Ubuntu 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog Review

Ubuntu Linux 5.04–the “Hoary Hedgehog” release–came out on Friday, April 8. Is there a reason it’s #1 on distrowatch.com? Or is it not all it’s cracked up to be? Read on to find out.


Ubuntu Linux is still a young distro, and is currently one of the most popular distros on today’s Linux scene. Ubuntu is based on Debian, and makes use of its apt-get/dpkg package system. Although many people have referred to Ubuntu as “lazy Debian”, Ubuntu is quickly heading in directions that are much different than Debian’s. A standard Ubuntu installation includes GNOME 2.10 (you can use Kubuntu, available at http://www.kubuntu.org.uk/ if you prefer KDE to be installed by default, although it’s very easy to set up KDE on top of a clean Ubuntu installation), the X.org X server, the latest versions of Evolution and Firefox, a 2.6.10 kernel, and a whole lot more. Ubuntu’s package management team has done a very decent job of keeping their software current. The new release of Ubuntu also includes new frontends for apt-get, called update-manager and update-notifier. These tools are supposed to make the task of keeping packages up to date easy and much less intimidating to new users, instead of typing “apt-get update” and then “apt-get upgrade” inside a root terminal. These tools act very similarly to Windows Update and the Windows Update Notifier on Windows machines.

Well, enough about its features…let’s see how Ubuntu performs.


I’ll say right out that the test machine I used is extremely old. It’s a Dell Dimension XPS R450, with a Pentium II 450 mHz processor and 128 MB of RAM. The machine’s hard drive was erased before installing Ubuntu.

The installer is a text installer, which is simple and functional—it’s not a flashy installer like Fedora’s Anaconda Installer. Sometimes less flashy is actually more functional. What the installer lacks in flashiness, it more than makes up for in ease of use. Overall, the install process is very straightforward. The installer asks the user what their language and keyboard layout is, and if they’d like to [essentially] set up a dual-boot system or just erase the entire hard drive. The installer then attempts to automatically detect the computer’s hardware. Everything went smoothly for me except for detection of my USB Wifi card, which Ubuntu did not recognize. The installer didn’t crash, it just informed me that the network device would have to be configured manually.

After that, the installer makes the appropriate changes to the hard drive’s partition table, and starts copying the Ubuntu base system files onto the hard drive. After that’s done, the installer asks you to set your time zone and asks you to set a username and password. The CD tray then pops out, the computer restarts after you hit enter, and automatic package configuration takes place — all you have to do is sit back and wait a while for the GDM login screen to finally pop up.

Although I did not set up a dual boot system for this review, Ubuntu seemed capable of making this easy as well. Whether you choose to use dual-boot between two operating systems, or only install Ubuntu, Ubuntu will install the GRUB bootloader into the master boot record of the hard drive.

It took exactly one hour and five minutes from the time I first pressed the power button on the test machine to install Ubuntu to the time I was presented with a GDM login screen. I actually interacted with/used the installer for a total of about five minutes.

First Impressions

After the installation process is over, users are greeted with a GDM login screen, and then a slightly tweaked, extremely clean and well thought out GNOME 2.10 desktop. There are no icons on the desktop; the standard file trashcan is located on the bottom right of the screen in a toolbar. Ubuntu’s default color scheme is…interesting, to say the least. Everything is brown. While it looks okay, I didn’t really prefer brown, and quickly changed my wallpaper and GNOME theme.

Most parts of system configuration are already performed by the Ubuntu installer; however, experienced/converted Debian users may be initially frustrated over Ubuntu’s many tweaks and lack of “creatitve freedom” because of the automated installer. There is also no root account enabled by default; according to the Ubuntu developers, this is a security measure. It’s very easy to enable a root account, just type ‘sudo passwd’ in a terminal, type your user password, then type the new root password twice. You should be able to log in as root from a terminal (you’ll have to change the GNOME preferences to log in to GNOME as root).

In terms of how Ubuntu initially fared on my computer, the automatic hardware detection worked well for the most part. Ubuntu correctly detected and set up my USB sound card/speakers, as well as my mouse (duh) and video card (I had to manually edit my X configuration file to enable screen resolutions higher than 1024*768, as higher resolutions weren’t initially available in Ubuntu’s monitor configuration utility.) The only hardware Ubuntu did not detect and automatically setup was my previously mentioned USB Wifi card. The fact that the clean Ubuntu install did not include the linux-wlan-ng package that would have gotten my network up and running was equally disappointing. I had to download the package manually on another machine, put it on a USB key, put the key into the Ubuntu machine, and then install it using dpkg. Which reminds me, Ubuntu detected my USB key just fine, and it automounted the key and threw a temporary icon on the desktop. That was impressive.

