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Upgrading Ubuntu



I upgraded my computer operating system this week.

On one of my computers I run the Linux distro Ubuntu. I have been using Ubuntu for a number of years, and I have been very happy with it. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to rehabilitate an old computer—for free—to be used as a word-processing, wed-browsing, and e-mail computer. Canonical, the company which releases Ubuntu, supports the operating system with program patches and upgrades. Every version of the operating system is supported for a set number of years—then you must upgrade to a newer version, (still for free) or use your current version unsupported.

When I went to install some patches/upgrades on my programs I saw a new version of the Ubuntu was ready for install. There was a moment of hesitation because I had no complaint over my current version of Ubuntu, and there is a part of me that firmly subscribes to the adage, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, after a moment’s pause I went ahead and clicked the install button. I figured a new version should be at least a small improvement over my current version, and I thought it best to not be left behind in the dust of unsupported software.

The installation went very smoothly. I notice no real difference in the functioning of the new Ubuntu—since I was satisfied with the old, this is a good thing. This sad, there were still a few points that made me less than 100% happy.

In a nutshell, the problem is that the new install was too presumptuous. I was not happy that my Ubuntu theme (visual skin) was changed. At the very least the install should have asked if I wanted to change, or stick with what I had before. I managed to quickly change it (mostly) back to how I had it visually before, but I shouldn’t have needed to do this. Second, my IM client was changed from Pidgin to Empathy. Empathy is supposed to be an integrated client, slimmer than pidgin, and the wave of the future. It does appear to be lighter in memory use than Pidgin, but the program is still rough, and feel like a functional step back from where I was. Worse, I wasn’t even asked if I wanted to do this. It was presumed. Finally, a number of programs were un-installed, and it seems like for no good reason. When the new install began a long list of programs that would be removed was presented to me. I quickly scanned the list and concluded that most of the stuff was just crap that should be removed. But my old IM client? And my FTP program? Shouldn’t you have presumed that I wanted to keep those instead of presuming that something I had installed should be uninstalled? And as a last insult, it appears that Apache is no longer configured, or at least not set to load on start. Which means I must go back and reset that up again.

In short, everything about the new version of Ubuntu appears to work well, but the installation process was far to presumptuous. I am left feeling like some stranger when rummaging through my belongings, and “cleaned up” and threw stuff out without asking me. I can get everything back, and set everything right, but it is annoying that I must do that.

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