The first attempt at testing the long awaited and somewhat hyped new 13.04 version of Ubuntu, one of the most visible and probably best free Linux distributions, did not go so well. The result was pretty dismal, actually.
Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail loaded in test mode from DVD on my MacBook Pro Retina, but did not support the mouse and the WiFi, so I quickly decided not to install it at all. It is known to also be energy inefficient on the MBPr (20% or so lower battery time than when running OS X), it runs hotter (more fan noise), has problems with the (standard nVidia & Intel) graphics card, and isn’t any faster than OS X. So that’s really a no-go: Very little point in installing it. But if you still want to or you need to install it for some reason, Christopher Berner and Alex Victor Chan have good descriptions of how to do it.
Installing on my 2012 Intel i-7 VAIO S laptop running Windows 7 with UEFI and SecureBoot was no success either. It was rather “Uffda Ubuntu” – bad all around. The system crashed, never managed to boot, and for a while it looked like Ubuntu had bricked my laptop.
Install Ubuntu 13.04 again – second try
Ubuntu knows about these problems – there are tons of posts in their forums about problems like this one – they just don’t seem to care. So much for being customer oriented.
As it turns out, that was because I used the wrong version of the installer. I followed the instructions on the Ubuntu download page (see the first image).
The download page clearly states that:
If you have a PC with the Windows 8 logo or UEFI firmware, choose the 64-bit download.
I did that. That made me download a file called “ubuntu-13.04-desktop-amd64.iso”. And, as you will know if you read my previous post, using this file leads to disaster if you have a UEFI/SecureBoot system! It simply is the wrong file. (Now, at this point you could argue that the installation process should have been ‘smart’ enough – sensing the installation parameters – so that different versions should have been unnecessary, and I agree, but let’s just simply conclude that the installation isn’t that smart.)
As it turns out, finding the right file on the Ubuntu site is very hard unless you know exactly what to look for. There are two links on the download page for the 13.04: One takes you to a pages full of info that seems to want you to download 12.04 (not what you want), the other link describes the installation process, but without mentioning the little detail that you are about to try to install the wrong file! I actually found out on another site that I needed an x86-version of the iso image – AFTER I had wasted time and nearly bricked my PC.
To find the right file to download on the Ubuntu site, you need to navigate to the 13.04 Raring Ringtail page. There are hardly any internal links to it – the best is to use Google or an external site to find it. But once you get there, you soon see that the x86 iso image is the one you want.
Installing Ubuntu 13.04 with the right image
I am not going to write much about it, simply say that getting Raring Ringtail up and running from the DVD was as eventless and easy as it should be once I got the right file.
I didn’t actually install it, I just tested it, but everything worked just fine. I installed a couple of programs, played a game of Freecell, and enjoyed. The only thing I noticed was that it used more battery and more sound from the fan. Those are big things, however, and Canonical – the corporation behind Ubuntu – really ought to do something about that.
Conclusion: All well? Oh no!!
Perhaps you feel all that ends well, is well? I don’t feel that way. Canonical, Ubuntu and the Linux community in general have been saying for a while now that they are ready to “Let the Good Times Roll” – ready to be used by the masses, by anybody using computers and similar devices on whatever platform. Ready to challenge Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s OS X. As a fan of Linux and Ubuntu, I would like that to happen. But i am forced to conclude that they aren’t.
Linux and Ubuntu are good enough along some dimensions, but not all. Not supporting a number of devices from the boot up, but requiring users to install drivers, is not good enough. Bad energy consumption and short battery time is not good enough. More fan noise is not good enough.
Perhaps most of all, the Linux world is not ready because it simply is not user friendly enough. For Ubuntu and Canonical to write an installer that doesn’t sense that it is installing in the wrong environment is bad. To give such poor and misleading information on the download pages is a disaster customer-wise. The failure to jump when customers cry “Wolf” on Ubuntu’s own forum pages, post huge and visible apologies, and immediately post updated and correct information, is a clear sign of lacking maturity. It is a monument crying to the customers: “Stay away! We may want you (they seemingly do), but we do not care about you!”
This is not how you make “The Good Times Roll”! So good luck with that, Canonical.