Once I had the network working, I wanted to see if there were any software updates since the new release, just for kicks and giggles. That ended up taking a little bit of work. It turned out that Ubuntu’s apt repositories aren’t enabled by default. They have to be enabled manually by editing /etc/apt/sources.list. Although this is probably just a security measure, there’s almost nobody that would just use only the preinstalled Ubuntu programs and never update them. A message for the Ubuntu developers: The apt repositories should be enabled by default. The other problem with the apt repositories is that there is an official Ubuntu repository called Multiverse which isn’t even mentioned, much less included in the default apt sources list. In other words, you need to know this repository exists before you can use it (I figured it out from looking at http://ubuntuguide.org.) Multiverse has many of the more obscure Debian applications — it’s a shame it’s not at least mentioned in the default apt sources list. Once everything was enabled, however, I was able to install all of the programs I wanted/needed; Ubuntu’s software repositories are very extensive. For those who want to avoid using the commandline to install software, Ubuntu includes Synaptic for use as a frontend to apt, which makes installing new software a cinch.

Despite the aforementioned complaints, Ubuntu is very impressive. Bootup time, especially on my Pentium II machine, is acceptable (at one minute and thirty seconds. I’ll take what I can get — it IS a Pentium II, after all. Bootup time should be much faster on newer hardware.) Ubuntu ran stably and nothing crashed. The new Ubuntu Update Manager also seemed to work flawlessly (though this might have been there was nothing to update, as this new version has just come out), although I consider it easier to just use a terminal to update software.

A clean Ubuntu install comes with a good amount and selection of software; there’s enough software to get things done and keep the user entertained without there being software bloat–Ubuntu includes Firefox, OpenOffice, Evolution, and a few other productivity apps, as well a few GNOME games. It also includes the Rhythmbox media player, Totem movie player, a CD player, the GIMP, and a few other multimedia applications. Basically, most common computing tasks can be accomplished with the software present in a clean Ubuntu install, but most users will obviously want to install their own favorite applications. Ubuntu also comes with a 2.6.10 kernel, in case you were interested.

The Verdict

Overall, Ubuntu: Hoary Hedgehog is a rock solid distro, and is a great choice for a user with any level of Linux experience (it’s also a great distro for beginners or people completely new to Linux.) The install process and initial system use should be fairly straightforward for beginners, and Ubuntu has very decent hardware detection. In fact, the only major complaint I have about Ubuntu is the release name (I mean, come ON, “Hoary Hedgehog?”) Ubuntu may or may not be as great a distro for advanced users, as it is slightly less customizable than, say, Gentoo (you don’t get to compile your own kernel, etc.) However, Ubuntu isn’t meant to be highly customizable. It is meant to install and work simply, elegantly, and well. It definitely achieves this goal, and I give it two thumbs up.


By Josh D


  1. George Wright says

    > you don’t get to compile your own kernel, etc.

    says who?

    #apt-cache search linux-source

    linux-patch-ubuntu-2.6.10 – Ubuntu patches to Linux 2.6.10
    linux-source-2.6.10 – Linux kernel source for version 2.6.10 with Ubuntu patcheslinux-patch-ubuntu-2.6.11 – Ubuntu patches to Linux 2.6.11
    linux-source-2.6.11 – Linux kernel source for version 2.6.11 with Ubuntu patches

    #uname -a

  2. Kim says

    Just to let you know: If you go in to Synaptic, and try to add a new repository from within Synaptic, you will be presented with the choice of enabling both universe and multiverse :)

  3. Colin Small says

    Comments like “you don’t get to compile your own kernel” make me completely disregard the entire review. It tells me I am reading a review by a very inexperienced linux end user.

  4. says

    I have never run Linux or worried about compiling my own kernel, but I wouldn’t think it would matter, for review writing purposes, how experienced the linux end user is. As a matter of fact, I would prefer to read a review by someone other than an expert as I would mostly likely encounter the same problems they do.

    No need for condescension around here.

  5. says

    I agree with Nicole, if this was a power user review then I can see going into details about how easy it is to compile the kernel, but everyday use shouldn’t require a kernel compile. In fact, I think the best distros will be the ones that don’t require compiling since that will lower the barrier of entry for end users.

  6. another user says

    “…Ubuntu’s apt repositories aren’t enabled by default. They have to be enabled manually by editing /etc/apt/sources.list.”

    At the Update Manager, go to:

    Preferences -> Add -> (select repository) -> OK -> OK

    and you are done :)

  7. TOm says

    Okay I have never really used linux before (just OS X) I installed Ubuntu a few weeks ago and I am impressed. For not having a clue about Gnome or apt-get they make it very easy to use and I have been doing fine (I had all standard hardware so no problems there).

    One thing I want to point out is that you can enable the multiverse repository without editing any config files- I didn’t know how to. In Synaptic go to Settings/Repositories, Click on the Ubuntu 5.04 Binary and then click “Add”. You can then select the Multiverse and restricted repositories- no file editing to get any of them working.

    I also did a dual-boot to a previous XP installation and that went fine. Have to say I resized my partition with BootIt NG first to make the free space though.

    Considering that I was previously clueless to anything less than some command-line stuff, Ubuntu has been nothing but a pleasure for me.

  8. Lunar says

    The APT repositories would have been detected if the installer had detected network connectivity.

    You also don’t *need* to enable the root account. Everything should be done via sudo and its GNOME interface.

    Ubuntu is also a very good distro for developpers. Most libraries, and event very recent one, are packaged, as most Python modules.

  9. bill says

    I am curious, you didn’t mention performance — I realize it’s an old ssytem, but do you think it has the juice to run a basic low useage webserver?

