BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones: Not Happy With Ubuntu Linux

BBC’s blogger Rory Cellan-Jones took Ubuntu Karmic Koala for 24 hours test drive and predicated that – “… Ubuntu will remain a very niche product – but it’s Google’s Android which could bring open-source to the mass consumer market“.

I’m really happy to see the mainstream media giving out some attention to Ubuntu Linux. However, Microsoft does see Linux as a threat (hey, where was Firefox 2-3 years ago?). Microsoft lists Canonical under threats in its regular stock filing. The blog post shows nothing but the ignorance. Most issues can be fixed easily and remember Linux is not Windows.

I’ve been using Linux as main desktop since 1999 and am very happy with it. It does everything NT/9x did it for me. All my 5 servers, desktop, and Macbook runs nothing but Linux. However, I’m a Unix / Linux admin with over 4.5k servers powered by nothing but Unix like operating system. It pays all my bills. So it makes lots of sense to run nothing but Linux at home as I’m more comfortable with it. Linux is all about choice.

It is really unfair to write a review within 24 hours. Why not try out for a month or a 2-3 weeks? What do you think?

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42 comments… add one
  • Fabricio Oct 27, 2009 @ 19:18

    Yesterday I tried two different 3G modems under my fedora 11 box. I know it is not hard to make them work but I wanted to know how NetworkManager would deal with them, and it surprised me. It detected both modems, so I tried creating a connection, it asked me where I was, giving me a list of countries (my country is Brazil and appeared on top), then it gave me a list with ALL operators here, and when I selected mine it had all the needed settings. The next step was connecting and it worked flawlessly. I have never seen something like that under windows (even windows 7) or mac os (even snow leopard).

  • Matt Evans Oct 27, 2009 @ 19:36

    @Vivek: Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. His blog post doesn’t change the fact that Ubuntu is consistently the top most popular Linux distro, year after year. I run RedHat and Suse Linux on servers at work because I’m required to. But on my company workstation and laptop, I run Ubuntu. I also run Ubuntu on everything at at home. I do this because Ubuntu works for me. YMMV.

  • Laurence Oct 27, 2009 @ 19:37

    I’m increasingly of the opinion that Rory is an idiot that knows jack-sh!t about it.

    It really is about time the BBC actually employed someone who’s not a novice to write their technology blogs.

  • Eats Wombats Oct 27, 2009 @ 20:01

    More people can pronounce Ubuntu correctly than can pronounce Cellan-Jones.

    I wouldn’t worry about a BBC journalist not having a crystal. If he had one he wouldn’t be a journalist.

  • Oceanwatcher Oct 27, 2009 @ 20:31

    The impressions of his review here should come as no surprise as I doubt any newbies and windows people are regulars here.

    Of course you can test Ubuntu for 24 hours. It gives you valuable information on how well the installation works for someone totally unfamiliar with Linux. There are good things and bad things with all operating systems. Learn from the bad experiences and aim for perfection. You might never reach it (who does?), but it can still be a goal 🙂

    To me it look like he got a netbook interface – bummer 1. Don’t give something like that to someone that is used to Windows and Mac.

    The next bummer is to have the taskbar at the top of the screen. Place it at the bottom and as a start explain that clicking in the lower left corner is the same as clicking on the start button in Windows. That should get them over the first hurdles.

    Then it does not hurt to admit that Ubuntu is one distribution in a whole sea of Linux variants. Admittedly, one of the bigger, but still only one. We can not compare Linux with Windows or Mac simply because there is no such thing as a Linux OS. It is either Ubuntu, Kubuntu (that I am using), RedHat or one of the others. Yes, Windows also have versions, but they are so close that they could rather be called small variations. And most programs can be made so they will install on most variations. That can not be said for most programs for Linux distros.

    Ubuntu are working on sorting out problems that normal people have when meeting the Linux world for the first time. And we can all help by admitting that we need a lot more people like this BBC journalist to find out where the problems are. For us that are used to Ubuntu or Kubuntu or any other version, we can get too blind by all the workarounds that we learn while it really should “just work”.

    Playing with the OS is for system admins and people that have too much time on their hands. For the rest of us, the OS is just a platform for the programs we need to earn our money. A lot of the time, I can use Kubuntu. But for serious work, I switch to WindowsXP. No pro-level video editing exist on Linux. There are a lot of toys, but nothing that can be used for serious stuff.

  • Xyrer Oct 28, 2009 @ 4:48

    I have a macbook and have used ubuntu on desktop and mostly on servers, it’s how I earn my money and it’s what I’m used to use, I tried Windows Vista for 2 days a while ago, since I didn’t like it, got me confused and it didn’t “just work”… Can I call it a niche OS too?

    Many forget that the name alone is what makes people use windows, once I saw a video where kubuntu was being shown to people telling them it was windows 7 and ALL people liked it and said it was way better than vista, so I can say that there’s a lot of things in the linux world that are being very well done, ubuntu is one of them.

