Ubuntu is for Humans?

Well obviously I aint one. After 6 installs over the last 2 days I give up.

The install goes fine, but all I’m trying to do is set it to the native resolution of my macbook pro. Each time I bugger something up and then Ubuntu won’t start up next time.

Feels to me like Ubuntu has a long way to go before you can install it and use it. Setting the screen resolution should be a real simple task (at least it has always been in Windows and OSX).

Ubuntu is far from being for humans, its still for terminal geeks (no offence meant).

32 Responses to “Ubuntu is for Humans?”

  1. gabes says:

    Terminal Geeks (no pun intended neither)

  2. Keith Peters says:

    yeah, I agree. it’s nice but has a way to go before it’s ready for the masses. the install goes well, but I had the same issue with screen res. i got it fixed through editing some x11 config file, but I’m still not totally sure what i did. I’ve dabbled in linux, trying it out once every year or so for many years. ubuntu is the most user friendly I’ve seen it, but it’s not quite ready for prime time yet.

  3. Tink says:

    Personally i think using the strapline ‘Linux for human beings’ will do Linux more bad than good when people realize its not true.

  4. Danny-T says:

    Have you tried Suse? I’m certainly no Linux master (far from it) but have managed to get it up and running on my Desktop, hosts my website and a couple of others, I also got xgl running sweetly on it without any issues. All with not even a sniff of command line action.

    Worth a look if you still wanna dabble in the linux world.

  5. Jeremy says:

    ATI drivers are notoriously bad on Linux. But this wiki entry should help:


  6. Jack says:

    You LAMER!

    When you can not figure out anything, blame easily someone else. Peh!

  7. Tink says:

    Thanks Gabes, but among many other solutions I tried this one and it had no effect at all.

    Thanks Jack :) . I’m just not geeky enough.

  8. Ubuntu problems? Sounds to me just like any other Linux distro ;-)

  9. Peter says:

    I had the exact some problem a few weeks back — don’t recall exactly how I fixed it but it involved editing a conf file. Spent a good half a day trying to figure it out though. For some reason the startup sequence still happens in the wrong resolution but after that its pretty sweet.

  10. Adz says:

    little more info needed… what version of Ubuntu, are you dual booting or using parallels/vmware etc? can you login but not get the native resolution? what steps have you tried and exactly goes wrong?

    Although it may seem spooky and odd, it’s actually much nicer to change all your video settings in one simple text file once you get the hang of it.

    Sounds like you’d rather have a moan than actually get it working? :)

  11. Gabes says:

    Hey man,

    You gave me a challenge there, I’ve installed ubuntu just now, and it’s working at 1680 x 1050, on my MacBook Pro 17″.

    What I did was, make a clean install of ubunto, go to the terminal, and type:

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

    Then go to “Vesa” and press enter, then when the list of resolutions come up, go to 1440×900, press space to enable it, then press enter.

    Then, go back to your ubuntu desktop, press (fn+ctrl+alt+backspace) and it’ll reboot in full rez. Easy peasy!

    (posted from my ubuntu install)

  12. Danny-T says:

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg…
    …press (fn+ctrl+alt+backspace)…
    …Easy peasy!”
    “Sounds like you’d rather have a moan than actually get it working?”
    “hen you can not figure out anything, blame easily someone else.”

    I think the point being made is that the whole “Linux for the people” arguement just aint there yet. If I’d convinced my clients to switch to linux then had to tell them this for them to change resolution, i don’t think they’d be my clients very long!

  13. gabes says:

    But still, I can’t get the flash player 9 linux to install, bloody permissions… any answers on that one?

  14. Adz says:

    but Danny, you dont need to do this to change resolution, there’s a nice little gui in the settings for that. You *do* need to do this if your gfx card is not recognised properly or requires additional setup (ie adding the macbooks non standard res), but of course you only need to do it once.

    ‘linux for the people’ is marketing hype of course (which people?), but I’m not sure if you had a gfx issue at the OS level like this, Windows or OSX would really be a lot easier to fix without getting your hands just as dirty?

    oh, and the ‘have a moan’ comment was purely a personal one directed at Tink and not some dismissive Linux bullishness :)

  15. Tink says:

    in one of my installs i managed to install the flash player using the directions on the download page.

    and it might seem nicer to you Adam to change your video settings in one simple text file you have to know te location of and format, but i’d rather just select it from a combobox after the OS has picked up all the available settings.