    I have a PIII-500 384MB and was wondering if I could press it into service as a web server on my cable modem.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  10. Bob says

    This “review” is full of lies, half-truths and misconceptions and it sounds like he didnt even make more than a half-assed effort. Now I’m a pure debian man myself but this whole article reeks of non-effort of the reviewers part.

  11. foo says

    “I have a PIII-500 384MB and was wondering if I could press it into service as a web server on my cable modem.”

    no! you need 3gHz for the job!

  12. Greg says

    How about Firefox? Did the Ubuntu team configure it to handle links to .MOV or .RMA or other multimedia files?

    One of the things that really impressed me about Fedora 3 was I could browse Firefox to a Real Media site, click on the link, and Helix would start right up. Most distros require me to spend a few hours downloading and configuring media players into their standard browser; Fedora got it right out of the box.

    Better yet, Firefox under Fedora also knew what to do with a package file (i.e. RPM file) so that clicking on it would sent it straight to the package manager. Did the Ubuntu developers have the foresight to configure Firefox to handle APT package files correctly, i.e. open Synaptec?

    I don’t mind hacking, but I find myself with less and less time to spend getting the basics running smooth. Finding this done already out of the box is a real win, especially when I’m showing off to linux skeptics used to Windows.

  13. says

    Okay, let’s see how good a job I do of defending my honor. :p

    I want to say right out that I am by no means a Linux guru, but I’m not a complete idiot, either. I’ve been using Linux for about a year and a half, and tried several different distros (Debian and Fedora included.) I’d also like to say that this was my first ever distro review, and all of your comments certainly made it a learning experience for me.

    Most of the flaming this review has recieved regards the “you can’t compile your own kernel” comment. The anti-Ubuntu people at a few forums I’ve been around, as well as a few people I’ve personally talked to, all put Ubuntu down because of the supposed lack of control the installer gives the user in a regular install process. I personally do not think it’s worth my time or effort to compile a custom kernel. I just threw that in as an example to summarize the Ubuntu-basher’s view. I guess it was a bad example.

    The other thing was the enabling of apt repositories in Synaptic vs. using the command line. I feel like even if my network hardware isn’t detected, the network repositories should still be enabled–it’s not like you’re going to update from your original install CD. I shouldn’t have had to use the commandline to enable anything dealing with the apt sources list, no matter how ‘insecure’ enabling them by default is, nevermind using Synaptic. I personally don’t see the value of disabling these repositories by default–as soon as Ubuntu is installed I want to install my own software, not waste time uncovering a road block. The Ubuntu developers have their reasons, but that’s my opinion.

    Oh, and here’s some personal replies to comments.

    Brian–I was aware that the installer was based on Debian’s installer, but somehow forgot to put that into the review. Thanks for catching it.

    Bob–I’m very curious as to what lies you’re referring to. This was a REVIEW. Reviews are meant to present an individual’s opinion, no?

    Okay. I’d like to thank everyone for their [mostly ;)] constructive comments. Like I said, this was my first time reviewing a distro, and after reading all of your comments, I’ll probably never do it again. :p

    I hope I answered everyone’s questions / addressed their complaints.

  14. jrronimo says

    For one, I thought the review was fine. Perhaps my linux knowledge isn’t deep enough to take issue with it, I don’t know, haha. I think it’s a good read for someone who’s heard of this “Hegehog thingy” and wants to know more.

    As for the name of the Ubuntu release… Well, it /is/ a South African-based team (funded mostly be Mark Shuttleworth). And the /last/ release was ‘Warty Warthog’, and the /next/ release is ‘Breezy Badger’. I’m really not sure, but my best guess is it’s their way of making sure they don’t take themselves too seriously.

    And finally, to anyone who complains about the lack of depth to the installer: What more could you want from an installer? It asks for a username, password, computer name and language. What else do you want from it? Package selection? Pff.

  15. whorey bedhog says

    bill (#11):

    YES!! your 6 year old P3 is definately more than adequate for a light-duty server. I have a ubuntu and 2 debian sarge servers that are P2/350’s with 256mb ram, they work GREAT. they’ve been running non-stop for months (last power-down was before thanksgiving to upgrade the ups that’s on them) without any problems, and they’ve been kept up-to-date as well using apt-get a couple times a month.

    It would be best to do the “server” install, which does not install a graphical interface by default. After install, login at the terminal prompt and run:

    sudo aptitude

    to install your server software (apache, php, mysql, etc).

    brian (#12)

    the ubuntu installer is a pre-configured version of the debian-installer (d-i). d-i has absolutely NOTHING in common with redhat (fedora)’s anaconda, other than the fact it is used to install a linux distribution. despite d-i not being graphical, it is far superior to anaconda in portability across debian’s 11 architectures and in it’s modular design.

    overall comment on the review:

    nice general overview and comments, slight inaccuracies aside. although, next time i would suggest you spend more than a few hours using a distribution before publsihing a review. :) try making the dual boot configuration; try compiling the kernel (or at least use a radeon or nvidia card and enable the accelerated drivers); do an ‘expert’ install and see if would have allowed you to install the wifi drivers you downloaded earlier during installation; set up a couple of the server packages (apache, vsftpd, sshd, etc); and really USE it as your desktop for a few days.

    what did you have all that usb stuff (wifi and sound) hooked up to that ancient system for in the first place. :) and BROWN? hehe. earth tones are ubuntu’s colors.. the whole look-and-feel of ubuntu is one of it’s stengths. very polished, top-to-bottom (and a snap to change if you don’t like it)..

