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Thread: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

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    Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Given that I occasionally use Unix at work, I figured it was about time I set Linux up on my home computer. Ubuntu has one of the best reputations as an easy-to-use distro, so it was my natural choice to try first.

    I first tried several months ago on my old system, using Ubuntu 7.04 and the live cd. I was impressed by how it just found everything when booting from the live cd, all device drivers etc, everything just "worked". Until I came to install it.

    My old machine had quite a complex hard drive arrangement. Primary drive (C: in windows) was SATA1. Other drives in the system included an identical drive in the SATA2 port, and a pair of IDE drives. I was installing Ubuntu to the slave IDE drive, which was an old and hard used drive, so I wanted to keep my newer SATA drive as my primary boot device. And could I find out where to put the bootloader? No. Was anyone at the Ubuntu forum any help? No. In fact, the appointed newbie-helping person that replied to my thread was so spectacularly unhelpful that I had to restrain myself from getting sarcastic in response to one-line unhelpful posts that sounded like I was expected to know everything. So I gave up. Nobody could tell me what drive to install the bootloader to, or how to figure out which sata drive gets assigned to what under Linux, and so on. So I mentally told them to foxtrot oscar and decided to leave it until Ubuntu can guide the user through an installation.

    Fast forward to now, and I thought I'd give it a go on my new system (see system spec drop down on the left). Now I'm using Ubuntu 7.10, and figured that with a simplified hard drive arrangement (all on sata) it would be much better.

    Oh dear. It went from bad to worse. Now Ubuntu doesn't even boot without prompting me about its' safe graphical mode. What, a GeForce 5900 can natively run Ubuntu, but an 8800GT can't? But I guess that's nothing compared to the way it then just hangs. I read up about removing the quiet and splash boot options, and now I can see what's going on. It hangs everytime when running local boot scripts, after acknowledging the safe graphics mode. Well, that's some superb coding right there. Doesn't matter what graphical options I set or don't set, it hangs. So I boot into safe graphical mode from the splash menu and manage to get the Ubuntu desktop.

    Great! Let's install then! Not so great. I'm installing Ubuntu to some spare space on my third sata drive - (sdc) as far as Ubuntu is concerned. My main Windows drive (C is sda1 on device sda. This is the drive I boot from, and want to continue booting from, so I tell the bootloader to install on sda instead of sdc. And after patiently waiting for all the linux files to be copied across, it decides to inform me of a fatal error that the bootloader cannot install on sda. That's it. No troubleshooting, no support, no explanation. Just back to the live cd desktop. How useful.

    That was last week, and I've just tried again tonight, this time with the 64-bit version. Exactly the same thing happened. Won't boot without using safe mode, and won't install the bootloader.

    Is it just me? Is there something blindingly obvious that I'm doing wrong, or is Ubuntu really this s***? Even bloody Windows Me could install better than this. I thought Ubuntu was supposed to be simple. I'm not even a complete newbie - as I mentioned I use (but not configure) unix at work from time to time, so I understand the file structures and mount points and suchlike. I've seen the power of Linux and want it running on my home system, but not at the expense of going bald with the frustration and hair-pulling that installing it seems to entail.

    Sorry for the rant, is there anything I can try to get this thing to work?

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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    have you tried a different distro? I've found FC to be very good (not to everyone's taste) or there is Suse.

    Did you run a check on the install disks to make sure they are not corrupted?
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    I think it's your complex array of HDs that are complicating things. I have three HDDs in my PC and simply disconnected the two I didn't want Ubuntu to install to and took it from there. I never had any issues and find Ubuntu to be an excellent and stable OS.

    Regarding the issue of the 8800GT, although drivers are out for Windows, Linux is usually quite a bit behind the cutting edge so I suspect that the driver on the Live CD can't make use of the 8800GT.

    I would suggest a different distro myself. PCLinuxOS is mean to be very good as is SuSE. For what it's worth the latest version of Ubuntu is out in April and you may have more luck with that one.
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    1) the graphics driver included with ubuntu 7.10, 100.14.19, does indeed not support the 8800gt. support for the 8800gt was added in nvidia driver 169.07. if the failsafe window won't feck off (it should be using the vesa driver), then report it as a bug, where it will see more fixes than a rant on here will

    2) if you think the installer should report the raw grub error messages, then report it as a bug, where it will see more fixes than a rant on here will

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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb View Post
    have you tried a different distro? I've found FC to be very good (not to everyone's taste) or there is Suse.

