Mark Shuttleworth, benevolent sponsor and launcher of Ubuntu, posted an email discussing what went wrong with communication / setting of expectations for what the latest Ubuntu release would deliver. He also points out the very good “problem” of Ubuntu being compared to Windows.
Among other linux-y items, Jorge has this response:
I think that it’s difficult to gauge exactly what users expect. Pre-warty’s users (like me) were usually experienced Linux users who enjoyed being lazy and having things Just Work(tm). By the time Dapper rolled around, if it wasn’t doing your laundry, then it’s game over. I’m sure those of us that advocate Ubuntu regularly run into this all the time …
I think people on the web just get their expectations set too high regardless – some high profile blogger makes a small, unsubstantiated statement with no real concrete communication, and next thing you know the whole blogosphere undergoes a severe case of speaker feedback, until one of the speakers blows. The next round of feedback starts, since the blogosphere is recursive in nature, and …
Anyways, back to my topic. Oh, yeah, Ubuntu and Dapper Drake. Well, I think Mark’s right about “polished” not being a good word to use. For example I, as a new user to Ubuntu (and Linux), just assumed that of course there was a graphical installer. It didn’t cross my mind that there wouldn’t be, and I certainly didn’t know it was the first time one had been included!
I’m a fairly technical person, so it’s not an issue for me. But I’m really interested in seeing (at least one) mainstream challenger to Windows, with significant market share (preferably two or more). So when I hear that Dapper Drake is “LTS” (Long Term Support) and “polished”, I’m thinking Windows and Mac (and hoping as good or better in all areas). Some might laugh to see Windows and polished in the same sentence, as I am. But you have to remember that the world sees computers as Windows. Linux is better in myriad ways, as is Mac OS X. And each is good for specific purposes. But unless Ubuntu has immediate, short-term benefits over Windows, you are going to be hard-pressed to get Windows users to switch. (I’ve got a screenshot I’ll put up later illustrating how an old-school linux user’s worldview differs from your average citizen, and why it has been hard for linux to take over the desktop market.)
This, by the way, is the reason that the first thing I did on Ubuntu was check out the games, looking for Spider in particular. That’s because that’s what my mother-in-law does on the computer – plays Spider. If she can do that as well or better on Ubuntu, fine. If not, go away.
One last comment, since I brought up Apple and inflated expectations earlier. I was quite pleased with WWDC, and I suspect anyone who was displeased wasn’t really grounded in this universe before the keynote. The indications were all over the place from most respectable bloggers on what to expect (linked post is from after the keynote, but reflects my thoughts). I’m happy, because it sounds like Apple will again deliver things I actually need (eeeaasy backup) and want (spaces). They seem to be pretty good at doing that.