I admit that I was pretty excited when I first heard about Dell shipping Ubuntu on their select machines. I figured that you can’t go wrong with a pre-installed tested system. However, since I haven’t bought one, or read any thorough, critical reviews I didn’t know how piss poor is their support.
If you read slashdot you probably seen this already, so forgive me for regurgitating this material. I’m kinda angry at Dell right now so I think it’s worth bringing it up even if it’s recycled news. Anyway, the story is that Walt Mossberg, a technology columnist for Wall Street Journal blogged his experience with the Ubuntu Dell and decided it’s not ready for the average Joe. Unfortunately Mr. Mossberg is what we in the know call a clinical case of complete fucking idiot – which is by the way, smack dab in the middle of the bell curve when it comes to tech competency. Most people are just dumb as dirt wen it comes to computers, and the only way to teach them how not to inadvertently break their own laptops is to forcibly insert knowledge into their skulls using blunt objects. So when I call Mr. Mossberg an idiot, I’m not doing this to offend him. I’m doing this to underline the fact that I don’t blame him for spreading the nasty FUD around like some Microsoft butt-monkey. I read his article, and I watched his video and I tell you – he just doesn’t know any better. So what you have here is a “complete idiot’s review of Dell-buntu” which is kinda refreshing, as it points out obvious stuff that doesn’t work while it should.
For example it seems that Dell is to cheep to pay for basic codec packs needed for playing various music and video formats. How come they don’t pre-load these machines with all the non-free shit that is not included on iso’s due to incompatible licensing? The fact that Ubuntu can’t ship with some of this stuff doesn’t mean Dell can’t. Hell they should – Windows boxes come pre-loaded with all kinds of garbage. Why can’t they install basic stuff? I mean people even make (poorly written) scripts like Automatix to make this process easier. Is it to much to expect from Dell?
Mossbergs other complaint is over-sensitivity of the touchpad, and lack of appropriate tool to regulate it. This is a blatant example of not fucking bothering to properly configure X or install the Qsynaptics package. How fucking hard would it be to put a link to Qsynaptics in the Gnome menu somewhere? Jesus Christ – that’s like 30 seconds of work. WTF Dell? Are you people even trying? You can’t just slap Ubuntu on a laptop and hope it will work, just like you can’t do the same with Windows.
Mossberg also mentioned shit kept crashing when waking up the laptop from sleep mode. I never experienced that issue because I don’t use Gnome but I believe him. ACPI on linux is pretty much Russian roulette. You never know if the system will wake up or crash unexpectedly. Honestly, I have no clue. This might be a Gnome thing, shitty support for ACPI in the Feisty kerner or something completely different. Still, this is something that could potentially be fixed by Dell in one way or another.
DVD support is, of course a lost cause. Mossberg of course is to clueless to know about the legal pile of fucking horse shit surrounding this issue so I guess we can forgive him. Ubuntu won’t play commercial DVD’s not because it can’t but because it is legally prohibited from doing so because of infinite stupidity of American entertainment industry. Not much we can do about this.
I have absolutely no clue why Mossberg claims he had to reboot to get his camera and iPod recognized. But I can’t comment here cause I do not own an iPod, nor have I tried getting my camera recognized on my work laptop. So maybe he is right, but once again – iPod support is something that could be achieved out of the box by preinstalling GTKPod package and making some appropriate entries in the fstab.
I’m not saying that Ubuntu is 100% ready for desktop use by your average techno-retatd. What I’m saying is that most of Mossberg’s complaints stem from sloppy and incompetent installation and system configuration by dell. It seems that they have decided to release the *buntu machines on the cheap without extensive testing of their installation procedures. Which is very sad. I always hoped that vendor installed Linux would ship with full hardware support, the most optimal X configuration possible and all the additional driver and helper packages required to run it. It seems that this is not the case, and dell just slaps the most basic Ubuntu image onto their drives without regard for user convenience.
[tags]ubuntu, ubuntu dell, dell, gtkkpod, qsynaptics, drivers, installation, walt mossberg, slashdot[/tags]