  • shankar Oct 28, 2009 @ 10:35

    I tested ubuntu for the last 1 year & h’v to say it surpasses Windows including the “7” by 7000 miles. Driver support from the vendor, Game titles & office productivity application already tied to narrow Microsoft software are the only stumbling blocks. This is no way fault of the OS.. Users like us need to drive to the extent where vendor don’t heed to the mighty MS & bring drivers for Ubuntu. I will wait for that wonderful day

  • Philippe Oct 28, 2009 @ 10:58

    To Oceanwatcher who says: “But for serious work, I switch to WindowsXP. No pro-level video editing exist on Linux. There are a lot of toys, but nothing that can be used for serious stuff.”

    That’s way unappropriate – pretending no serious business can be done except under WXP.

    Don’t feed the troll with such declarations, please.

    Instead, I would enjoy learning what kind of operation regarding Video editing that could not be done under the 5 video editing software Vivek had presented some week ago.

    At least let us know what a self-proclaimed video expert can reliably say about video editing software comparison.

  • Sir Jugliot of Yorkshire Oct 28, 2009 @ 11:40

    Rory Cellan-Jones: Never heard of you.
    Rory Cellan-Jones’ opinion: Invalidated

  • Solaris Oct 28, 2009 @ 11:57

    He is a plain Idiot.

    Sorry for the language but thinking of ‘why’ is just a lost of time
    in cases like this.

  • Bob Marcan Oct 28, 2009 @ 12:24

    Journalist: writer, who don’t know anything about what it writes about (first hand experience).
    What will mr. Rory make it happy: install WindowsXX into VirtualBox and make it full screen.
    Well, when i think again about this, it is no so bad idea. Security!
    Best regards, Bob

  • Rezaul Karim Oct 28, 2009 @ 12:28

    I have developed my career based on Linux (Redhat/Ubutnu). I am in 5th year of my career and I am doing everything in my network (I work in an ISP) just using the combination of Linux & Cisco & off-course Linux is doing serious stuff here, servers like mail/web/database/gateway/proxy etc. I can not imagine to give those service load to any stupid windows system.

    I use ubuntu on my office desktop and laptop and I am happy having no spy-ware and viruses.

  • Oceanwatcher Oct 28, 2009 @ 12:35

    To call it trolling is just plain offensive. But I will try to answer the questions…

    For pro level video editing, it is both about features, but also a lot more about HOW these features are implemented. And yes, I think I can call my self an expert in the field with 20 years of experience and after training people in both production companies, TV stations and freelancers as well as doing my own productions 🙂

    The first thing when it comes to choosing an OS is to not be religious about it. The OS is just a way to get an application to work. Don’t be a fanboy, snob, fanatic or whatever they call it. Choose the right application for the job. And if that application can run on different OS’es, you choose that based on the other criterias you might have on your list like what other applications you might need. In most cases, you might end up with every OS under the sun. This is the case for most films today. ALL OS’es can reliably say “Our OS was used in the making of this film”. It does not mean it played a big role, but it was there during the making 🙂

    So, with OS’es out of the way (that is where they should be, and all OS’es today can be set up and run so they stay out of the way most of the time! It is all about who is doing the system management) there are some key qualities for the video/film editing application.

    It has to work. Every time. Stability is key. If the application start shutting down for no reason, it is out the window immediately. A lot of deadlines on this level are absolute. Miss them, and you loose money. Big time. So on this level, the price of OS, application and the system manager play almost no role at all. Big productions usually hire their own systems manager that is on call 24 hours just to make sure all runs smooth. Been there, done that and I have the t-shirt too!

    The system has to have a good reputation for delivering what is needed. Words in a webpage does not mean anything. Small time productions from people that have more than enough time on their hands do not cut it. Has it been used in a number of BIG productions? Has it been used as the MAIN editing system for any blockbuster movies? Has it been used for editing news on a daily basis for any length of time? What are the credentials for the application?

    There has to be a pro-level support system available just about anywhere in the world. Not through web or e-mail. It has to be people that can come to your editing room to fix things. Of course, you pay for this. Big time. But you get the support when you need it. And the people are polite, even if it is your own fault and you did not read the manual.

    For a lot of productions, the editing system needs to be able to edit simultaneously on the same material from several workstations. So you need a server for your video that can handle that kind of pressure. And it needs to do it securely. You don’t want a few TB of material to suddenly get lost. There are a few systems that can do this, and some of them are independent of the editing apps. It is up to the apps to make sure they can handle simultaneously access.

    Metadata is important. For anything else than news, we want a lot of metadata. Filename, date and size just don’t cut it. We need to have columns for shot angle, actor, description, what video format, what sample rate (audio), how many audio tracks, PAL or NTSC, color coding and preferrably user definable columns so I can add whatever I feel like myself. no matter how you view it, the app needs to have a database of some kind. The OS folder is simply not enough.

    Another important thing for the app has to be workflow. How to get the job done with as few mouse clicks and key presses as possible. Completely mouse driven interfaces can not be used. It has to be largely based on keyboard shortcuts. And as simple shortcuts as possible. Some of the major applications out there has spent a lot of years refining the way things are done to the point where it can be done with the press of one button. If you can save one click for every cut you do in a movie or TV series, by the end of the job, you will have saved thousands of clicks. This translates into BIG health benefits and timesavings for the person that might spend 8-12 hours per day in front of the editing system to get the job done.

