Communicating release goals

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

Dapper has now been out two months, and in general the feedback from the release has been wonderful. I feel somewhat relieved – it was a challenging set of goals we set ourselves, but it seems that (a) most users prefer Dapper to any previous release and (b) most users are very happy with the combination of features and stability. Phew.

However, there’s always room for improvement, so we have been evaluating the release and figuring out what we can do next time to have a closer alignment of expectations and reality.

Matt Zimmerman put it best in a private mail which he’s given me permission to republish:

Matt Zimmerman wrote:

I've been thinking some lately about a disconnect in terms of the
community's expectations for Dapper.  We've had more negative reviews (and
forums comments) of Dapper than for previous releases, and while it's not
clear to me whether this is proportional to the apparent increase in user
base, I'm concerned by what I find when analyzing the criticism.

Many are criticizing shortcomings in Ubuntu which have existed for years
now, or deplore the lack of eye candy and other superficial features, as
justification for an overall negative impression of the release.  In
particular, I see repeated mentions of:

- Lack of 3D support out of the box on nVidia chipsets: [0]

- Need to use the command line for certain administrative tasks (including
the above) [0] [5]

- Lack of out-of-the-box support for Java, Flash, MP3, DVD, etc.
(RestrictedFormats) [0] [4]

- Lack of 3D accelerated desktop effects and other eye candy (e.g.
Xgl/AIGLX, prettier usplash) [1] [5]

- Lack of support for a particular hardware component (e.g., wireless card
or printer) [1] [2] [4] [6]

- Ubuntu not being easy enough for the typical user [0]

- Lack of availability of development tools in the default install [0] [2]

- Manual partitioning is clunky [0] [3]

None of these are new problems, but they are pointed out as examples of
major shortcomings by these reviews.  It's notable that in some cases, we're
being compared with Windows, rather than other Linux distributions, which is
a much higher bar, but overall my impression is that there has been a
disconnect between the expectations of the community and what we delivered
with Dapper.  In particular, I see indications that users expected Dapper:

- to be better-looking ("polished")
- to have more long-standing feature wishes implemented ("polished")
- to have no regressions from Breezy ("polished")
- to have fewer bugs than a typical Ubuntu release ("polished")

There have been a number of comments on bugs in the less-frequently-used
portions of Ubiquity, but we expected this when rolling a new installer for
Dapper.  The only other genuine quality issue I've ascertained is a
collection of printing-related regressions, which are still being analyzed
and will be fixed via updates as we are able.  Apart from those, the harsh
criticisms mostly fall into the category of unmet expectations.

Another disconcerting trend is that a number of the articles mention having
a negative experience interacting with the Ubuntu community for support.
It's possible that we're starting to see a decline in overall coherence
resulting from such rapid growth of the community: new people are getting
involved faster than they can learn proper behaviour from the existing
members.  I'm not sure how to address this, but perhaps it should be
discussed at the next CC meeting?

I had a dialogue with a representative from the forums where he expressed
surprise at the Edgy feature list, because he thought the features which
went into Dapper were more "edgy" in comparison.  He thought that things
like the revamped boot process infrastructure and 3D eye candy were "polish"
that he would have expected in Dapper, whereas from a developer perspective,
they are risky and disruptive features.  It is this illustrative example
which led me to notice this disconnect, and do this analysis of the reviews.

So, what have we learned?  Perhaps that even if we meet our goals in our own
eyes, we may be considered a failure by some if they have a different
interpretation of our intentions.

Should we be less high-level and more explicit about our goals for a
release?  That's risky, too.  Our Edgy announcement[7] went into detail
about specific features which fit the theme, but of the five specific
examples, it's quite likely that no more than one or two will actually be
implemented in Edgy.  Users who latched onto the examples and built
excitement around them will be disappointed.  The announcement explained
that the development team would be given the freedom to bring in risky new
technologies, but also foretold an increase in "bling" as a result, while it
turns out that our development team isn't very interested in that at all.
Users who expect Edgy to be MovieOS will feel misled.

My conclusion is that we should be rather more careful about how we announce
our plans, because these predictions can have disproportionate repercussions
on how our release is received by the world.  We should be specific, but
only where we can be accurate.  We should express the high-level vision for
the release, but guide the user on its interpretation as well.

We gained our position by meeting and exceeding the expectations of users,
not merely our own, and I think it's important that we continue to do so.
[0] http://www.ourtweaks.com/articles/linux.html
[1] http://linuxguy.bur.st/?p=12
[2] http://www.tectonic.co.za/view.php?id=1026
[3] http://www.nuxified.org/the_ubuntu_dapper_experience
[4] http://www.linuxforums.org/reviews/ubuntu_6.06_review.html
[5] http://www.tuxmachines.org/node/7300
[6] http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20060612#opinion
[7] https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-announce/2006-April/000064.html

So, what can we do better next time?

First, I think we need to realise that any heightened publicity will create impossible expectactions. Dapper was by far the “biggest” release the project has produced to date, we were all excited about it, there was a lot of buzz, and as a result there’s a temptation for each person to hope that this release will have the set of things that THEY think is essentia.

Second, I think the word “polish” is misleading, so I will try to stop using it. The problem is that it says different things to different people. To “polish” a release means to fix lots of little things that are irritating but not essential, and of course, everyone has their own list of bugbears. So saying the release will be “more polished” is about as bad as saying it will be “more better” :-). In future, I think we should articulate specifically where we will be investing the effort. In the case of Dapper, it was (a) the kernel, (b) the installer, (c) the server, and (d) the graphics theme and icons. Of course there was a ton of other work done, but that was what *I* meant by “polish”. So we need to communicate much more clearly EXACTLY where the investment and the results will be found.

Third, we should be honoured to be in head-to-head comparisons with Windows. Some of the toughest criticism of Dapper I have seen comes from people who have never used Linux before. And so they quite rightly stack us up against the OS they use every day. That is something of a success already – we can at least claim to be in the ballpark. Now we need to look PAST where Windows is today, and deliver an experience to those users that is so compelling in some places that they are willing to forgive a few of the warts.

