Ubuntu, as we all know is a great operating system. Its built on the solid foundations of Debian, it has a vibrant and helpful community and a multimillionaire astronaut as a sugar daddy. Things are good.
Ubuntu aims to be ‘the’ definitive Linux distribution for ‘the rest of us’. A distribution which doesn’t require you to have a computer science degree to get it up and running, a distribution for the average Joe.
Unfortunately however it isn’t quite ready yet…
Anyone who has installed an Ubuntu desktop system recently, can’t have failed to realise that Flash is broken, and it’s broken quite badly.
You see for licencing reasons, the nonfree flashplayer Ubuntu package doesn’t actually contain the Flash program itself. Instead, it simply downloads Flash from Adobe and installs it for you. After the nonfree flashplayer package has downloaded Flash, it makes sure that the md5 checksum works out properly to ensure you’re installing Flash rather than a virus or some dodgy malware.
The problem is, that Adobe has released a new version of flashplayer, so when the Ubuntu nonfree flashplayer package downloads it, the md5 checksum doesn’t match and uh oh, it won’t install.
This is pretty bad, but the major, really unforgivable problem is that flashplayer has been broken for weeks now. Why is this? I’m a Gutsy user, and I notice that a replacement package has been made available, brought to the attention of the devs, but it still hasn’t found its way into the repo’s. Worryingly, this doesn’t just effect Gutsy. It effects all production releases of Ubuntu.
I’ve read comments at both Launchpad, and on the Ubuntu Forums, and there doesn’t seem to be any general sense of direction. I guess our strength is also our weakness. Too many cooks do indeed spoil the broth, and with no clear person in charge, there seems to be an endless cycle of discussion required in order to get anything done.
I do take on board the difficulties of sorting this out, but also, would suggest that the ‘powers that be’ recall Mr Average Joe (remember, the guy who Ubuntu is aimed at ?).
I’m sorry, and with the greatest of respect, when Joe points his browser at YouTube.com, gets prompted to install Flash, told that it’s installed but still finds YouTube.com isn’t working, he’s going to crack open his Windows recovery disk and walk away.
I really think that if Ubuntu wants to become mainstream, we can’t let things like this happen.
On a slightly more positive note however, I’d like to extend my hearty thanks to all of the Ubuntu contributers, developers, community and my fellow Ubunteros for all of the hard work that they have put into Ubuntu over the past year. Merry Christmas folks, and lets hope that this new year and Hardy bring us closer to fixing bug 1.
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