    An easy way to spot an amateur is when he asks “How many effects does this system have”. The correct answer for any EDITING system is “More than you will ever need”. And what do you need? Cuts. Clean cuts. Done fast. Adjusted fast. And then you need a dissolve (one picture fading into the other). If you count text as an effect, then yes, you need that effect too. All amateur editing systems would be doing their users a BIG favour by dropping all the effects and only leave dissolve and text in there. Instead, focus all development on getting the other stuff right. If your application is focused on effects, than it is not an editing application. This is plain and simple. All apps that have tried to be everything has failed in everything. You need to have a focus.

    A good video editing app needs to do the basic stuff. Add clips to the timeline (and get rid of all the fancy stuff in the timeline – thumbnails are for beauty shots in magazines), take the clips out again, trim (adjust) the ends of the clip. Move them around to change the order. Add a number of clips in one go (often called storyboarding). And all of it done with a minimal use of the mouse. the numbering of tracks in the timeline should be done according to the standard in the business. Audio track 1 start just below video track1. Video increases track number as you move upwards. Audio increases track numbers as you move downwards. Don’t try to be smart and re-invent things like this. Experienced editors are in most cases not technical. If it is not familiar, they will not use it.

    It is very good to have a good interface for a single screen. I have seen this on Linux. But there needs to be good presets for dual monitors. This is the preference for most pro systems and there are good reasons for it. Bins and settings on one monitor, timeline and video viewers on the other.

    I have not seen any video editor on Linux that is usable for professional level work. I am not talking about someone using it and it getting aired on BBC or CNN. They air things shot with a mobile phone if they have to. The question is “Would BBC or CNN use this editing system as their regular system for editing a long series of programmes?”. The answer to this is no. None of them would. No system on Linux is remotely mature enough. One reason for this could be that the developers are not experienced enough in the broadcast field of work (or film editing for that matter). So they do not know the needs of this area. I see a lot of applications that want to do every effect under the sun. But this do not interest a pro at all.

    Any video editing application would benefit from covering the pro-level stuff first. You may not agree, but it is actually true. What the pro want is something that is simple to use, stable, has an extremely fast workflow and just work every time. I think this goes for the amateur as well 🙂 When this part is done, go for the effects and all the other stuff. because then you have a solid foundation to build on.

    I am sure some of this will rub some people the wrong way. No problem. Nothing can be everything to everyone. For my own sake, I use opensource software not because it is opensource. I will never program my self, but I use the software I use because I believe it covers my needs in a really good way. My main OS is Kubuntu, but I switch to WindowsXP when I have to. Simple as that. I really do not care what OS I use. They all work as a platform for the things I need to do. That does not stop me from asking the companies behind the apps to make versions for Kubuntu. I do this on a regular basis and will continue to do so for the rest of my life 🙂

  • Jeremy John Oct 28, 2009 @ 13:33

    He tried out Windows 7 for a week. If he had respect for Ubuntu, he would have done the same. But it’s really a question, in my opinion, of who pays his salary. Microsoft probably shelled it out for that week-long trial.

    Would you attempt to learn a new language in 24 hours?

  • Bradley Atkins Oct 28, 2009 @ 13:38

    That is a thorough insight into the world of pro video editing. However we have strayed from discussing the OS to discussing applications, even worse niche applications.

    Although the applications you describe are top of the range it does not alter the fact that they are running on a substandard bloated OS. If the developers had written them to run on Ubuntu then you would be using Ubuntu not XP.

    On another point: –

    Earlier someone mentioned that you are still required to understand administration to use Ubuntu, this is also true of XP. I recently wanted to watch a DVD on my laptop while in New York, this involved buying a codec on line and installing it and then switching the DVD player to region 1 format. When I came back I converted the laptop to Ubuntu, installed a (now free) codec and converted it back to region 2.

    So watching a DVD on the same laptop involved the same degree of admin but £9 less in cost!

    I will stick with Ubuntu, it does everything I want and from a cold boot to being on the desktop takes 90 seconds. For me no contest……..

  • Bradley Atkins Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:27

    On further reflection, it seems crazy to me that the TV and Film industries are not pressing their application suppliers to provide linux compatible applications. With all of them crying about costs they have strong reason to do so.

    I recall reading last year about the cutover to Linux of, I think it was the Paris Police Force. I don’t recall the exact figures but their yearly software licencing costs dropped from something like 100,000 euros to about 12 euros.

    If you consider how many PC’s are in use just by the BBC alone the potential savings are massive.

  • Edgar Gonçalves Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:35

    “But, even after some help from a Canonical advisor who came and installed a few add-ons such as Flash, I struggled to work out how I would organise photos, music and video with this system.”

