Tuesday, September 1, 2009Ubuntu—I think it was in 2007—I've followed every release, many early on. While it's true I've had a handful of problems over the years with various things (though no more than using any other operating system), Ubuntu has simply been the best Linux experience I've had. So much just... works.
I've been testing the next version of Ubuntu, "Karmic Koala", since alpha 4. Of course I can expect an extra dose of issues testing alpha versions of software. But as of right now, I have three very worrying problems with Karmic (and, I should note, these appear to be problems with the Linux kernel itself, not necessarily Ubuntu) that I am not really confident will see a fix before release:
- My Asus Eee PC 1000HEB uses the
ath9kdriver for its wireless chip. Since Karmic (and apparently since Linux kernel 2.6.30), wireless has ranged from "okay" to "horribly unreliable". I'm using
ndiswrapperin the meantime, but I remain unconvinced that this will be fixed.
- This one is far more severe: something happened to the
visormodule in the Linux kernel that is making PalmOS handhelds crash. Unlike the
ath9kproblem, I seem to be on my own here so far. I can use the same handhelds just fine by plugging them into my server running Hardy, and I don't recall having this problem under the last release I had on my netbook, Jaunty.
- Finally, I remain unconvinced of the reliability of the ext4 filesystem. My first experience with ext4 in Jaunty's own testing phase was a disaster; within 24 hours I'd somehow managed to totally destroy the filesystem simply by filling it up. I mean totally destroy, too.
fsck had no hope. I've been running ext4 on Karmic with no problems personally, but I keep hearing isolated reports about similar disasters in various corners on the Internet.
Now, this is something I don't need to bring along for the ride with Karmic; but since it seems going back to ext3 involves a reinstall anyway, I might as well go back to Jaunty at the same time.
I guess I'll ride it out for now and see what happens. But I am genuinely concerned for Karmic, and by extension, other Linuxes that are slated to ship with 2.6.31. The quality question is troubling.
Disappointing! That ext4 problem is pretty scary, and reading up further on it, I don't even know how much I would care to have ext4. Granted, I can always opt to just use ext3. The other stuff is a little more specific, but I fear that it might affect compatibility with other hardware.
Overall, I'd agree about previous versions of Ubuntu. I slapped it on my laptop and it just worked. Hell, it worked better than when I slapped a clean version of XP on it (had issues with my wireless network card that didn't creep up in Linux, amazingly enough). It has its issues, especially when you want to start doing things that "windows power users" would want to do, but for someone who just wants to use their OS for email and internet browsing, it's amazingly simple to get up and running.
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