Ubuntu’s “evolution” is weird

I’ve decided to use GNU/Linux once again (after 3 years of pause). Installed Ubuntu 7.10 and configured all the stuff like I was used to a few years back. I was really amazed that my wireless card was supported and that Ubuntu shipped the requited kernel module to toggle my Wi-Fi kill-switch (bash script required). Everything was just fine until I decided to switch to Ubuntu 8.04.

I won’t start blogging about the suckiness of that release particularly, I will rather concentrate on the model in which all GNU/Linux distributions are “evolving”: Why, o why are distributions including experimental and untested software in their new releases? Why is everybody pushing the “testing” itself onto us users? How can the distribution be considered stable and evolving if the next release is worse then the previous?

To detaliate on the problem:

  • Broken Wi-Fi. The old (non-free) drivers for my Intel card were working perfectly in 7.10. They decided to replace them with an experimental OSS driver from Intel. My internet is coming through a wi-fi link so how can I download the back ports of the old driver?
  • Broken Gnome VFS. Yeah, they decided the old (working) implementation was rather bad so they started a rewrite. I completely agree but why include the new implementation which wasn’t even tested properly?
  • Broken Sound. I know PulseAudio is the new standard (and pretty cool) sound-card daemon. But why include it by default when it’s not yet stable? Probably many users are quite happy with it, but in my case (as in many others) it completely messed up the whole “Linux experience”.

So why not have a new system configuration module for this things? For example show the user the old components (stable) and the new ones (experimental). Let the user select which component he wants to use. One can select the “New Sound System” over the “Stable Sound System” and check if it works the way one wants it to work. If it has problems, revert back to the old module. That way I could have simply selected “Old Intel Wi-Fi drivers” and continue with my work. That is the fair way! This would also prevent thousands of posts all over the internet stating “Ubuntu 8.04 sucks”.

This post can probably be applied to any “bleeding-edge” distributions out there with ease (like Fedora).