    Sorry Oceanwatcher. I find your post to be very good really, it helped me understand a common user perspective, but this is clearly blundering idiocy. I use netbook remix karmic koala myself (and desktop intrepid ibex at work – for the time being), and it is dead wrong to say that organising media on ubuntu is hard. The left pane clearly displays the “Files & Folders” tab, where all the media folders are contained, and google lets you install Picasa (F-Spot is installed, but I prefer not to get into this right now) to manage photos, you can install Songbird from Mozilla (powered by Mozilla) to manage all the music easilly. Haven’t tried videos yet, but can it be much harder than the previous?

    Even the humblest Windows users will go online to install Winzip, or 7zip, or Winrar to unzip folders, they will also many times download and install iTunes to manage their music and Picasa to manage their photos. Not to mention Windows Live Messenger, that might be the most common.

    How hard would it be to google for any of those programs?

    It sounds like he tried TOO HARD to be a simple user, he tried to be an utterly ignorant user. Was he biased because of the criticism he received after what he said on his show? That I believe.

  • Philippe Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:46

    To Bradley Atkins saying: […I think it was the Paris Police Force…]
    I confirm this information, but details are:

    1) This is the “Gendarmerie Nationale” which is a military driven police force (French Ministry of Defense);

    2) Objectives are roughly 70000 workstation to be delivered under Ubuntu until year 2013; 90000 by 2015;

    3) Savings would be 7 millions EURO per year;



    But read more on trends:



  • Akshay Sulakhe Oct 28, 2009 @ 17:45

    I don’t care what people say.i run Ubuntu everywhere… believe me..i m a student,i provide both hardware suggestions and software management to many(around 100) people. Everyone runs Ubuntu. Its simply unbeatable.

  • Oceanwatcher Oct 28, 2009 @ 18:06

    Philippe, Bradley Atkins:

    This is a common misconception in the FOSS world. The holy grail is not operating systems. It is the applications running on top of it. If you want to attract users, then make the applications shine. Apple is doing exactly this with their applications. They have been buying applications from all over the world to fit it into their picture on how things should be. And the applications are so good (and not available on any other platform) that a lot of people choose them and buy the Mac to run them (and get the OS in the process).

    No Linux distro is perfect. Far from it. They might be ok for some uses, but for many people they simply do not work. What a lot of people in the FOSS community do not understand is that when you work professionally with something, it is all about the tool that works best. And the cost of the OS disappears in the big picture here.

    A full video editing setup can easily cost from 50-100.000 USD and in that perspective, 100-200 USD for an OS license is not something someone looses sleep over. I am sure BBC has an enterprise license that takes the cost really way down. Also, what BBC uses in the offices has no impact at all on what is being used for the video and film production. Whatever works there will be used!

    There is only ONE question: Does it run the application I need. If the answer is no, or “Ehmm… you have to install Wine and then it MIGHT work, or most of it will work” then at best you will be told to keep that OS far away from any system there in a polite way 🙂

    I think the best that could happen to Linux distros is to calmly admit that it does not work for everyone and then start to look at what can be done. Get beyond the discussions about what OS is best. Get beyond the politics of open source. To 99.99% of the people in the world, it really does not matter. They are not programmers and they will never be. They just need something that works. They do not need mindnumbing choices. They need preselected choices that have limitations. Give them the best two or three options and explain in laymans terms what they are. And then make a collection of killer apps!

    We already have OpenOffice. It is really good, but still have some areas left to polish. But it works for 90-95% of the people needing something like this. But we need more applications on this level. As far as I can tell, Ardour is a really great application. As soon as I have an extra PC to set it up on, I will do so. But audio on Linux is a serious mess and for any outside of the FOSS world, it is a real surprise to see people that should be on the same side fight like it was some kind of religious crusade over what audio system is best….

    For any Linux distro to capture a bigger part of the desktop market, there has to be a really big advantage over the system they are using today. “It it works, don’t fix it” is a VERY good and reasonable saying. At this moment, a lot of people are faced with an upgrade to Windows 7 (or at least will be in the future). What they will ask is “Why should I go for Ubuntu instead of upgrade to Windows 7?”. The fact that Ubuntu is opensource do not count here. You might think so, but my mother does not care. Neither do the bosses in BBC. What they will ask is “Does all the programs that we have bought and rely on to do our business run on Ubuntu?”. In most cases I would have to answer “No.” And then the answer is given. Because “all” programs running on Windows XP or Vista will soon have a version ready for Windows 7.

    Why do I use Kubuntu and not Windows XP for most of my daily work? Because I like it! And I REALLY like the PIM in Kubuntu. That is something I have not seen yet in Ubuntu. I just wish Canonical would dedicate a little more resources to KDE, but I do understand that they focus on Gnome. Focus is good and leads to better applications. At least, all the underlying work done in Ubuntu benefits all *buntus. There are some applications that I use that works on several OS’es, like Firefox. But again – when I need to do video editing, I reboot. Same with any heavy picture editing. There is a whole bunch of people crying that Gimp is doing most of what Photoshop does. It could not be further from the truth. Remember – it is not only about every single feature, is it HOW those features are implemented. Worflow, workflow, workflow.