47 comments:

  1. Justin W. Hart says: (permalink)
    August 6th, 2006 at 12:21 pm

    First, I’d like to say that I switched to Ubuntu months ago from Gentoo (and from Debian to Gentoo before that, and made my circuit through RedHat and Slackware too), and I find it to be an excellent distribution.

    However, I have a question regarding a few of those points. In particular, nvidia support. It seems a bit silly to regard support for nVidia chipsets out of the box to be merely an eye-candy thing, but I’m not sure if that’s what is implied or not. To many users, the ability to play video games is important, for others might need it for a demo or something at work.

    Also, I can understand frustration with Java, Flash, etc. However, the only distribution that I don’t really find guilty on this front is Gentoo. I’m not sure if RedHat is guilty or not, but I find both apt and portage to be superior to rpm.

    Anyway, great distribution.

  2. jerome g. says: (permalink)
    August 6th, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    We should be careful not to fall to much into the “features” trap; that is, adding more stuff that appeals to be more superficial rather than to be more “beneficial”. A good user experience target has always been “it just works”.

  3. Scott says: (permalink)
    August 6th, 2006 at 7:43 pm

    I think it’s great you guys are analyzing things like this so that Ubuntu will keep getting better and better and more people will find out about it, but I also think you need to get realize how good Ubuntu is now. Dapper is an awesome OS. I use it daily at home and wish I could at work too. Now when I switch back to Windows I realize just how good Linux, and specifically, Ubuntu is.

    Just wanted to say thanks and let you know that Dapper was by no means a disappointment to me!

  4. Niklas says: (permalink)
    August 6th, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    First I want to say that from my point of view Dapper met all my Expectations and in some areas is much better than I hoped it to be. Second, I wan to say that I realy like the way the Ubuntu developers share their thoughts and opinions, though this also leads to some problems. Which I think these mislead expectations for Dapper are a great example for. Telling the people about goals always leaves the risk of them misunderstanding things even if you realy met the goals. However this problem doesn’t only occur in OpenSource Communitys but it also occurs with Microsoft and their Windows Vista, they blessed it and claimed it to be gorgeous and all and now people see that it’s only a review of the same old things. Thats also why the people over at Apple never say anything about upcoming products, every feature the product will have when it is released will make the people say “Wow!” because they just haven’t had any expectations. Unfortunately this type of marketing is not realy possible when it comes to OpenSource, so I think the only way to make people say “Wow!” is to realese technical information for the people who know what to expect while calming down average Joe. In the case of Edgy that would mean to tell the Tech Folk how things will be different for this release while only telling average Joe that this release will focus on some new and less stable technologies. Try staying vague when it comes to marketing and the people will be overwhelmed by the new features.

  5. Tim says: (permalink)
    August 6th, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    There’s a few ways you could view the negative feedback, but the most important is the fact that people are using Ubuntu! The fact that there are comparisons with Windows is certainly a credit to Ubuntu and the open source software it’s based on. No longer are you being compared to Unix systems anymore, but to the world’s most popular operating system.

    Here’s a quick few suggestions that would reduce some of the negative comments for the final Edgy:

    1. When someone attempts to play a file that requires the RestrictedFormats to work (eg MP3), display an informative dialog box with a link to the Wiki page. A user seeing “unable to play stream” or similar makes the user feel like there’s something wrong with Ubuntu.

    2. I still like Fedora’s graphical boot over Ubuntu and it certainly gives that very strong impression that the system is quite polished and powerful. Once Ubuntu displays the login it’s fine, just usplash that could do with some full screen graphics (and not so black / brown, the current Dapper splash makes it feel “old”).

    3. A “first boot” type screen (like the Windows 2003 Server additional roles dialog) where things such as the extra repositories, NVIDIA / ATI drivers and RestrictedFormats can be installed easily. I know there are legal and moral restrictions on some of these and I don’t know how hard they would be to work with, however it would greatly enhance the user’s experience. It maybe that you just need to open a webpage up that describes why each of these are missing from the default install and give the user a chance to click on the related Wiki page for each. Either way the biggest frustration the users have (from my experience) is not knowing what they did wrong (when in fact they did nothing wrong). If they are clearly told first up it may help them to understand.

    4. Lastly, keep doing what you’re doing. Overall I can only think of very minor suggestions, which is very unlike any other Linux distro I have used. Ubuntu is certainly the most polished and reliable Linux desktop distro I’ve used to date and I’m very happy with it overall.

  6. BYte69 says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 1:41 am

    I think this is the best Ubuntu release. I have worked with the last two versions and were okay with them. I had been using Fedora for everyday things for a long while because that is what are started on back with Redhat 7 I think. I was use the the quirks of Fedora/Redhat. But with Ubuntu 6.06 I have to say I have fully switched over to it. Fedora is now a memory. As for Windows comparsion it can be diffrent to work with comparied to any Linux distro. I have found 98% of what I want in Ubuntu. I still play windows games in windows and once I get some things fixed up I will switch even that to Ubuntu. My only real complaint is that it could not work with my Fedora install to replace it with Ubuntu. I tried a couple of things but never got it to fully take. Then lost the LVM for Fedora. I also would like to be able to use the CD to upgrade later versions. I had a laptop running 5.10 and 6.06 wanted to wipe it out. There should be a upgrade path. I believe there is a possible upgrade path within the OS but that would require pulling down all the data. I do congradulate Ubuntu on a great distro release. Oh and those of you complaining about flash, real player etc. Use a new tool I found and others probably have called Automatix. Its at http://www.getautomatix.com/ . I would recommend it to anyone running 5.10 or 6.06 Ubuntu. I will be distributing your CD’s during Open Source Day SEP. 16th.

    BYte69

  7. pirast says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 7:35 am

    I think that most people think that Edgy is like Warty.. Warty was like a 0 to 90 step so they except Edgy to be like a 100 to 200 one ;-)

  8. Alberto Milone’s Blog » Blog Archive » Mark Shuttleworth: Communicating release goals says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 9:28 am

    [...] read more [...]

