just as easy) and everything worked. I have tried many distros and this was the only time it “just worked” without copying a bunch of stuff into the terminal.

  24. ratatoskr says:

    Luckily in the past few years (~3) I’ve also had all of my hardware “just work.” In the recent past wireless required some magic but this is largely fixed in Ubuntu now. Installs now just require a few tweaks (ubuntu-restricted-extras, gimp, thunderbird, etc) and other silly personal preferences (gufw, fortunes-off, vim, etc.)

    After install all software managed in a centralized manner is huge for me. As well as the intermediate level ability to customize look (Win7 “themes” should be called “tints”..) and add additional sources of software to be managed in the same way as the default system software.

    Ubuntu can “just work.”

  25. SimplyAaron says:

    I was a dual-booter for about a year, then 10.4 came out and I decided to make the switch. I have to say this OS actually makes me happy with it’s simple elegance and the Software Center. The Software Center alone makes it worth it in my mind actually, a opensource software library built right in to the OS, now that’s what I’m talkin’ bout.

    Yes I’ve had a few idiosyncrasies with my particular hardware package, but I find a google search and cut/paste to terminal fixes things much easier than the typical Windows uninstall/reinstall obscure driver (that still doesn’t work right) boogie.

  26. arikol says:

    I run Ubuntu Lucid on my main home machine and have run the last fes Ubuntu versions. Some things are beautifully smooth, others are just plain awful.
    For daily use I vastly prefer it to WinXP or Vista (haven’t got enough experience with Win7 to comment), and many things are really easy after you spend the 1-10 days required to get them to work..

    I get my networked drives working in minutes after each version upgrade, but it does involve arcane commands and editing fstab. The networked printer I have not figured out yet, just, have no more ideas to try..
    If anyone has any ideas they would be welcome, arunning an Apple Airport Extreme with 2 HDD and 1 printer connected, simple smb stuff to get to the HDD’s but I just can’t get it to work with the printer (Canon 6600D). My Mac laptop has no problems, nor does my secondary windows XP machine.

    And my TVtuner card won’t respond. It would respond after some serious jiggling in Ubuntu 7.X but 8.x and now 9.x don’t give me any love. The funny thing is that now the driver is prebuilt in, but just won’t work, earlier I had to compile the driver and load it..

    Well, anyways, for daily use the machine is simple, stable, pretty, and the installation process is SMOOTH. My wife and I can do everything needed (except watch TV) but many things still require some technical know how (I’m not a Linux expert by any means but have done computer work for a long time). This is only for grandma if YOU are willing to set EVERYTHING up first.
    A Mac is still much simpler in most ways for most users, but obviously much more expensive. I still think the latest Ubuntu beats most Windows versions I’ve used in most areas.

  27. sm9 says:

    Cory was lucky to have such a painless installation experience.

    Lucid Lynx didn’t support my motherboard’s built-in RealTek network card. Half a day was wasted trying to get my Internet to work again. None of the solutions offered in the various community forums worked for me. In the end I bought a new network card.

    Now that I’m up and running with Internet access it’s easy to see that Ubuntu is a great operating system.

  28. Spinkter says:

    Using autofs to mount your home directory over NFS? Lucid Lynx will give you problems. upstart init wasn’t ready for prime time, and they should have stuck with a SysV-stype init. Not that I make these kinds of decisions, but I would never deploy 10.04 to the enterprise.

  29. David Nickle says:

    Yeah, I tried Lucid Lynx about a month ago, upgrading from that Koala version. I wound up going back to the old OS – the new upgrade didn’t recognize my Acer laptop’s wifi, and when one, two — up to about a dozen google searches didn’t help, I just pulled out the old system and reinstalled.

    But given that there’s nothing wrong with Krusty Koala or whatever it’s called, I can’t be too hard on the Ubuntu crew. Glad to hear the Lynx is working for you, Cory.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Ubuntu Lucid Lynx: free OS that Just Works

    and Safety and Stability and Efficiency (runs great even on old hardware and is energy efficient) and Customizable and great community support and the future

  31. Anonymous says:

    every word’s a true, cory
    ubuntu just works

  32. Rodney says:

    I’m one of those who kept reminding you of your promise. I guess we can let you off the hook.

    I’ve been using Ubuntu since Dapper/Edgy and have seen most of the glitches squashed. The only things still lingering on the computers I have is a stupid issue with the wireless (you have to click an obscure checkbox with it connected via ethernet before it will work) and the thing that makes me IRATE on a daily basis:

    SUSPEND/RESUME IS STILL BROKEN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Cory overstates it a bit, maybe: using Ubuntu is certainly not a ‘just works’ situation for many people and the solutions for these people can be maddeningly arcane, just the kind of thing you don’t want in an OS. However, I have never had a single problem running Ubuntu (I started using with Karmic Koala, the release prior to Lucid Lynx) and love it. Ignoring the fact that Ubuntu ships without its “restricted extras” pre-installed – support for mp3’s, Flash, etc – is misleading: it doesn’t just work if you want to watch a dvd or watch an episode of Glee on Hulu. That said, the solutions to these issues are utterly simple, and can be enacted in a minute or two. After that, it’s mostly about acclimating. I love the OS: it rescued a barely viable Toshiba Vista laptop from 10 minute boot-up times. Now, it’s up and going in under a minute. My main computer, an Asus G73JH, runs Ubuntu exclusively and I would never consider anything else.

  34. the_headless_rabbit says:

    I’m still so happy with Jaunty (9.04) that I haven’t bothered to upgrade. For me, that magical ‘everything just works’ moment came a year ago, when wifi, HD video, my external soundcard, and everything all just worked.

    The only thing I really had to configure was the korean keyboard layout (I bought this lappy overseas, and I like typing in 2 languages, even if I only know one.)

  35. TheFirstMan says:

    I love Ubuntu, but the latest two iterations have been more trouble than I’d like. Insane sound and speed problems in 9.10 and being unable to install 10.04 on my hpdv6t quad from a disc (I had to upgrade through 9.10).