  16. William Roddy says


    1. Ubuntu/Kubuntu is the first Linux effort to get the “Three P’s” correct: Product, Philosophy, and Promotion. “P’s” abhor a vacuum and ,when any one of them is missing, the “P From Hell” fills it: Plodding.

    2. Everything Ubuntu has said it would do, it has done, including get their distribution out on the day they said they would. They said they would have their distribution ready by April 9, and it was. And as a bonus, so was a second distro, Kubuntu. How many other distros are as predictable as that? And generous?

    3. Just for future reference, if you decide to do a review again, remember, a review does not absolutely require the reviewer to find something wrong with it, and it should be free of the reviewer’s prejudices, at least insofar as animals and colors are concerned.

    4. If they have done this much, in this short a time, I think it’s safe to say, “I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet.”

    Thank you for allowing me to post.

    William Roddy

  17. Oz says

    Take no notice of the flaming you received; for some reason, many Linux folk think they have to fight the good fight even when they lose sight of what the fight is about.

    I have been using many flavours of Linux for about 8 years now, and believe I can assess the merits or otherwise of a review.

    It is one thing to take offense at a comparison review of a Linux distro with Windows that is deliberately skewed in favour of Bill’s offering, but to take such vehement offense at someone for attempting to write their first Linux review does little in the way of promoting Linux.

    These people, if they are as familiar with Linux and Linux reviews as they seem to be, would have realised that the review was not as detailed as others, and so should have provided comments accordingly.

    The flamers would be better served by providing constructive comments rather than direct flaming, which would appear to provide no other benefit then to bolster the ego of the flamer.

    Don’t be put off by the flaming, keep plugging away. You will know whether the comments are constructive or not; if not, then simply disregard them and concentrate on other more important matters…. ;-)

  18. says

    Nice job, Josh. I’ve been using Ubuntu “Warty Warthog” at work for three or four months now. I’ve even tried my hand at a few Linux reviews myself. Yeah, the Linux world has a few who love to pounce on trivia. But rest assured that there are many more relative newcomers who value the time and thought you put into this.

    So thanks!

  19. TonyB says

    As for the flames: It’s an unforutnate dichotomy some in the Linux world have. On one hand, they espouse that Linux is easiest enough for Aunt Tillie(tm) but the same ones pounce on any trivial detail in the review and dismiss the reviewer (as per the obnoxious post about kernel compilation). I suspect it has something to do with “slashdot/osnews” envy, where the green eyed monster is offended that someone gets this much attention and not them.
    Keep on truckin’.

  20. Chris says

    I was running Ubuntu on a laptop for a couple of months (compaq nc4010)….. runs well, picked up sound, gfx, wlan.

    I even get the multimedia keys mapped to the correct functions.

    Bluetooth never worked although didn’t spend to much time working on this.

    Multimedia works well, once you add the correct repositries.

    Although I’m back to running XP on the Laptop, cause Linux just drives me nuts as a desktop OS !!!

  21. says

    Besides ubuntu, you have kubuntu, based on the kde desktop. It detected my wifi, the wide screen 1280×800 and APM. It installed well with grub loader which also respected and presented my other O.S. Knoppix, with its two kernels and Windows XP.

    I just missed a tool to configure grafically my net card. I had to add it from the network (knetworkconf)


    Victor Alonso

  22. John Jeffers says


    Do a review again. Remember these are *personal* thoughts. I have been in the game for a lot longer compiled numberous embedded linux “things” beat uClib over my head and view the hedgehog as a theme. I think it is cute but don’t think the brown is cute. Disregard people who take Debian personally and view this as a learning experience. I for one have not had time to install 5.04 but I was mightily impressed by the live CD on my laptop. It did not try for the 1440×1024 so I stuck my X there (Pun intended) and it worked well found my drives including PCMCIA SD card and USB SD card Lexar, network and wifi. (HPZE5000 with 80g HD 802.11b 1g ram)

    Cheers John

  23. mark ross says

    i posted my own review on osnews.com , i don’t have anything new or spectacular to add this discussion. but, i am a professional drummer, and i can relate different linux distros to different brands of music equipment. i use what works for me and i’m not seeking anyone’s approval on the choices i make. here in brazil, there are distros in portuguese and english, not difficult for me to know what language i need to use.

  24. Geoff says

    If you need a root terminal for some reason, rather than sudoing individual commands, you can just type sudo bash : you should never need to set a root password (and it does decrease your security to do so, though for typical desktop cases it doesn’t matter much).

