Today we had a long time Ubuntu user turn up for support telling us that Ubuntu 9.10 had “so many problems” and “once again it was total fail”. This led them to state that he doesn’t “have a reliable working platform to work on”.
Wow, ‘total fail’, that sounds really bad doesn’t it? Until you dig a little deeper.
We asked a few simple questions to find out what the nature of the issues were. It turns out video playback had incorrect colour representation, and flash based websites were not clickable. Within about two minutes some experienced users stepped up to offer solutions. They knew that these two reported issues were well known (see the bug links above), and had good fixes or workarounds.
This apparently isn’t good enough. Even with the advice from multiple experienced Ubuntu users, the user decided they needed to reinstall the entire operating system despite the fact that both of these issues will in all likely hood still be there when they finish. We will of course help them when they come back with the same issue, asking for the fixes again, but it’s a monumental waste of time and effort on everyone’s parts, and reinforces the mantra that ‘Ubuntu upgrades are broken’.
This just flat out isn’t true. I’ve personally upgraded multiple machines multiple times and there have been some issues, but the vast majority of systems upgrade cleanly, resulting in a perfectly usable desktop/server. I’m not dismissing the issues that some people have, because there clearly are some, and many of those will be frustrating for inexperienced (or indeed experienced) users. To blanket label them as “total fail” or “broken” is just factually and statistically incorrect.
I can understand that some people prefer a ‘clean’ install over an ‘in place upgrade’ as years of experience on other platforms leads to people being reserved about the reliability of upgrades in Ubuntu. If you believe the press there are scores of users out there with systems that won’t upgrade or if they do, result in systems so damaged they cannot be fixed.
The above cited example was clearly neither of those. The user upgraded and got a working desktop with a couple of frustrating issues, yet chose to undo what they did and reinstall again, probably still believing the upgrade was at fault.
So lets get this in perspective:-
- You don’t have to upgrade to 9.10. We have multiple fully supported releases you can stay on for now
- Ubuntu upgrades on the whole do work, and if they don’t, we have a great community and paid support structure to help you get things fixed
- You can even upgrade Ubuntu releases which are beyond their EOL (End Of Life)
- Windows isn’t exactly easy to upgrade
- OSX isn’t perfect either