  16. Adz says:

    gabes – haven’t had any problems myself, it’s just extract and copy…

    download flash plugin -

    extract -
    tar -xvf FP9_plugin_beta_101806.tar.gz

    install -
    (either…just install for you)
    mkdir ~/.mozilla/firefox/plugins
    cp flash-player-plugin- ~/.mozilla/firefox/plugins/

    (…or…install for all users)
    sudo cp flash-player-plugin- /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/

  17. Gabes says:

    Cheers Adz, got it all working now. I’m still clueless about why you can’t just use the GUI to copy those files. ‘for humans’ hmm

  18. [...] OSX. Ubuntu is far from being for humans, its still for terminal geeks no offence meant. [ Read more ] Comments» no comments yet – be the first? message name em [...]

  19. Zarate says:

    Yeah man, not easy at all. I as well am feeling kinda stupid because I cannot make work properly the (pretended) easiest Linux distro :|

    However, I’ve managed to install MTASC, SWFMill, Skype, make my sound work and other smaller little battles.

    So, why do I keep using it if it’s that difficult (or at least that difficult for *me*)? Well, it’s a philosophical position. I want use Open Source tools and I think the more I use them the easier should become, isn’t it?

    I hope so!


  20. Manu says:

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

    Then go to “Vesa” and press enter, then when the list of resolutions come up, go to 1440×900, press space to enable it, then press enter.

    … didn’t work for me because process breaks up somewhere and keeps asking for my login,
    … until I enabled automatic login from Administration > Login Window > Security.

    Ubuntu 6.10 / Parallels / OS X.4

  21. mugwamp says:

    I agree 100% with the OP. I’ve done hours and hours of work trying to bring up Ubuntu on a an IBM NetVista–hardly a off-brand computer. I’ll bet there’s millions and millions of them out there. Have I got it to work? Yeah–if you call low-resolution video to be working.

    If you read the Ubuntu website or the book, you’d think that this stuff is a breeze. And, if you’re one of the lucky ones where everything works, you’d think it’s wonderful. But if you have a problem, then you’re in deep sh!t. There’s gadzillions of people with problems on the forums, most of them unanswered. You can google up things to try, one after another but few of them work.

    I hate to say it–but Ubuntu is not doing the Linux world a favor. Most people who try this crap and fail are going to tell their friends. If Ubuntu is a buggy software that demands geeks with the patience to work their way through pages of command line nonsense–then be honest about it and admit that it’s a work in progress. By being dishonest about the incredible number of problems with your software, you will only make things harder for yourself.

    But people who think they’re out to save the world seem to develop bih heads and Ubuntu is a perfect example of it.

  22. Richard Ellicott says:

    To add my two cents to a dead thread.

    I’ve been tried Linux on and off for a while now, it is incredible the performance difference in running networking apps (vs XP) and using the command line,

    For anyone who wants an easy solution OpenSuse is the closest I’ve got to just installing and it all working. Ubuntu has already failed to detect my monitors resolution and while I’ll be happy to sort that out by editing some config files, It’s hardly “Linux for Human Beings” is it..

    I propose more apt slogan:

    “Linux for half-human, half-geek hybrids”

    Because that’s what it is, I really like it, it’s for people who don’t want everything handed to them on a plate but are still scared of Slackware, in fact I found plain Debian easier to install :) .

    Whenever anyone mentions they would like to give Linux a go, I say OpenSuse, and since trying Ubuntu I still say OpenSuse. As far as I’m concerned, an operating system shouldn’t require any after installation configuration. For that reason whenever anyone completely new to computers asks about it I recommend Windows XP very highly as it works out of the box. I really would love to say Linux, mabey one day…

  23. yacony says:

    Maybe the problem of Ubuntu’s low resolution on the IBM NetVista is the video memory allocation, adjustable in bios. It took me hours of Googling and reading to figure this one out, so I’ll add it here to maybe help someone else.

    I’m using Ubuntu 7.04 on an IBM NetVista 8305-21U (2 GHz P4, Intel Brookdale-Gi845G chipset, 1 Gb ram).

    Enter bios (“enter” key quickly after turning on computer, then F1)
    Go to Devices –> Video Setup –> Shared System Memory
    Select 8192K, not 512K or 1024K
    Then F10 to Save and Exit

    Once Ubuntu is installed, you probably still will have to edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf to get a higher refresh rate, but there are tons of sites that will walk you through that.

