This last week was quite exciting mainly because Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) was released. On the day it was released the Ubuntu repositories were a mess as I’m sure everyone was downloading and updating so it at times was a painfully slow process.
Once I finally had it downloaded I had Adam burn me a CD of it as my burner wasn’t quite working, and then proceeded to install it. I was greatly hoping for the most simplistic install possible, but alas I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, for most Feisty will be painfully simple, however I run the x64 version of Ubuntu and I have a Nvidia 8800 GTS which only has experimental linux drivers (the same goes for Windows as well by the way).
As I wrote afterwards on Ubuntu Forums (my post) I was successful in installing via the standard x64 desktop cd and installing the beta drivers from Nvidia. I hate to say it but it did take me awhile to figure out how to get it working. I wont cover the details of getting it to work here, but simply express my concern with User Friendly Linux and new hardware.
In my recent quest to get a patch into the Linux kernel I’ve discovered that Linux distros (Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.) are behind the times as far as the kernel is concerned. While this doesn’t directly affect proprietary drivers (such as Nvidia’s video card drivers) as they aren’t in the kernel, it does affect other hardware developments, like how Ubuntu had terrible support for Wireless up until now (I really hope it’s fixed). The reason behind this is for stability purposes distributions are a bit behind kernel development. My Ubuntu system is currently running 2.6.20-15 which from the debian change log this corresponds to kernel version 188.8.131.52. Kernel.org currently states the latest vanilla (stable) kernel as 184.108.40.206. Though there is a very small difference here Ubuntu Edgy’s latest kernel version was 220.127.116.11. I may be slightly wrong on the last digit however there has been significant changes since 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124 which corresponds to the need to release a new Ubuntu version every 6 months.
But within it self this is a flaw, as people like myself who run hardware which is new are forced to take extra steps to get it working properly. This is one downside to the way linux works as even if Hardware developers started working with the kernel developers changes wouldn’t appear right away in a distribution requiring people to compile their own kernels for new hardware.
Regardless the Ubuntu distribution has done excellent work in making Linux more user friendly and I predict within five years Linux will be a major competitor to Windows and Apple.