Friday, February 13, 2009

Ubuntu and the New User

I had no sooner got home from Europe when my wife Amber has the idea that she wants to use Ubuntu. (Thats what I get for getting her an Ubuntu T-Shirt with "Linux for Human Beings" on the back.)

My wife was a die hard windows user for years. When I got tired of being her personal admin, we moved to a Mac. For me a Mac was close enough to Linux in that I could ssh in, do most thing remotely... As of yesterday I couldn't pry a Mac out of her cold dead hands...

Over the years I had tried to move here to various Red Hat flavors since I worked at Red Hat, we tried RHL, Fedora, RHEL WS, and every time it met with abysmal failure. Usually it manifested itself as some sort of failure when I was out of town, she couldn't print, WIFI wouldn't work, or just her plain impatience when it comes to button clicking. If something doesn't immediately return she keeps clicking, selecting more and more menu choices until the computer grinds to a halt with 10,000 dialog boxes all over the screen with wording she does not understand.

So I'm back aboard the "convert the wife to Linux" train yet again. This time I don't get to help, advise or otherwise participate. I gave her an old laptop the Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid CD and showed her how to "press F12" to get to the boot selection menu.

She is blogging about it if you want to follow the saga you can here:

Cuz God knows I'm living it... *sigh*



Jef Spaleta said...

What would be really useful to know is the sort of timescales over which things worked for her in previous Red Hat/Fedora experiences. It's sort of implied that things worked for a time and then at some point functionality stopped working. But I could be reading that wrong.

If that implication is true it would be useful to know the approximate timescale it took before a non-recoverable functionality breakage occurred and she called on your for support, because that is the timescale that's going to matter in the new experiment.

Will Ubuntu last longer without need of an intervention? The most interesting question is will Fedora 10 last as equally as long. Thats the most direct comparison, but its a very difficult question.

It would also be helpful to know how updates were being handled in her previous efforts. Were you the one doing the updates for her in the past? Or was she applying her own updates to her system? Were updates applied as soon as they were available or where they applied some what randomly?

Is she going to be applying updates on her own this time? And will she be applying updates in the same way as before? as they are available or will it be some what sporadic?

If she doesn't apply updates in the same manner as before, and sticks with the out of box packages, in an effort to reduce the risk of developing problems this experience may not directly compare with her previous experience at all.

On that note, how does she currently prefer to handled Mac updates? Is she applying updates as they become available from Apple or is she holding off?


Pete & Amber said...

Now your causing me to go back to the way back machine. I'll have my wife respond to your use cases since she was the one with the issues :-)

I would like her to try Fedora now. There has been much goodness introduced in all distros. We we did the various Linux trials wifi was privative, printing was just horrible and so on, in general as various times within the last 3 to 4 years.

She was planning on addressing the updates in her blog post today I think.

Jef Spaleta said...

What we really need is a methodology that can be applied cross vendor so we can build some aggregate information concerning regression impact.

Apple isn't bullet-proof either. But so many of the really painful regressions are hardware specific (or 3rd party application specific) that its hard to give a really good handle on as a comparative study.

zero-regression updates are a fantasy for every single os vendor. We aren't going to get there and trying to get there will burn up all the resources that could be used on other things.

What we can do is try to figure out what process changes give us incremental gains and set them up as best practises that can be shared.