    Once installed, and once the hardware is configured correctly, the system is an intuitive breeze and very pleasant to use. And purple.

    Aside: my wireless (broadcom) card’s drivers had to be installed through the not-exactly-intuitive navigating to the pool/restricted/b/bcmwl directory on the cd, finding the dependency for that deb file in synaptic (which it did not find on its own for some reason), installing it, installing the deb, and rebooting. Luckily I had done this before, and didn’t have to call a friend to request they look up what, to them, looks like utter jibberish on the internet.

    Also, I don’t know if this debate’s been solved yet, but in general I get longer battery life through Win7, and this has been other people’s experiences as well. And I have tweaked the settings in both OSes.

    You can make the argument that my hardware is unique and therefore not indicative of a wider range of users. This is true of my BIOS, which has been wonky from the beginning. However, broadcom wireless is extremely widely used. It is not Ubuntu’s fault for having problems with proprietary hardware, it’s broadcom’s for not serving their user base, but it does preclude this OS from really being what an OS needs to be for a large segment of the population.

    10.04 is beta at best for these reasons and for some of those stated above. If you’re willing to work around some of the flakiness and you’re a semi-competent tech geek, it’s a joy to use.

    I can’t recommend it to anyone else, though.

    I’m a huge open-source fan. I’d use this OS alone if I didn’t have to use Adobe products. But, the tough as concrete reality is, I have to use Adobe products. And that means Win7 for me.

  36. Joe Szilagyi says:

    Here’s the game breaker for me: I can do about anything needed on bash for Linux, but my nifty old Dell XPS on XPSP3 just plain runs WoW (when in-season for new major releases), and constant Steam favorites Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead/L4D2, for my almost daily PVP fix (and sooner or later, I’ll want to check out the DC Universe, Star Wars, and possibly the WoD MMOs).

    As soon as there is flawless support for all three of those, I’d be happy to go full Ubuntu. But without…

  37. Michael Leddy says:

    I’ve had Ubuntu on a spare computer for several years. My experience makes it difficult to say that Ubuntu just works. The update to 9.04 was a disaster for me (and for others) — just Google [ubuntu 9.04 can’t boot].

    In 8.04, I have to type every time I turn on the computer — to get the connection speed right, to enter a network password, and to set Google DNS. None of these things will stick.

    Ubuntu is in many ways a terrific thing, but it’s hardly problem-free. My Mac is what Just Works, for me.

    • KurtMac says:

      I had serious issues upgrading my Dell Mini9 to 9.10. Among other things, it literally took a month to find a proper way to get audio to work again, and even when I did, it was a wacky Around Your Elbow To Get To Your Ass kinda solution.

      Thus, I was hesitant to go to 10.04. Then, 9.10’s sudden refusal to boot forced my hand but when I did upgrade I found that everything Just Worked. WiFi, Bluetooth, Audio, screen brightness, everything functioned as if it was an out-of-the-box OEM operating system. I was thrilled, and continue to be everyday I use it.

      Your mileage may vary, of course, but I’d recommend giving 10.04 a shot if you can.

  38. QuantumLeap says:

    I’ve been using Ubuntu since 6.06 (Dapper Drake). At the time it was just a curiosity since for work the standard supported distro was RedHat. Needless to say, despite the nice user interface, the relatively easy install process and nicely provisioned repositories, there were many problems of hardware compatibility (specially wifi, graphics and sound).
    But Ubuntu has come a LONG way in just a few years. It’s almost my exclusive OS (despite being forced to use Windows as well for some applications).
    With Lucid everything works out of the box on my Asus G71v, on my Dell mini 110 netbook and on my Dell Precision 390. Including bluetooth, wifi, webcam and soundcard. The guys at Canonical are doing a great job, and finally making Linux an OS suitable for the masses.

    My only two problems with Lucid:
    – Window buttons on the left, really? Be consistent guys, you didn’t do it in previous versions! and no, you won’t attract Mac users to the realm of the mighty penguin with this move, only annoy potential Windows converts… Fortunately you can put everything back on the right by running on a terminal “$ gconftool -s /apps/metacity/general/button_layout -t string menu:minimize,maximize,close” (without the “”)
    – There’s an install problem on some systems since version 8.10 (at least). In the middle of an install you get [errno 5] (just google “errno 5 ubuntu” and you’ll see how prevalent the problem is). You can re-download the .iso, md5 checksum, burn it at different speeds, do it from an USB flash drive… Doesn’t matter, it keeps failing. This problem should be solved.

    Other than that, the best OS I ever used. Way to go Canonical!

  39. grikdog says:

    Not a chance. Updating to 10.4 will force me to update to 9.10 before I update to 10.4. That is a major issue for me, a catastrophe for others.

    UPGRADE (aka “clean install”) I could probably stand doing for myself, although restoring backed up data to a new system is WEEKS not hours.

    Frankly, my wife relies on 9.04. My daughter relies on 9.10. And I am far too twice-bitten, exponentially shy, to give a damn about taking on any such project as installing 10.4.

    I’d buy a new laptop first. Not happening this year.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I have enjoyed Ubuntu since 6.06. I like the new release, though I prefer the brown and orange over the purplish (so I changed it back-I can do that). I dropped Windows when KDEnlive started working well enough for me to stop using Magix movie editor.

    I don’t like the buttons on the left, so I changed them back to the right (I can do that), and I vastly prefer the Gnome layout to the KDE layout.

    I do miss being able to easily create my own custom sound theme and GDM theme, but it boots up fast and does everything I need it to do. Without viruses or BSOD.

    Fresh installs always work better for me than upgrades since I like to customize the heck out of my stuff.

    And I really like the philosophy behind GNU/Linux, even though I’m not a purist, I’m glad they are out there fighting the good fight that in the long run makes it better for all of us.

    The main reason I love Ubuntu is the only major hardware problems I’ve ever had were due to video card manufacturers’ propriety restricted code, or the time a video cad died in the middle of an upgrade.

