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Mark Shuttleworth Proposes Delaying next Ubuntu 382

Beuno writes "Mark Shuttleworth has proposed on the ubuntu-art mailing list to postpone the 'Dapper Drake' release by 6 weeks. He lays out the reasons pretty clearly: the delay should make the release a more user-friendly distro. He has also called up a community meeting in April 14th on IRC for community input. Is it really worth delaying the release for more then a month just to polish it out a little bit?" Commentary on this also available from the Tectonic site.
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Mark Shuttleworth Proposes Delaying next Ubuntu

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  • Error (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doytch ( 950946 ) < minus language> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:43PM (#14899522)
    He proposes a town hall for March 14, not April.
  • by tlacuache ( 768218 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:44PM (#14899526)
    How long exactly has Longhorn, er, Vista been pushed off? Six weeks pales in comparison.
  • Question? Answer. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ImaNihilist ( 889325 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:44PM (#14899527)
    Is it really worth delaying the release for more then a month just to polish it out a little bit?

    • Yeah it gives them time to fix all the quirks in gnome, like that butt ugly logout icon in the top right corner. Its total bunk place for it to begin with. I mean who really needs to logout *that* quickly.
    • True, but only if we're discussing "technical polish" (i.e. show-stopping bugs, major visual glitches), versus "Debian Polish" (If it isn't perfect in the eyes of the last Vax user, we aren't releasing it). So far, they've got the clean and easy to use down pat, so they should take some extra care to make sure that's being maintained.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:46PM (#14899529)
    What can be done with Ubuntu that I can't do with Debian?
  • by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:46PM (#14899532) Journal
    505 users in favor of the delay, 50 against at last count. []

    Dapper is coming along nicely, but there are a number of bugs that might not get the attention they deserve if Dapper is released on schedule.

    Their Flight 5 CD is out. It should be quite stable for normal use.

  • by theurge14 ( 820596 ) * on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:49PM (#14899540)
    As a Gentoo user, I tried out Ubuntu on an old Toshiba laptop about a month or three ago when the current version came out. I liked what a I saw, but I ran into to huge problems. One, Ubuntu completely screwed up the monitor settings for the laptop, and the sound was completely futzed. I found the solution to fixing the monitor settings on an Ubuntu user forum (involved hand editing's conf file) and the sound, well, I managed to get it to play somewhat but GNOME still never detected it properly.

    If Ubuntu wants to be "Linux for human beings" it needs all the polish it can get after that experience.

    Keep up the good work guys.
    • by jsight ( 8987 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:04PM (#14899608) Homepage
      More anecdotes... I tried Ubuntu on my laptop (Dell Inspiron 6000 w/ ATI) and it installed cleanly, and handled all suspend modes perfectly, right out of the box! Sound worked, the wireless (Intel) worked, and the display was quite nice (albeit with no 3D acceleration).

      The only real issue was the 5.10 didn't handle ALPS Touchpads well at all. It was almost unusable as a result. :(

      Fortunately, the Dapper betas have fixed that, and Ubuntu really is the most usable easy distribution for this box. OpenSuSe and Fedora both had significantly greater issues (either with suspend or the touchpad, or both).
      • This Saturday I helped a guy install Windows XP on a white box using an ABIT motherboard.

        Out of the box onboard video was using the generic drivers, and onboard sound didn't work. The S3 SonicVibes card he had also wouldn't work. The ABIT website in Taiwan (after trying to download foreign language support at every page) only had chipset drivers for 95, 98 and 2k. Drivers for the S3 soundcard were the same.

        I'm not sure how much else didn't work but he eventually went out and bought another cheap soundcard a
    • by Urusai ( 865560 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:24PM (#14899698)
      The necessity of hand-editing xorg.conf or frankly any .conf file keeps Ubuntu and Linux in general out of the mainstream. Joe Sixpack isn't going to do it. Fundamental things such as video, keyboard, and mouse should work immediately, with sane and functional fallbacks.
      • by theurge14 ( 820596 ) * on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:36PM (#14899774)
        Well, one one hand, this didn't stop Windows 3.x or Windows 95 from becoming ubiquitous (autoexec.bat and config.sys anyone?). But in fairness, that was 10-15 years ago.
        • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:54PM (#14899866) Homepage
          windows 95 and 98 don't need config.sys or autoexec.bat unless you are running some strange hardware than needs real mode drivers indeed i fixed computers before by deleting/renaming them. I've never admind an ME box but i belived they removed the option for them altogether.