  9. Alberto Milone’s Blog » Blog Archive » Stephan Hermann: Communication and Release Goals says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 9:28 am

    [...] “Mark, the communication of Release Goals were quite Ok. The problem of understanding is something else. For example, many people from my area, they use Kubuntu btw, were expecting to have a release which is more stable then Breezy (Dapper is), which is more reliable (in some areas Dapper is [Gnomish speaking] and in some areas not [KDEish speaking], and that’s why we all had the talk during Linuxtag 2006). [...]

  10. Caraibes says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 12:32 pm

    I have to reply to that post : I was a Ubuntu fan and faithfull user since 4.10. However, Dapper doesn’t even boot or install correctly in any of my 4 PC’s. I am an average Linux user, and have used and install most regular distros out there. I therefore switched to Blag ( www,blagblagblag.org ).

    So, yes, I was IMMENSLY disapointed by Dapper, because it has a VERY POOR hardware recognition. Keep in mind all these 4 PC’s had been running flawlessly Hoary & Breezy.

    I am talking about basic AMD Duron boxes and Via C3 boxes…

    This is my view, and I hope it participates to make things better for such a great project that is Ubuntu !

    By the way, I just wait for the next release to come back to you guys, since I need to use Edubuntu for my kids !

  11. John G. Boice says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    The “polish” angle, especially re: eyecandy or 3D, has been the least of Dapper’s problems in my experience. While no Linux expert, I do have 6 other distros up and running on various machines, some multi-boot Linuxes, some multi-boot w/Windows, one Linux only. . . but out of 4 attempts, I was only able to get one successful Dapper Drake install that still runs. And that was on an Ubuntu-only OS scheme.

    The installer is terrible. It gives the user no choice of where to put GRUB. It gives the user no input on what other OS’s to include on the GRUB menu.lst and it does not adequately autodetect existing OS’s, even those in other partitions on the same HDD.

    There is some bizarre distinction between the LiveCD installer and the “Alternate” install CD that is insufficiently explained in a clear and prominent fashon, leading to the irritating necessity to download the Alternate after it becomes clear the Live CD installer is unusable except for a Windows-style takeover of your system. There is no ability, at install time with either installer, to set mount points for the Ubuntu file system for those who prefer /home or /boot or /var on different partitions.

    In short, it has neither the mindless simplicity of MS Windows nor the flexibility of most other major distro Linux installers.
    I liked Hoary, I loved Breezy but I don’t use Dapper at all.

    I do have it on my wife’s machine. However, but I don’t run the automatic update, because after doing THAT on the only other successful install I had, Ubuntu wouldn’t boot anymore!

    I haven’t given up on Ubuntu. I’m hoping a future version will excite me with it’s good hardware detection and its stability the way Breezy did. For now I’m using SUSE 10.1 and Mepis 6.0 on my main desktop and Mepis on my laptop. Both distros have more stability, flexibility and “polish” than Dapper [Well, the Mepis desktop appearance needs to be customized, but KDE is good that way].

    Sorry to rant on, but I wouldn’t bother if I didn’t care about the Ubuntu vision. Really.

  12. Simon says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    I like the post and the ideas. I personally feel that if Ubuntu switched the splash-loading page on boot up to just a static page with a really nice high quality Ubuntu logo that has just a scrolling bar and with the ability to see the full load process, similar to Zenwalk Linux, openSUSE, or even Freespire, and the allow the user to change the default colors easier, then I think a lot of criticism would subside. While openSUSE had way to many bugs and took way to much effort to get working, I almost wanted to use the distro because of how nice the boot up process was. They even had an image on the background when going into init 3. It was great. I really think the splash-loading page and the brown is a deal killer or a let down for a lot of people based on a lot of reviews and forum postings that I’ve read. Thanks for putting out a great distro! S-

  13. A Conservative Techie » Blog Archive » Communicating Release Goals says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    [...] Another great post by SABDFL in regards to some problems communicating Release Goals for Ubuntu and how to better address some problems.  I like the comment that Matt Zimmerman makes about how it might be that the community has grown so fast that not only has the support level gone done, but the quality of bug reporting is also decreasing.  Seems like this is a good problem for Ubuntu to have as long as they can adopt and help change this problem into something better. [...]

  14. kyle says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    I have to say I’ve been very happy with the specific (concrete) requirements you’ve put out there for each Ubuntu release (as opposed to rubbish like “improve UI” or “make shinier”). It seems like you and the other developers put a lot of thought into what you do and rather than be wishy-washy as some distros are, you stick to your goals and the result is an excellent distribution. I greatly value the balance of stability vs. new stuff that Ubuntu offers. Keep it up!

  15. dom says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    I have also realised that a certain number of criticisms were not appropriate (it is written clearly that Ubuntu will not include proprietary components, so this is the case for the nVidia driver or audio/video codecs…). Being an Ubuntu-addict since Warty, I like Dapper as much as I liked the other releases of Ubuntu. But I think there were a few management mistakes for Dapper. This mainly concerns the new installer. I have encountered quite a few problems while using it, that were not present on the “alternate” CD. It is true that this was expected, since Dapper is the first Ubuntu release to use Ubiquity. But I think this was the main mistake. Dapper has the “LTS” suffix, and was delayed for 6 weeks. The CDs sent by ShipIt only contain the “desktop” CD, and it is now the “preferred way” of installing Ubuntu. For a release that is meant to be “enterprise-ready”, we expect the preferred installation way to work as well as possible, and this is not the case with Ubiquity. I think this is the reason for most criticisms about Dapper.

    So, to summarize: I think Dapper is a great release (it is rock-stable, and quite fast). But I also think that the Ubuntu management team made a mistake about the Ubiquity installer, that is pretty and simple, but not reliable. For me, this would have been a goal for Edgy, but not for Dapper.

    Anyway, despite this criticism, I will remain a supporter of Ubuntu, and I will continue to recommend it to all the people I know. And I also use this opportunity to thank Mr. Shuttleworth for everything he is doing for free software, and Ubuntu in particular.