    Also, you say “(you’ll have to change the GNOME preferences to log in to GNOME as root)”. That’s actually a really nutty thing to do. Running the whole gnome session abd processes under root is needless and again, weakens security. They make this hard to enable because it really is not necessary or secure at all. Any graphical software that needs higher access privileges, including GNOME config utilities, can be sudoed in a terminal, or for a graphical prompt like the one you get for synaptic, use gksudo (handy mainly for launchers).

    It’s already been partially dealt with, but the default behavior for Ubuntu with updates is that when you install it autodetects network hardware, configures with dhcp (and only prompts for any config info if that fails), adds repository, installs, reboots, and then fully patches everything automatically from the web before even starting the login manager – it does a lovely job. Further updates will turn up in an update manager icon as they become available and can be installed rapidly and painlessly from its menu. In short, update management is automatic, beautiful, and extremely well planned, quite a contrast from what your review suggests is the general case and design path taken – but it doesn’t deal gracefully with not finding any network cards as it could.

    I think these misconceptions, combined with the comment on kernel compiling (-forcing- you to compile a kernel, even by invoking an automatic configure and build rather than manually selecting the options, as gentoo does, is just perverse) are why some of the more technical types reacted so negatively. I’ve noticed many people don’t mind people with less technical ability or experience than them writing reviews of things, but the minute such a review says anything something clearly inaccurate or wrong because of that, they come down on them like a ton of bricks.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to write the review anyway, and it would be great if you could edit it to clear up the inaccuracies.

  25. Andy MacFadyen says

    Ubuntu 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog is rock solid and an improvement over 4.04 but it isn’t yet a well rounded operating system distro more a kit of parts.
    Like many I went through all the major commercial distros most of which are very far from perfect and a few other non-Debian such as the dazzling but raw edgy Yoper, before I turned on to the Debian way. After lingering with PC-LinuxOS, Kanotix (great hardware detection) I currently run Ubuntu 5.04 side by side with Mepis 3.3 of the two Mepis is my system of choice for my home desktop/backup server.
    I am sure Ubuntu will become the number one flavour of Linux but it isn’t complete yet.

  26. says

    Good review. A few of the criticisms of the review taught me a thing or two… Thanks. I believe Ubuntu is doing great things with Debian. Debian is doing 11(?) architectures and is a bit slow on release. Ubuntu merges the good qualities of Debian with a little more immediacy. It is all good for Linux, those who use Linux, and those who want a little more honesty from the purveyors of that other OS. I can hardly wait to try the 64 bit version of Ubuntu. Debian has not officially released 64 bit yet and they are still getting the kinks out. The quality of Sarge is impressive, but it is still not good enough for Debian. Compared to that other OS, Debian rocks!

  27. PaternityTest says

    Typically i have good support on debian based distros. With ubuntu that is not the case. i get multiple errors during my install. fix one then i have another. So for me there are better options. Maybe one day it will find a permanent home on one of my hardrives but not anytime soon.

  28. Matt Zimmerman says

    The default sudo configuration is less for security reasons than usability reasons; the claim of security justification was presumably based on a comment in the wiki or otherwise unauthoritative.

    The installer will not clobber the MBR with GRUB if other operating systems are present on the system; it asks the user what to do in that situation.

    linux-wlan-ng is included on the official CD-ROM image (for exactly the reason you outlined); it simply isn’t installed by default. It can be installed without a network connection.

    The network repositories are enabled by default if (and only if) the network is available at installation. In your case, since you only had an unsupported wireless device available, they were not enabled.

    Please file a bug in Bugzilla about your X configuration issue. Configuration is handled one of two ways:

    – If the monitor can be automatically probed with DDC, no questions are asked and the monitor’s advertised sync ranges are used

    – If it cannot be probed, the system asks which modes to use

    You didn’t mention a question being asked, so I’m not sure what happened in your case.

  29. nilsmagnus says

    I have been using Ubuntu(Warty) on my laptop for about 6 months, and everything works excellent. The only thing not working without was the wifi-card because of broadcom’s lack of apis for driver developers.

  30. Blaine says

    I’ve been using Linux since 1999 and have tried Slackware, RedHat, Mandrake, Suse, Debian and Fedora. I pretty much stuck with Debian Sarge for the past year and have been very happy. Then I went out and got a new AMD64 laptop and planned on running linux on it. I tried Suse 9.2 Pro and Fedora and just wasn’t pleased. I loaded up Ubuntu Hoary (in Preview Phase) and have been very pleased with every aspect of the OS.

    On a side note I use OpenBSD and FreeBSD for my servers.

  31. H.M says


    Great Review..dont bother about the other harsh comments….
    I have been using Linux for the last few years or so..but i have never come across such a polished Distro..U have missed out a couple points here. Ubuntu’s strengths lie in its Flawless Power Management — CPU scaling, laptop-mode (Hard-drive spin down), Updates-management.. to name a few.. Overall this a great Distro..no wonder its on everbody’s mind..


  32. vlad says

    about the root account being disabled by default–seems like it’s the same was as in os x. they want the user to use sudo when root access is needed. it’s supposed to be more secure or something. plus it’s not that big of a hassle once you get used to it.

    as for your credentials as a reviewer, it is obvious that you are not linus torvalds, but this is probably a good thing since you /are/ reviewing ubuntu, a distro, as you pointed out, that is meant to work without much hassle.

    and honestly, i wish that people could learn to correct minor mistakes without putting the writer down.

