Is Ubuntu getting worse?

Windows has blue screens. Ubuntu has black screens.
Windows has blue screens. Ubuntu has black screens.
Windows has blue screens. Ubuntu has black screens.

Does Ubuntu hate me or is it really getting worse?

I started using Ubuntu in 2009 when I had to develop C and Java software for some courses at college. Back in those days the only think I knew about linux or unix was that it had something to do with penguins and gnus. I had a hard time getting used to the UI even more to the command line.

My laptop had a slow disk (5200rpm) so I decided to use dual boot with Windows instead of a virtual machine. Ubuntu was fast no doubt about it, but I always preferred Windows’ usability and look (probably just because I was more used to it).

Then I updated from Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala to 10.04 Lucid Lynx. Wow. Ubuntu became a polished and cool looking OS for the first time. I really enjoyed the dark theme and its warm tones. It was nice just to look at it. Working at Ubuntu became enjoyable.

Meanwhile Unity came with 11.04 Natty Narwhal, I didn’t like it and switched to Gnome 3. By that time I was trying to use Ubuntu on a daily basis, in an attempt to convert from Windows to Linux. I couldn’t. Games, Adobe Lightroom, and Microsoft Office didn’t let me fully convert to Linux.

Despite my personal requirements, Ubuntu was a stable, enjoyable, fast and powerful operating system. Not yet an alternative for me but a nice complement to Windows. Certainly the OS to develop software.

Ubuntu today

The last version I tried was 13.04 Raring Ringtail. And I finally gave up on Ubuntu as an alternative.

Every time I try to connect my laptop to an external monitor
Every time I try to connect my laptop to an external monitor

At my bedroom I have a docking station setup for my computer: I have a LCD monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and a laptop that connects to those devices. I connect my laptop to the monitor using an HDMI cable and it always worked plug’n’play on Windows. Not on Ubuntu. As soon as I connected the HDMI cable to the laptop, while on Ubuntu, it completely froze and I had to restart. I tried multiple combinations of connecting the cable, powering on, closing and opening the lid, switching windows and virtual desktops, to no avail. The result was always a black or a frozen screen, a forced restart, and the loss of my work.

Do you want to suspend your laptop on Ubuntu? Think twice!
Do you want to suspend your laptop on Ubuntu? Think twice!

Another thing I’m quite used to do on Windows is to press the shutdown button to suspend the laptop if I’m going to be AFK for a while. I did that once on Ubuntu and learned the lesson – never suspend. Ubuntu suspended correctly turning off the fans, but when I pressed the power button to resume my session I couldn’t get passed a black screen despite the laptop being back on full power. Once again, forced restart and loss of my work. It’s not like I’m asking Ubuntu to natively take advantage of NVIDIA’s Optimus technology – which would be great – since I know “NVIDIA is the worst trouble spot on hardware manufacturing” (Linus Torvalds). No, I’m just asking to suspend my computer! That’s as basic as shutting down!

Final thoughts

I like the Ubuntu project, what it is and what it represents. I like their vision to unify desktop, tablets, mobile (and TV) in a single OS and UI. I admire the effort the put on to create a powerful and beautiful operating system free for everyone. After all this years using Ubuntu I actually made a donation. What I don’t like are these tiny little things that greatly limit my work on Ubuntu.

So if you want my advice, use a virtual machine instead. With Windows’ layer on top of Ubuntu I had all those problems solved (external monitor and suspend), which is quite ironic. If you don’t have the patience to create a VM you can grab one at bitnami.

(let the flame war begin in the comments below)