    I have big hopes for Digikam as my picture archive. But it is still not totally usable. The standard now for me is set by Lightroom. The people working on Lightroom really listens to their users, they have an enormous understanding of workflow and what is needed for professional work. You only need to try to import pictures from your memorycard to see the difference.

    For the person mentioning learning a new language: It is perfectly ok to say that I am learning Spanish, but then in a comment mention that “Of course, you also have Portuguese and Italian” without having the whole of Italy, Portugal and Brazil demanding that you have to learn their languages too, just to be fair!

    Why don’t we get over the debate about OS’es. Get back to BBC and suggest a longer test of Ubuntu 9.10 (yes, that is what it is called when it is released – Karmic Koala is name for the development and confuses people away from the whole thing). Do not give him a preinstalled computer. A real test starts with the installation. And when he makes his conclusion, listen to what he say and try to find out what could be done better.

    I have some nephews that now have Xubuntu installed on their PC. The first question from them was when I could install Shockwave. Turns out a lot of the games they and their friends play use Shockwave. If any of you have a clue how to install Shockwave on Xubuntu, please let me know.

    I would love to sit down and talk to all of you over a cup of coffee or the famous free beer 🙂 I think that would clarify a lot more things. It is easier to be reasonable and polite and to explain things. Also, I love a good chat 🙂 I like to help when I can, and I gladly give out the knowledge I have if anyone want it. It is the only way I personally can contribute.

    BTW – I am already on Kubuntu 9.10 and I am looking forward to get past the first weeks as I am sure a lot more bugs will be found and fixed after the release. But I am already very happy with it and as I said before, I try to promote it as a platform for the media industry, but so far, none has found it interesting enough to go for it.

  • Jim Nagy Oct 28, 2009 @ 18:26

    check out the following article on windows programs and their Linux equivalents. There is not much you can do in windows that you cannot do in Linux, but for free. I have windows and Linux dual booted on all my PCs. But for 90% of my time, I prefer Ubuntu Linux.

  • Jim Nagy Oct 28, 2009 @ 18:33

    Here is a better list of windows apps and their linux equivalents

  • Bradley Atkins Oct 28, 2009 @ 19:42


    It is not for Ubuntu or any other distro to “Make applications shine”, they provide the OS.

    More and more developers and hardware manufacturers are coming to see the benefits of developing for this platform, as time moves on it will become unusual to find a Windows or Apple only application. Canonical are providing a great example of how you can make a good living providing free software. i.e. Through the excellent support companies are so willing to pay for mentioned above.

    As for Apple providing good software?? I have disabled automatic updates of I Tunes as it is all about pain when they roll out untested software. Trying to revert, when they do not even use correct version numbering conventions is horrible. The last time I updated the software I did it because I Tunes would no longer allow me to buy music unless I did so. Needless to say I can now no longer edit the music on one of my Ipods as they messed up the driver. The suggested fix involved me creating a new XP user account, installing another version of I Tunes under that account and using it to flash the firmware. I have decided not to bother. 🙂

    As for the free beer, anytime matey.

    Don’t mistake me for a ranting geek who hates Windows, the majority of my machines are Microsoft but I earn my living with Unix.


  • Oceanwatcher Oct 28, 2009 @ 21:18


    Are you ever in Brazil, let me know 🙂 I am a Norwegian, but have moved to Brazil.

    As for the apps – yes, I know Canonical makes the OS. But still – an OS without apps is worthless. It is the apps that bring users over, not the OS.

    Re: Apple – I was talking about pro-level apps. The consumer stuff is not worth mentioning. I would love to see OSX on my home built PC, and before anyone says Rebel EFI – I want it legally with Apples blessing 🙂 But it would still be a multi boot. I earn my money using three OS’es 🙂

    BTW – Brazil has a fantastic BBQ as well….

  • Philippe Oct 28, 2009 @ 22:14

    to Oceanwatcher:
    1) You actually seem to react as a majority of users, that don’t want to change anything if it works.
    Well, it is good that some care not to just stand still, because there would not be a place for inventors, innovation, breakthrough.

    2) Most people just criticize FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), saying,”oh, anyway, I do not use FOSS, that’s not because of me, but just because there are no good enough professional FOSS solution”.

    I would like them, video experts for instance, to help improve FOSS software that they would need.

    For instance, I would be glad to know that Oceanwatcher, and everyone of us here, has spent at least one hour in his entire life to help FOSS. (Apart from you Vivek 😉 )
    I mean helping OSS community and OSS software editors.

    3) Regarding migration to Linux and big corporation, I would focus on the fact that 90% of BBC employees do not need top-level video editing software. So, most of the workstations could be linux-based, and, for those who need it, be able to run MS-Win-stuff, either with dual-boot or Virtualization.

  • Laurence Oct 28, 2009 @ 22:48

    @Bradley Atkins
    “On further reflection, it seems crazy to me that the TV and Film industries are not pressing their application suppliers to provide linux compatible applications. With all of them crying about costs they have strong reason to do so.”

    Actually the film industry does use Linux for their special effects rendering.

