Friday, April 16, 2010

A critique of some Ubuntu Critics

There is no doubt that critiquing Ubuntu is a great thing, for it is by rubbing it that it can be polished. Over the last few days however, I have read some articles that purport to be critiquing Ubuntu while in reality, the authors only display their glaring biased opinions.One of these articles was just full of contradictions such that I could not believe it was allowed to be published on the platform on which it did. Just today, my attention was drawn by a good friend to another one that categorically puts the blame for the unpopularity of Linux to the doorstep of Ubuntu.

The theme of most of the baseless criticisms is that Ubuntu is unstable for everyday use. Why you ask? Because either the author plugged in a peripheral that Ubuntu did not recognize right away or because there are some bugs that have not been fixed for period of time. This has even caused some to label Ubuntu as 'garbage salad.' I have no problem with people expressing their views, but then certain basic facts should never be misconstrued to the unsuspecting person out there.

First of all Ubuntu is not perfect. In fact, I am yet to read any claim anywhere whatsoever that touts Ubuntu as the be all OS. It is great, but far from perfect. Then also it has a six month release cycle that it strictly adheres to. That is what the developers and sponsors think is best for the project. And so six month it is. Under no circumstance is anybody obligated to upgrade or change their OS every six months.

There are two types of releases: the LTS and the normal releases. The LTS aims at being more stable and thus you have lots of conservative judgments going into their developments. Then you have the normal releases which are more bleeding edge and are mostly for those who are comfortable locating, reporting or helping troubleshoot bugs. The logic here is simple- if you want serious stability and reliability, you stick with the LTS which is supported for 36 months, else you go for the normal releases which are supported for 18 months. How hard is it to figure that out?

Then there is the argument of Linux not making any progress because Ubuntu casts a bad image of it. This is another hogwash. You see, there are two OSs for the majority of people walking this Earth. There is Windows and there is Linux. Forget Mac OSX. Now Windows is popular because Microsoft has succeeded in locking in most businesses and machine vendors with their market dominance. 

Secondly, it has deliberately turned a blind eye to all the massive piracy that take place in most parts of the world (mind you, Africa, Asia and Latin America combined are bigger than North America and Western Europe). Should Microsoft start clamping down on piracy in these parts of the world as it does in developed parts, Linux will make huge gains overnight. It must also be noted that Microsoft does not make money from the 90%  market share it is touted to be enjoying. If my friend runs a pirated version of Windows and visits a site, it registers as Windows alright, but did MS make any money from his copy?

The almost eternal unpopularity of Linux is due to a plethora of issues that cannot just be summed up and blamed on one distro. It is just unprofessional to make such analysis. Mark Shuttleworth has been singing the cadence anthem for sometime now and I am yet to see any reference to this in any of the posts that are critical of Ubuntu's 'instability.' Ubuntu has contributed a lot to preventing people from suffering epileptic fits whenever the name Linux is mentioned as an alternative to Windows. Think back 10 years ago and imagine telling your dad you think the house computers should be changed to Linux. 

Global powers like Dell and IBM are shipping Ubuntu preloaded computers, that should go a long way to attest to the reasonable reliability of the OS. Besides, those companies have more resources at their disposal to conduct even more rigorous testing on the OS than Canonical itself can. So on what basis can someone claim that Ubuntu is so unreliable that the project needs to be scrapped? Sure Ubuntu has problems, heck everything made by man has problems, but we must learn to be fair and give praise where it is due.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 1 comment

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