  33. says

    First of all, thank you for an unflinching review. It’s good to hear opinions, because they do in fact influence how the Ubuntu distribution proceeds. I would encourage you to invest some more time exploring Ubuntu, particularly its community (irc channels and mailing lists to name some), and hopefully getting involved – perhaps even becoming a Member.

    A few of the other comments have touched on the points I wish to reiterate: The main and restricted repositories would have been enabled by default had the installer been able to successfully configure and execute network connection on its own; there is a reason the universe and multiverse repositories are always disabled by default.

    The first is fairly self-explanatory from a logical extension. The second is more complicated, and as a Master of the Universe (MOTU) for Ubuntu, I should clarify a few things. As a professor, I make assignments to my students that are done on free software (Ubuntu Warty and Hoary, in fact) running on IBM compatible computers. These computers have only components from the main and restricted repositories enabled. My students have not complained about a lack of software; the default install appears to do what they need. Several hundred engineering undergraduate students would be fairly indicative of a “default” use in my opinion, but of course they are by no means the entire target user population. Thus, your comment regarding “almost nobody” using only the preinstalled programs is fairly misleading. Furthermore, there are licensing issues regarding the multiverse repository. Any package having a remotely questionable license is shoved into that repository. Even mp3 playback is not enabled in the default Ubuntu installation; one has to install another program in main (e.g., xmms) or another program in universe (e.g., gstreamer0.8-mad). This requirement is due to – you guessed it – licensing issues and potential intellectual property clashes. Sometimes it’s better to be good _and_ safe instead of offering _everything_ by default.

    I hope this clarifies a couple points. Thanks for taking the time to try Ubuntu and to write up a review.

  34. Ronny says

    First of all, Referring to comment 41…

    Boy pal… that comment really tells us all a lot! Why don’t you share with us all as to WHY you suggest the use of Slack?

    I’ve been on Linux since 99 and have tried many flavors… I like Mepis 3.3 most but also like SuSe Gnome 9.2. I have worked with Ubuntu and have experienced several bugs. Not sure if it has different issues on different systems, but it has not worked all too well for me. I do believe with their deep intent they will succeed with a great distro some day.

    As far as Fedora goes, it has been recorded that it is very unsecure and needs much work in that area. Red Hat themselves even admitted to this.

  35. Terry Morley says

    Agree with the roadbocking stuff mate,wish it was ready to go without more stuff to do, and then do this ..and then that..etc. Most Linux systems want you and indeed expect you to waste time doing the job for them, peee’s me off! Surely we can have a ready running system and then put our choice software in. Appears everyone wants to stay geeky in the linux world. one more little thought..Q,why do people hate the command line? easy that one. A, because people forget the commands, there are not in front of them visually. So a nice front end is easy, hence gnome, kde and even windows XP etc. there is one command I can always remember though…to all you developers out there.. Kiss “Keep it simple stupid”.
    I would have liked to have said more and could go on all day about OS choices but I think I should be paid for it. ;-)
    So, interesting review..must have been look at all the posts!…. Even I read it and posted!!!

  36. William Roddy says


    1. Someone asked if Ubuntu and Kubuntu would work on laptops. It runs very well on my Dell Inspiron 1150. It is also the only system I can get to run on an ancient ThinkPad i1400 366Mhz laptop, though I had to do it with a network install becaue that machine’s CD and USB ports are both inoperative.

    2. By enabling all the repositories in the /etc/apt file, I seem to have access to most Debian programs. I enabled these files without command line, by using Synaptic, which has become an excellent tool.

    3. The addition of deb ftp://ftp.nerim/debain-marillat unstable main to the sources.list (also easily done in Synaptic) allows finding media-playing sources. I prefer xine and associated parts, but others are there, as well.

    4. Installation from the repositories of ndiswrapper allows me to use any of three extremely cheap WiFi cards, with little effort.

    5. Every time I install, I dual or triple-boot every machine. Ubuntu is the only distro I’ve used that consistently finds all other distros and lists them in Grub for me. I am presently triple-booting three machines, with Ubuntu/Kubuntu, Scientific Linux (made by Fermi Labs and CERN, in Switerland; excellent), and WindowsXP (which never gets used anymore).

    5. I’m not certain if my previous post could be construed as a “flame,” or is one of those in question. If it was, I apologize for whatever part may have unintentionally offended anyone. You should be congratulated for being the first to review Ubuntu 5.04. I’m sure many more reviews will follow, but you scooped everyone else and, as any journalist will know, that’s an exciting (and sometimes peril-frought) distinction.

    Please forgive the long post.

  37. Justice says

    Have to agree Ubuntu has been the simplest one to use which is important as we actually do real work on our computers, thats what computers are for no? Ok Ok I know for many who have no lives Linux is a toy for endlessly playing with. Dont worry about Brian’s comments I have seen him in many places – he simply loves to find any fault simply so he can big note himself – unfortunately he seems to be much dumber than he wants his chest beating to imply, he actually knows very little. Good job – you got the most important things across.