  • Oceanwatcher Oct 28, 2009 @ 23:57


    For anyone to change, you have to prove beyond any doubt that what you offer is not only almost as good, or just a little better. It has to be FAR better. This goes for all areas in life. If you can prove that productivity goes dramatically up by switching to Ubuntu, you will win the world! Politics do not count in this. You have to prove that things will get finished sooner, and because of that will cost less. Like I said, the cost of the OS compared to the total cost of an editing system is nothing anybody looses sleep over.

    Also, I don’t really bother to think about what BBC could save by switching their office systems to Ubuntu. I do not work for the BBC, I do not care about office systems (beside my own 🙂 ). The area where I can offer in-depth knowledge is the TV and film area. And you already got a bit of it higher up in this thread.

    I do use FOSS. I have mentioned it here several times. And I love the applications I use. Not because it is FOSS, but because they are good! I really do not care if it is FOSS or not. The FOSS politics part is something I do not want to poke even with a 10 foot pole. I want to use the best app for the job. Period.

    I do help out where I can, and I have also offered my help to some projects. One project told me pretty bluntly that they would never even consider requests from the pro people unless they paid up first. So much for the idealism. That do not sound to me like somebody that really want to improve their software…

    If I knew how to program, I would start a video editing project myself. I have chosen to do other things in my life, so that is not part of what I can do. If anyone else would consider taking on a task like that, I’d be glad to help any way I can.

    Laurence mentioned that the TV and film industry is already using Linux for special effects rendering. That is true, and they use it for other things too. Just not video editing.

    BTW – I have a small contribution on my blog about setting up a caching DNS at home. Feel free to take a look at and leave a comment there!

  • sims Oct 29, 2009 @ 0:59

    “No pro-level video editing exist on Linux.”

    “At least let us know what a self-proclaimed video expert can reliably say about video editing software comparison.”

    First of all, I am not a self-proclaimed video expert. Other people tell me that. I also do it for money – that means professionally.

    Now “pro-level” is kind of a vague term. The only multitracker that run on linux that can be considered pro is probably Cinellera – and it very limited. Sure it does a good job at what it can do, but it is basic and awkward.

    I’ve been using Linux since 1995. I’ve been filming and editing since 2004. So I think I have a pretty good grip on the subject. I do proclaim that the multimedia applications that run on Windows and Mac are much more advanced than the ones that run on Linux. You may find one or two exceptions. But generally, professionals pay for their software. So of course it gets developed further. That being said, I prefer Inkscape to any vector app. Blender is my favorite 3D app. I think those two do not have much competition from commercial apps.

    “The holy grail is not operating systems. It is the applications running on top of it.”
    “I really do not care if it is FOSS or not. The FOSS politics part is something I do not want to poke even with a 10 foot pole.”

    That might be for you. However, there are some of us who do computing. We like to compute things. We need to make various “machines” quickly. They need to work well and be understood easily. The system needs to be programmable – easily. The system needs to be flexible and dependable. I think you do understand this since you have set up websites and have set up a caching DNS. You mention you are disappointed that there is no mechanism for photographers to watermark and automate the insertion of a caption etc. This is really trivial to make. So for many of us, the holy grail is the OS and it’s basic utilities it comes with. For many of us the freedom to program the hardware we paid good money for is important to us(which is the basic principal of FOSS.). If you don’t care about the technical details, then I don’t care about users like you. If that is truly the case(the not caring about the politics behind FOSS), I would never lift a finger to write a single line of code for someone like you. You deserve to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for software.

    I want to say one last thing to anyone talking about “Desktop” or “switching” or “experience”: go and buy a large box of donuts, sit in front of your TV, eat your donuts, get fat, and USE YOUR CELL PHONE. Computers are not for you. You need a device – pre-programmed with a pre-defined set of functions and limited capability. Welcome to the post-PC era.

  • Johan Oct 29, 2009 @ 3:58

    I agree, 24 hours is not enough for a review. A while ago I bought a Canon camera with driver CD for Windows only. I just connected it to Ubuntu and a dialog for Canon cameras and choice to explore the images popped up. How much easier can you get? It appears that the camera doesn’t expose the memory stick’s file system directly to the computer, but rather use some kind of an abstraction layer or intermediate program. So those drivers have been built into Ubuntu. Windows users, please rev up your CD drives for this one!

  • Edgar Gonçalves Oct 29, 2009 @ 12:13

    I think that we’re straying from the actual point behind this topic. And that is not the constant fight about which OS is better, but the fact that Rory is an incompetent OS tester. Most of the stuff he claims linux didn’t do does, and easier to do too.

    Sure we can argue whether in specific software types it’s still not as advanced as proprietary software or not is a different discussion, this man failed at simple tasks in Ubuntu, and the worst part is that it made Ubuntu (not to mention linux all together) look like a stoneage OS.

    What he said is “ok it’s fast, but too hard”. He found it hard to organise media, in an OS that already includes software for that purpose, unlike Windows, where you have to download and install.

    What can you call that other than a biased review?

