All the other distributions fail short of 100% laptop support out of the box.
As I am no longer on my 20's with lots of time to spare, either it works out of the box, or it doesn't. I don't care about starting weekend projects that become week long projects just to get something working.
Or just trying out distributions to see how they look like. My first distribution, Slackware 2.0, was a long time ago.
Ubuntu is great and I do like Unity as desktop environment on my netbook.
In my case, I frequently update to x.04 releases or x.10 if they are more stable for updated packages that I rely on.
Yeah, we get it. You are really worried about yourself and your time. Yeah, we get it that you want to make a generalization that "All the other distributions" don't have 100% support. Which is obviously not true by any respect. I'm typing on one right now that both Debian and Arch work without issue.
"I don't care about starting weekend projects that become week long projects just to get something working."
It's been almost 10 years since I've had that experience with Linux. This is over 4 desktops and 3 laptops. Can we please bury this meme?
What is it with Linux that someone really needs to hop in an talk about what's wrong with it, no matter what the topic beyond the mere mention of Linux?
Edit: To clarify a bit about this silly meme. Many people find some hunk of junk that the don't use anymore and that they never thought about working with Linux when they bought it. Then they are surprised it doesn't just work. To me, that isn't much different then buying a PC and trying to install OSX on it and complaining about how it didn't just magically work. Many laptops and desktops are certified and targeted to work with Linux. From many of the large manufacturers. You obviously might have trouble if you are trying to cram something onto something that it is not designed for. Are you even an engineer? How do you not realize that?
Maybe with desktops, but even just last year, trying to get wi-fi setup on my beagle bone or raspberry pi were hell. Multiple programs to do the same thing, and none of them work quite the same. So running scripts from the command line with the usual commands wouldn't work, so then the only thing that did work was the gui. But what if you don't want to use the gui, because you want the thing to reconnect automatically after power down (an option the gui didn't provide)?
Maybe running ubuntu, this wouldn't have been an issue, but beagle bone had archlinux, and then I tried multiple versions for the raspberry pi, most of them debian based.
So, no. This meme won't die just because most versions work out of box for desktops. It would have to work out of box for anything linux runs on.
The custom spin downloaded all the packages from the updates repository, loading an ever-so-slightly newer kernel that played nice with that Asus's particular UEFI/Intel Haswell combo.
That computer's working great after doing that, but not everyone can be expected to:
A) Troubleshoot why a "should work every time" plain-jane OS image won't even boot--kernel panics in 2014? Who knew, right?
B) Figure out how to create a more up-to-date version of that image
UEFI and secure boot and on and on... It's not ~2005-2011 anymore, laptops are a lot more complicated and more diverse than they used to be a very short time ago.
I think rather the opposite is true. The post-ultrabook era has seen an increasingly uniform PC laptop environment. There are far more laptops you can buy now that are well set up to run linux than ever before because the parts are less likely to come from TinyCompany Electronics, LLC. Taiwan and more likely to come from, say, Intel. An Ultrabook-labelled laptop post-2011 is practically guaranteed to do a good job with linux.
I can, however, answer your unspoken question: Will Windows run on it? Well... Yeah. Windows runs on everything powered by an x86 processor. Windows 8.1 came installed on the machine.
The average computer user can't understand the concept that a certain operating system will not work on their computer. You pick a machine out from an array of nearly-identical machines, then start using Windows 8 or OSX 10.x as soon as you open up the cardboard box and plug in the computer.
I've tried installing Windows 7 on an old Dell laptop a while ago. I got it working eventually, but had to hunt around for drivers for various things -- rather important things, like network, and video. In the end, I had to persuade some download site to give me the Windows XP drivers for the video card, and it worked with that (which, btw, is pretty awesome).
Of course, this is just anecdote, just like any story about Linux not working immediately on some modern laptop is -- but my experience is that these kinds of issues are much rarer than 10 years ago. Especially with Linux (with which I have most experience), but also with Windows.
Links to certifications:
Links to "open up the cardboard box and plug in the computer"
With Apple laptops, there is limited choice sure, but the choices are all pretty darn good. With Linux preinstalled laptops, they are entirely uninspiring computers.