    I highly recommend Ubuntu GNU/Linux to people who’ve never used computers. If you come from Apple or Windows and are a power user, it will be lik eCorey wrote, be prepared to get used to it doing things differently than you are used.

  41. putty says:

    One reason why Cory’s upgrade went so smoothly is that Lenovo’s X and T series Thinkpads are among the best mobile platforms for installing any Linux distro. They are designed with Linux compatibility in mind and all crucial hardware will have drivers built in to the OS. Some Toshiba laptops seem to “just work” as well.

    With other types of hardware, you’re more likely to run into issues that may take some time to sort out.

    If you’re shopping for a laptop to run Linux, checkout the models offered by a vendor that sells pre-installed Linux laptops like these guys: http://www.emperorlinux.com/ From browsing their offerings, you can get an idea which laptop models are going to play nice with Linux.

    • Ambiguity says:

      One reason why Cory’s upgrade went so smoothly is that Lenovo’s X and T series Thinkpads are among the best mobile platforms for installing any Linux distro.

      I’d add the W series to the list too. I just installed 10.04 (my first foray into Ubuntu — I’ve been using OpenSUSE for some years) on a w500, and for the most part, things just worked.

      I have one kernel related issue on my wireless card were connections will drop and cannot be reestablished (I have to reboot or remove/add the kernel module), but that’s a Linux issue, not an issue with the distribution

  42. Nimdae says:

    I can’t get as good battery life out of Ubuntu as I can with Win7 on my netbook. I’m averaging about 9 hours in Win7, and maybe 5 hours in Ubuntu Netbook Remix. UNR is not a very good netbook distribution anyway as it’s pretty much half-assed put together.

    The only purpose I use Ubuntu for, at this point, is for servers.

  43. Bitgod says:

    Decided to upgrade my 9.04 machine to 10.04 last weekend. Had to do the forced upgrade to 9.10 first…and that blew up. Ended up just doing a clean install.

    10.03 LTS seems fine, except for one major bonehead move. Try turning on file sharing. You can’t. It’s a known bug, you have to download some apache before the file sharing checkbox will be enabled. That said, once I found that info and got it fixed, setting up samba was easier than 9.04, to me anyway.

    Plus I decided to spring for Twonky server, it was on sale for only $15, and it was well worth it. I had nothing but headaches trying to mess with mediatomb last year, so I’d given up on it. Twonky works very well. Well worth the $15 if it’s still on sale on their site. (normally $30)

  44. Omir the Storyteller says:

    I’ve got Lucid running on my desktop system at home but I’ll be much happier with it when all the bugs between Firefox, Flash, and my favorite websites get worked out. It works great as a server but I tell the grandkids if they go to Poptropica and it crashes, there isn’t a lot I can do. They don’t like that answer.

    As a server it works great, and I love the ssh experience.

    One big thing that’s keeping me from moving over from Windows on the laptop is my Zune. (Yeah, I gotta Zune, I like it, shut uppa you face.) Lucid has made a big step forward in that it recognizes the Zune when I attach it to a USB port, but once it’s there I can’t add or remove content because of the weird MTP2 handshaking it does. Or, there could just be a trick I haven’t worked out yet . . .

  45. KronA says:

    I agree with other people that it’s not quite fair to say it always ‘just works’ though perhaps it does if you don’t try to change anything. However if you want some of the snazzy visual effects and you have the wrong kind of graphics hardware you might experience a certain amount of pain.

    I use Ubuntu on my laptop and I’m not going to abandon it because I just want to enjoy the fact that the OS doesn’t slow down over time and that I can use the internet with less fear of malware.

    Linux is almost there – if open source could get regression and integration testing more automated and perhaps be a bit more open to using certain closed source software they could really break the camels back.

    A free open source OS with a mixture of commercial and open source apps would be ideal, keeping this setup all hanging together is a challenge but well worth it.

  46. js says:

    Re: Cisco VPN client. Cisco doesn’t have a binary of the IPSec client for Ubuntu. I couldn’t get the source to compile, so I tried another OSS substitute called “vpnc”, which works perfectly with preshared keys for group authentication (I don’t think it has certificate support, but I’m not sure). I haven’t looked into the SSL VPN client yet.

    For the most part everything has Just Worked for me on two Dell laptops for the last 3 years. The one really annoying thing that has persisted over multiple upgrades is a sound bug, where audio will mysteriously stop working until I kill all processes using sound and restart them.

  47. brie987 says:

    Does not work on my Asus Eeepc 1001 pu-17. Main caveat, no wireless. So the title should read, “Ubuntu Lucid Lynx: free OS that just works: Mostly

    And this does make me sad :(

  48. Anonymous says:

    Linux works great for me always but I do my homework (shouldn’t you?) before I buy my hardware!

    Even if you are not planning on running Linux, you should only buy Linux compatible hardware. Of course it all runs with Windows, and someday you might want to switch and you might as well be ready.

    If you wanna see a beautiful Linux box, try installing it on an Opteron server. Every single bit of hardware has explicit linux support. The BIOS even has an option for Linux support. The motherboard mfgr (Supermicro) explicitly supports Linux. It’s all way sweeter than the SGI Onyx I used to use.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I’ll switch the day Adobe releases Creative Suite for Linux… will it ever happen? Running two OSs on same rig – one for home/fun etc., second for work does not make much sense for me, I’ve tried it and it simply does not work with me. And before someone mentions Wine – yeah, I’ve been there too, there are far too many quirks which are not torelable in production workflow.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Congrats on moving to Linux. I’ve never looked back, except to thumb my nose and laugh at the Macolytes.

  51. redesigned says:

    I’ve loaded it on several computers and never had an issue. Everything has just worked for me. Guess like any OS your mileage will vary depending on your hardware configuration. At least you can boo toff of the live cd and test everything before switching. That makes the process fail safe for the most part.

  52. Anonymous says:

    My Compaq desktop machine wouldn’t boot 10.04 after I updated the machine from 9.10. So I installed openSUSE and have been happy with it since. (Disclaimer: I was a SuSE user for a good long time, starting in 1998.)