  • Oceanwatcher Oct 29, 2009 @ 13:38


    You are right, if we should stick as close to the topic as possible, that is the whole point you and the others here are missing. Seems I am the only one differing here. maybe it is because I use Kubuntu and not Ubuntu (nah – just kidding 😀 )

    Rory did not do a real test or review of Ubuntu at all! He was polite, as anyone would be, when someone from Canonical called him and asked him to look at Ubuntu. He actually managed to fit it in for 24 hours! And this was the stupid thing done by Canonical. They should have waited and offered him a CD and a blank PC for a serious test later.

    Rory’s mention of Ubuntu was a pure “Oh, BTW – there is something called Ubuntu..” moment. He could have left it out totally, and nobody would have noticed. But he did mention Ubuntu. And you guys are whining about it. Be happy that he mentioned it. Smile, we got yet another mention.

    And then offer the man to do a real test. I am sure his schedule is pretty full as anyone in TV these days. To get a program on air takes planning at least 6 months ahead. Seriously. Someone has to get their marketing skills right. Contact Rory now and schedule a test for April or May next year. Do a 7 day or 14 day test. Then you might even get someone from Canonical in the studio to demonstrate Ubuntu before he go on with his review.

    If the demo person is smart, he will then make sure he covers all the bad points Rory mentioned WITHOUT saying anything about his 24 hour test and just mention briefly that “this has been in the system for more than 6 months”.

    Whining looks bad. And right now, a lot of Windows users see a community of Ubuntu users that don’t have anything else to do than whine about getting their favourite OS mentioned by someone from BBC.

    When you get bad critique, do something about it. Don’t whine about it. then you keep the attention alive, and that is something you do not want. Let it die. Finish with it. Forget it. Move on.

  • Edgar Gonçalves Oct 29, 2009 @ 14:40


    Allow me to humbly disagree, and, please take into consideration that I really appreciate your point of view, it’s a valid one, and you explain it better than most people would, which in turn makes it easy to agree with you – to a point.

    I agree that it is important that Ubuntu is mentioned in an information hub like BBC. I like that it gets attention. But what Ubuntu got is the wrong kind of attention, it was quickly dismissed as a nasty experience, to be avoided by people that unlike us don’t have the time, curiosity and know how to fiddle with Linux. And that is wrong, today Ubuntu is so close to windows that it astonishes me, it’s just so different from what it was 10 years ago, and yet people still only see it portrayed as a dark and gloomy CLI, used only by hunchback, thick glassed, greasy geeks.

    Should we be glad for this very wrong misconception being brought up again? I think not, I think it looks as though linux is stuck in time.

    I agree that whinning doesn’t look good, and that is why I avoided “public” comments (seeing as this is a pretty much *nix environment), but it does get to me that after so much changed in so little time people still gawk at linux as if it were something outrageously inefficient.

    If he didn’t have time to do a proper review, he should respectfully ask Canonical to do the test some other time, when he’d be able to do it decently.
    And that I think is the point. Publicity yes! But bad publicity no, thanks but no.

    Hope you don’t take anything personally mate, but this kind of narrow minded person gets under my skin.

  • Oceanwatcher Oct 29, 2009 @ 15:43


    I absolutely understand you. Nobody likes bad publicity and it is sometimes difficult to deal with. But the problem here really is with Canonical asking him to look at Ubuntu in the first place on such short notice. Well – anyway – I hope the lesson is learned and that Canonical will do a better job next time.

    Publicity like this is extremely valuable (given the “right” outcome) and all the commercial players have people dedicated to work on getting their products in there. It has nothing to do with paying, I know a lot of journalists that would be really offended and tend to really dig for problems if someone tried to buy their way in. But staying in touch with a journalist on a regular basis, getting to know them, feeding them real news (not just the standard company line) to build a relationship is something that really pays off in the long run. And plan for a test waaay into the future. As I said, now is a good time to start working on a test for the 10.04 release.

    To Canonical: Why not get in touch with Rory again and say “We would like to do something next year, a different kind of review” and then put Rory as a part of a group of 10 people. All of them totally new to Ubuntu, but with enough knowledge to install Windows on their computers. This is a good level to start at. Do the pre-installed group at a different point. Have an install party and follow each of them over a period of two weeks to find out how they are doing.

    Regarding the view of Ubuntu and other Linux distros: When you mention this, you should take a look at the Ubuntu forum. How many of the advices you see there recommend using the CLI to fix problems when there are perfectly good ways to do it using the GUI? The reputation of Linux as a CLI monster is well deserved in my opinion. If you really want this to change, then stop telling people to use the CLI when guiding newbies. Someone wrote a blogpost about being a CLI snob. That was pretty interesting. If the community want to be a including community, don’t tell people that if they want any help they just have to get with the programme and do as they are told. There is way too much hatred, arrogance and hostility in almost any Linux forum. Be polite with people, even if they disagree with your ideals.

    And by you, I do not mean you personally. Your replies here, Edgar, has been the kind of replies I wish everyone would use. Calm and reasonable. If all comments in the community was like this, the general view of Linux would be much different. I know many people that has been scared away because of the hostility they have met. And that makes me sad.