Linux is the _only_ OS in existence that can run across the variety of hardware it hits. Whether it's from phones through to Supercomputers. Funnily enough when you get to different bits of the hardware spectrum you have to have different skills and capabilities - running on custom ARM hardware doesn't count as standard.
Can I ask which wifi card/chipset you chose? Was it one that you researched and found out was 100% Linux compatible? Assuming you did do that and didn't find something that was barely hacked to together to have partial support did you actually find editing /etc/network/interfaces with the text below difficult?
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
While I never did have a problem that wasn't eventually solvable, I finally came to accept that I really don't like playing sysadmin, and would much rather know that I can pick up my machine, perform library updates, and actually go work on something at a moments notice.
At least on a laptop. On a desktop machine, I'm willing to be much more patient.
Edit to the downvoter who can't use their words: The above comment said "Lenovo machine that is generally considered to be pretty Linux friendly". Seems like a relevant question as to whether that meant 100% compatible via Lenovo's declaration or online research and an educated guess. It was a sincere question as Lenovo does provide specific information about Linux compatibility.
Mind explaining to me what I did wrong there?
I don't know where you got that info, lenovo laptops have actually been getting away from being linux friendly, at least in my own experience over 5 generations of thinkpads.
Linux and Windows are nothing like that. With both, the ecosystem of hardware is quite large, and there is an implicit expectation that any OS should work on any machine (ignoring edge cases like embedded hardware). With Windows, this assumption works well because all hardware manufacturers test their machines with Windows. This is almost never the case with Linux, where even if you are lucky to find that a manufacturer has tested with one Linux distro, they might not have tested with your preferred distro. What are you going to do if your distro "isn't certified"? Just walk away? That's not a reasonable choice for many people.
"implicit expectation that any OS should work on any machine" Really? I don't think that And OSX can run on many Windows machines http://www.hackintosh.com/#hackintosh_compatible
You are talking about 6 years ago.
Also: "What are you going to do if your distro "isn't certified"?" Buy something that is.
I did it recently, and it's not that hard, if you stick with a subset of hardware known to work. Yeah, upgrades from each dotdot release take a little longer, but it's totally worth it.
I say this not because I don't use Linux. I love Linux! I love it so much I just spent some serious time building Linux From Scratch on a laptop so I can know and understand it better. I develop exclusively on * nix platforms, and I use it for everything I can.
However, my main machine is still a Windows machine with Cygwin installed. I do this because my main workflow is to use 3 portrait monitors for effectively 6 workspaces visible simultaneously.
To get this effect, I use Nvidia surround to combine these three monitors into a single continuous desktop, then use a program called "WinSplit Revolution" to manage my windows.
I've messed around with countless tools and spent weeks worth of time trying to replicate such an environment on Linux, but I can't. The Nvidia drivers don't support surround, or if they do it's through a nearly undocumented series of settings. I can't find a program to arrange windows this way, after trying tiling window manager after tiling window manager. And, even in more mainstream settings like installing Ubuntu on my new laptop, things like my mouse pad STILL don't work.
But on Windows, I can install everything quickly and all my edge cases are covered. It may be to much to ask for Linux to cover all these, so I'm not disparaging it. I just don't use it for this case.
All I'm saying is, don't be so quick to ignore complaints about the state of things. The world of desktop Linux could still use a lot of work.
 -- http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/
 -- http://i.imgur.com/z4dRbll.jpg
 -- http://i.imgur.com/FEumEXi.png
And then you took the bait!
I've found unity is a bit heavy for my poor little netbook, and have found xfce a bit better for performance.
I use Linux mint (which is based on Ubuntu) for my main dev machine. The only limitation I've had with it is video- it can't handle the goPro stuff very well.
I've been using every LTS release since the first ever, and I can't praise it enough. Keep up the good work!
I think it's a decent browser, it's only drawback is it's single-threaded.
IIRC Firefox is doing decently with scrolling on OS X with Apple's trackpads, but it doesn't work as well with the same trackpad in elementaryOS (or with the touchscreen in Windows). Midori works perfectly.
From my experience, scrolling well is a bigger deal than how many threads it has for whether or not I like using a browser. I know there are stability advantages to the process separation, but I haven't had any trouble.