    Did you run a check on the install disks to make sure they are not corrupted?
    No and yes, respectively. The discs seem fine, I can access all the files on them and suchlike.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluecube View Post
    I think it's your complex array of HDs that are complicating things. I have three HDDs in my PC and simply disconnected the two I didn't want Ubuntu to install to and took it from there. I never had any issues and find Ubuntu to be an excellent and stable OS.

    Regarding the issue of the 8800GT, although drivers are out for Windows, Linux is usually quite a bit behind the cutting edge so I suspect that the driver on the Live CD can't make use of the 8800GT.

    I would suggest a different distro myself. PCLinuxOS is mean to be very good as is SuSE. For what it's worth the latest version of Ubuntu is out in April and you may have more luck with that one.
    Yes, it does seem to be the hard drives that are confusing it. Poor Linux - I expect it to cope with more than one hard drive.

    The problem is, if I disconnect all the hard drives but one, as you suggest, then the bootloader will automatically get put on the drive with Linux installed. Then when I reconnect the windows drives and set the boot drive to be my newest, least worn out drive, the Ubuntu installation will disappear and I'll just boot straight into Windows every time.
    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    1) the graphics driver included with ubuntu 7.10, 100.14.19, does indeed not support the 8800gt. support for the 8800gt was added in nvidia driver 169.07. if the failsafe window won't feck off (it should be using the vesa driver), then report it as a bug, where it will see more fixes than a rant on here will

    2) if you think the installer should report the raw grub error messages, then report it as a bug, where it will see more fixes than a rant on here will
    Hmm, I'm guessing I should report things as a bug, where it will see more fixes than a rant on here. Yep, I'd sure like to see the raw grub fail messages - it might not mean much but it's a helluva lot more useful than a meaningless message. And more to the point, why is grub failing to install? Is it really that hard to stick it on the boot drive rather than the Ubuntu installation drive? I'd have thought that a lot of people trying out Ubuntu/Linux would install it on a secondary drive and want to keep their original drive as boot/master/Windows/whatever you want to call it. Appreciate the info about the graphics card drivers - that explains the inability to boot straight to desktop with the 8800gt.

    Thanks for the replies everyone, I was very frustrated at the time of posting. Waiting for the next version of Ubuntu sounds tempting, as does PCLinuxOS. Ubuntu appeals because of the apparently large userbase, and the reputation for "just working". Even if that reputation is somewhat misplaced.

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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    @ the OP:

    You're confusing your lack of understanding of Linux/UNIX with your perception that it is "utter junk". Linux has no inherent issue with a system with multiple hard drives. I will say that installing any dual-boot setup involving Windows does open up a fair set of potential complexities but that's as much to do with Windows as Linux.

    When installing off the Ubuntu live CD, the last screen in the installer has an option for boot loader settings. You can configure which hard disk to install the loader to in there. If your PC normally boots from the first SATA drive then that's where you want to install grub's MBR code. If grub gave you an error attempting to do that then go into your BIOS and check you don't have some sort of write-protect for HDD MBRs switched on, a lot of motherboards offer that these days and this will defeat a bootloader install.

    Regarding your graphics card drivers, this can be worked around, I had the same problem at first with my 8800GTX. You'll need to download the latest NVidia linux drivers to a pendrive or something. Install Ubuntu using the text mode installer on the CD. Assuming the bootloader installs correctly, hit Esc when you reboot to get the grub menu and boot into Ubuntu recovery mode. You'll eventually get a command-line shell. Now insert the pendrive with the drivers on it, mount the drive somewhere (/media/usb is a good place), copy it somewhere on your linux filesystem and run it from there. It will offer to set up your xorg.conf file and after you reboot you should get into a full, graphical linux desktop.

    I'm not being snobby or anything but if the above sounds in any way daunting or you don't really know what you're doing with using command-line stuff on linux then I'd leave it alone on your main rig and get an old PC with standard hardware to run linux on. Using the latest and greatest hardware with Linux is perfectly possible but it will involve a bit of manually editing config files, writing or editing scripts, installing stuff through command line, that sort of stuff. At work I run a number of workstations and servers with 2x dual or quad-core CPUs, SATA or SAS disks, high-end graphics cards and 8 or 16GB RAM so it can be done.

