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Karmic Disaster

As far as operating system launches go, the launch of Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala 9.10 almost matches Windows Vista in the ‘utter disaster’ stakes. According to polls on the Ubuntu forums, almost half of those installing or upgrading to the operating system had serious problems.

We tried it on several PCs and laptops, and while everything seemed to go smoothly, booting the computer after installation/upgrade invariably rendered the machine unusable. Although we did eventually get it running on most of our machines, we weren’t the only ones having problems.

GRUB 2 is maybe not for you

A lot of the problems encountered, or at least the first problems that many people encountered were with the new GRUB bootloader – GRUB 2. Indeed this is what made many Keen Koala’s very angry, as without a functioning bootloader many lost not only Ubuntu’s Koala, but also their Windows partitions too! This was compounded by early posts in the forums of:

“My install went flawlessly, you’ll just have to restore from backup or re-install. You did back up didn’t you?”

Not very helpful to those early adopters for whom installing the new version of Ubuntu every six months was like installing a new version of Office or anti-virus software, a minor inconvenience. Quite a few probably didn’t bother, thinking that nothing was likely to go wrong. Then discovered that their computers were now unusable.

Karmic Koala, Windows 7 beater?

By all accounts this was the worst Ubuntu release for quite some time, if not ever. Even the die hard fan boys were complaining about it. It hasn’t been good PR at all for Ubuntu, particularly as Mark Shuttleworth had recently said that he was looking forward to a straight fight with Windows 7 and:

“I’ve kicked the tyres on the [Windows 7] beta for a few hours and it was good. They’ve put concerted attention on the user experience with the shell. I think it’s going to be a great product, and every indication is we will see it in the market sooner rather than later.”

He was right, it was released earlier than expected, but unfortunately the fight appears to be a first round knock out for Microsoft.

It really couldn’t have come at a worst time for Shuttleworth, Ubuntu was shaping up to be a serious contender against Windows, but Karmic Koala has been a serious setback.

Indeed the whole launch could be seen as something of a reversal, whereas Windows XP users looking for something different, or Vista users looking for something that works, have had Ubuntu as a viable option to switch to, one has to wonder how many disgruntled Ubuntu users have switched to the brand spanking new Windows 7. After all, Ubuntu has never had a better rival than Windows 7.

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