My first go at Ubuntu

I like and share some ideas of the open source / free software (OSFS) movement, although I am not an OSFS freak. After much discussion and finger waving of my OSF freak friends, who swear by Linux and have nearly convinced me that Ubuntu would be usable even by my mum, I decided to give it a go.

So I downloaded the current Ubuntu desktop release as an ISO file, created a brand new Virtual PC 2004 virtual machine, and fired up the installation. After a nice menu with some flashy graphics where I choose the option to install Ubuntu, the screen goes blank (i.e. black) and the message:

Uncompressing Linux... Ok, booting the kernel.

appears on top. Nice. After a few seconds and no perceptible CD or HD activity, it pops up:

[   40.487708] isapnp: checksum for device 1 is not valid (0x89)
[   40.495012] isapnp: checksum for device 2 is not valid (0xbe)

And that’s it. Nothing happens. 30 minutes later and still the same.

First reaction is to think “bloody Linuxen and their cryptic messages”. Second thought is “I knew my mum could not use this. Even I can’t use this. What the hell are device 1 and 2? Is the install program continuing or is it hung? What can I do?”

Third reaction is to google for the error message, and by doing this I find multiple reports of people obtaining the same messages as me. Some are related to Ubuntu and some are not. Some occur on top of Virtual PC, some do not. Most list lengthy chunks of boot-up sequences or configuration options. Not for my mum. And not for me.

My first experience with Ubuntu has been short and disappointing. It is not only that it does not install on my machine. It is the fact that it says nothing that can help me diagnose the problem.

The old myth says that Linuxen are hard to install (and use), much harder than Windows. The advocates of OSFS try hard to debunk this myth and convince others that this belongs to the past, and modern Linuxen have the usability of Windows, if not better. Well, I’ve never seen a Windows installer behaving like what I’ve just described. And I’ve seen quite a few of them!

Shame on Ubuntu.


3 Responses to “My first go at Ubuntu”

  1. 1 Joserra 24 July 2006 at 10:42

    Sorry to hear that.
    I installed Ubuntu several weeks ago and it’s perfect for me. The installation method has been improved a lot, but it’s not perfect. One day it will be 🙂
    Try to install it without Virtual PC, it creates automatically a new partition, else, maybe another day in future!

  2. 2 cesargon 24 July 2006 at 17:23

    It is the low quality approach and carelessness of the developers that frustrates me. I am aware that creating an operating system that installs flawlessly in any hardware is very hard. I am also aware that setup programs are complex to develop since they have to deal with unexpected hardware and intense hardware-software interaction issues. I can understand that an operating system works only on a few hardware components (like BeOS used to do many years ago). What I cannot forgive is the sloppiness of the developer who creates a setup program that emits that silly message on screen and doesn’t say whether it is hung or still trying to install; it doesn’t say either what on earth is “device 1” or “device 2”. You don’t need to write complex code to give the user some extra information that is going to be probably very helpful. It is not a matter of changing the software deeply. It is a matter, however, of chaning some OSFS developers’ mindset, which is much harder.You say that Ubuntu’s install program will some day be perfect; I don’t think so. I don’t think so because developers will keep putting their effort into new features rather than on usability. What I wrote a few days ago about the QPC Paradox applies here: they’ll go for extra power, better performance, but not for better usability. If you want an operating system ‘for the people’, to be used by the masses, you need to be absolutely paranoid about usability and, especially, the setup program, which is what the user first sees of a product. Microsoft is doing that. Apple is somewhat doing that too. But Ubuntu is not: they focus on the values of the good old times, the Hacker Ethics and all that. They assume their users have the time, knowledge and willingness to spend hours and hours on the web searching for those “isapnp” errors. They are wrong.
    Shame on Ubuntu, not because it didn’t install, but because its pathetic way of failing.

  3. 3 Joserra 26 July 2006 at 6:23

    >>but because its pathetic way of failing.
    And windows too!! 🙂 (blue screens?, a file is running but you can’t see it (just in taskbar)?…)
    Ubuntu is focusing in usability. that’s now its main development. It’s true that developers keep their efforts to new features thay are interested at, but Ubuntu is trying to change that.

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