Based on some comments from my previous posts about Ubuntu, I decided I would in fact give it a try but if you are looking for a glamorous review of Ubuntu, this is not going to be it. I have nothing good to say about the operating system, its bootloader or anything about it really except that the LiveCD worked and my wireless decided to work but not my graphics card… you try looking at an “out of phase” display for a few minutes, see HOW you like it.
First I tried to install Ubuntu Studio which failed; I couldn’t get past the X-Server error or whatever gibberish it spits out that counts as an error. For the record, X-Server has got to be the worst implementation of anything in the history of operating systems; it’s too stupid for its own good. I shouldn’t have to define the hardware location of my graphics card nor manually input my display characteristics… oh and the manual configuration shouldn’t be a half baked cross between a GUI and text installer either.
At this point I figured it might be a bad DVD so I ran the disc checker (the one that comes with all Linux distros) which found no errors. The command to manually configure X-Server is not worth the space in my brain to remember, that’s what search engines are for, friends.
Having done that and growing more impatient by the minute, I decided that Ubuntu Studio just wasn’t going to work. So I tried to get a vanilla Ubuntu installation, downloaded it and yet more X-Server problems. I mean seriously, what is wrong with X-Server; it really is a piece of junk. After trying VESA and several other modes, the “Safe Graphic Mode” worked and for once it recognized and enabled my wireless card. Still no joy with my ATi Mobility X1600 though and I hear that ATi cards really are a problem for X-Server… hmmmm, just imagine if Windows was plagued with these problems and had utilities that didn’t know the difference between a USB port and a DVD drive (okay, maybe I exaggerate that point but not by much).
On with the show, since it booted and was working, I figured I’d install it just for kicks. That was a mistake I am still feeling. I had to reboot into Windows TWICE because the partitioning utility just like everything else is dumb as dirt. I had to create the two in Windows for the swap and root directory, fine, okay, done. Note this is going on about four hours and every moment of it felt like driving a nail into my eye. I’m counting download, burning and troubleshooting here.
Fine, Ubuntu does it’s thing, installs various files, downloads various packages, yadda yadda yadda, I wasn’t really paying attention because I can get up from a Vista install, leave it for 20 minutes or so and let it finish all by itself, doing that with Ubuntu is well, like taking a 45 caliber pistol and shooting your hard drive at point blank range.
So I come back, I find GRUB installed… for those of you who don’t know Vista doesn’t like it when GRUB tries to wrestle control from its boot loader so I knew this was not going to be good. I’m not really sure what happened between point A and point B but for a moment I did have a boot selection between Vista and Ubuntu and I tried to start Ubuntu. That was a mistake and that’s where my house of cards came tumbling down burying me in about a thousand tons of rubble. I got the good old X-Server can’t start error and I would really like to know what they were thinking with the option “would you like to see the error so you can troubleshoot it.” I mean it’s worse than a Windows hex memory dump error, bunch of letters and numbers that make no sense at all and even more so since my display was a jumble because, that’s right, it wasn’t configured correctly.
Alright, fine, I’ll just boot back into Vista and nuke Ubuntu. What do I get… I do not get a boot selection, I get “GRUB error” and that’s it, black screen of death, not even a command prompt and from that point not even the LiveCD would start. I did manage to recombine all those messed up partitions (thanks Ubuntu) in Vista by deleting them and what a novel concept that Vista automatically recombines them and asks to format them to either NTFS or FAT32, wow, did this not dawn on the Ubuntu team, honestly guys, what decade are you living in? Proprietary, schmieatary, just produce something that works… you know… in some ways Vista is better but at this point I’m hard pressed to find anything good about Ubuntu.
I’m grateful for the fact that I did not wipe my previous installation of Vista from my larger yet slower backup drive and my disk image DVD decided it wasn’t going to work for reasons unknown. I have plenty of other burned discs that work fine so let’s rule out my burner or choice of discs.
Basically Ubuntu turned my laptop into a smoking pile of dung for a good portion of the day and it is not an experience I will repeat any time soon. You Linux evangelists can keep your propaganda and the Ubuntu team can keep what they call an excuse for an operating system but it really is an effective way to destroy a system.
Want to sell your old computer on eBay, let Ubuntu nuke it for you, problem solved. I don’t really know what the problem with X-Server was, could have been graphics, display configuration or even something less sinister, frankly I don’t know and at this point the only way you could get me to go back and check is the offer of $10,000,000 in an overseas account.
If you want Ubuntu and you go to a college that has a Linux club or “Linux install fest” let them deal with it or just buy one from Dell or System76. You’d have to pay me about $20,000,000 to try it again; I’m only willing to check the error thingy for $10,000,000.
Before the comments start, could I really make this up? Decide for yourselves. Those of you, who know me, know I wouldn’t waste my time writing about Linux unless it was the unvarnished, unpolished truth. Of course to this point, I’ve never really had what could be classified as a “good” or even “mediocre” experience and this one has to be the worst yet.
Windows could be partly to blame but most of it lies with Ubuntu. The only real operating systems are Windows XP, Vista or Mac OSX there are no other operating systems, believing so is almost delusional. Everything was fine until GRUB came along, it’s junk too. But don’t forget all those X-Server issues which also got under my skin, few things cause me to want to throw my hard drive out a window, Ubuntu brought me the closest yet.