    BTW, WinXP Pro was harder to install on these machines than Ubuntu, because you still have low resolution, no sound, and no networking until you install all the drivers off of the IBM support site. I’ve had great luck installing Ubuntu on IBM NetVistas, Dell Dimensions, and IBM laptops.

  24. sh0ckxor says:

    Exactly, u are a lame, u can`t use linux becouse u are a windows xp user lol.

  25. Moomoo says:

    lol come on you thought that it would be completely bug-free perfect software? its not. but even so i think linux is doing a hell of a lot better than windows, i mean what about all those broken drivers? and speaking of drivers it was probably your graphics card makers fault for not supplying proper drivers so dont be so quick to jump on the “linux is for uber geeks and everyone else including me is too stupid to use it” bandwagon cause you make yourselff look like an ass.

  26. Tink says:

    Moomoo did you actually read the post before commenting? I didn’t mention any bugs, but being a daily computer user I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to set the screen res to the native screen res of my macbook.

    Although Windows may have its bugs and it’s failures it a lot more usable than Ubuntu (or at least the version I tested year ago). They were branding the version I tested as ‘Linux for Humans’. Aa standard computer user wouldn’t have a clue, yet they are quite capable of using Windows. You have a very biased opinion which actually doesn’t help anyone, the devs working on Ubuntu included.

  27. Richard Ellicott says:

    weird how this random forum post seems to get rivived every once in a while.

    I personally aint gonna touch Ubuntu with a barge pole ever again, is that linux geek having a laugh. At least windows has drivers for everything, there’s a lot of reasons M$ is dominant, the main one is it just simply works.

    Security loopholes, random crashes.. sure, but Joe Blogs can put the CD in and just install it.

    Anyway I use OpenSUSE when I delve into linux, unlike Ubuntu, you just install it and it works, and you can CHOOSE what you get on install (you aren’t forced to use GNOME)

  28. shhh says:

    Ok, first I’m gonna play the “it’s open source people volunteer and do hard work in their leisure time” card.
    After this message has settled let me add that m$ delivers not as much as one could expect for being infinitely more expensive than ubuntu. I also would like to stress my irritation by the fact, that you actually DO HAVE a fully posix compatible, unix like operating system based on the very nice mach kernel/architecture(darwin) AND HENCE THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO USE UBUNTU instead. What specific software is it, that you cannot run on mac os x?. AFAIK for mac os x a software called “fink” exists, that allows users to install debian packages(uhh… well … debian is the linux distribution for geeks that ubuntu is based on)…
    If I had MacOS X the idea to use ubuntu instead would never ever come even close to my mind.

  29. Faizi says:

    # ubuntu user here

    Thought you guys may find this info interesting. I don’t put it foreward as a defence or retort really- just a bit of perspective.

    Many of the user friendliness issues complained of are difficulties resulting from peculiarities of IP law as relates to open-source OSes. It doesn’t make it any more fun for us- but it is perhaps helpful to realise that running to a command line in order to get flash to work just to watch youtube isn’t Ubunutu developers’ idea of fun necessarilly- it has to do with delicate legal negotiating s. For instance- many proprietary formats, environments, apps, languages (hell- we’ll just call it all ‘things’) by law don’t permit you to provide them in repositories or for instance, tweak them to make them friendly for a particular distro etc. That combined with the fact that the owner of the respective IP wont necessarilly help you with compatibility or integration means you have a bigger job to do than do the closed source OS folks. A lot of these issues underpin why ATX for example has a harder time on linux. The NVidea folks quite simply opted to help and cooperate with FOSS folks to a much greater extent and end users reap the benefits.

    As to then – “for human beings”. My own perspsective (as informed by above) is that it is good and right for them to have such a goal, and to publicise it and further- they have in my view done justice to that purpose so far. So why this discrepency between my perspective and the experience you guys describe? Well- some of it I think can be blamed on proprietary vendors. In the future as more people use linux we can imagine greater cooperation from venders might lead to more mature seeming OSes. In the mean time- Ubuntu has done the most as far as my testing has shown – to minimize the sort of issues named. I have tested Ubuntu, Suse and other distros on a wide variety of hardware. In the End- Ubuntu has the greatest success always- though significant issues still exist.