Linux Mint is even more friendly than Ubuntu if I'm honest. It has all the codecs, various desktop flavours, and is generally what my wife and kids prefer these days.
of course, I avoided Unity and went with KDE 4, because I'm not a massochist. Blue Ribbon, otherwise.
All the other distributions started by asking whether you wanted KDE or Gnome, Abiword or OpenOffice, and ended up installing a bunch of software you may or may not want "just in case". Ubuntu made choices, if you didn't like it you could always change it later on or use a different distribution but you had a consistent OS to start with.
"Use Nautilus or Thunar?"
I imagine the story behind this is that half the Linux devs preferred the first, and half preferred the second, and so instead of the distribution having the balls to choose one, they forced they choice onto the user.
For the average user however, the choice read as:
"Open Mystery Box 'A', or Mystery Box 'B'? Warning: opening the wrong box will mean that many of the things you try to do simply won't work!"
Choice here is very bad: it makes the user feel powerless, yet simultaneously assigns blame to the user in the event that things go wrong.
Just because they were afraid to restrict their market share by excluded people who liked Gnome.
I was impressed later when they managed to bring new Window Management ideas without too much time or pain.
Ubuntu was literally the first Linux distro I have ever used where everything on my PC worked out of the box.
Installing Windows (of that age, XP) on the same PC would result in spending a day or weekend hunting and installing drivers for obscure things here and there, but in Ubuntu everything just worked.
I had never seen anything like that before (on PCs at least), and that made a solid impression which still makes it my default, despite a interest and curiosity trying in other distros like Elementary or NixOS.
Their focus on getting stuff installed and working was a big deal then.
Distributions like Linux-Mandrake, Corel Linux, Connectiva strived to make Linux a "user friendly" experience, well back before Ubuntu came to the light.
The reason why Ubuntu was a game changer was mainly because it was backed by Mark Shuttleworth, a millionary that was willing to pour a lot of money on his own Linux distribution.
I guess I'm not young anymore I suppose, I'm starting to realize I have lots of history as I've left my 20's.
Why? Because they chose KDE at the beginning, but they didn't stick with their choice and did what every other distribution did: let users choose between KDE and Gnome. And spent time to have all their tools look "kinda OK" in both desktops with cross Qt-Gtk themes, and Gnome users got a not so great experience but they kept shouting that Gnome users were just as important to them as KDE users, etc.
So in short they thought of themselves a "Linux distribution", a way to install Linux and related software. On the other hand, Ubuntu considers itself an OS, and upstream software is just a way for them to achieve the degree of quality they want.
You see that also when Ubuntu releases Unity: they want their OS to work this way, while Mandrake always focused on (1) the installer and (2) the control panel where you configure stuff, thinking "the desktop is Gnome/KDE's job, let's just ship what they make".
There was other reasons why Ubuntu worked better than Mandrake: one is that they used the superior dpkg while Mandrake was using RPM. (RPM got better recently, but back in the day it was a huge pain). Honestly I felt for many years that a user-friendly distribution based on dpkg would bring the best of both worlds, and that's what Ubuntu was.
Also Ubuntu arrived as the right time, when it was possible to have a fully plug-and-play distribution if your hardware is standard enough. I don't think they could have achieve that in the 90's.
And of course marketing. Ubuntu have been very good at marketing, and that's a good thing.
Then came Corel and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Clean, smooth, effortless install; everything working right out of the box; all the necessary applications; professional look and feel.
Microsoft must have had its eyes on the situation as they immediately bought into Corel. The next thing you knew, Corel was history.
Ubuntu is not nearly as pleasant an experience as Corel was back then, but it just does a lot of the basic stuff right, even though it does leave a lot to be desired in terms of polish, privacy concerns, look-and-feel, usability, openness, etc.
Hopefully, Canonical attends to these issues or someone else takes the helm in improving things.
Congratulations to Mark for starting this otherwise great project! May it have many years ahead of it!
We're on Debian 7 now and it's rock solid, relatively bug free in comparison and the support is good. Just where I want it to be.
The best outcome for me was that it caused Debian to rethink their release cycles a bit.