  38. Qchacho says

    Hola Josh:

    Excelente su revisión. Sirve como guía para quienes quieren probar Ubuntu. Yo lo estoy haciendo y estoy muy contento con esa distro. No se preocupe de los comentarios sin sentido o desobligantes. De todo hay en la viña del Señor. Los que hacen, alguna vez se equivocarán: los que nunca hacen nada, pues jamás se equivocarán… pero serán INÚTILES.

  39. Anurag says

    Ubuntu has a very confortable interface. I can now implememt a consistent and easy distribution around my office.

  40. Dave Hedgehog says

    I have been using Ubuntu for over 6 months(befor warty final) and currently have 4 machines and it just works. It runs on both my kids computers in their rooms and I don’t have to worry about spyware and such. 3 of the system have be upgraded to Hoary from Wary with out a hitch. The only real grief has been using the amd64 version and not having the packages I wanted available(firefox plugins, tomboy, acrobat reader). After messing around for a couple of months I did a fresh i386 install and it works great(on an amd64), very fast, grub prompt to bongo drums(gdm login) in under a minute.

  41. beaner says

    Warty almost did it for me, but I hate jumping through hoops to have 3D accel. graphics. Now, I probably would be using Hoary, except for the fact that USB detection is broken! I can’t install it because it won’t use my USB keybaord (ZBOARD) during the installer and I can’t then, obviously, even install. USB worked fine with Warty, why not with Hoary? Screw it, I’m a noob, I expect it to work corectly with ALL of my hardware, the first time I install it, with reasonable ease, as it happens with my computer and SUSE 9.2 OR Xandros 3 OC.

  42. says

    I have installed Ubuntu 5.04 on my AOpen Notebook (Like Acea) and added the complete KDE to it (as per instructions in the Ubuntu Wiki). It did quite a god job and even comes closer (than other distros I have played with) to my already installed Mandrake 10.1 off Power Pack.

    How ever there is one thing that I have an issue with ? IVP6 being used by default. Now I am not sure if this problem is caused by the distro builders – or – the Kernel maintainers ? suffice to say I have already solved the problem myself, having already encountered and solved it with Mandrake 10.0 & 10.1

    For those who notice SLOW WEB BROWSING you may want to look at “my” solution posted today in the Ubuntu Wiki called “Web Browsing slow ( IVP6 IVP4 )” it can be found here: http://www.ubuntulinux.org/wiki/WebBrowsingSlowIVP6IVP4

    NB: although it is most noticable in Web Browsing it also affects other types of web access

  43. self says

    “I agree with Nicole, if this was a power user review then I can see going into details about how easy it is to compile the kernel, but everyday use shouldn’t require a kernel compile”

    The point was that the reviewer made a false statement: “you don’t get to compile your own kernel, etc.” Whether it is easy or required or what the details are or whatever is beside the point.

    As for Nicole’s statement “No need for condescension around here” — that sort of rank hypocrisy amuses me. If there’s no need for condescension, then why did she put down someone for making a critical comment? In fact most of us do need condescension, as a way to shore up our feelings of self worth by putting others down. Here we see some folks, including Nicole, suggesting that it’s actually *better* to be wrong, misinformed, ignorant, unexperienced, etc. But it isn’t necessary to actually be a newbie in order to write a review that’s useful to newbies and casual users.

  44. JoelW says


    I could be wrong about this, but I was reading a book called “Better to Best” and there is a reference to a story about a hedgehog and a fox. Since it is a business minded book, the moral of the hedgehog is it’s SIMPLICITY OF FOCUS to survive. If this was intentional, I could only assume they were trying to describe the distro as a “best in class” practice aimed at winning acceptance because of it’s focus on their goal – simplicity.

    This was referred to as the Hedgehog approach.

  45. self says

    And they called it “hoary” because …? Just because someone uses the name of some animal to label their release doesn’t mean that they are invoking every possible connotation of that name. One could as well point out that a hedgehog is a bug eater, if one were bent on being inane.

  46. Murray says

    Is the reviewer an expert?
    I don’t care!
    Did he give an honest opinion?
    I think so!
    Is Ubuntu a good distro to help convert Windoze zombies over to Linux?


    Great review, Josh. Ignore those with their heads up their lunuxes.

  47. linopus says

    I ‘am testing Ubuntu for a couple of months now. First with V4.10 (Warty) and since a week V5.04 (Hoary). Both versions work fine on a IBM laptop P2 with 128MB and on a clone pc AMD duron with 512MB. Installing is just a piece of cake and with tips and tricks on he ubuntuguide.org site tweaking and installing other software is easy. I am using Openoffice, firefox and thunderbird(TB) for a while on win systems and I installed them on Linux. Even my usb webcam works on Ubuntu. I am really thinking to migrate my win W2K and XP systems to Ubuntu. The only struggle that I have for the moment is migrating my win TB mails to TB linux. Someone tips?
    PS: your review is clear, nice and honest. Please keep faith in what you are doing.

