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back to article Canonical delivers second Natty Ubuntu beta

Canonical has released a second beta for a new version of Ubuntu, having changed its nomenclature for betas and release candidates ahead of final code. The Ubuntu team delivered the beta for Natty Narwhal, Ubuntu 11.04, on Thursday afternoon Pacific Time. Canonical's Ubuntu release manager Kate Stewart told the Ubuntu mailing …

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Grenade

Anybody remember Fred Brooks?

Fred Brooks: the (still) best-selling author of "the Mythical Man-Month" (Essays on Software Engineering) became an icon when he was put in charge of the development of IBM's OS-360, the operating system which was to power the highly evolutionary IBM 360/370 series of mainframe computers. The development was in shambles when he took over. It was in shambles because of situations in the OS-360 development process similar to what we're seeing happening at Canonical re Ubuntu "development", for lack of a better, more politic, more descriptive, politically correct word. (read the book and his bio, paying-passenger Shuttleworth...uh, I forgot: ASTRONAUT Shuttleworth (by-the-by, my friends are happy to know that precedent qualifies me to be referred to as an Aerospace Engineer due to all the airplane flights I make). Canonical's problem is that it has no knowledge of either the history of software engineering nor of the software engineering process itself, and therefore doesn't understand what it takes to do it correctly.

We, the users of good, robust, intuitive, sanely evolutionary Linux OSs are not under the same illusions that you are, Admiral: Canonical is not a designer of Operating Systems. It is an operating system CHANGER; the real, true operating system was designed by someone else long years ago. There it is: I'd lay odds that you really believe that you are an Operating System designer (Wm. F. Buckley once stated, "I'm not going to insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said").

Ring a bell?

Now, with all the current changes: frivolous, sometimes useless, changes made on a whim, some good changes, changes made to fit a personal agenda; and particularly when, as a point of honor (sic), Canonical must get all this done on a sacrosanct six-month schedule, how to cope? Easy!: Do it the way the Big Boy, Big Bucks, for-profit guys do it. CHANGE THE RULES! Re-define 'release candidate'; 'beta'; drop perfectly good programs and forks; let ego and pique get in the way of good decisions; and--most of all--excuses, excuses, excuses, PARTICULARLY starting on 28 April. Shuttleworth, it's obvious to one and all that Canonical is (sic) becoming the Microsoft of the Linux world. I'll bet your momma's really proud!

Back to Fred Brooks: I'm only going to give you a small part; you'll have to do something which has obviously and sadly become foreign to Canonical: hard work and (now) really heavy lifting on your own to learn what you need to know (you knew all along that there was a catch, didn't you?).

From one fiasco after another (no inferences or analogies implied) in the OS-360 design, IBM let Fred Brooks take over the development. The first thing Mr. Brooks did was to let EVERYONE--both inside and outside IBM--i.e., management, sales, and PARTICULARLY customers--know that all preceding schedules and promises were summarily cancelled, and that he was starting the program over correctly; and furthermore, that when OS-360 was finished, it would work correctly and be what the customers wanted.

Ring a bell?

Your latest attempts are the epitome of a saying (paraphrased to fit your company) we had at a company at which I worked for all too long (two agonizing months): why do you always have time to do it over, but never time to do it right the first time?

One last suggestion: I remember reading, a few years ago, an article by someone high in one of the UNIX/Linux world-wide organizations in which was stated that there were perhaps thirty or forty people in the world who were considered to truly be REAL operating system designers. Perhaps you need to consider hiring one of those people. This suggestion carries with it some real problems: (1) convincing someone of that caliber (sic) to consider the offer, and (2) following their advice.

____________________________________________________

Unfinished business:

Mr. Clarke: you obviously have a penchant for circumlocution--or just plain niceness, which is NOT a positive in your line of work--which was not displayed by Mr. Gilbertson (ABSOLUTELY no offense (sic), Mr. Gilbertson; you get an A+ for honesty and an A++ for objectvity and for 'calling it like it is') in his "Operating Systems" article of 1 April, wherein he (Mr. Gilbertson) described 11.04 as the ""worst Ubuntu beta ever."

You did not, Mr. Clarke, answer the question: is this still "the worst Ubuntu beta ever"? Did it even make it to "barely adequate"? Higher? Please remember that your answer, should you choose to provide us with one, will be proven in thirteen days.

Warmest regards...

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Bronze badge

I remember Fred Brooks

He also said :-

"Q. How does a project get to be a year behind schedule?

A. One day at a time"

But Canonical have committed to this schedule. Would upset a lot of people to change it, even if pure engineering and proper design were the goal instead. The world has changed rather a lot since the 60s, even if you and me don't like it.

p.s. I also recommend anyone to read the book, especially if you are not into computers.