    The other way to learn a bit first is to get VMWare Player (it's free) from VMware: Virtualization, Virtual Machine & Virtual Server Consolidation - VMware then go to the VMWare marketplace and download a pre-built Ubuntu VM. That will give you a virtual PC with Ubuntu you can play with to your heart's content in order to learn about it and once you're comfortable with how it works (and if you still want to use it) you should have a good enough understanding of it's strengths and weaknesses to install it natively on your rig.
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by 8bit View Post
    @ the OP:

    You're confusing your lack of understanding of Linux/UNIX with your perception that it is "utter junk". Linux has no inherent issue with a system with multiple hard drives. I will say that installing any dual-boot setup involving Windows does open up a fair set of potential complexities but that's as much to do with Windows as Linux.

    When installing off the Ubuntu live CD, the last screen in the installer has an option for boot loader settings. You can configure which hard disk to install the loader to in there. If your PC normally boots from the first SATA drive then that's where you want to install grub's MBR code. If grub gave you an error attempting to do that then go into your BIOS and check you don't have some sort of write-protect for HDD MBRs switched on, a lot of motherboards offer that these days and this will defeat a bootloader install.
    Well I was hoping you were right about the BIOS protecting the MBR sector, but I looked in mine and there was nothing.

    This was confirmed by the fact that I've downloaded and installed (from live cd) PCLinuxOS (the recent gnome update) - and it installed the bootloader on my boot drive (/dev/sda even though Linux was installed on /dev/sdc) without so much as a murmur or a strongly worded letter of indignation, so it looks like it was just Ubuntu being crap.

    I have to admit, I've since managed to break the graphics drivers in my install of PCLOS by trying to update it to the latest nVidia drivers via Synaptic. But I'll sit down when I have the time and learn about the X Windows system and how to fix things. It's quite a learning curve, but at least it's a curve rather than a cliff now that I have a Linux installation up and running that I can muck about with to my heart's content.

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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by 8bit View Post
    I'm not being snobby or anything but if the above sounds in any way daunting or you don't really know what you're doing with using command-line stuff on linux then I'd leave it alone on your main rig and get an old PC with standard hardware to run linux on. Using the latest and greatest hardware with Linux is perfectly possible but it will involve a bit of manually editing config files, writing or editing scripts, installing stuff through command line, that sort of stuff. At work I run a number of workstations and servers with 2x dual or quad-core CPUs, SATA or SAS disks, high-end graphics cards and 8 or 16GB RAM so it can be done.
    And there in a nutshell is the reason why Linux has not and will not ever get out of the geek/enthusiast community.

    Yes, for sure, it's far more powerful and far more secure than anything Microsoft has ever done, but until it is as easy to install, configure and maintain as Windows it will remain an irrelevance as far as desktop operating systems go. Manually editing config files? Do me a favour. Writing scripts? Not as such.

    Great for servers but pretty much useless for the average user.
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by 8bit View Post
    The other way to learn a bit first is to get VMWare Player (it's free) from VMware: Virtualization, Virtual Machine & Virtual Server Consolidation - VMware
    This is the best way to go, you can pretty much experiment and not break anything (use VMware disks, not physical). If you ever get to a stage where the VM won't boot, no problem, make a new one.
    You can also just try each and every distro 'till you get bored.
    Personally, i never got on with Ubuntu, and the ubuntu forums are too big/busy IMO!

    I use Mandriva (formally Mandrake), basically because it's the first distro i ever used (not including Knoppix) There's always going to be little hurdles that you encounter, but that's half the fun.

    I agree that linux probably won't replace windows as people's main desktop OS, but it's still pretty good and has its uses.

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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by stroberaver View Post
    Well I was hoping you were right about the BIOS protecting the MBR sector, but I looked in mine and there was nothing.

    This was confirmed by the fact that I've downloaded and installed (from live cd) PCLinuxOS (the recent gnome update) - and it installed the bootloader on my boot drive (/dev/sda even though Linux was installed on /dev/sdc) without so much as a murmur or a strongly worded letter of indignation, so it looks like it was just Ubuntu being crap.

    I have to admit, I've since managed to break the graphics drivers in my install of PCLOS by trying to update it to the latest nVidia drivers via Synaptic. But I'll sit down when I have the time and learn about the X Windows system and how to fix things. It's quite a learning curve, but at least it's a curve rather than a cliff now that I have a Linux installation up and running that I can muck about with to my heart's content.
    Glad you got something sorted, no idea why the Ubuntu grub install should fail tho. The bootloader *must* go on the disk your PC boots off, normally the first SATA disk in a SATA only or mixed SATA/IDE setup. The bootloader MBR code is set to point to the boot config files which (in your case) are on whichever partition on /dev/sdc you've installed linux to, usually under /boot/grub. The file menu.lst in there is where the config is stored but be warned, editing this by hand without (or even sometimes with) a good understanding of grub can render some or all OS' installed on the machine unbootable.

