Hatin’ on Ubuntu

Via Alterslash/slashdot, apparently the elder lords of Debian (including the Ian in Deb-Ian, but not the Deb apparently) are annoyed by Ubuntu because Ubuntu’s software, based on Debian’s unstable version, isn’t very compatible with Debian’s almost-stable-but-not-quite-there-still version.

I use Ubuntu now on my linux box. I used to use Debian exclusively (after having gone through a “try every distribution under the sun” phase where I’d always end up back with Debian cause it was the best thing I could find). But I stopped recommending Debian to friends about a year or so ago when I tried to help two friends install Debian’s stable version on a desktop and server machine of theirs and realized how bad it had become, at least for people like me and my friends.

The then-current stable version of Debian, Woody — which by coincidence is also the now-current stable version of Debian — had crappy-ass hardware detection, worse than any other linux distribution, I kid you not. X11 configuration was a total nightmare for the friend who wanted a desktop OS, and we had a dead rotten time trying to find drivers for the network card for the friend who wanted a server os. After those two installs I just couldn’t honestly say “hey, you should try Linux” to a friend anymore. Maybe to an enemy.

When I stopped recommending Debian it wasn’t because I’d discovered Ubuntu and liked it, it was because I stopped liking Debian and no longer had any Linux distribution I could confidently recommend. As far as I could tell, there were distros that installed well and had recent software but were hell to maintain and upgrade (anything but Debian), and one distro which was hell to install and had nasty old software but was pleasant to maintain and upgrade (Debian). I couldn’t happily recommend either of those. My linux advocacy took a dive. I drowned my sorrows in the beautiful Aqua interface of OS X and tried not to think about the proprietary software.

A few months ago I decided to give Ubuntu a shot, having heard some of the good buzz about it. As far as I’m concerned it’s everything that Debian hasn’t been for years and should have been. Yes, it’s dependent on Debian, and it is able to be so good because of the work Debian volunteers put into things. But why isn’t *Debian* able to be so good because of the work Debian volunteers put into things? Well, it’s probably because they support about 50 architectures and won’t go forward with a release till they can get an archaic version of GNOME to compile on Debian-SomeStupidProcessorIveNeverHeardOfAndOnlySixPeopleUse-64 (DEC). And real Debian guru types don’t give a crap about people less geeky and technically competent than themselves, because that takes time away from flaming each other in political wars on the dev lists. Not that I’m bitter. But if you want to see everything that’s loathsome about Linux people, try asking a question in a debian IRC channel. I only did it once. It was enough.

OK, so whatever, that’s fine, Debian has its goals and producing an operating system that I can recommend to friends and hope to keep them as friends is not one of them. That’s all good. But if somebody’s going to come around and actually produce such an OS (and Ubuntu is such an OS, usability bugs notwithstanding), then do the Debian developers have to come out hatin’ on it?

Yeah, of course they do.

I love Debian. And that’s why I hate Debian.