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Boffin

I read Fred's book a few years ago

And though I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in how software is created, it was a very different world then. Another classic is Tracy Kidder's "Soul of a new machine". There is now much diversity and productive competition within the operating systems distribution space and criticism of the leader which attempts to meet the greatest range of perceived needs, which will inevitably result in the greatest range of perceived imperfections. This process won't ever be finished; there will always be improvements to be made and bugs to be fixed. Perhaps the crown will pass to another leader sometime, but Canonical are creating what for me is the most workable desktop system I have ever used for now, though I use other distributions for servers.

I agree that Canonical are not primarily an operating system design organisation in the original sense of the word. The Linux kernel project is closer to that, though they use a chaordic approach enabling a network of cooperative relationships transcending the organisational structures accessible to Brooks. However, as an effective integrator of reusable code created by thousands of different teams (including the kernel project), Canonical have done and seem to be continuing to be doing an exceptional job. I'd say that the leadership style of Linux and related distribution development now probably owes more to Dee Hock than to Fred Brooks, though whether this was conscious or invented in many places isn't for me to state.

One of Brooke's real innovations was introducing a programmer development process into the software development process, based upon the realisation that skills would always be a constraint, and that it was short sighted to exploit available skills to meet deadlines without developing those skills in the process.

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FAIL

TheReg, out of touch

Dear TheRegister zoornalist,

Ubuntu is not dropping GNOME. Ubuntu still uses GNOME even with Unity. Ubuntu just replaces gnome-panel with Unity. It's that simple.

Also, there is no 'GNOME 2.3.2'. It is GNOME 2.32.

Worst beta? Best beta? It's like the daily worst ever thereg article. Get the details correct, willya?

Here is the mess-up paragraph 'Natty Narwhal is a big deal for Canonical. The company has dropped GNOME and adopted Unity for its default interface, which is designed for multi-touch. Also, Canonical has killed the separate netbook edition of its Linux distro, and combined the netbook edition with the main code. Beta 1 took a hammering as the worst Ubuntu beta ever for numerous bugs left to fix and for poor workflow in Unity, which lacks the functionality of GNOME 2.3.2. ®'

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Meh

I've kind of given up on this unity thing (that ironically enough has split the community)

11.04 just seems so rough for so late in the release cycle. It reminds me of 9.10, and that was an awful release (my usb memory sticks had to be manually mounted every time)

Meh, I'll stick with mint with AWN.

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Anonymous Coward

Have an upvote

For flagging the delicious irony.

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Silver badge

After looking at Gnome3...

...I think Canonical have shot themselves in the foot by not getting on board with that. I won't be going to 11.04.

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I thought that

So I did:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install gnome3-session gtk3-engines gnome-themes-standard gnome-tweak-tool

And huzzah! There was a GNOME 3.0 session available from GDM. It'll roll into the official repos at some point, but the rate of change is a bit rapid right now even for Canonical's rather cavalier (compared to Debian, anyway) attitude to stability.

Given my attempts at installing GNOME 3.0 under a plain Debian were going nowhere fast, this was a pleasing PPA to find.

Now my side-by-side comparing of Unity with GNOME Shell can commence. I think GNOME Shell is my favourite so far, but there are pluses and minuses to both.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Canonical have shot themselves in the foot

Gnome 3 isn't ready yet, Ubuntu has a schedule to follow, you'll still be able to use Gnome 2 if you want, Unity does stuff that Gnome doesn't, Gnome does stuff that Unity doesn't ... let's just see how it works out in the next couple of years, I'm sure we'll still have some sort of Debian to play with.

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yawn, folks

yawn. at the end of april, comical will release the alpha. come fall, it will be beta. in the spring of 2012, if they're still around, this will maybe be usable. meanwhile fanbois will alpha-beta test it for them for a year and post desperate messages in support forums.

yawn.

--

message sent from my Debian Core No-Nonsense Install XD

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...the way the Big Boys do it...

In other words, just exactly what you'd expect from Microsoft.

Bravo for you! No one could have said it better.

As you say, "Spot on."

Warmest regards...

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I like it

I like Unity, and I can't really see the same issues that everyone else is seeing.

In terms of the beta, I've known Ubuntu betas with relatively important stuff not working properly until several weeks into "release".

There's a few nags with Unity, most of them now are cosmetic and all the functions I really need are right there, now.

I can really see where Ubuntu are going with Unity, and took the time to understand the new interface before making my opinions on it known.

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Grenade

Oh hai

Is this the comment thread where we assert our personal superiority based on operating system preference? I still run BeOS, bitches! Suck it!

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