    Also, I'd recommend AGAINST using built-in package management to handle video driver installs, they're always out of date. NVidia's Linux drivers are pretty easy to install and ATI's are much better than they were but they still lag behind Windows-levels of ease.

    Quote Originally Posted by Betty_Swallocks View Post
    And there in a nutshell is the reason why Linux has not and will not ever get out of the geek/enthusiast community.

    Yes, for sure, it's far more powerful and far more secure than anything Microsoft has ever done, but until it is as easy to install, configure and maintain as Windows it will remain an irrelevance as far as desktop operating systems go. Manually editing config files? Do me a favour. Writing scripts? Not as such.

    Great for servers but pretty much useless for the average user.
    In a word - horsesh*t. My parents use Ubuntu. Granted I had to install it for them but they wouldn't have been able to do that with Windows either. I got sick of having to reinstall XP for them every time I went home to visit and since installing Ubuntu I've never had to do anything with their machine. Dad could never manage to get music onto his MP3 player using Windows Media Player but manages fine with Rhythmbox. Mum never managed to get her head around the software that came with their scanner but she can use the XSane app on linux. And on top of that, I support about 40 Linux workstation users at work, none of whom are particularly computer-literate and I get about 1/10th as many support calls for them as the windows guys do for the same users on their windows PCs.

    Try actually using a modern Linux sometime before making statements like that, I think you'd be pleasantly surprised.
    Last edited by 8bit; 25-02-2008 at 11:10 AM. Reason: typos
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by 8bit View Post
    In a word - horsesh*t. My parents use Ubuntu. Granted I had to install it for them but they wouldn't have been able to do that with Windows either.

    Try actually using a modern Linux sometime before making statements like that, I think you'd be pleasantly surprised.
    Yes, just using it is easy, but setting it up yourself/updating & installing software that isn't pre-packaged is not as easy as windows.

    Having Linux pre-installed (like the eee) is the way it will hit desktops/laptops.

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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by Magnets View Post
    Having Linux pre-installed (like the eee) is the way it will hit desktops/laptops.
    Interestingly (and entirely meant in an non-inflammatory sense linux bods) I got rid of Xandros on the eee - it didn't see 2gig of RAM (needed a new kernel) and the drivers just weren't anywhere near as good as the Windows one (graphics/wireless). Aside from that it was just far too much hassle installing/uninstalling stuff versus Windows and tbh as much as I like fiddling with things it got old hitting the (powerful) command line all the time. As 'hex would say - i'm not l33t enough. Or i've got better things to be doing with my time One of those..
    Boot time is about the same, and it doesn't seem any slower either. I did use the linux distro for about 2 months before I stripped it off there so I gave it a fair go. I really missed a whole stack of Windows-only software - I didn't realise how much till I swapped.
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  13. #13
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    frankly, i'm astonished at how short-sighted a hard-coded memory limit in xandros' kernel is. there's certainly no good reason for it

    i DO think the eee loses some of its charm if buying windows for it doubles the price, though

  14. #14
    Lovely chap dangel's Avatar
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    50quid for an OEM XP? Much less in volume too.. We'll see when Asus start offering it.

    Credit to them tho - the provided driver CD was very well put together.
    System 001: Maximus VII Formula, 4790k i7, RTX 2080ti FE (incoming), 16GIG Corsair Vengence DDR3 RAM CL9, Corsair HX1000, ROG SWIFT PG278Q , SSDs, Antec 1200 case, All watercooled. [main]
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    System 003: AsRock MB, APU, 8 GIG Corsair, Silverstone HTPC case, stock cooler, GT220 1gbDDR3, WD Green 3TB, Kingston 40gb SSD, MCE Remote, Panasonic 50" LCD (87BDX) via HDMI Windows 8.1.1 (32) [media centre]
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  15. #15
    Will work for beer... nichomach's Avatar
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    Interestingly (and entirely meant in an non-inflammatory sense linux bods) I got rid of Xandros on the eee ...
    My old boss has just put Mandriva 2008 (I think) on his and swears by it. I can see his point, actually, seems a good fit.

  16. #16
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    Re: Ubuntu - utter junk? (A rant)

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    50quid for an OEM XP? Much less in volume too.. We'll see when Asus start offering it.

    Credit to them tho - the provided driver CD was very well put together.
    oem xp means asus need to ship it though - for the guy buying an eee then changing os, it's a trip to retail pricing land

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