There is a fun story as well:
We were in college (in India) at the time and my friend went ahead and ordered 100 CD's or so (they actually encouraged it at the time for distribution). The package arrived at the local Post Office after a few weeks and he was asked to go collect it, which seemed strange. Anyways, he went and to his wonder was told to pay import duty on it by the customs! He argued for a while saying it was educational material and that it was being shipped for free - to no avail. He finally gave up and asked them to keep it for themselves and walked out.
In the end, they chased after him before he left the premises and gave it to him - no import duty, nothing.
I got my CD from this set. :)
Source; I work in the Global Trade Management
Right now I am using Debian stable for my "it has to run" systems (the ones my gf is using too) and tried Arch on the other systems.
So far I am pretty much sold on Arch linux (my Linux knowledge got better too) - but I still don't know if I'm just using Debian stable for things like my HTPC.
Happy ever after.
By and large, I'm very happy with it, although I wish they'd sink a bit more time into avoiding regressions than trying to create new things.
I like the predictable release schedule, and the fact that it's a bit more focused than Debian.
Yet, underneath it's still all (almost at least) free software that I can hack on if needs be.
These days I use Xubuntu, with Xfce, because that's a bit more to my liking as a desktop: focus follows mouse is not something I care to do without.
I went from Ubuntu minimal to Debian (stable, nonetheless),tiling wm for me, gnome for friends and guests, and found Debian easier to maintain (for me and my friends whose computers I manage).
I must say I feel Debian's desktop experience is really top notch and crosses all the check marks of what a desktop is supposed to do (for me at least) and so I don't really see what is gained from switching from Debian to Ubuntu regarding desktop features.
When I switched, Debian was in the process of taking 3 years to go from woody to sarge. After that it would be another 5 before etch.
I'm sure Debian makes a fine desktop these days. I could definitely see switching back at some point.
I do like that there is someone who takes decisions Ubuntu; I think that streamlines things in some ways. Debian can get into pretty long and involved flames/discussions about things. Sometimes good comes of it, sometimes it just distracts people from putting out a good OS.
> When I switched, Debian was in the process of taking 3 years to go from woody to sarge. After that it would be another 5 before etch.
It's true that I remember being unable to properly manage my installed Debians at the time Ubuntu first came out and only fully committed to using Debian on desktop some months before Wheezy actually came out. So I was delighted to see modern packages when upgrading to wheezy.
It does look like I switched at the right time.
Audio, on the other hand, remains a mystery to me. It just didn't work and there was nowhere for me to turn for help.
When I received them I was pleased, everything worked.. well, not everything, but it sorta worked! I had a desktop environment and a command line and I felt a small sense of accomplishment because I'd navigated the strange menu's safely before anakonda or full-framebuffer installers
Because of the peer pressure I learned about how to do my bits, and I carried on.
Later in the year I found fedora, and Blue is a nicer colour than brown (I was young and fickle) but it was less user friendly, so I committed to learn that and get off the "Noob Friendly" Ubuntu OS.
Many years later I got a small laptop for my mother, at this stage in my life I was "awoken" and I knew the power a machine could hold if it ran linux, so I put ubuntu on it- She's not the most technically apt lady in the world but was able to do most things with ease, and I put that down to having a "Good UX outside microsoft" (since most people who learn the microsoft way are generally committed to a mindset and anything outside of that is pushed away).
A few issues with Flash, some performance hiccups on some websites that seemed to try and avoid supporting linux in strange ways (that I take for granted I know how to bypass) and eventually the machine gave up the ghost.
I bought a new machine and put ubuntu on it (13.10 I think) and she was somewhat less than pleased, the UX had changed, she didn't know what was available anymore, nothing was organised in a way she understood.. and so I installed mint, she's now happy.
So I'll say this for Ubuntu, they put linux in the hands of people who we should really be targetting, it allowed me access to linux acting as a base plate and later acting as a full blown system for someone who was not interested at all in computers. And they pushed a trend for that, so we should all be thankful.
At this point in my life I'd been involved in a half dozen large companies and used linux on enormous scale.
