The dist-upgrade button

A couple of years ago, when someone in my neighbourhood’s Windows XP laptop became frustratingly slow and unstable, I convinced her to install Ubuntu. Using Ubuntu she could again perform all of her computing needs comfortably. Her laptop was fast and stable again and easy to maintain.

Since then, two times a year, we go through the same predictable and frustrating motions:

  1. The distribution upgrade button appears in Ubuntu’s update manager.
  2. Usually a few weeks later, when her dependency on her computer is temporarily somewhat lower, we do a backup of her home directory and click the upgrade button. After all, new and better versions of all installed software packages are waiting for her.
  3. After the upgrade has finished, she tries to restore her previous set-up and colour scheme in the new Ubuntu, insofar as it will let her.
  4. The next weekend we decide to do a fresh installation of the new Ubuntu, because it is less hassle than trying to fix all the odd quirks that have surfaced since the upgrade.
  5. She now has to fully recreate her previous set-up and colour scheme.
  6. She decides to learn to live with what seems to be the new set of bugs for the coming six months.

This morning I read The Register’s review of the latest Ubuntu beta. Apparently Ubuntu is no longer fast or stable. If it is any indication, Ubuntu won’t be very fast or stable. I think I should try to convince her to install Arch. It’s either that, or buy her a Mac.

Categorised as: lifestyle, skepsis


  1. Steve George says:


    So I think you’re saying that you value stability for your girlfriend over being on the very latest features. Can I make the suggestion that you just keep her on 10.04 LTS? Then when 12.04 LTS comes out you can wait a couple of months, then do the upgrade.

    The Register is talking about a beta so I’d expect there to be bugs: it’s certainly true that the new release is revolutionary with an entirely new interface which will be the basis for future development!


  2. thefoggiest says:

    Hi Steve,

    Yes, you’re right, stability vs. new features is always a trade-off. But what I’m saying is that while a dist-upgrade in my experience always leaves one with an unstable system, a clean reinstall means a big interruption of daily work. Meanwhile, users rely on new package version in general to be able to keep up with new networking protocols, file formats, etc. It’s not just for the fun of a few new functions.

    I’m aware that the Register’s review is about a beta, but they are skeptic if there is still time to squash every bug before the final release. That is the conclusion I’m referring to.

  3. Dameshwa says:

    Nice new theme by the way, very green. Of course your last theme was very oragne, so I guess I’m not too surprised I would normally be excited about a new Trillian, but I’ve been using Linux as my main workstation now for over a year. So I don’t really use Trillian anymore except for the rare times when I’m in Windows at home (dual boot for games) and need access to IM.Is Astra any lighter weight than the previous Trillian was?It took AGES for Trillian to start up last I remember.