    We’ll just have to see where things lead- and there is no imperitive to use open source software. I tend to prefer it- and I do find Ubuntu very human friendly (consider how DRM for instance, or closed formats such as .doc are proprietary and in a real sense- are by their nature very treacherous to a human user who say wants to share a document or listen to a song he bought on more than one device) but I do realize the issues you mention are real. It’s easier for me to live with those then with the issues that come with proprietary software (I would count instability and viruses among them- though this is certainly a debatable point). O- and sorry for all the parens. Aweful habbit- I can’t shake it- and no I’m not a python developer. Sorry also for all the errors (spelling etc.) – I just can’t be bothered. You can still understand me- and if you think I am an idiot- that’s alright. :)

  30. Richard Ellicott says:

    to the Mac user, I’m a “little” biased but there’s no way you’re convincing me that an operating system that only works on certain hardware that you can only buy from Apple at a horrific markup is cheaper.

    I guess one of you had to come along. Everyone changing to Mac OS would essentially mean that the “Benevolent” Apple corporation would be the only company able to make PCs.
    The only thing open source about their Mac OS is the kernal, admittedly that’s kinda one up on M$, but the caveat of being locked into their hardware is too huge to ignore.

    Nice to see a post from an Ubuntu user, I think it just illustaretes everyone uses their PC for different reasons. Personally I found SUSE easier to get to grips with, the hybrid nature of combining Closed and Open Source by offering a non-free version of the operating system seemed logical for me
    The problem with completely Open source software though, imo, is in the name.

    By stipulating that the source be distributed with the software you’re basicly asking companies to reveal what they view as trade secrets. And after the amount of time and money they invest into development, who are we to demand they reveal this information?

    The future will be interesting though. Vista is clearly the first time M$ has released an OS to such an unreceptive response. People are saying, do I need this? Linux is getting “trendy”!!

    For me though, Windows XP still remains the best Operating System, it is the frankenstein OS that will run any bit of hardware and almost any bit of software, as long as you don’t sod it up. The only thing I wouldn’t try and use it for is anything requiring security :)

  31. Faizi says:

    I like your question: “who are we to demand they reveal this information?” because there are so many correct answers to it. Here’s a list of correct answers not intended to be comprehansive:
    1. We have no right at all to even politely suggest someone give up their IP on something.
    2. Um- we are the consumers. If someone intends to sell a thing has no interest in what the consumer demand is- they have a long walk through a big desert with their bags of sand.
    3. What we demand in a sense is irrelivent. What is more relivent is what actually survives right? Look what is happening to DRM. It’s experiencing some pain and punnishment regardless of the industries IP rights – it’s experiencing punnishment just because the net effect is a less attractive product. Pretty much we can moralise on either side of the case- what we end up with though remains to be seen by all of us.
    4. Ubuntu is not about 100% open software- that would be more like debian (I have no quarel with debian either by the way- nor with suse- they are fine distros)
    5. The extent to which Ubuntu and or other distros IS infact committed to FOSS doesn’t automatically have to be a zelous moralistic sort of commitment. A lot of times its is about simple- non-political issues such as frugality, superiority of software (by naturally our own biased standards), transparency, stability, security, interoperability, standards compliance and modularity. It’s sort of about the alphabet working and having a common alphabet- the more when it comes to things like formats and protocals. I don’t think most FOSS enthusiasts are outraged by the idea that someone would want to hold on to IP rights on some software they created. But yeah- we get kind of irritated by carniverous and uncooperative coding practices such as deliberate ignorance of document standards etc. That sort of goes beyond self-interest into meanness of spirit sometimes.

    Suse’s idea I think is a good one. I like Ubuntu better than OpenSuse not as much because of it’s position on software- I just personally like the minimalist style of things. Somehow I find- I can do what I intend to with fewer clicks and less visual information along the way with ubuntu. I have to work with both at work- and for me, the Ubuntu experience is more tranquil and pleasurable but I know full well milage varies according to expectation and also personal predeliction and habit.

    Ubuntu by the way does especially lately alow you easilly to use like closed drivers, closed environments such as flash and java, and the like- it just defaults to an open alternative where available- and I can say this much for it: just compair the average experience of a windows user installing a printer to that of a Ubuntu user and we can talk about the merrits of open (crapware and advert-free) drivers etc. First- you don’t get branded to death along the way and asked for a bunch of personal info. Second- you don’t have to reboot three times. Third- the drivers (in my experience) install instantly and flawlessly more often and work better (based on dual boot experiences with identical hardware and various physical print devises).

    We don’t notice when things work with fewer steps unless it’s pointed out in some cases- but once you notice you start to ask yourself “why is there so much BS involved in something that could be handled as simply and trivially as it is in Linux”. I know the opposite case is true too- but as we discussed- this is usually a legal exigency more than design ignorance with Linux folks.

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