  53. nlvivar says:

    I just removed my MS Windows installation on my home computers with the release of Lucid.

    The only times that I looked back is when I had an MS Office file that I needed to work on for work. Now, I just (1) do the editing in OpenOffice.org, and fix the formatting when I get back to the office or (2) don’t take home work. Of course, I prefer the latter option.

    I’ve been using Ubuntu for almost 5 years now. Before, that I used Redhat, Mandrake (now Mandriva), and Fedora. I haven’t used any of those lately, but I’m sure they are doing quite well.

    The last item on my GNU/Linux wishlist is for Steam and all the Valve games to be ported. That’s coming down the pipe, supposedly, so I’m a pretty happy camper now.

  54. Anonymous says:

    LinuxMint on a Dell Inspiron. Just works. On the desktop the only issue I have had has been on upgrades. Printers no longer “just work”. Graphics cards no longer “just work”. But I have had similar problems on the “other” OSs.

  55. Thad E Ginataom says:

    As a one-time Unix systems manager, I’ve been regularly asking myself why I stuck to Windows (XP) at home since the job left me and I decided to be retired. I never got a good answer, but I never changed either.

    Now I have.

    For 90% of my day, there is no noticeable difference: Firefox, Thunderbird, Google Earth, VLC and Squeezebox server looking just the same and using just the same data as they did before. Firefox works better; it doesn’t freeze up for five to ten seconds every few minutes.

    Ubuntu starts in just over a minute; W-XP used to take more than five. This encourages me to actually turn off my PC when I am not going to be using it for half an hour. Everything [that works] works better, faster, snappier.

    I haven’t really explored Open Office yet but it looks a lot better than when I last looked years ago.

    What doesn’t work:

    my scanner. Uuuurggghhh. My perfectly ordinary (well, I think so) Scanjet will not work, or, rather, the sane/xsane software won’t work with it.

    my Firewire external soundcard. This is a pain, but part of it is an underlying problem with the PC that happened with Win-XP too.

    arcane command-line gibberish? Well, like I said, that used to be my job — and hey, I like vi!

    I had intended never to upgrade to Vista. Now I’m thinking that I’ll never buy a copy of 7 — or of any future windows version. I’ll let you know, in a year or two, if that worked out :)

  56. Anonymous says:

    I picked up Ubuntu starting around 7.10, and while I liked it, there were always headaches that kept me from completely switching over (and abandoning the Windows partition).

    That continued up until I tried 9.10 Karmic about 6 months ago. For the first time, the damn thing didn’t give me any grief with video or wireless, at least one of which had always been an issue in the past.

    10.04 seems to have continued that trend. So far I’ve installed it on a laptop (paving over an existing 9.10 install) and on a brand-new desktop built from scratch.

    There was one hiccup on the laptop – the included nvidia driver was all wacky during the installation, but that was easily fixed by adding a command to the boot string.

    It’s getting to a point where I feel comfortable suggesting Ubuntu to the computer-naive, because while the power of the terminal is there, you really don’t have to use it at all in most instances.

    Now if Adobe would just step up the Flash support, we’d be set (Flash has always been an issue in Ubuntu, even in 10.04 and especially on 64-bit machines, but you can get it to work with a little patience).

  57. bbbaldie says:

    Congrats, Corey. I’ve run Ubuntu on laptops and desktops since Feisty Fawn. :-)

  58. nutate says:

    Linux user in some sort of fashion since 1997… for those of you new to the game, Ubuntu is really great, especially for older machines.

    Get this though (I also use teh macintoshes) you can plug in anybodies iPhone or iPod and put songs on or pull songs off… Just make wait for the sync to finish with rhythmbox. Real simple.

    C-c-c-c-crazy.

    A far cry from the old days of 3.5″ boot disks and mostly command line fun. :-)

  59. likemindead says:

    I’ve used Ubuntu (or Xubuntu or Linux Mint or CrunchBang) exclusively for three years now. I’m just a regular guy. No technical training or experience. If I have a problem (i.e. I was screwing around and broke something) I just punch it in to Google and have it sorted in no time. 10.04 is the best yet from the *buntu folks.

    Viva La Tux!

    Freedom!!!

  60. orwellian says:

    I’m using Linux Mint since Ubuntu stopped recognizing my wireless card a few versions ago. It seems to have more drivers for just about everything. You might try it although I’ll probably try the new version of Ubuntu in a few weeks.

  61. BT Murtagh says:

    The one thing that kills me is the sound, ever since they switched to PulseAudio. I have tried and tried but I cannot get it to work. It doesn’t matter whether I’m upgrading or doing a fresh install, the best I can manage is to get it to work about half the time – some kind of race condition, after a reboot it’s a 50-50 shot that I’ll have audio.

    I can get consistent persistent audio only one way – rip out PulseAudio by the roots and go back to solid, sane, reliable old ALSA, which does indeed ‘just work’ once I get it reinstated. Sadly, getting there does involve some manual editing of configuration files.

  62. zio_donnie says:

    Well i tried various versions of Ubuntu but none of them “just worked”. After various live sessions and installs i got the hang of it but I never got to make wifi work on my laptops or desktops and there was always some weird stuff to do for mp3 and dvd playback.

    Granted i don’t know a thing about the command line and i don’t have time or brains to use it, but i am a good forum user and i can copy and paste stuff on the command line box. My experience with forums was a mix of “google it” which i did (without results), noob (no comment) and “get linux compatible hardware not cheapo chinese parts” (which was the point when i said fk u. i need help for my machine not for the machine you think i should get).

    Since i want linux in order to not buy fancy hardware (that comes with an OS anyway) and i don’t need linux just to be smug i think that I will retry sometime in the future when things just work with MY hardware and not with the stuff that the linux ninjas use.

    Maybe.

  63. Anonymous says:

    Clearly many of you have not tried to do an upgrade in a dual boot scenario where one partition is Winders. I am quite frankly amazed that the GRUB2 issue and dual boot is still not fixed. A simple check of the forums will show what I mean.