          config.sys and autoexec.bat really belong to dos and in the dos days there wasn't exactly a lot of choice on what you ran on your IBM compatible PC.
        • I never had to edit autoexec.bat nor config.sys for anything. In any case, those were used to load drivers which didn't automatically add themselves to config.sys, and autoexec.bat was almost unnecessary to edit (aside from making the last line in autoexec.bat, right after "win", say "defrag c: | Y" or something like that). The average user never had to touch this. Contrast this with xorg.conf, which I have had to manually edit when I installed Debian and Gentoo. I did not, however, have to edit it with Kno
      • Blame X (Score:4, Informative)

        by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:00PM (#14899898) Homepage Journal
        Actually the Linux kernel does these things pretty well. And modern distros that use udev, hal and dbus can detect hardware configurations on-the-fly. I was half-shocked when I plugged in my digital camera and it was detected and mounted automagically. The problem is X has it's own hardware subsystems for the sake of portability (BSD kernel does not Linux-like subsystems) and are not as good. It would be great if X just would let the Linux kernel do its thing. There is some work [] being done along these lines and hopefully will improve the situation.
      • The necessity of hand-editing xorg.conf or frankly any .conf file keeps Ubuntu and Linux in general out of the mainstream. Joe Sixpack isn't going to do it. Fundamental things such as video, keyboard, and mouse should work immediately, with sane and functional fallbacks.

        I don't disagree with you that most people aren't going to edit a configuration file. The frustrating irony though, I think, is that most people wouldn't be able to do what it takes to install Windows on their PC, either, if it wasn'

    • by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) * on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:53PM (#14899853) Homepage Journal
      On the other hand, I've installed Suse, RedHat Enterprise, Fedora & Debian on dozens of boxes. Ubuntu is the only one who autodetected all of my video settings correctly.

      I actually think this much to do with the good work done by the folks, as well as work done by

      For example, Debian "stable" still uses Xfree86, and Xfree86 couldn't detect it's left nut without editing the Xfree86 conf file.

      Fedora at this time used an experimental version of , wheras Ubuntu had a polished & more stable version.

      RedHat used a stable version of (maybe it was still Xfree86), but the config tools screwed up the config so badly taht X wouldn't start.

      Suse had some propietary tools which mucked up the display.
    • The problems here go for a lot of distros.

      1. Video: Xorg can't tell what your hort / vert rates are on some older laptops, so if you set them by hand it will work.

      2. Sound: You're likely running alsa instead of OSS, and for older hardware you'll have to hand tune the modprobe'd settings.

      Hell if you use old enough hardware you have to set the all the parms by hand just like old dos! Next time be more specific. Old as in a 486 or a 586?

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:49PM (#14899542) Journal
    A 6 week delay doesn't sound earth shattering to me... I fail to see the problem here, to be honest. Especially if it's about improving usability, an area critical for Linux adoption, which is one of the main purposes for this particular distro.

    To me, this feels basically like delaying an extra security heavy distro 6 weeks to implement verify a new security protocol implementation works correctly.
  • Support/enterprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:51PM (#14899550) Homepage
    Considering that they want this to be the first Ubuntu release that's supported for a long time and that can compete with things like SuSE's or RedHat's enterprise distributions, I'd say six weeks are perfectly acceptable.
  • by petteri_666 ( 745343 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:51PM (#14899553)
    OMG, Ubuntu is closing on Debian.
  • Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Clazzy ( 958719 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:52PM (#14899559)
    To be honest, Dapper is very stable and polished already. There's mixed reactions over the new Clearlooks scheme they've implemented but overall, it's turning out very well. I can't speak for the localisation issues, but a stable release is much better than a rushed release. If you want to try Dapper, Flight 5 should be just fine.
    • Re:Really... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by arrrrg ( 902404 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:05PM (#14900773)
      There are certain things that simply do not work on Dapper at the moment. Most important for me, I haven't found a single Lisp compiler that works. CLisp, CMUCL, and SBCL all worked fine on breezy; as soon as I upgraded to dapper, they started segfaulting on startup... I know very little about the internals of Linux, but I think its something to do with changes in the memory model that are messing with the garbage collectors.
  • d'uh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yahweh Doesn't Exist ( 906833 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:52PM (#14899560)
    >Is it really worth delaying the release for more then a month just to polish it out a little bit?

    there are hundreds of distros already, and the only thing they all lack is polish, so yes.

    what's the hurry?
  • YES! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geddes ( 533463 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:54PM (#14899566)
    One of the reasons, imho, that Blizzard's games are always so good, is that they are not afraid to delay them. They test and test and tweak and tweak and when they game comes out, it is of the highest quality. Blizzard is admirable because they respect that programming is an art that can't be rushed. Most companies rush their products so they can start generating revenue.

