Image by plynoi via FlickrIn an article on Techradar which looked at the upcoming Karmic Koala release of Ubuntu, Clement Lefebvre, the developer of Linux Mint, a popular Ubuntu derivative, and Mario Limonciello, the maintainer of the Ubuntu-sanctioned Mythbuntu media center distribution both took aim at what they saw as the chief weakness of Ubuntu.
"Of course," compained Lefebvre, "[focusing on consolidation instead of cutting-edge features] wouldn't make sense for Ubuntu unless we became an upstream component of their distribution. I'm really happy with what Ubuntu is doing, and if I were to change anything… it would be the commitment to a release schedule and the return of a 'release when ready' policy to guarantee a stronger level of quality against regressions."
"I would prefer that the release cycles were not strictly six months," said Limonciello. "Over the last few releases there have been a variety of bugs that weren't deemed to 'hold up' the release and could just be fixed in a Stable Release Update. I'm of the opinion if you have a fix for the bug that you know works, you shouldn't put off the fix just to meet a deadline for releasing a CD. It's better to include the fix sooner and give a better experience to the user out of the box."
Ubuntu began having serious release issues in 8.04, when the developers replaced the venerable Enlightenment Sound Daemon (ESD) with the newly minted Pulse Audio for the sound system. Flash and Pulse Audio didn't play well together, causing Firefox to hang or crash often. A commonly used wireless chipset (RaLink's RT series), which had worked for Ubuntu users for several releases, shipped without a working driver in 8.04. Many users complained that Hardy (8.04) was a step back from Gutsy (7.10).
The release of 8.10 came with more wireless bugs and a new Xorg (7.4) which broke 3D effects on NVidia and ATI chips for a time. NetworkManager also had its share of problems.
Jaunty (9.04) is now famous for the awful Intel chipset drivers which worked for years before the version rev. There was also a problem with the Brasero CD writer, which was exacerbated by its integration with the Nautilus file manager and the removal of the tried-and-true Nautilus CD Writer. Pulse Audio continued to cause problems for some people.
Linux Mint is a popular Ubuntu derivative which includes everything the user needs out of the box, including Flash and restricted codecs. It also uses a more Windows-like interface and has several user-friendly software additions like a "popular software" installer and easy file sharing.
Mythbuntu is a popular and venerable media center and DVR solution which installs easily and has graphical interfaces for just about everything you need to set up.