I moved to a company that was using ubuntu LTS (10.04) (old at the time) in production, it was heavily invested and I expected that wouldn't change as Developers were very hesitant to change to debian (which is too old/doesn't make things easy enough) or centos/RHEL which suffers the same issues and has the added benefit of having SELinux (which I'm an advocate of understanding rather than disabling).
I go through my daily security advisories and a local privilege escalation means all our virtual machines and virtual machine hosts are affected, luckily it's patched as 10.04 is still supported so I apt-get update;apt-get upgrade and send out an email saying the server will be down for 30 minutes while it receives patches.
I was wrong, it was down for 6 hours.
unfortunately someone upsteam caused that particular kernel update to rebuild all initramfs' on the machine, and had also named lvm2 to lvm, so now my drives wouldn't mount.
On any kernel version/initramfs version
normally you can drop to shell load the module, mount the drives and continue startup, but unfortunately that stopped a lot of things from loading such as the bonding we had in place on the nics.
obviously I didn't know why it broke at the time and was attempting to get help from #ubuntu on freenode.
the response was "Sometimes it's better not to know why it broke"
that server was smoothly running CentOS before I left that company.
So in my opinion support and enterprise is where it falls down.
I started with the same release myself. It was called "Hoary Hedgehog", but I like your version too.
Back in 2006 Linux on the desktop looked like it might eventually break through and become a mainstream option. Now I don't think so. The commercial desktop OSes, particularly OSX, are pulling ahead technologically in ways Linux can't match fast enough to stay relevent. Apple can do in one or two yearly updates what would take a Linux distro 5 years or more to match. The main opening is against Windows, which is struggling to get back to providing a useable basic desktop. Yet even with MS shooting their own feet off every other release, the Linux desktop still isnt getting any mainstream traction.
It's really very depressing. I remember 2009 being declared the year of the Linux desktop. 15 years later that looks as far away from coming true as ever. I might have to buy a retina iMac to cheer myself up.
WARNING: Do not touch the repo until you've had more coffee ;)
I travel a lot though. I prefer 13" and last time I looked, I found very little that supported 16GB. Also, again, with the traveling, battery life is huge.
This might also sound lame, but I also hate the badges. I saw that the XPS 15 only has the single intel badge. I'd rather have 0...it really grates me the wrong way (not just on laptops, WTF do I want "Samsung" printed in white on the bottom of my TV?)
But, yes, I wish the XPS 13 had a 16GB option.
Any other company with their own Linux distro and hardware would also work, I guess. I really like Unity, though.
That said, I'd love to see an Apple-esque model where I could point to 3 laptops each year and say "large, medium, and small" and know that they would work completely with zero fussing.
Maybe Canonical could start down this road by refitting their devs with new laptops on an annual cycle and saying, "these are the laptops we will be using this year."
I'm a NetBSD-to-Apple switcher (circa 2003) who has a fair bit of ambient familiarity with Ubuntu as his auxiliary OS. I don't run any proprietary system beyond what comes bundled with OS X nowadays. I could switch to Ubuntu for day-to-day work and be perfectly content.
I can say that the SOLE factor of why I haven't has everything to do with not finding a rival to my MacBook Air 11". Part of that may be there simply isn't a comparable machine. But part of that may be that the hassle of searching for alternatives is simply too great.
I'm sure other laptops work great with Ubuntu but these are the ones I'm familiar with...
I haven't tried them but I hope they have good business doing what seems to be the real solution here.
I love my 1st gen; it's really depressing that they did this.
All in all, it's an acceptable Mac alternative for me.
I'm not saying it's a bad laptop, but I am saying it isn't as good. And the select country thing is a joke.
Yeah. I've got the MBA 11" with it.
How good is good battery? My MBA is the first device where I'll take it out for a full day's work without thinking of bringing my power adaptor.
OSX is just a slicker environment. If I wasn't committed to a tiny form factor with my netbook, I'd go all Apple products.
I think it's less to do with OS and more to do with laptop screens somewhat regressing over a period of 10 years until Apple come out with Retina. New laptops will come out with better screens, open source will be written and the experience will be competitive. I blame manufacturers way more than the Linux ecosystem for this.