  16. colin says: (permalink)
    August 7th, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    I agree with setting expectations and being realistic about what is to be delivered, I do not need the hype of the other OS – what i need is to know where i can get my problems resolved should i hit any.
    To now, as a newbe, i have been really pleased with what has been achieved and have stopped using Windows for everything other than some specific software which there is not, as yet, a suitable alternative. There is so much which is good about Dapper but will mention only one – stability. If i had to pick one downer it would be the need to download additional files to get some multimedia programs working.

    I just wished that the commercial writers of software would port their paid for software to Linux as an alternative to Windows or Mac. I for one do not have a problem paying for software as well as using free software. this is a non issue for me.

    Finally, thank you, your developers and the Linux community for what is a fantastic achievement.

  17. George Fragos says: (permalink)
    August 8th, 2006 at 2:57 am

    As a software developer since 1964 I can say that success is the meeting of expectations and the control of expectations is key. Perhaps expectation setting should build over time as confidence in development goals build. From a PR perspectivive, multiple releases over time of goals will get more press than one release in the beginning. Internaly, the goal set must be determined early but all the details need not be broadcasted at one time. PR requires a plan as well.

  18. Rob Caskey says: (permalink)
    August 8th, 2006 at 3:03 am

    I’m worried that Ubuntu is now too many things to too many people. Warty was decisive. It prioritized to meet what in retrospect was a downright insane release schedule and it clobbered everyone. Edgy just doesn’t touch that. I think Ubuntu needs a do-over. Stabalize eft, and start planning for Funky Feline now.

  19. simone brunozzi says: (permalink)
    August 8th, 2006 at 6:53 am

    Dear Mr. Shuttleworth,
    I feel that Matt Zimmermann is right.

    I installed dapper in 37 PCs in a little more than two months (friends, or friends of friends), 31 were completely newbies, 4 were already using ubuntu 5.10, 2 were using SuSE 10.x
    My overall impression is that FEW things really obstacle ubuntu:
    1- installer (“will it erase my windows partition?” – “do i need to defrag windows partition before installing?” – “what the hell ‘defrag’ means?” etc)
    2 – wireless support: ubuntu is fantastic for laptops, however roughly 20% of wireless card were not working properly.
    3 – Lack of a comprehensive guide (included in the default distribution)
    4 – confusion between ubuntu and kubuntu
    5 – Lack of out-of-the-box support for Java, Flash, MP3, DVD
    6 – For business users: lack of a STANDARD INTERFACE to get PAID HELP, and lack of a general system to help people SELL their expertise for money to ubuntu business users.

    That’s my 2 cents, Mr. Shuttleworth. I live in Italy, in a small suburb (Assisi), maybe in other places things are different… who knows?

    Cheers,

  20. Craig Box says: (permalink)
    August 8th, 2006 at 9:50 am

    It seems that there already exist the components to become “Movie OS-like” (obviously, Xgl/Compiz), and they work for a lot of people. Personally, I’ve been using those two since before Dapper was released, from an external repository. They have been quite stable – obviously they take some work, normally at the command line to get going, but people have put a lot of work into building and packaging these things, for one reason or another, outside of MOTU. If you move them into Ubuntu, people will assume you are “deeming them finished”, and complain they don’t go.

    Where Canonical is great is that they add the value on top of those components – for example, taking Debian and making it “just work”. It has already been displayed that you listen to feature requests – a great example being NetworkManager in Dapper. Putting NM in made things “just work” for a lot of people, but generated criticism from the people who it didn’t work for, because they thought it would go. Again, its all expectations, as you point out.

    Every release raises the bar. The closer you get to “complete”, the more the complaints will tend toward “an obscure piece of hardware my friend recently invented doesn’t go”, and people will be as upset about that as they were when they didn’t have, say, networking on Linux at all, four years ago.

    You can’t measure yourself against any metric other than your own. Everyone should rightfully be proud that the Linux world thinks Ubuntu is great. Maybe, like NM, you will find a way to issue the challenge to the people working on the cool stuff, with well defined goals, and have them get it into the releases after all.

  21. Rob Kennedy says: (permalink)
    August 8th, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    I am a firm believer in Extreme Programming.

    Frequent Releases.
    Write TEST code first.
    Don’t release the software product until it passes the test
    etc

    Considering some of the problems many users had with BASIC features like printing and wireless, I suspect Dapper was released a little too early. It should not have passed the basic tests. (That’s my two cents). Of course that is easy to say now. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    If you release a software product with some fundamental bugs, you will get criticism (regardless if you make it known that these bugs exist at the time of release).

    Of course, do not build up expectations too much. If you do, you will get criticism no matter what.

    I also agree with the previous poster. There are a number of BIG obstacles that many new users have with Ubuntu / Kubuntu. In my view the BIGGEST obstacle is “Lack of out-of-the-box support for Java, Flash, MP3, DVD” etc.

    Yes, there are community projects to help you install such software (e.g. Automatrix), but I fear many newbies to Ubuntu (or Linux in general) will get turned off when they first install Ubuntu / Kubuntu and they can’t play a MP3 file.

    I understand that there are licensing issues. But from what I understand Sun has finally loosened its licensing for JAVA so it should be possible to include SUN JAVA as an installation OPTION in Ubuntu / Kubuntu.

    I don’t want to turn this into a debate over FREE software but in my view, if you want Ubuntu / Kubuntu to be a success in the long run you must give the user the OPTIONS during installation to install non-free software (such as Nvidia drivers, JAVA, Flash etc). But make it an optional so that a user can install only FREE software if he or she so desires.

    At this time, it looks like the new Freespire project is in a great position to be a success in the long term since it appears that it has obtained all the necessary licenses to distribute support for JAVA, MP3, and other multimedia formats with its Freespire Linux distro. I would encouage Ubuntu / Kubuntu to pursue obtaining the same licenses, etc. I belive this is crucial for the long term success of Ubuntu / Kubuntu (or any other Linux distro geared to the general population).