  48. Adam says

    I just started using Ubuntu recently, and I think this was a good review. Please do not pay any attention to the trolls, they’re the reason Linux hasn’t been able to reach the masses as we all know it’s capable of doing. I’ve been a complete OS X user, and I’m going to continue using it because it’s also a fantastic OS, but I think I ‘m damn close to being able to drop windows all together. The only real reason I’ve continued to use Windows is games, I know I’m not alone in that aspect, but I’ve seen a few posts about games like counterstrike running fine in Ubuntu. I think we’re witnessing the beginning of Linux’s mainstream birth with this distro, it really is that good. My only real issue is that ATI’s drivers need some serious work.

    Good job on the review, maybe you can publish your findings over time in a series of articles? Thanks!

  49. havesometea says

    Great review…and a big stfu to the haters. My only problem with Ubuntu is one that is shared with almost every other Linux distro I have used. Video card driver support…this has less to do with Linux and more to do with the proprietary nature of the vendors usually.

  50. says

    To #23: I just did an article for osnews.com on Linux on Laptops, and my distro of choice is Ubuntu.

    To the author of the review, good job and keep writing reviews. One important skill to develop as a writer is to filter trolls, naysayers, and respond to kind/constructive comments. Responding to trolls is giving them an honor they don’t deserve :)


  51. Tom R says

    I am LOVING Ubuntu! I am thisclose to installing it!
    Thanks for the review and don’t worry about the negative comments. Reviews will ALWAYS have negative feedbacks.


  52. Jollyd says

    I use Debian Sid since last year and It’s my first distro … Recently I didn’t felt the need to install ubuntu however tremendous were friends using Hoary…
    but now I know that keeping Debian as my favourite distro was right.
    According to me Ubuntu currently sucks( maybe cuz it’s too young)…
    My friends now keep complaining about hoary’s numerous bugs, repositories not clean, etc.. and I’m the one who try to fix their problems :(…
    Ubuntu is a good distro for newbies when you use it like windows but when you try to really ‘use’ the distro … boom !
    The review is too kind cuz it’s not a long-term review however good the review is !
    Ubuntu keeps focusing on the fact it’s up-to-date but according to me a Debian SID is doing the job better; off course the install process isn’t as easy but Debian is definitely “SOLID”, Ubuntu not.
    Wasn’t that hard to provide debian an installer like ubuntu instead of creating another distro ? Note: Ubuntu’s having the good role: few ports instead of 11 for debian: easy to maintain but in fact repositories are hum hum …
    Ubuntu lacks flexibility as a conclusion …

  53. nunya says

    Agree with #63, Ubuntu is decidedly NOT the “rock” some say it to be. There are major stability problems there, when you actually try to *use* the system. I think the root of this problem is the fact that the devs have a set date, so it ships, whether it’s ready or not. My prediction, after Sarge ships stable, all the people that jumped ship to Ubuntu will be right back, and there will be some percentage of Ubuntu newbies moving to Debian to see what the *Real Thing* is like, and they too will scoff at Ubuntu.

  54. LeNordiq says

    Great review, Josh!

    I was looking for an OPINION on Ubuntu, a testimony from an ordinary user; not an in depth analysis. Too much technical babble scares away the Windoze zombies (see comment #56) from Linux.

    I have been willing to move from Windoze to Linux for a couple of years, but the distros I tried all demanded some expertise I don’t have. To me, Ubuntu looks like a valid alternative to Windoze since it is easy to install and use without having to deal with the underlying intricacies of Linux. And since I am already familiar with OpenOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird, I think the move will be smooth…

    Vive Ubuntu!

  55. says

    I must say, Ubuntu/Kubuntu rocks! Debian 3.0 was my first distro (yup, it’s true). I also tried Fedora (awful), Slackware (confusing), and Mandr(ake || iva). I missed Debian with all those. I just wanted something more up-to-date but not considered “unstable”. I stayed with Mandrake/Mandriva for about 5 months, but when I discovered Kubuntu (I’m a KDE fanatic–so what?), I was hooked. Everything I ever loved about Debian was there, plus it was up-to-date! This is also the only distribution that I’ve used that supports everything on my new Toshiba Satellite A65-S126 laptop out of the box, including the Atheros Wi-Fi card. Great job, Ubuntu/Kubuntu team! This is my new favorite distro. Yeah, I’m a sucker for the humanity themes in Debian and Ubuntu also…

  56. Peter says

    Installed Ubuntu Breezy Badger preview (my first Linux experience) in the weekend. Loved it. Installation was a breeze (no pun intended).

    BTW good review for a Linux newby. I found it useful. Thanks!

  57. iotep says

    I used Ubunto for the first time today.
    I had just managed the install disc yesterday before closing up.
    This is the first Linux use ever for me.
    I catch on quick though.
    Four major libraries installed and can now unzip (without errors) Redhat Packages with Redhat Package Manager and required libraries.
    Up next, getting the !@#$!@$ NTFS file system support to come to life like so much Frankenstein monster.
    Take care Von Frankenstein, take care. (CRASH)

  58. Santhakumar G Nair says

    Please send me a free software and driver to enable my webcam and sound in Windows XP in safe mode.

    I will be obliged and grateful for your kind help.


  59. says

    I must admit that that is one awesome insight. It surely gives a company the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and also really take part in creating something special and also tailored to their requirements.

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