I sure do wish there were a not-obviously-inferior alternative to the OSX/Apple stack that ran Linux.
In fact, no Linux distribution has ever had Apple hardware certified.
If it's not certified it means that the vendor is not working with the Linux distribution. At that point it's a case where the distribution's developers and Open Source developers spend their time having to run after the hardware with bad information and experimentation.
It's not a particularly worthwhile 'investment' to make.
If you want to run Ubuntu well you should use certified hardware. Also note that when you buy certified or preloaded hardware you signal to the vendor that there is a market for Linux - everyone who buys a Dell XPS with Ubuntu preloaded signals to the market that supporting Ubuntu (and therefore wider Linux) is important.
I went through the Ubuntu Certification list when I purchased my current laptop about a year ago. At that time (and now), there simply aren't any options that appear to be in the same category as an MBA 11". I would like to somehow signal the market that supporting Ubuntu is important, but the hardware manufacturers need to make hardware I want. You guys make software I want--it's a hardware problem now.
I use Ubuntu on a HP EliteBook Folio 1040. It's relatively nice hardware. The touchpad cannot really do middle click, but I always use external mouse, so I don't care.
I am sure ThinkPad T440s would be a nice machine, too.
It is, except the touchpad (which i don't use anyway)
Since then, Windows 7 and 8 have gotten more stable and better battery life while Ubuntu has struggled to keep up. With 14.04, Ubuntu is better (finally with basic support for NVIDIA PRIME)but has yet to catch up with Windows.
Seriously, Mark Shuttleworth and Ubuntu devs, if you are reading:- Ubuntu is promoting global warming and creation of electronic waste with its current actions. Forget the features and fluff for now - Fix the battery issues and make sure things just work.
Thank you Ubuntu for all the great work you guys have done for Linux over the last 10 years. Still love you.
But thats the point. Lot of us depend on our computer for work and don't have the time to fiddle with lot of error-prone settings.
This is why Linux users have been migrating to OS X for years. Deep down, we are all idealistic hackers who would love for FOSS, and open-source to win, and give the finger to big brother, but we also need to put food on our tables.
Canonical lately has been chasing unicorns and leprechauns to find the Next Big Thing (never mind that they are late to mobile, tablet, and even unified interfaces). Canonical is right that mobile is the future. Mobile first of all includes laptops, tablets , phone. And the basic requirement for a successful mobile platform is battery life.
For the future I hope Canonical don't pull the plug on Desktop and Server (which is also very popular) and give it's users the choice of using Wayland, GNOME, X11, systemd, XFCE, LXDE or other technologies instead of the "home made" technologies. Also let's hope for more bright 10 years ahead trying to get Linux Desktop in the right direction giving people a choice between Operating Systems.
After years of Ubuntu (and Arch, Debian, Mint etc.) I'm not ashamed to say I'm really happy on OS X. Less customisation and more time to focus on actual work/leisure.
I'm a programmer so I've become somewhat accustomed to working with the command line. But it's hardly a nice user interface for most people.
Even with all the problems I perennially run into I wouldn't be able to setup my input devices and working environment _just so_ with another operating system, so I'm stuck with this junk!
The reality for the distributions is that if there is good support from the component manufacturer and the OEM then you can provide a good user-experience. We put massive effort into enablement with manufacturers such as Dell, HP and Lenovo .
As a user the best thing you can do is to buy hardware with components that will work. In the old days that used to mean looking at hardware component and comparing them to whether they worked with Linux. Now we have certification sites.
The second sort of problem is the general end-user issues. I actually think that Ubuntu is beyond the point where you need to open the command line for normal end-user activities. The big weakness there is that there's no equivalent of the 'Genius Bar' for Linux users.
Since I installed Ubuntu initially out of necessity, I never really had the time to consider whether my hardware would be supported or not.
...I just know that if the average person could walk into their Best Buy and get a Windows laptop for $X and an Ubuntu version of that laptop for slightly less, we'd see Ubuntu everywhere. One can dream.
I have mainly 2 issues:
- Upgrade to newer version always fails. I'm left with a broken OS at the end.
- Although the UI has improved a lot since the early days of Ubuntu, I still don't like it. I know I can customize it but it always causes issues on some apps.