    Lots of other FF, Java, specific website issues with memory leaks too causing ‘gray outs’. I solved the dual boot with Virtual machines so I now have a multi-screen system running Ubuntu, Kubuntu, XP, and Win7 all networked between each other using Samba. Smile and big grin on my face after a lot of sharing and permissions issues. XP now works like it should have done before…

    • Thad E Ginataom says:

      In my “new toy” phase I have really messed around with my system, installing Ubuntu in its plain and studio models, and in 32 and 64 bit. Installing, re-installing, installing….

      I now have a triple-boot system with Win-XP, Ubuntu 32 and Ubuntu 64. Never once has the installation system lost sight of my Windows partition, and never once has Grub lost the ability to boot to it, and it has taken neither nerdery nor geekery to achieve this. It has been handled completely automatically by the install.

      One of the first questions asks whether you want to overwrite or install alongside your Windows partition. The Studio version leaves that until much later, which is a little hair-raising the first time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is there a virtualbox image of this available online yet?

  64. jordan says:

    I use Lucid Lynx (xubuntu) for work, having upgraded from Karmic Koala, and love it. My only “problem” so far is that Gwibber fails to update if you use the built-in link shortener. The workarounds are so easy and numerous, though, that it hardly qualifies as a complaint, considering it’s a /free operating system/ that breathed new life into a test machine that was gathering dust in the corner of the office.

    Haven’t touched a MS application since.

  65. Bill Albertson says:

    I’ve had problems on and off with Ubuntu in the past. Serious problems, the kind where you just format and go back to OpenBSD saying, “Well, I *guess* I can get by without Flash or a working SD port.” Well, to be truthful, I’ve had problems with EVERY release of Ubuntu up to now.

    My biggest complaint in the past about Ubuntu was the huge attention to the desktop bling, and it seemed that was at the expense of making important things “Just Work”, like wifi. And memory leaks in pulsaudio that nobody wanted to admit to. And updates killing my system in the past. And… well, you get the idea.

    This LTS definitely “Just Works”, and neither I nor my wife have had any issues. I know it sounds like faint praise, but isn’t. Someone at Canonical finally focused on the important stuff for this release. About time.

  66. Anonymous says:

    /Next time, get the Intel WiFi card instead of the cheapest one (which will be invariably some crappy broadcom part). Better signal and excellent linux support!/

    /One reason why Cory’s upgrade went so smoothly is that Lenovo’s X and T series Thinkpads are among the best mobile platforms for installing any Linux distro./

    Unless you are unlucky. My T400 with an ThinkPad b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless LAN Mini-PCIe type name turns out to be an unsupported Realtek chip. It doesn’t just work even for Thinkpads.

  67. Lars Haeh says:

    I’ve been using Ubuntu exclusively since it came out. I find it easier to use then windows in many respects.

    As pointed out in the article you can make a list of your installed applications and then have them automatically installed on a new computer. There are some other tricks I use for making backups of my settings:

    To get the settings for those programs you simply copy all of the hidden “dot files” and folders from your old home directory to the one of the new computer. Some things don’t work if the username is different, but there are ways around that.

    If you have a lot of programs installed, it can take a long time to download them. To alleviate this problem you can copy the installers from your apt cache to to the other computer.

    You do it like this:
    sudo tar cvf apt.tar /etc/apt/ /var/lib/apt/ /var/cache/apt/

    Then run this on the other computer:
    sudo tar xvf apt.tar -C /

    You can also backup your list of installed applications, and add them to other computers like this:
    dpkg –get-selections > packages.txt on current computer,
    then do:
    dpkg –set-selections < packages.txt on other computer,
    then do:
    apt-get dselect-upgrade on the other computer.

  68. Anonymous says:

    I have OSX, XP and Ubuntu running on my lenovo s10 netbook. Of the three, OSX was the hardest to get working properly.

    By comparison, Ubuntu was a breeze. Ubuntu is probably the nicest to use because you can tweak the GUI settings to make the most of the small screen.

    OSX’s inability to auto-hide the menubar at the top of the desktop means wasted precious pixels.

  69. Itsumishi says:

    Hmm… I’ve had nothing but headaches every time I’ve tried to install any distro of linux on any machine in the past.

    That said, the last time I tried was about 2 years ago and it was on the very first eee-pc with the 7″ screen and I think that machine was half the problem. I tried 2 distros (the out of box and eeebuntu) and neither were very pleasant to do any sort of upgrading on.

    I’ve been contemplating buying a copy of Windows 7 for my fiancés Toshiba (currently running Vista) machine. Vista is a sluggish nightmare, Windows 7 I use at work and at home, and whilst I’ve had a few teething problems, for the most part I think it’s a fantastic OS.

    All that aside. Windows 7 is going to set me back more than $150, if this does work easily it might be a better choice considering it’s free.

    Hell I might even install GIMP and see if I can start to move away from Adobe’s arrogance and lack of customer support…

  70. BastardNamban says:

    It’s cool to see so many people at BoingBoing including Cory use linux. I use it on an old Dell Inspiron 9300.

    I’ve been using it about 2 years now, 3/4 of that time I dropped windows and did pure Ubuntu- the old 8.04 version. Yeah- wireless was a pain in the ass, but I got it working- that was BY FAR the most difficult thing with it. I taught myself linux in Japan as I couldn’t find work so I had not much else to do with no money.

    I now use 10.04 Lucid Lynx, like Cory, and while there are some minor things, by far everything works MUCH better than my past version. Wireless works great! Things are fast, and I don’t need to use the terminal (what you all see as coding) for nearly anything.

    I only use dual-boot now to run a 3D CAD program that only works in Windows.

    I’ll put it this way- if you’d like to try linux, I taught my brother in ONE HOUR how to completely use everything. He had no trouble understanding 10.04 and uses it as his main OS- about 5 massive crippling infections when he had Windows got him fed up enough to listen to me- he loves it now, and almost no learning curve with 10.04.

    Just try a live CD- you don’t even have to install it that way if you don’t like it!

