My Two Biggest Ubuntu Gripes
Well, after a couple of posts revealing how much of an Ubuntu fan boy I really am, I’m throwing a couple of gripes down the chute. I have two complaints that have been pretty consistent throughout my Ubuntu experience. One involves dual monitors; the other involves the Evolution personal information manager (PIM).
First, since I use my laptop to administer a large network of Windows PCs and servers, the ability to use dual monitors is a great boon to work flow and troubleshooting. At any given time, I have open several RDP sessions, Evolution Mail, Firefox, Spark IM, Umit NMAP front end, etc. Using dual head setup combined with multiple virtual desktops, these many windows open at the same time are easily organized and manipulated.
However, the arduous road I had to take to get to the happiness of dual head setup is a rather sad tale. For many months, I just resigned to not having the ability, because I didn’t have the time to really bang it out. One day though, I got mad enough to sit down and curse my way through it.
I started here in a thread that has lots of great information on manually editing config files and how to work with various video cards (also with lots of links to other information).
After several hours a night for two or three days of trying various edits of my xorg.conf, different drivers, hitting my computer, I finally read a post in that thread that linked here:
- URandR homepage: http://albertomilone.com/index.html
- URandR download site: http://linux.softpedia.com/get/System/System-Administration/URandR-36967.shtml
I downloaded and installed the program and fired it up. URandR immediately got my dual head setup working without hassle and with no proprietary drivers installed.
Many of you probably have not had the level of difficulty that I did with this, and many more have probably known about RandR and its different front ends for some time.
But I do know that dual head setup in Ubuntu as well as Linux as a whole is something that needs a lot more polish. Especially for mobile users who tend to hook up external displays or projectors, this is a key issue. The “average user” that Ubuntu is going after will not do what I did to get this to work.
On the positive side though, this issue is continually improving both from Canonical’s side and from hardware vendors as evidenced by ATI recently releasing drivers for their newer cards. So while we’re not 100%, we’re making awesome headway.
Complaint Number 2
My second gripe involves Evolution, the personal information manager for Gnome. On the whole, it’s a good program. It is feature rich, well organized, pleasing to look at and easy to use.
However, it is slow, and since I am tethered to Exchange by my company, it is prone to crashes in the midst of looking up addresses, and checking for new mail. It also tends to leak memory throughout the day. I bypassed it completely for my personal email, since Thunderbird works quite well and issue-free with GMail, but as far as I am aware (and someone please inform me of otherwise if this is no longer true)
Evolution is the only PIM that can access Exchange email, calendar, and contacts. From a usability standpoint, this may be an issue. Myself, I use it and live with the random problem here or there. Because I want to. I want as many of the necessary tools and programs that I use daily as possible to be locally installed (and not in a VM).
But for the average user, especially business users, something that causes just as many problems as the program it replaces (Outlook in this case) is a hands-down no go. I understand that the Exchange/Outlook connector is the one piece that MS holds like gold to their chest in this arena, but we ought to be able to at least have a more stable usage of the Outlook Web Access door that Evolution goes through.
In fairness, there are more than 150 bugs (as of this writing) listed under an “Evolution Exchange” search on Launchpad.
So this is being worked on. For the business class user, this is a critical component- for that business user who works mostly in MS Office and uses Outlook to keep track of email and appointments and happens to be mobile- they could easily make a switch to Ubuntu. But only after small hiccups such as these are ironed out.
Works With U Contributing Blogger Toby Deemer runs Ubuntu 8.04 to manage a large law firm network.