    Rob
    P.S. Mark, thanks again for such a great distro and for helping to promote Linux in general to the general population. You have done a lot for the Linux cause.

  22. ubuntu_demon’s blog » interesting blog post by Jorge Castro says: (permalink)
    August 8th, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    [...] Mark, regarding managing expectations, I think that it’s difficult to gauge exactly what users expect. Pre-warty’s users (like me) were usually experienced Linux users who enjoyed being lazy and having things Just Work(tm). By the time Dapper rolled around, if it wasn’t doing your laundry, then it’s game over. I’m sure those of us that advocate Ubuntu regularly run into this all the time … [...]

  23. Benoit Caron says: (permalink)
    August 9th, 2006 at 1:40 am

    From here,it looks like being compared to Windows is what is happening.

    People I know that are using Linux for a while and are trying Ubuntu are usually delighted and most of them do make the switch.

    But the release of Dapper seem to have triggered a lot of curiousity around my Windows-users coworkers: they are the kind of people going around and asking the kind of question mentionned, about Flash, MP3, DVD, Java, nVidia, and al.

    So, I guess that now, the goal should be to “polished” (ahah! the Word again!) the way to present the answers to these questions; just explaining a bit about patents and other things restraining redistribution is usually enough, and well understood.

  24. A Random Pattern » Dapper Expectations? says: (permalink)
    August 9th, 2006 at 4:53 am

    [...] Mark Shuttleworth, benevolent sponsor and launcher of Ubuntu, posted an email discussing what went wrong with communication / setting of expectations for what the latest Ubuntu release would deliver. He also points out the very good “problem” of Ubuntu being compared to Windows. [...]

  25. Cindy says: (permalink)
    August 9th, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    You did not address what I saw to be the biggest problem with 6.06 and which was repeatedly noted: Things that worked in 5.10 broke in 6.06.

    Printers/cups. Samba. ATI. Wireless (WPA, etc) issues. A Live CD that wouldn’t boot on some machines. And so on.

    I didn’t experience any of these myself but I use it pretty minimally on my laptop. A couple of my friends got burned though.

    Another aspect I did find annoying was the apparently random removal of programs, something also noted by many others. In my case, NetworkManager was removed. Arrrghhh. I still need to go back and reinstall it but I’ve been doing the commandline iwconfig for now because I don’t know if it will get killed again in some subsequent upgrade.

    Those are the issues that raised the most concern, that I saw people raising. Not so much comparisons to Windows, but comparisons to Ubuntu’s prior release. It seems slightly unfair to me to characterize the criticisms as complaining about “eye candy”.

  26. Gunnar says: (permalink)
    August 10th, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    I have been with Ubuntu for 4 months now, and it has replaced windows for me.

    BUT As Matt Zimmermann said:

    “Lack of out-of-the-box support for Java, Flash, MP3, DVD, etc.
    (RestrictedFormats) [0] [4]”

    Fix this, and millions of new users will come.
    I had to use Automatix to make everything work…

    and:

    - Lack of support for a particular hardware component (e.g., wireless card
    or printer) [1] [2] [4] [6]

    Printer support:
    For a popular cheap multiprinter Canon Pixma mp150, i had to look for several weeks on the web for a solution, and still, finally i had to buy software to make it work…

    Fix that and Ubuntu will succeed.

  27. James LaRue says: (permalink)
    August 11th, 2006 at 1:10 am

    I started with Warty, and have upgraded through Dapper — where I promptly fiddled with XGL to the point where I broke some things, so completely reinstalled, thereby cleaning out a lot of random files.

    Mr. Shuttleworth, Dapper Drake is a handsome duck. The few things I was missing, I was able to add in a few minutes, using the excellent documentation on the Ubuntu wiki. And I find that I have far less trouble than the Windows users around me. Linux is all about configuration, still, not use.

    Managing expectations is certainly a worthwhile goal. And it will take a while before Linux can be fully embraced by the business world. At the public library I run, there are simply too many fundamental software functions for which no Linux equivalent exists, at least, not fully integrated and supported. But thanks to your efforts, and those of other Linux supporters, that will change.

  28. Carlos Miller says: (permalink)
    August 11th, 2006 at 10:51 am

    I must say that I appreciate your collective efforts to deliver a quality OS that is also free. The only complaint that I had with Dapper was that my printer no longer worked while it worked perfectly fine with Breezy. To this day, I can not get it to work. Therefore, I have to use Windows for that particular task.

  29. Hendrik Boshoff says: (permalink)
    August 12th, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    As an Edubuntu installer/administrator/user, I consider myself to be somewhat on the fringes of the Ubuntu community.

    In November 2005, I was looking for an alternative to replacing all 40 working computers at my children’s primary school, just because they would not run Win XP. Then I came across this claim about Edubuntu (which is still quoted on its page at Distrowatch.com): “Edubuntu is a partner project of Ubuntu Linux, a distribution suitable for classroom use. The aim is that an educator with limited technical knowledge and skill will be able to set up a computer lab, or establish an on-line learning environment, in an hour or less, and then administer that environment without having to become a fully-fledged Linux geek.”

    This definitely inflated my expectations. Setting up all aspects of the lab took me weeks rather than hours. And I have since bought O’Reilly’s “Running Linux” just not to be completely powerless when the teacher reports a problem.

    On replacing Edubuntu Breezy with Dapper, my server was hit by the sky2 intermittent network hang bug (#41634 reported 2006-04-26 on Launchpad). But being a relative Linux newbie, I did not know that. All I knew was that the thin terminal computers would freeze together unpredictably, and that only a server reboot could fix it, sometimes up to five times a day. This remained the case through all updates, even to the current kernel 2.6.15-26-686.

    Losing network connectivity is a nuisance on a laptop or desktop; in an Edubuntu ltsp server, it hits the one critical point on which everything depends. So a bug relatively unimportant to Ubuntu, can be a showstopper in Edubuntu.

    I had convinced the school to convert from Windows to Linux due to its stability, and told them to have patience with little problems in Edubuntu Breezy, because Dapper was going to be so much better. Now I have a hard time making good on my promises, and explaining why our Dapper setup is, well, unstable.

