Is it just me, or is the Ubuntu development tree more stable than the releases?
I don’t know if I’ve just had bad luck, but the few Ubuntu releases have seen me abandon the stable release, almost straight away in search of some stability in the development tree. I remember Breezy being a stable release. Dapper was quite good, too - well polished. However, edgy was (as people said at the time), a little edgy, and for me it went down from there…
My first foray into Ubuntu development was from edgy to feisty. My laptop (Acer Ferrari 4005) was horribly unstable - a new, young chipset. Also, the tifm SD card reader wasn’t supported. I found feisty development to be quite stable and I pushed The Shuttleworth Lab into running it too, as a work-around for a nasty NFS bug which wasn’t going to ever be fixed.
Feisty development was fun. There was one update when mkinitrd broke, and the systems was completely unbootable (I still have a “rescue” monolithic kernel hanging around from that incident). But otherwise, it was pretty much like life on Debian testing: stable enough.
With the feisty release, prism54 broke, so my Ferrari headed for gutsy, straight away. (My secondary WiFi card is a prism54, the Ferrari wifi is broadcom)
Then I bought a new laptop, a mid-2007 Macbook - a carefully considered machine that should mostly contain well-supported hardware (Intel everywhere and Atheros wifi). Feisty was totally unstable on it, and I had to dive into Gutsy development again. Even gutsy didn’t support my wireless, which is only supported in the bleeding-edge madwifi trunk. No effort has been made to bring this driver into Ubuntu, as far as I know.
Now, I find myself wanting to get away from gutsy as fast as possible, because of a string of bugs. When a distribution is still in development, bugs get fixed, but as soon as it released there is too much red tape involved, and more to the point, the developers aren’t personally impacted by the bugs. Gutsy development has been a treat - pretty stable and reliable, and things worked.
Now almost simultaneously with the release, a pair string of bugs appeared that break my Suspend/Resume:
Am I destined to always run the development version?
People ask me if Ubuntu works. I say yes, it works almost perfectly on most machines. But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking well - it does during the development cycle, but as it approaches releases, bugs creep in.
Of course this rant could be explained away in a couple of ways. I came to Ubuntu from Debian (which I still use), so I’m a CLI user, who started with the expectation that any laptop-ish support is better than nothing. My expectations have since risen to the point where everything should just work out of the box on a 6-month old machine. And a brand-new machine, should at least mostly work.
The Ubuntu release cycle coincides very badly with my academic schedule. Releases occur during term time, during the peak project hand-ins and tests month. So while I’m quite active in launchpad-crawling during development, as releases approach and the updates reach a fever-pitch, I’ve got less and less time to test them. This doesn’t lead to particularly merry releases for me.
Maybe I should follow Adrian Frith’s (rather ephemeral) lead, and switch to running Debian on my laptop. It might make a grumpy geek happier :-)