  • Rob Scott Nov 4, 2009 @ 13:18

    I agree with most of the above comments – the BBC generally show tremendous ignorance when reviewing technology. They use mainstream, dumb reporters to do mainstream dumb reports (on the whole!). Most people who are linux pioneers will have profound problems with this lack of insight! Ubuntu or any Linux OS will really only overtake windows when it is totally idiot proof (i.e. BBC reporter proof!), in which case, we probably won’t like it any more…

  • 1fastbullet Nov 17, 2009 @ 5:23

    Forgive me for interupting the great debate.

    Christopher Smart wrote a couple of articles in Linux Magazine about the new Ubuntu release. The first one, entitled something like “Ubuntu, Stop Making Linux Look Bad” ticked a lot of people off and he then wrote the second article to smooth the feathers he had ruffled.
    I’m of the opinion that most of the people who got bent out of shape at his first effort never made it beyond reading the article title. The criticism was, actually, quite valid and insightful. Unfortunately, any kind of criticism of Ubuntu- insightful, valid, or otherwise- is not welcomed by too many people. They act as though you had called their wife an ugly old troll.
    The second article Mr. Smart wrote was not at all apologetic for offending anyone. Instead, he reiterated and then expanded upon his original feelings that Ubuntu Karmic was a disservice to users and prospective users of Linux, in general, and Ubuntu, in particular. He then went on to explain how it happens that Ubuntu tends to ignore its LTS releases and kick un-refined regular releases out the door in less than polished condition. His explanations are, by no means, excuses for these practices, merely explanations that many people have never given consideration to.

    I’m afraid I am unable to brag about how long I’ve been using some form of Linux, as so many of you are apt to do. But I don’t believe that your longevity or my brevity makes you necessarily correct or me incorrect. And even in my relatively short use of Linux, I can not deny this fact: Linux is not ready for prime time use to the majority of computer users. It requires more work and creates more frustration than the “average user” is willing to tolerate.
    I don’t mean to insinuate that Linux was ever intended to be a contender for most used operating method, but I can tell you that until a tremendous lot more work is done, it cannot be.

  • Edgar Gonçalves Nov 18, 2009 @ 12:19

    Hello fastbullet.

    I think that there is some misinterpretation here. It’s not about the linux crew being able to take criticism, it’s about the quality of the article Rory wrote. This article is poor, if you read it, most of the stuff he criticized were plain misconceptions. He complained that the flash didn’t work, but it installs exactly like on windows, at least on karmic koala (trust me on this one). And the software for organizing the media he wanted is just different. These factors don’t make linux an inferior OS. What I would agree that makes inferior is the office suite. Microsoft still has the best Office as of yet (even though they scrambled 2007 so much) – oh you wouldn’t imagine the woes of my clients that completely lost the functionality of some formulas that *used* to work on MSO but don’t work on OO, upon the linux migration that was imposed.

    According to what I read on your post though, Christopher Smart appears to have made a reasonably well founded article, whereas Rory didn’t, and that is, in my humble opinion, the point.


  • Rambo Tribble Nov 18, 2009 @ 21:25

    You know, I tried a Lexus out for a couple days, once. The radio controls were different than on my Yugo, though, so I’d have to say the Lexus isn’t ready for prime time.

  • BooBoo Nov 26, 2009 @ 15:14

    Edgar Gonçalves 10.28.09 at 2:35 pm

    ” Even the humblest Windows users will go online to install Winzip, or 7zip, or Winrar to unzip folders, they will also many times download and install iTunes to manage their music and Picasa to manage their photos. Not to mention Windows Live Messenger, that might be the most common.”

    What rubbish. My parents wouldn’t have a clue about winzip et. al, nor what they do. Neither do they have any interest in iTunes or Messenger etc. A PC is merely a tool to perform a task like writting letters, sending emails and so on.

    You appear to be speaking from the usual technologist point of view: you assume that everyone is as capable as you are. I’d suggest the majority of PC users aren’t technical at all, hence the sheer prevelence of viruses, phishing scams, malware etc.

  • Edgar Gonçalves Nov 26, 2009 @ 16:50

    I might be biased but I wouldn’t say it’s rubbish. I would go as far as admitting I exaggerated when I said “the humblest Windows users”, but my point was that windows users that install that software are well capable of installing similar software on Ubuntu.

    Hate to nitpick but I felt as this enlightenment was called for 🙂

  • Pete Dec 12, 2009 @ 17:07

    “Most issues can be fixed easily ”
    As the article says. While that’s undeniably true, it’s a sad reflection on Ubuntu that they haven’t been – or were allowed to leak out into a public release through poor testing. However, that’s the basic problem with Linux: it’s done by amateurs as a hobby. You can’t demand they show some professionalism (or simply pride in finishing the job) and do the boring stuff like testing and documentation if they don’t want to. The authors will just ignore those and carry on playing with the stuff that interests them.

  • Bradley Atkins Dec 13, 2009 @ 13:03

    LOL. Pete, obviously you have somehow escaped exposure to Windows Vista……. 🙂

  • James Fox Jun 23, 2011 @ 20:26

    That guy doesn’t know anything about computers anyway.

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