    Patience is a virtue. Ubuntu has no need to generate revenue, and if it takes six more weeks to make the release more usable for human beings, that can only be a good thing.

  • Out of sync (Score:4, Insightful)

    by miscz ( 888242 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:56PM (#14899574)
    If it wasn't for the fact that Ubuntu is synchronized with Gnome releases I wouldn't mind the delay. But now they would have to either rush the next release, be late with it or completly skip Gnome 2.16. I hope they'll find some good solution because many users are preferring Ubuntu to other distros because of fairly nice bleeding-edgeness. With this step they could lose major selling point to causal Linux geeks.

    The recent theme changes are not a step in good direction too. It looks abysymal and burns my eyes. Even tough I didn't like brown theme the new one made me miss it.
  • Absolutely it's OK! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NorbrookC ( 674063 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:57PM (#14899581) Journal

    Is it really worth delaying the release for more then a month just to polish it out a little bit?"

    Yes, it's worth it. FTA, this isn't a release aimed at the "average Linux user." It's meant for enterprises, and it's important to get it right. It's something that can be a big point for the adoption of Linux in the desktop workspace, that this is a distro which looks good, has a wide range of language options, and has support. Spending a rather trivial amount of time getting it fully ready is what should be done, rather than try to hit an arbitrary "release date", only to, a few weeks later, do the MS routine of "here's the update package, Service Pack X".

  • Not just polish... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BaltikaTroika ( 809862 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:00PM (#14899587)
    I think that almost everybody would agree that a little more time spent making a product better is a good thing.

    It's not just about polish, though. TFA lays out a number of points where improvements are needed:

    1. Testing
    2. Certification
    3. Localisation
    4. (last but not least) Polish

    Improvements to Asian localisation should help a ton of people - we're not all English speakers. :) Any steps, no matter how small, to appeal to the Chinese/Korean/Japanese markets will probably pay off well.

    Not that it all matters to me, though... I use SUSE. :)

  • Software delay? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:02PM (#14899594) Homepage Journal
    Its not like this isnt common practice in the first place.. "sorry its not quite done' is a good answer..
  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:14PM (#14899659)
    This is the Ubuntu that will be competing with Windows Vista. It needs to be polished.

    There is going to be a reasonably large number of desktop users willing to "try Linux out" just before they "upgrade" to Vista. The distribution they're most likely to try is currently Ubuntu, and if it is good enough, they might switch to Linux rather than Vista.
  • What if 6.04 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ethan Allison ( 904983 ) <> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:40PM (#14899797) Homepage
    Got released in April, but the CDs didn't come out until everything was polished? Maybe a 6.05 edition?
  • by Fafnir_b ( 558392 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:04PM (#14899918)
    By the way: does anyone know if dapper will ship a kernel that's been compiled with the version of gcc that's included on the distribution CD's? If badger had one fundamental flaw, it would be a kernel compiled with gcc3.4 and gcc 4.? included on the CD. People who need to compile e.g. their wireless driver because it's not included in the standard kernel, are fucked, because they may not have network access with the distribution files and need to download either gcc 3.4 or kernel sources...
  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:19PM (#14899998)
    The biggest issue is that not everyone will work on polish and bug fixing. Some will be working on development of new features. A good version control system should allow this state of affairs, but what will happen when someone working on the development branch gets a major new feature developed in the long six week time frame that others are working on the polish?

    One faction will say, "Don't commit any new features until the next major release after this one!" while another faction will say "This is too important to wait through endless patch releases and another major release cycle!" The temptation will be to "just risk a few bugs" for this "major new feature" by those who don't really see the value of the polish right now. The offense will be that "any new feature" will require more polish, patches, or in essence de-values the work the polish team has been doing. Great amounts of spite and venom will be launched at each side.

    Set a firm, clear policy about what the polish window will be and about the firm exclusion of new functionality that's independent of any particular technology before this starts and make sure everyone knows what that policy is. Not setting a policy is bound to cause chaos. Setting and then breaking a policy is bound to drive off any future desire to work on future "polish" release work.
  • Great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ion_ ( 176174 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:24PM (#14900019) Homepage

    I think that's great. Just a while ago Dapper got a new urine-colored Human theme [], and - all due respect to the people who put their efforts into making Ubuntu better - frankly, it's just horrible. If the release is delayed, they have a lot better change to fix the theme.

    Another thing i'd really like to see in dapper is the new NetworkManager 0.6 [] with its WPA and OpenVPN goodness. "Automatic network detection and configuration management []" is high-priority target for dapper, and the new features in n-m 0.6 are needed by many users.