  71. musicman says:

    Lucid upgrade went flawlessly here to. Didn’t even notice, tbh, just seemed like one of the daily updates.

    Having said that, Ubuntu still has one almost deal breaking flaw: focus stealing. If you start a program (any program), and then alt-tab to another program (any _other_ program) your focus will be stolen when the first program loads. This has killed me mid sentence is too many times. It’s _such_ a _stupid_ _flaw_.

    Firefox originally developed the “open in background tab” for a reason. This is essentially exactly the same thing – all programs should start in the background.

  72. jmtd says:

    Your backup scheme leaves something to be desired, but I can’t suggest a better one to you at this moment. It’s an area where I think a lot of improvement is needed.

  73. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been using Linux since 2006 but used OS X for my sound work until last summer when I switched 100% to Ubuntu for all my sound/music/audio work– here is my story:

    http://createdigitalmusic.com/2009/08/04/linux-music-workflow-switching-from-mac-os-x-to-ubuntu-with-kim-cascone/

  74. Decay says:

    Um, when you say apps – you mean like the iPad, from a closed “store”? Or do you just mean regular applications?

    • proletariat says:

      Um, when you say apps – you mean like the iPad, from a closed “store”?

      Quite the opposite. Ubuntu, like many other Linux distributions, employs the use of software repositories which ease the installation of new applications. All of the software in the official repositories is free-as-in-beer, the majority of which is free-as-in-speech (see: Gratis v Libre). They are simply provided as a convenience. You can install any additional software you’d like. Hell, you can even write your own software.

      Suck on that, Apple.

  75. cwoehrl says:

    Similar experiences here. Back two years, it was a bit of a hassle getting all the wireless stuff to run, but Ubuntu keeps getting better, and today it’s so much easier configuring mobile broadband than, say, with the latest OS X. And it still runs smoothly even on my low-powered old netbook.

    The only reason I keep using a non-Linux OS today is image editing. Not talking Adobe here (all I need from Photoshop I can do with Gimp as well nowadays), but so far I haven’t found adequate FLOSS replacements for the Silverfast (magnificent stuff) and Nikon Software suites. Well, another two years from now, hopefully…

  76. arjenkamphuis says:

    My experience with 10.4 is comparable to Cory’s. Having a Thinkpad helps. With compatible hardware it is a joy to use but using incompatible stuff remains very, very frustrating if the command-line is not where you usually live (so stay away from low-end Compaqs).

    I did a clean install from a fast USB-drive on a X301. Took 7 min 30 sec from boot to reboot and first login screen. After that an hour or so setting up various apps that are not installed standard and setting up cryptoh. Built in 3.5G modem worked immediately as did al the other hardware.

    Wine is nowadays also good enough to run fairly complex Win32 applications if needed (I have no need but keep a few handy to convince others through demo).

    Compatible hardware like a Thinkpad, some HP’s or Dell is no more expensive than crappy hardware so do yourself a favour and select with care.

  77. Anonymous says:

    +1 for ThinkPads.

    I installed Fedora 13, which was released a few weeks after Lucid, on a brand new ThinkPad SL510. Everything just worked. The machine is a Centrino system (Intel wireless) and the graphics chip is also integrated Intel. Accelerated OpenGL, video, sound, webcam etc. all worked out of the box. No problem whatsoever with PulseAudio either. The only slight snag was the fact that the loudspeakers don’t get muted when headphones are plugged in. ALSA needs to know about the exact hardware configuration of inputs and outputs to the Intel sound chip separately for every computer model, and the SL510 is not in yet and the defaults are a tiny bit off.

    A second thing is that the mounting of SD cards is a little flaky. Some cards work flawlessly, others refuse to mount or re-mount if unmounted from Gnome. This is not a Fedora-specific thing, though, it happens on recent kernels in Ubuntu, too.

    ThinkPads are not the only things that work, though. I had a completely flawless experience (save for the same SD card reader flakiness) installing Fedora 13 on my own Acer Travelmate, also a Centrino machine, but this one with an ATI graphics chip.

    I’ve been using Linux almost exclusively since 1998 and I have administered Linux and Irix systems at work. Nowadays one gets used to these ‘everything works’ installations and to having so much pre-packaged software in the repositories, but every now and again I look at how far it all has come with awe (this is from someone who started with Irix package management, so maybe my expectations are still low).

  78. Anonymous says:

    I would like to try writing some apps for Ubuntu: Where can I download the SDK?

    Also, I’ll need to know what minimum hardware I can expect all Ubuntu 10.4 users will have so they can have a good UI experience with input, audio, resolution and 3D without having to research their hardware manuals. Where is the hardware platform spec?

    I’d also like to know if there is a guide for software vendors on how to support 3rd party apps written for X/K/Ubuntu: With all the different UIs, I’m not sure I can effectively direct users during tech support calls (unless I tell them to use the CLI to do everything).

    (Tongue firmly in cheek… I think you get the idea, like all the other “XYZ Linux” distros Ubuntu doesn’t look like an attractive platform for apps because it actually isn’t a platform. And though there appears to be an abundance of apps for Ubuntu, most of that stuff would properly be classified as system utilities.)

  79. Anonymous says:

    Everything Cory said apples to windows xp too.

  80. current says:

    Although I like Linux and have used different versions of Ubuntu and also various other distros througout the years, I can’t agree with the Just Works thing.
    My newest experience is installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my EeePC 1000 and then trying to use Skype – it did not work out of the box and even after googling around and looking through some of the community forums, trying different solutions, it still did not work. Maybe I could have figured it out in end but this is certainly not something to give to my mother or anyone computer illiterate.
    Ubuntu might be a great OS but some things Just Do Not Work.

  81. Eltanin Antenna says:

    Interesting that Linux achieves a degree of usability just in time to witness the death of the desktop OS.

  82. Anonymous says:

    [I didn’t read any comments, so apologies if this is redundant.]