    Obviously everyone does not share my problem, because my message to edubuntu-users (31/7) was met with complete silence. And yes, I know that Edubuntu is a community project, and that I did not pay for it. So I hope at least that giving feedback on my problem will improve a system with great potential. When it is working, the children enjoy using it immensely. Even the teacher would not go back to Windows, despite our problems. And the range of available free software makes developing a curriculum a joy.

    But do I feel let down by Dapper after all the hype?

    You bet.

  30. Paul Valencourt says: (permalink)
    August 13th, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    I feel that the first obstacle to Ubuntu being adopted widely is to make it more viable in the business world, since people will want to be compatible with what is being used at work. In order to do this, there are a few areas which need to be improved. These include

    A.) Lack of inclusion of proprietary drivers where there is no realistic open source alternative. These include nVidia graphics cards, atheros madwifi drivers, ATI’s fglrx (except where the radeon driver works on earlier cards). According to the TransGaming newsletter, we’re to expect significant improvement from the ATI drivers. I really am an open source zealot most of the time, but where open source doesn’t cut it in a vital area, we can’t afford to do without.

    B.) Lack of compatibility with Microsoft Exchange. Evolution does this, but in a very limited way.

    C.) An unreliable partition manager. The gparted live CD with the latest version of gparted works much better than the version from the repositories. Also, DiskDrake, the Mandriva partitioning tool, as others will testify, has never failed me and is very simple.

    D.) No central system management utility. There are a few of these in early beta posted on the Ubuntu Forums, but they mostly do not deal with things other than GNOME settings. To have a professionally developed and mature ‘control center’ like utility would help considerably. Different versions for GNOME/KDE/XFCE to deal with settings particular to those environments (possibly integrating kcontrol in the case of KDE) as well as a way to manage FTP, SSH, and similar daemons, as well as network shares. Possibly with documentation and links to it (preferably provided on the CD).

    E.) Wireless issues. A friend of mine has a prism chipset USB wireless adapter (rebranded Dell) that works neither in SuSE nor Ubuntu, and he has failed to get it working with ndiswrapper, and, for this reason, is not yet on Ubuntu. He is instead going to “eventually” get an NIC and a length of ethernet cable. The atheros chipset is another irritating one, for lack of madwifi drivers. This goes way beyond hardware support though. The effort it took to get WPA working almost drove one of my friends back to Windows. I’d like to see a complete wifi overhaul.

    F.) Installer inadequacies. Debian Etch (the last beta I tried, anyhow) has the capability of making an encrypted partition, and I am told that it is possible in Ubuntu (that is, the functionality already exists, but that it isn’t in the installer). Say a software development company gives an employee a laptop that will have “mission critical” project data on it. If I were the distributor of said laptop, I would want that to have an /home encrypted partition, wouldn’t you? Having an encrypted swap partition -by default- (and certainly the functionality in the installer) would be good for privacy, since things not even written to the hard drive can be swapped onto the disk, compromising one’s privacy if that drive were analyzed. Espresso has failed me many times (generally in the paritioning phase) and I think that this could be fixed by integrating DiskDrake or a newer gparted.

    Additionally, one thing other thing that would ease migration immensely would be something like this: an application running under windows saves all IE and Firefox bookmarks (possibly the Firefox skins, extensions and whatnot also) the outlook or thunderbird contacts and accounts, and most importantly, hardware detection, which would notify one if his NIC or wifi would not work, or what he might need to do to get it working. It perhaps could go as far as aiding in backup or retrieving the appropriate CD. It’s counterpart on the Linux side (preinstalled of course) would process the output and replace the bookmarks, contacts, et cetera.

  31. emmanuel says: (permalink)
    August 17th, 2006 at 12:24 pm

    yes, i’m a bit confused about edgy goals. for eye-candy, we’ll get hi-res bootsplash, we have xorg 7.1 but compiz is not updated and won’t work with AIGLX… surprising, to stop at 90% of the way.

    A liveCD with compiz/AIGLX would be quite a hit i think for knot2, even if you need to open a terminal and type “compiz –replace” to start it up (anything more than that, like editing xorg.conf, would be already too much). maybe it’ll be knot3…

  32. Gilberto Nuvolari says: (permalink)
    August 18th, 2006 at 12:12 am

    Ubuntu is a great system, easy to install (People don’t know how to proprerly install windows, so no surprise they can’t install without worry a new OS), easy to manage and customize. I suggest to put a copy of the wiki in the CD. I think it would help a lot new users. I understand politicy about thrid-part software and drivers, but I think that a solution out-of-the-box would help the spread.
    I’m from Italy, but I’m working in the USA for a couple of mounth as an architect. I tell what everybody in the architecture/engineering community thinks as in Europe so in USA: “wow, has Linux its own Autocad?” The response is no.
    I red an interview where you said that to make run videogames on Linux would make the difference.
    I agree, but I add that the cad designer is also a huge slice of the market that doesn’t ask for eye-candy features or out-of-the-box mp3 player, it asks for a solid-as-a-rock system that can run a cad and be productive (we have lots of 3d modeller, image editing software but we don’t have a real autocad alternative!!) .
    I dunno the solution (emulation? software development? port from Autodesk?) but as long as my field lacks this feature the only use of Ubuntu will be home for browising…

    Thanx for the best distro around…

  33. Marialena says: (permalink)
    August 18th, 2006 at 3:26 am

    Dear Mark,

    In the OS’s market, which is dominated by the monopoly of some “big companies”, Ubuntu (and especially Dapper Drake) managed to give to the wide public an “alternative” free OS that can be compared to Windows. More criticism means that more people pay attention to Ubuntu and that IS good.. That shows that people knows and appreciates quality if and wherever is possible to find it.

    But…

    Most of the typical users don’t even know what Linux is. And those that they know (some little things) are lost between rumours (that Linux is very difficult ) and ignorance (what is Ubuntu???) while they don’t have enough time to spend for searching and learning alternative ways to do their job. Most of those ordinary users don’t care if a OS has 3D applications… they don’t even care what kind of OS have … They just need something to do easy and safely their job.
    So I believe that one thing has to be clear to users: That Ubuntu (and generally Linux) is something different, but not difficult. It just need a different approach, with a little will for learning and little more open mind.