Do you use the provided upgrade path? It's very surprising to me to hear that - we test upgrades pretty thoroughly.
Disclaimer: I work for Canonical.
It usually coincided with a oh-well-might-as-well-upgrade decision...
At least one was a two major version upgrade. But still.
I'm pretty sure that this is an issue of having a more sophisticated package management.
OS X and Windows are basically huge software bundles that are dropped on a drive. They rarely change their internal structure gradually (Windows takes an odd middleground of basically keeping all patches around). It's a well understood process and easy to reason about: copy bunch of data A to location B, make sure it matches a checksum. Ship some parts in double in different versions, to support older versions. All the issues I ever had with that were with all the packages software I handbuilt on top of that.
OSes fully built on packaging software from ground up, e.g. apt, rely on the assumption that the package tree is always problem-free and that you can migrate any custom evolution of that tree to a new standard version. While this works formidably for smaller changes (I just want to add a package), where the potential breakage is contained to a rather limited set of packages, possibly close to the leafs of the tree, this gets problematic if you want to change a package on the top of the tree.
I think this gives a lot of power to the approach of immutable machines, combining both approaches: fine-grained dependency-tracking and resolution, while avoiding the evolutionary problems by always rebuilding the system from ground up on any change.
FWIW: I love a proper package management. But I don't believe in its infallibility.
> I'm pretty sure that this is an issue of having a more sophisticated package management.
I'm pretty sure that it's Ubuntu. My understanding is that Debian—from which Ubuntu is derived and which is also apt-based—is known for reliable upgrades.
It's part of why I've standardised on Debian.
An APT based system is capable of a system upgrade - but you have to help the system. The previous commenter is completely right that one of the underlying assumptions is that the package database is clean.
This applies to both Ubuntu and Debian.
The main challenges for Ubuntu is that there is a lot of ISV software out there which can break as it's not part of the distribution , end-users tend to run a variety of PPA's  and in general they don't realise the importance of the package database and the classes of hardware that Ubuntu is used on means that driver upgrades can be complex. Actually, if you use Ubuntu's documented upgrade process it runs a variety of checks which standard apt doesn't.
I suppose that with fast Net connections and cheap disks upgrades aren't as needed as they used to be - but they're still one of the best bits of 'magic' I enjoy from the Ubuntu/Debian world.
 The counter-point being that end-users want that software e.g. Skype
 PPA's are great for end-users as they get to mix stable system software with the latest 'apps' but they cause problems for upgrades because you can't possibly test the variety of upgrade paths
 You can argue that they shouldn't have to - but that's a different matter.
Considering the UI it's mostly a habit thing, personally I've never used Windows on my own computer for about 15 years and it's really a pain for me to use it each time I have to.
The joke around that time was that Debian was either obsolete or unstable.
Actually, I trust that of the millions of Ubuntu users, there is at least one person who would sound the alarm if Canonical had slipped spyware into their distribution (as, of course, people did about the absurd Amazon lens). Free software means trusting the public at large to audit the software rather than trusting the software's producer.
Ubuntu is pure white box to learn. I am enjoying it from my college life where I just touched the computer initially, then immediately ubuntu was loaded.
No one was going to bother download a huge distro DVD to try out a new OS. However, when you get a CD, you tend to try it out. The smooth installation process certainly helped a lot.
Still, I am very happy with the existence of Ubuntu, helping millions of people moving away from Windows and OSX. This is a huge boost for the development of software for linux.
Every week I used to visit http://distrowatch.com/ and look for a new distro to try. I liked Mint and #! too, but Ubuntu gave me the most consistent experience with the best repositories.
Great read, thanks for sharing!
Wat? Seriously? How is this measured?
OSX has maddening keyboard shortcuts, and Windows is committing suicide.
With the excess cores, GPU power, huge disk space, virtualization, and other advancements, I should be able to seamlessly run several OSs at once. There is such amazing potential out there, but it is pretty clear that Canonical is now just putting minimal resources into Ubuntu.
It still mystifies me that Google didn't make a seriously good desktop distribution on par with OSX to destroy the windows monopoly. Instead... ChromeOS?