  • Please. PLEASE! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chris Snook ( 872473 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @07:59PM (#14900174)
    I'm not even an Ubuntu user, but I think the whole community would benefit if some major distro said "Okay, stop everything, we're going to spend six weeks on making the distro usable by normal people." Thanks and Kudos to Ubuntu if they lead the way on this.
  • Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @08:00PM (#14900180) Homepage
    Is it really worth delaying the release for more then a month just to polish it out a little bit?

    Yes. We're not talking a year, here. A month is inconsequential. The question is silly.

    And, with a distro where being "user-friendly" is a primary feature, it's all the more important to make these minor adjustments in release dates for improvements that are fundamental to the underlying concept.

  • Holy Crap! (Score:3, Funny)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @08:09PM (#14900225) Homepage
    The stockholders are going to revolt!
  • by happymedium ( 861907 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @08:22PM (#14900277)
    I remember keeping track of the Breezy Badger planning wiki before that version was released, and it seemed to me that the team deferred many of their major goals... on the other hand, it looks like most improvements planned for Dapper have been implemented already, as Shuttleworth notes in his message: []

    I'll refrain from Debian comparisons, as they're not needed to communicate what stellar work the team has done here. Point is, Ubuntu users and admins ought to support this delay, for the same reason I support Ubuntu... the Ubuntu team simply has its shit together, moreso than that of any other freely available distribution.

    Let Shuttleworth strategize to take on Red Hat, SuSE, and Vista--because Ubuntu actually has a fighting chance. That prospect ought to excite Ubuntu partisans (like me) and fence-sitters alike.
  • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @08:42PM (#14900340)
    One of Shuttleworth's reasons for the delay is
    After the Asia business tour I realised that we need to improve our support for Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other Asian fonts, translations, input methods and supporting tools.

    Amen to that! I tried installing Ubuntu on my girlfriend's laptop, and in the end I just gave up getting Chinese input working properly (she's Taiwanese and sends a lot of mail in Chinese to her friends back home.) After a couple of long nights spent fiddling with it, I could get it to sort of work with some apps, but this is one area where Windows beats Linux hands down -- after I gave up and installed Windows on her machine, enabling Chinese input took me all of about 30 seconds to do, and it works flawlessly in every app she uses.

  • by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @08:43PM (#14900345) Homepage Journal
    I think Ubuntu is just trying to silence critics that say that they've run off and abandoned Debian. I think that delaying the release date is a move to get back to the distro's roots.
  • Wow. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slash ... minus cat> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @09:01PM (#14900403) Homepage Journal
    I'm listing the specs for Ubuntu, and I'm glad to read that many things I had complained about in Hoary [] seem to be fixed, like network availability for installation and upgrading.

    Some example specs (copied / pasted) :

    The current i386/amd64 CD boot loader (isolinux) and configuration are not very user-friendly. Prompts can only be displayed in one language, and responses must be typed in by the user.

    We should evaluate available options for replacements, and ways to simplify the process for the user, including:

      - Displaying a countdown and automatically continuing after a timeout
      - Allowing language selection from the boot loader
      - Localized help


    Upgrading from one Ubuntu release to the next is currently a power-user operation, involving editing of configuration files, careful attention to the decisions made by the packaging tools, and manual cleanup of obsolete or unwanted packages. This process should be wrapped in a tool (perhaps as extensions to update-manager), suitable for backporting to breezy-updates, which simplifies it for users, incorporating:

    Automatic detection of the availability of a new release, offering an upgrade to the user

    Preservation of user package selection (e.g., via metapackages)

    Removal of obsolete packages (e.g.,, python2.3)

    Warnings about unsupported packages?

    Do something sane with old kernel(s)

    Upgrade packaging tools (including itself) first?

    This is what all linux distros should do, start listening to the users instead of relying on the old "RTFM n00b" cliché.

    I'm sure that if Ubuntu keeps doing all of these user-friendliness checks in a couple of years, Ubuntu will match the usability and installation-friendliness of WinXP, yay! :D
    • Re:Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kwandar ( 733439 )
      Thank you for saying that. I'm more or less a noob, and recently tried to install Badger on my fairly new Toshiba laptop. I figured it was safe since it has an Nvidia card, and I'd tried the Live CD first - wrong!

      This is not for noobs - hopefully Dapper will be.

      First, the instructions with respect to paritioning, were misleading. I don't recall where exactly, but the wording certainly left me with the impression that I was going to fry my windows parition.

      Second - I couldn't get root. Ohh yes, I could u
  • by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @02:33AM (#14901269) Journal
    Is it really worth delaying the release for more then a month just to polish it out a little bit?

    Yes. It is. Full stop.

    Free software ships When It Is Ready. That's why it's better.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."