A few weeks ago I updated Hal to Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot). This was relatively easy because Hal was already at 11.04, allowing me to do a distribution update from the update manager. Our other Linux box, harlie, was running Ubuntu 10.10, so that option wasn't available unless I updated first to 11.04 and then to 11.10. Instead, I downloaded 11.10 to a CD, and did an install more or less for scratch.
Now, mind you, the Ocelot has what are supposedly a lot of nifty features, including the not-quite-Mac-like-enough-to-be-sued (you might want to ask Google about that) Unity desktop interface. And, if you don't like Unity, you can get Gnome 3! I didn't really want any of that. What I wanted was a machine that had all the modern software but looked and acted exactly like the old Ubuntu. I didn't quite get that, but I came pretty close.
BUT: This release of Ubuntu sets computing back at least 10 years. In the effort to make everything super friendly, they have dumbed down the user interface so much that you MUST use the command line to make even the simplest changes: For example, up through 11.04 you could easily change theme colors through a GUI widget. This is an appropriate use of the GUI, you can see what the current colors are, select the colors you want, and if they aren't right you can fix them right then and there. But now, guess what? THE ONLY WAY TO CHANGE THEME COLORS IS TO EDIT A FRAKIN' TEXT FILE. AS THE SUPERUSER! (I only shout because I'm mad.) This is (pick one):
- So stupidly idiotic that one expects that there must be a malevolent being doing this, someone who wants everyone to throw up their hands in exasperation and switch to OS X. Or worse, Windows 8.
And this kind of idiocy exists all over the place: Things that were easy to do before are now hidden. Usually you have to edit a text file that hasn't appreciably changed since 1999. OK, I can do that, but until last month I didn't have to. Hence my frustration.
The worst of it is, this isn't just Ubuntu, a lot of the changes are driven by Gnome 3. It's enough to drive one back to the ugliness that is FVWM, where at least you know you have to edit menus going in.
But not just yet. Click below to see how I overcame the obstacles, at least so far.