    Ran Ubuntu from a CD to salvage some data from a damaged hard drive and I was extremely pleased. Everything worked without any configuration from me (video, wireless, usb, audio… seriously, everything). Well done team ubuntu. very impressed. Ubuntu is finally a legitimate option (for me) to use now. cool

  83. Anonymous says:

    Wow, glad to see such an… economical review? I killed my old comp of two years running SuSe for the new upgrade, and fell in love. It’s got the intuitive edge that MacOX has, but gives far more customization.

    My favorite part for the update, though, has to be MyPaint’s support of Wacom drivers. Finally, I can use that tablet for some illustration work!

  84. Cowicide says:

    Then, during my 2009 spring tour, my PowerBook G4 exhibited signs of age

    Stopped reading there.

  85. Anonymous says:

    If you like Ubuntu, give Mint a try.
    It’s based on Ubuntu, but has been polished and improved. This is the good stuff!

  86. Michael Who says:

    Have to agree here – booted 10.04 (for netbook) on a close-to-retirement Dell laptop and gave it a new lease on life. Without effort I have all the hardware working; wifi is tickety-boo and it looks sweet too. I’m not an evangelist by any stretch and this is my first linux, but so far so good.

  87. Dan Gillmor says:

    If you’re planning to get the ThinkPad X201, wait a bit. Ubuntu still doesn’t work on that machine, yet. I look forward to an update that will fix this.

  88. Anonymous says:

    I absolutely love all the comments about how ubuntu doesn’t work on certain machines. I have found that over several years supporting new linux users, it’s almost always a pibcak (problem in between chair and keyboard) situation. Not wanting to spend a few minutes making something work? You should probably lazily stick to whatever you’re used to and not go complaining all over the net about how linux/ubuntu/fedora/whatever isn’t ready for normal users and doesn’t “just work” blah blah blah. I’m sorry if I’m coming off as cross, but it just gets old hearing these weak complaints year after year. Especially from people who try out a FREE os alternative and go around crying about how something doesn’t work when there’s almost ALWAYS a quick solution had from a simple web search. Either suck it up and figure it out on your own, or go back to your proprietary solution with it’s myriad of problems that you happen to be used to. In fact, why not take those problems you have with PAID os’ and post about them somewhere? That would most certainly make more sense than all this whimpering and sobbing about your wifi/peripheral/what-have-you not working out of the box in linux.

    • Dewi Morgan says:

      “Not wanting to spend a few minutes making something work? You should probably lazily stick to whatever you’re used to […] Either suck it up and figure it out on your own, or go back to your proprietary solution”

      If everyone had this kind of geekly arrogance, there’d be no Ubuntu, and no non-geeks using Linux. I thought this kind of aggressive techno-snobbery had died around the turn of the century, replaced by the understanding that something doesn’t need to be actively new-user-hostile in order to be cool.

      The people working on Ubuntu (and all other distros) have done a great job at making Linux accessible in recent years, and at improving hardware compatibility. They deserve to be hailed for that, and have new users encouraged.

      More and more people are considering Linux on the desktop “ready for prime time.” Now I’ve stuck it on a non-geek girl’s laptop and had her happy with it, I think it has passed that point for me.

      Linux: not just for servers anymore :)

  89. Anonymous says:

    I have 10.04 on three machines at home. I think this is the first release where the upgrade process just worked for me. Huzzah!

    On my main machine, I switched from running Kubuntu to running Ubuntu. Awesome! I’m also test-driving GNOME Shell. GNOME 3.0 will kick ass. :-D

  90. 5ynic says:

    Same as mrmcfeely #10. Every coupla years grab latest Linux distro (usually Ubuntu) due to friendraving about it. Install distro. Note that wireless doesn’t work outta the box. Spend 2-3 hours trawling thru forums and tweaking entries I don’t understand in text files, give up, put ‘doze back on and continue getting stuff done.
    I will give this a try tho. Who knows.

  91. Anonymous says:

    Hibernation on laptops running Ubuntu just works?

    I don’t think so… Weird how so many people fail to mention this… A laptop without hibernation is really crippled… fancy losing your unsaved work if your battery claps out? forgot that charger back home? how long will it stay asleep before the battery gives up?

    Any tips on getting hibernation working on ubuntu laptops would be appreciated!

  92. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to say that for me, my wireless card will not work. When I installed Ubuntu, it was 8.04 (I think it was Hardy Heron) and all I needed to do to get my wireless card was to activate the driver, but now that doesn’t even work.

  93. Werehawk says:

    I’m using Ubuntu 10.04 I installed on an old laptop Dell C600 to test out.

    It works very well when it works but the following issues I’ve had have made it hard for me to really like…

    Had to edit display configuration file to enable higher resolution. Had a default 800×600 maximum after install was annoying. No way to override other than editing the .conf file.

    No driver for my Netgear wireless card had to use my backup Dynex wireless card.

    Last but most annoying the random freeze ups which apparently is an issue for a lot of people just do a search on ubuntu 10.04 crashes and freezes

  94. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been a long time Linux tinkerer and love open-source and I don’t know what I’d do without KDE in my life. However, with the weight of my exeperience I have to say “It just works” is misinformation at best. It works ‘better’, it has ‘improved’ tremendously, but then the baseline was pretty poor for anyone but the non-elite.

    This has bothered me for a long time, that the supposed freedoms of linux is contrasted by the almost intentionally inpentrable learning curve and linked the elitist intellectual protectionism of open source development communities. To me this isn’t freedom, this is a source of inequal access to technology between those who are intellectually haves and have nots. All basicly because a bunch of elitist developers can’t suffer ‘retarded’ users.

    Indeed we’ve all encountered elitist IT people with a “it works for me you must be a retard attitude”. It frankly makes me ashamed to be an IT guy sometimes (And I admit I’m guilty of all of the arrogant attitude I’m complaining about). No wonder we are so hated sometimes.

    What is really happening is that people are more often getting further with the OS before they start encountering stupid error messages, poor UI design, and evergreen low-priority bugs. The difference between 6.06 and 9.04 and 10.04 for example, is how many minutes or hours before you tear out your first clump of hair.

