Ubuntu Fouls, Fixes Linux Update

One week after it issued a faulty update to its popular Linux distribution, the Ubuntu project is still the subject of scorn among users of its open source software.

The Ubuntu update inadvertently broke users’ interface functionality, forcing them into command line mode.

Many downplayed the error, as Ubuntu quickly withdrew the update and reissued a proper one. However, some users were decidedly angry with the project’s developers for letting such an error slip through. The issue may even cost Ubuntu in its current bid to attract more enterprise users.

Update Undone

Ubuntu distributor Canonical blamed the faulty update on a series of errors in the update process that affected some users of Ubuntu 6.06, causing their graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to fail.

“An update to the windowing system in Ubuntu was incorrectly released for Ubuntu 6.06 LTS,” Canonical said on its Web site. “When applied to Ubuntu 6.06, the patch inadvertently breaks the desktop windowing environment on some systems.”

When the error was discovered, the group withdrew the patch and disabled mirrors to stop the faulty updates.

“We have launched an investigation and formal quality process review to understand exactly how this happened and what corrective actions to take,” Canonical said.

Growing Pains

The bad Ubuntu update may provide ammunition for critics of the distro, Linux or open source software, according to IT-Harvest Chief Research Analyst Richard Stiennon. However, the matter should be viewed more as a sign of “growing pains for an up-and-coming operating system,” he said.

“It’s a big goof, but I don’t think it’ll have a big impact,” he told LinuxInsider, explaining Ubuntu’s prevalence on the desktop, rather than servers, will dampen the blow.

Corporate Credibility

With recent announcements of enterprise support and functionality with Sun’s new Niagara servers, Ubuntu has been trying to take its desktop success to the corporate server, but its latest stumble highlights the difficulties of doing so, said Gartner Vice President George Weiss.

Gartner recommends clients limit their choice of Linux to one of the major distributions, such as Red Hat or Novell’s Suse Linux.

“Not that the market isn’t open to a variety of choices,” Weiss told LinuxInsider. “The more different distributions there are, the more heterogeneous the environment becomes, and it can mean going back to the days when people were complaining about Unix being fragmented.”

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