Why Ubuntu?

[UPDATE: less than a month after this, I switched back to Mandriva, my favourite for the past 9 years or so.]

My first criteria for a Linux distribution has always been: how can I make this attractive to non-tech folks without scaring the shit out of them? For the last 8-9 years, the only real contender was Mandrake (now Mandriva). Nothing else came close, and if you think Debian or Fedora are good, you haven't seen Mandrake :-)

I now think Ubuntu/Kubuntu is even better at this than Mandriva.

[Security warning: Ubuntu uses only one password needed to get root - you just have to type it twice . This is only marginally better than Windows, where the user is the admin by default. On my ubuntu systems, therefore, the "sitaram" user doesn't have admin privileges. Instead, I create another user called "fakeroot" who has admin privileges, and if I have to admin the system, I have to jump from "sitaram" to "fakeroot", and then from "fakeroot" to "root". I strongly suggest anyone setting up a machine on the internet should do something like this.]

The update treadmill - catching up without running!

Linux changes fast. Windows 2000 is still in use on many computers, and I am told even Windows 95 is still around, but RH 2 (released fall 1995) and RH 7 (fall 2000) are unheard of, and if you still see RH 9 (2003), it's only because it was the last of the RHL series before they split into Fedora and RHEL.

Mandriva never seemed to encourage me to do regular, incremental, updates to the system. Its "urpmi" is just as easy to use and as capable as Ubuntu's Debian-derived "apt" system, but their equivalents for "update" are much slower than Debian's, both in terms of bandwidth as well as in updating the RPM database. On a home machine with limited connectivity, this became something to avoid. And while I haven't actually measured it scientifically, this seems quite doable in Kubuntu, even thought my internet pipe is only 64 kbps (barely more than a POTS modem!).

Anyway, as a result I used to upgrade using a full DVD, about once a year. And sometimes I would do a full install instead of an upgrade if I thought the upgrade would leave a lot of cruft on the system.

And so, for most of the year, therefore, pretty much nothing on my system would change except firefox and thunderbird (my mail client). For instance, some of the programs I use (like kphotoalbum) would come out with new releases and updates, but I couldn't get them because they required updates to core stuff like KDE or whatever

I guess it was a bit like being on Debian stable, although not quite so bad ;-)

And I also got tired of the treadmill. I found myself skipping upgrades simply because I didn't have time to do it. Even an upgrade from a DVD was a specific event, requiring (by definition) a reboot at least. Who wants to reboot just to upgrade?

What I really needed was something that I can stick on the machine and let it work pretty much as long as the hardware holds out, yet always be on the leading edge without being on the bleeding edge.

I needed to be able to upgrade much more frequently, but without having to worry about it as a task, or worry that it will break something.

I needed something in between Debian stable and Debian unstable :-)

Ubuntu fills that need very well.

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