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why I'm using Ubuntu instead of Fedora ATM
- From: "Luis Villa" <luis tieguy org>
- To: fedora-advisory-board redhat com
- Subject: why I'm using Ubuntu instead of Fedora ATM
- Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 03:59:14 -0500
So... after my list intro, where I mentioned that I'm using Ubuntu
right now, Bill asked me to explain why I'm using Ubuntu instead of
Fedora. Here they are. Note that while some of these reasons are
probably broadly held, others are 'expert' issues and solving them
probably wouldn't help Fedora's broader popularity.
I should note that I'm not interested in getting into long discussions
about whether or not my reasons were *correct*; they were what they
were. If you think they were wrong, the discussion should be about how
to communicate the correct message to the broad public, not about me
or my reasons.
reasons I went to Ubuntu (from suse, FWIW):
* integrated/reasonably tested package availability- until recently,
Ubuntu had a clear edge in the number of up-to-date, installable
packages. That edge is no longer so clear-cut, but community
perception seems to lag the reality.
* support: whether or not it is reasonable/sustainable, Ubuntu's
support policies for their non-LTS distros are more generous and more
sane (i.e., all backports, no new features) than Fedora's, which is
a factor for someone like me who doesn't have much time to screw
around with installations, re-installations, new releases that
introduce new bugs, etc.
* QA: Ubuntu aggressively pushes people to use their development
branch and report problems, which leads to better, more stable final
releases. At the time I chose to use Ubuntu, people were not just not
encouraged, but actively discouraged from using rawhide. This is
improving, but at the time, I felt that this difference meant that
Ubuntu would be better QA'd (and it was no surprise, at least to me,
that Ubuntu has not yet had bad release bugs like the FC5 GPL module
* release cycle: the predictability of Ubuntu's release cycle is nice.
Not a huge deal, but nice, and reassures me that I've got reasonably
fresh software all the time.
* release discipline: again, this is from an outsider's perspective,
but it appears that Ubuntu adheres more closely to a series of
reasonable freezes than Fedora does. This of course slows development
and requires more divergence from upstream, but it also makes for a
more reliable and better-tested end-product.
* reliable, timely access to GNOME development releases: this was
probably the prime reason for my initial move to Ubuntu, since at the
time I was trying to move away from building all of GNOME from CVS,
but still wanted to use and test the development branch. I expect that
this is a fairly minority issue. :)
* liveCD, single-CD: these were useful to me personally, and I get the
sense that people at least talk about using this to demo things for
other people. Whether or not they actually use it that way is
irrelevant; they *feel* that this makes Ubuntu more potentially useful
* 'independence': as some of you know, I advocate strong transparency
in the relationship between the enterprise distro and the community
distro. I think Ubuntu mostly has that; at least, no one can point to
any potential undisclosed conflicts of interest between LTS and the
other releases. Fedora does not; the fudging around Xen and FC6's
release delays I think demonstrate that fairly clearly. This
relationship may well be unavoidable, given where Fedora's resources
come from, but in that case, I think Fedora should be more transparent
and public about the relationship between the two; in general, I think
such transparency would both aid Fedora's PR and make Fedora's
decision making easier.
* 'trust': I don't personally particularly trust Mark; he has said
repeatedly that Canonical is a business he will seek to profit from,
so I trust him just as far as I can throw him and his contracts with
me- the same treatment I give any profit-motivated CEO. However, I
think that the conventional wisdom is that Mark is doing this
primarily as a charity and hence is more trustworthy than Red Hat. I
don't think that there is a whole lot Red Hat/Fedora can do here
(short of substantially endowing Fedora as a Moz-style 501(c)(3)), but
the more transparency in the relationship, the less it will come up.
* community growth: this wasn't a factor for me, but Ubuntu has very
aggressively and very publicly pursued non-engineering community
involvement. Make people feel wanted and love, and they'll want to use
I think that is about it. The main reasons I'm currently considering
moving away from Ubuntu:
* freedom- Ubuntu's lack of a clear patent policy and move towards
more extensive use of non-free drivers is very troubling to me.
* malone- god their bug tracker is a gigantic steaming pile of shit,
even moreso than bugzilla. (And proprietary, but so far every distro
except Debian has some proprietary tools, so I'm not going to jump too
hard on them for that yet.)
Anyway, hope all this is useful; I'd be happy to elaborate both on my
own motivations and what I perceive to be the conventional wisdom if
I've been unclear or underspecific.
 New upstream releases/features in a stable release give the lie to
any claim that the distro is 'stable', or alternately, admits that the
distro has no substantial QA role. Some might argue that the distro
has no substantial QA role, but I think most people have that
expectation. (The testing channel that has been mentioned would go a
long way towards resolving my concerns here, but until that is up and
has active users, and hard rules about regressions, the bulk of my
objections still apply.)
 http://lwn.net/Articles/175793/ ; in particular the comment at
http://lwn.net/Articles/175800/ captures what I think is the
conventional wisdom about Fedora's quality.
 Note, for example, the upstream version freeze in
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/FeistyReleaseSchedule , lacking in
http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Core/Schedule . Ubuntu's feature freeze
is a week further from their final release (not a huge deal) but
AFAICT more strictly adhered to (a big deal).
 The prime example that comes to my mind is the BS about Fedora not
being a beta for RHEL. That is crap; anyone who says otherwise is
nobly deluding themselves. I'd probably argue that this isn't even
*desirable*- if Fedora is a meaningful part of the QA process for
RHEL, RH has greater incentive to invest in Fedora, and as long as
Fedora has sane, transparent, and independent release freezes/QA
(probably not the case right now, to wit Xen) Fedora being a beta for
RHEL shouldn't damage Fedora's quality.
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