    That is the main point that any new release of Ubuntu must pass to users…

    The rest ( i.e the:” 3D support out of the box on nVidia chipsets , the out-of-the-box support for Java, Flash, MP3, DVD, the support for a particular hardware component etc etc etc “) will come with the interest that the big hardware and software companies will (surely ) show for Ubuntu users when they will be more and more and more…..

    Anyway…….Dapper Drake is a very good and stable OS. (be sure that if it wasn’t I would have told you…). I want to tell you that I’m using Ubuntu for a month, that is the first time that I install a Linux disto in my pc ( you make me an Ubuntista Mark ;) ) and that I find it easy to install and to use it… The things that I’m saying above are things that I ‘m seeing and hearing from friends and colleges which are like me… ordinary and typical pc users..

    Sorry for my bad English…

    Keep on the good work…

  34. Stephen Mackenzie says: (permalink)
    August 18th, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    I tried out a liveCD on my iBook, and was impressed, but not enough to switch.

    Reasons?

    Well, my AirPort card wasn’t supported. Which was a bit disappointing, as it isn’t as if there’s a lot of wireless card configurations for iBooks! ;-)

    And I found the UI a bit clumsy: full of Windows-style UI paradigms that I didn’t really like.

    Linux itself is great so why make it look like Windows?

    (This is a general observation and Ubuntu is not the only offender here. OTOH if Ubuntu can give itself a clean, original UI that _could_ be perceived as a distinct advantage).

  35. Steinar says: (permalink)
    August 23rd, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    Like some have mentioned her: Easy access to extra repositories and even multiverse for access to properity software. How many surf the web without Flashplayer or Java? Maybe even a step-by-step guide for new users on how apt-get and synaptic works. Many new users search the web and install packages from source because the don’t know about the apt-get.

    Well, that’s my experience from newbies in forums I pariticipate in. Good luck with Ubuntu it’s really great. :)

  36. Jessica Rabbit says: (permalink)
    August 24th, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    Dapper is excellent, and the buzz across the internet and publications is proof of this. What we need to remember is the fact that there are SHILLS about, promoting their closed-source products and putting down open source.

    It’s time to remain strong and fight the good fight for open source and stay the course.

    Ubuntu can and will become a popular choice on the desktops of the world but we must stay focused, positive, and most of all, connected.

  37. Wolfmanz says: (permalink)
    August 27th, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    There are some interesting posts here in regards to Ubuntu. I too think its a great distribution but when it comes to the proprietary codecs/drivers there needs to be a change there. I know lots of windows users and they would get rid of Ubuntu if they had to go through and hunt down all these drivers and codecs and then install them.

    I know there are programs like EasyUbuntu but that has its own set of issues. I think any windows user coming to look at Ubuntu just want things to work and that includes all the things that require proprietary drivers and codecs.

    What surprises me the most is why doesn’t Ubuntu come with a icon on the desktop that you click on that explains why the codecs are not there and then gives the user a install button to install all the drivers and codecs at once. This to me would seem like the way to handle this since you could then claim your are not distributing the proprietary stuff but on the same hand your making it easy to install the proprietary stuff should the user choose to do so.

    For me its the little things that matter most. For instance i use TeamSpeak every day to talk to some friends of mine and we have been using it for years. The problem i have right now is i can’t have TeamSpeak and the XMMS media player going at the same time its one or the other. To fix a issue like this you got to go hunting on google and if your lucky you will find some big long complicated post that MIGHT fix your problem. For me this is a deal breaker and whether its Ubuntu’s fault or even TeamSpeak’s fault doesn’t even matter.

    Another example of this is my Hauppage pvr350 Tuner. For me to get this working right under Ubuntu looks like it to will be a big job and it’s something I’m not looking forward to at all.

    My point here is it only takes a few things like this to make a windows user just forget about Linux/Ubuntu all together.

    I do think Ubuntu will pick up more users when M$ starts to push out Vista and people see what a abortion that is. I’m just hoping when them windows users come over to Ubuntu they don’t all head back to Vista because all there hardware and there mp3′s worked on Vista and don’t work on Ubuntu.

  38. James says: (permalink)
    August 28th, 2006 at 7:06 am

    I’ve tried out the last 3 releases of Ubuntu and so far its been an ok experience. I never stuck with them because I have dial up and Ubuntu is useless without broadband. I think that: More packages need to be included for those of us that don’t have broadband; More drivers need to be included as well as better testing of the ones included. Case in point the RT2500 driver worked flawlessly on SuSE 9.3 Pro, but when I tried it under 6.06 it would randomly lock up my PC; Better Help files. The Gnome UI used in SLED 10 is the best UI I’ve ever seen or used. Not only is it beuitiful, but it’s usability is just amazing.

    More; Better, help files would also be great. Windows has two things going for it. 3rd party support and great Help files. SLED 10 addressed this nicely by developing a flash tutorial that shows the user how to do certain tasks. Although thats a nice start, whats really missing is help for common errors. Such as installing drivers, programs, and what all the different errors mean.

    Not saying I would use Ubuntu if these were address as other Linux Distrobutions like SuSE are far ahead of Ubuntu in many areas, but If these were fixed I’d definitly take another look at Ubuntu.

    James

  39. Sean says: (permalink)
    September 18th, 2006 at 11:34 am

    Having Installed Ubuntu, a few comments I can give.
    I had the same issue with the live CD, but was not too much of a problem to resolve and install properly.
    The desktop is great, I am playing with the themes to see what looks best, but it is in all cases a personal choice.
    Nice to have most hardware work without any problems, my camera, phone, scanner and other USB devices just work, none of the ¨Install Propeitary, Incompatiable Software Please¨issues that came with other OS’s.
    Easy to update, even though that was a few (8) hours online on dial up……
    Adding is easier than windows, I prefer the Firefox browser over IE, might even download the addons, but most pages work without them anyhow.
    After installing Wine, a lot of Windows apps work too, best of both worlds.