    If you really love linux, you’ll hate it. You’ll want it to change and improve, beacuse you love it. Criticism aparently makes you a hater in this day and age. Just like people who ‘hate america’ or ‘hate the environment’ by wanting to improve it.

    • Dewi Morgan says:

      If you want to surf the net, use an office suite, answer emails, and print… then you have no need, ever, to see the commandline.

      If you want to do geeky stuff on Linux, then you need to do geeky stuff to get the geeky stuff to happen.

      The same is true on Windows: to do geeky stuff, you need to know what parameters to give to a NET command, know what parts of the registry to edit, know what config files to frob, or know what hidden icon buried deep in the control panel to click to do what you want. As an example, I’m trying to do a simple task: change the root directory of my IIS. I have no clue how to do this, none of the semi-relevant looking clicky-clicky icons seems to lead anywhere useful, and I must resort to googling.

      It was this realisation that made me finally understand that Linux is OK for non-geeks. They don’t need to know how to change the order of their buttons on their windows, they just need to know what button does what they want to do.

      So long as they’ve got their Firefox, Thunderbird and StarOffice, and they can upload their pictures to Facebook from their camera or their thumbdrive, they really don’t give a crap what the underlying OS is, so long as it’s not in-your-face annoying at them. In this regard, Linux turns out to be much LESS frustrating for these users to use than, say, Vista or WinME.

  95. dimmer says:

    “$ gconftool -s /apps/metacity/general/button_layout -t string menu:minimize,maximize,close”

    If ever Linux needed the perfect ad for why it just simply doesn’t work, this could well be it. While most operating systems have indeed been moving to “just works”, Linux remains stubbornly in the CLI Crowd (“If you don’t know how to make it work, it shouldn’t work!”) People are happy that a VPN connection setup is as simple as downloading a tarball, using a hugely major safety breach (shared keys) and then maybe once in a while it’ll work…

    If Windows were Linux we’d all laugh it out of the park.

  96. Anonymous says:

    To everyone complaining/lamenting wifi issues:

    USB wifi dongles can now be had for less than $15USD. They don’t require any special drivers, and they work with Ubuntu out of the box. No effort required.

    If you’re experiencing wifi issues, please consider the most efficient way to get to Ubuntu: just get a cheap wifi dongle.

    And, if you’re doubting the wisdom of spending $15 to make a free operating system work for you, please consider the cost of your time (to scour the web for tech support info) or to buy a proprietary operating system from Redmond or Cupertino.

    Cheers,
    Randall
    (in Vancouver)

  97. userw014 says:

    I’ve got two versions of Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) on identital machines – one is the Desktop version, the other is the 64-bit server version. The machines are ancient 2 CPU AMD servers with 4G RAM and 80G SCSI drives that I picked up for $25 each as playground/test machines for myself and my oldest son.

    He’s running a Half-life based game server on the desktop version – but he’s not happy with the cruddy graphics of the old hardware. Maybe we’ll switch it to the server version, since the location of this old hardware in my basement tool room isn’t very conducive to desktop computing.

    So far, no complaints from me (other than the noise & heat these old boxes make) – but I haven’t played with “my” server much – I enabled SELinux, but haven’t made the time to explore what developing an application for SELinux is like.

  98. Anonymous says:

    Hi Cory,

    I was wondering what kind of battery life you get on the X200 in Ubuntu?

  99. Anonymous says:

    Concerning Cisco VPN, it works great. It took some tweaking, but I use it with no problems. My main problem was that I tried to use OpenVPN, which I couldn’t get working. When I went to Cisco and installed the appropriate Network Manager packages, it was fairly straightforward.

    I agree with criticisms that this article is overly simplistic. I love Ubuntu, but I wish it would “just work.” That’s just not true. I’m waiting for Lucid to work out the bugs (such as failure to suspend and resume properly, and not getting my network connection after resuming), but until then I frequently switch to my double-booted Windows 7, which does indeed “just work.” Then after a few hours I miss Ubuntu so much that I switch back. Yes, it’s a sad addiction ….

  100. Anonymous says:

    Glad to see that Linux Just Works for you. In my years of linux hacking, I find that it always Just Works when you’ve got decent hardware.

    Start throwing stupid stuff at it, like a wifi card that *requires* proprietary, non-distributable firmware to run, or a printer that doesn’t understand any of the zillion known protocols used and Linux will smugly watch you suffer.

  101. Anonymous says:

    It was working like it was greased until I accepted updates. Now my HP printer doesn’t work on Ethernet, though it says it prints and used to work, and does fine on USB; the Gnome Notification panel keeps disappearing, and Firefox now hangs up to where I have to kill it in the System Monitor to get the rest of my apps to run. One update totally hosed my wireless and left me tcompletely stranded on a trip (NOBODY has Cat-5 connections in hotel rooms anymore) – that’s a disaster when you fly Southwest and can’t check-in online…sat between two fat people for three hours…. maybe Ubuntu programmers that ate too many Cheetos – I didn’t ask.

    And I’ve never been able to dim the screen with the keyboard on my G550, though Ubuntu does a wonderful job of it when about to lock the system or when programs hang up or eats major CPU %. Sounds to me like a high school kid could code that one.

    It’s got a lot of potential, but the regression testing by the coders when trying to catch the update train is severely lacking.

    While you guys are all gushy, the software people keep breaking things that work – I hate it when the USER is the TESTER of sloppy code. Yeah, it’s nice, but all this breaking of things that work have me pining for good old stable XP – forget Windows 7 – it’s Vista bloatware with TV ads.

    I’m sticking with Ubuntu for POTENTIAL, but it’s far from perfect like some of you with blinders seem to think.

    • mraverage says:

      get used to it. ubuntu will work just fine, then self destruct. printing is a pain unless you always have one page docs. and if you have recently re-loaded cups, and if your hair is parted right. and if you hold your mouth just so.

      the sad thing there is that any and every time i ask my 1979 hp41 to print; it does. flawlessly.
      and it’s only a battery operated programmable calculator, with 128K of ram and 2.2K of rom. the better that computers get – the worse they work.

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