A very poor choice

Ubuntu 10.04 isn’t out yet. But will be soon. In it, there are some good things, some nice things.

And an insanely poor choice.

They are effectively preventing users with NVidia cards from using NVidia’s drivers. You have to go through some absolutely insane hoops to be able to use NVidia’s drivers.

The Nouveau driver is incomplete, isn’t up to the performance on 3D graphics, nor the stability of the NVidia drivers. Putting it on as the default for users with NVidia cards is, IMO, a terrible mistake. Moreover, we, as end users, have very little freedom to make this choice, as to which drivers to use, at installation time.

As of now, we have had 2 different nvidia based machines, with different motherboards, and different graphics cards completely fail to install the updated NVidia drivers, because you can’t un-install Nouveau, you can’t disentangle the very poor choices made by Ubuntu.

So if its a choice between hardware that works fine in older Ubuntu and newer other distributions, and a distribution which causes us (and likely many others from what I can see) immense grief, guess which one is going to give?

Really … guess … its not hard.

The folks making choices behind Ubuntu made some really poor choices with this distribution as of late. Very poor choices indeed.

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8 thoughts on “A very poor choice

  1. Python 2.5 has been removed too; has to be compiled from scratch. Oh, but look, you get some new doohicky in the panel! And they changed the colors!

    The sad part is that even with the extra annoyance, Ubuntu is still the path of least resistance for getting linux going quickly…

  2. @Damien

    We tried this, to no avail. What we found was that we had to

    a) first install the OS without the nVidia card
    b) forcibly rename the nouveau.ko module in the /lib/modules tree to nouveau.ko.not-working
    c) blacklist the nouveau driver
    d) reboot the unit, and verify that they didnt come back.
    e) install the nVidia drivers from nVidia. I had to force the kernel module build/install even without the card.
    e) power off the unit, put in the nVidia card in. Power it back on.

    Voila. This worked. The link you provided, didn’t work.

    So … maybe the brain-trust at Canonical and in Ubuntu-land can tell me, exactly, how is this to work with a laptop with a nice nVidia card in it, which we can’t take out and do this procedure with?

    No, Ubuntu lost themselves a whole bunch of customers with this.

    If you are from Ubuntu or Canonical, and you read this, it was a very poor decision to render it effectively impossible for mere mortals to chose the driver set they wish to use.

    I want to use nVidia’s drivers, as I want a) real 3D capability, b) CUDA capability. Neither of which is possible in the current Nouveau.

    Which, given the direction of accelerated computing on GPUs, and its current focus on CUDA, will very likely be seen as a massive strategic blunder on the part of Canoncial. This decision on their part effectively removes them from consideration for one of the fastest growing aspects of the Linux desktop market.

    Brilliant move. Really. (where’s that HTML sarcasm tag when you need it).

    @Brandon

    Yeah, they have been making progressively poorer decisions since 9.04. I am not sure I like 9.04, it is on my laptop and my desktop, and it was a major struggle to get nVidia drivers on there correctly. Their perl build was ok (far better than RedHat), but some of their other bits were rather bad.

    But as you point out, the other choices are also equally going downhill. Fedora has some serious issues. It has a marginally stable kernel, and it is changing too rapidly to use as a stable desktop/laptop. SuSE is fundamentally in a world of its own. It used to be one of the better distributions, recent experience suggests it is not worth using (OpenSuSE or SLES). RedHat is very far behind on too many things to be useful on the desktop, just try to compile some of the packages that need a modern Gnome or modern X. Yeah, it will do nVidia drivers sanely. But it is notorious for having broken Perl distributions.

    This is really sad. We lost a focus on providing the best possible user environment, and instead, we have ideology (mis)guiding various driver/package choices.

    Its almost enough to make one want to use a Mac.

    I want stuff to work. I don’t want ideology.

  3. Everyone (and anyone),

    I’m looking at rebuilding my desktop since I’m running CentOS 4 and my own kernel (it’s rather old) but a pretty decent Nvidia card. Sounds like Ubuntu is out (I’m running 9.10 on a laptop and it works pretty darn well). CentOS is about dead (can’t seem to get a 5.4 or 5.5 build out to save their life).

    I’d like to stick some sort of RH distro since I know it much better than anything else.

    How about YD?

    Thanks!

    Jeff

  4. @Jeff

    The 5.4 Centos build is out,. Not sure when we will see 5.5, or if they will skip that in favor of 6.0.

    YD is ok, though it is commercial, and I am not sure there is a “free” version.

    We are running into the same issue with 2 desktops and 1 laptop BTW. Finally was able to load one with Ubuntu 10.04, and we crash it quite easily (rock solid under Centos 5.4 + Scalable’s kernel).

    We are continuing to look, as we need CUDA capability (not possible on Ubuntu at the moment) combined with a functional OS.

  5. When I was at VPAC we ran CentOS 5.x with mainline kernels for our CUDA boxes in a cluster which seemed to be OK.

    Got to say that the KDE version of Ubuntu 10.04 seems just fine, but I’m using Intel graphics (deliberately, wanted to avoid the nVidia/ATI driver pain).

  6. @Brandon – Python 2.5 is dead, it’s either 2.6 or 3.0 – that’s the Python website, so if Canonical are going to support this for 4 years they couldn’t start with an already obsolete version.

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