    Yes, more packages would be better, but then the disro would be 2-3 DVD’s, and would be defeating the object of being lightweight and easy, most being unused. I found the tradeoff between the 2 reasonable, though would have preferred KDE to be included as an option, not as a download.

    It seems that Ubuntu is easy enough for most people to use, well done on giving a great alternative. Most, if not all, issues are easy to fix IMHO, and the updates are easy to do, without too much hassle, and a lot easier than some other OS’s

  40. zettberlin says: (permalink)
    September 21st, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    I had switched from Suse 9.3 to dapper immediately as i mentioned the absolute outstanding performance of the system when working with sound-applications. No other system i tried before allowed to run the jackaudioserver with such extreme low latency as stable and flawless as dapper. All with the un-hacked standard-kernel and with only some trivial tuning one can apply within half an houre by drag/drop some commands from a howto.

    Now i test edgy and i see that some features, needed for that, are gone,

    Furthermore i see, that there are no bootmessages anymore. I like the new splash very much, but I cannot see any rational reason for not adding a nice window, that shows, what is up at startup. This is a serious matter, hiding information by default does not help anybody – as soon as a problem occurs the user sits in front of his/her box the same as any MS/Mac-consumer – helpless without a clue….

    A linux-system should be cute, modern, cool-looking. But hiding important information contradicts major basics of the free-software-philosophy.

    I still believe, that edgy will be my favourite linux, still i am concerned about what way the distro will go in the future.

  41. Paul Cubbage says: (permalink)
    October 6th, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    “Now we need to look PAST where Windows is today, and deliver an experience to those users that is so compelling in some places that they are willing to forgive a few of the warts.”

    Moore’s “Dealing with Darwin” applies to Ubuntu as well. A clearer goal for “innovation” is to “differentiate on an attribute that drives customer preference during buying decisions
    “(http://geoffmoore.blogs.com/my_weblog/ see “Top Ten Myths about Business Innovation”) Innovating elsewhere costs money and entails risk but does not create competitive advantage. Put another way, how do you innovate to create an unfair advantage against windoze? Ubuntu doesn’t need to create something for users to “forgive a few of the warts.” Ubuntu users are already happy and forgiving. Ubuntu needs something compelling that draws new users in.

  42. Ubuntu 6.10, Edgy Eft says: (permalink)
    October 28th, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    [...] It is out, it is light-brown and it is fast. Man, is it fast! Definitely worth the wait (only 4 months in this case), just as edgy as people had been expecting, based mostly on Mark Shuttleworth’s note on planning Dapper+1 (this isn’t suprprising. Surprising is only that Mark appears to have repeated a mistake he had already acknowledged half a year before in a blog entry about community disappointment over Dapper. For me, the only “feature disappointment” with Edgy is that Composite won’t work with ATI’s fglrx driver and thus Beryl won’t work (something that is the click of a checkbox away in Fedora Core 6 and Mandriva Linux 2006). No big issue though. What is of more concern, in my humble opionion at least, are some smaller quirks that have been there since at least Ubuntu 5.10 which I’d like to list here for future reference (read: when Feisty Fawn comes out). [...]

  43. Dissociated Press / Oh noes! The command line! says: (permalink)
    December 18th, 2006 at 2:13 am

    [...] Just reading Mark Shuttleworth’s response to Matt Zimmerman’s summation of the community’s expectations of the Ubuntu Dapper Drake 6.06 LTS release. One thing stuck out about Zimmerman’s comments, that’s the complaint that users still have to use the command line for some tasks. [...]

  44. tecosystems » AIGLX on a Thinkpad x60s: Sweet, Sweet Eye Candy says: (permalink)
    February 28th, 2007 at 8:42 am

    [...] Beyond the actual functionality, these projects have a higher level importance. While I’ve argued for some time that Linux has been on par with Windows in terms of the quality of the GUI – Windows XP being no great shakes in that department as far as I’m concerned – Apple’s dynamic and visually appealing OS X was clearly the leader of both by a significant margin. Neither AIGLX/Xgl with Compiz/Metacity will change that by themselves – they’re enabling technologies, remember, not beautiful in and of themselves – but for the first time Linux is getting close to having the technology necessary to match OS X. What’s needed now, in my view, are Tango-like efforts to provide polished (sorry, Mark), pretty icons, menus, themes and such that heavily leverage the capabilities the new technologies provide (transparency, flexible windows, desktop organization, and so on). It’s not that the themes currently available in the cgwd-themes package are not impressive – they are – but rather that they’re usually incomplete, and have minor little flaws or bugs (just because you have transparency doesn’t mean you should use it everywhere . While folks like me will put up with those, normal users will not. [...]

  45. michala says: (permalink)
    June 10th, 2007 at 3:20 am

    Hi Mark!
    Thank you for all the good things you do for this place – called earth.
    I really admire all the good dids and the help for Africa – the place and the people.
    I am a Hebrew Teacher – and my specialty is to teach this language – if you have plans to bring teachers for Africa and try and devolve the place – I will be more then happy to help with my experience.
    Any language that you learn is a tool for your mind to be developed.
    I am 36 years old and serve in the army for two years – I do have a Leading experience.
    All the best
    Michaela

  46. Danny Lombard says: (permalink)
    August 19th, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Hi Mark
    my name is Danny Lombard I live in Johannesburg I have a project im working on to develop Africa.
    I need your help to make it work but I need to make direct contact with you so if you could help me.

    Danny

  47. Scott James Remnant » Blog Archive » Not That Edgy says: (permalink)
    November 16th, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    [...] Mark has already touched on this in his blog, citing a conversation he had with Matt (the Ubuntu CTO). Especially noteworthy is the mention that the kinds of itches that developers get are not the same as those users get. We get itches because the installer still relies on devfs-style paths, or because it’s not possible to boot the system without race-conditions. None of these things are noticeable to the end-user. [...]