Canonical's Misrepresentation of Support (Ubuntu)


I’ve noticed something disturbing about the Ubuntu distribution.  Mind you, Ubuntu is free software, so I don’t expect much from it.  However, I find this behavior disturbing.  I’d prefer if they simply didn’t pretend to offer support, rather than what they do do, which is waste everybody’s time.

Here’s an example, and here’s how it goes:

  1. User reports a bug.  Often, user spends a lot of time actually looking into the problem, and provides dmesg dumps, lspci dumps, and so on.
  2. Ubuntu team responds that this still isn’t enough information, and requests increasingly obscure data
  3. User provides the data.  In the meantime, several other people post to the same bug, reporting the same behavior, and provide their own, additional, data
  4. Ubuntu team recommends upgrading to some unsupported, alpha release, despite the fact that the bug was reported against an LTS (Long Term Support == “Stable”) release, and the alpha release page includes warnings about not using it in a production environment
  5. User is unwilling to upgrade to an unstable release
  6. Ubuntu team closes the bug as invalid due to “not enough information.”
Basically, the tactic is to make unreasonable demands of the bug submitter, and then close the bug by insinuating that the user is either (a) hallucinating, or (b) lazy and stupid.  Look through the Ubuntu bug submissions, and a fair percentage of them follow this pattern.  My own personal experience is that about 80% of Ubuntu bugs are handled this way (and, usually, I’m not the original submitter, but somebody who’s experiencing the bug and has put it on their “watch” list).  Very, very few bugs are actually closed with a satisfactory resolution by the submitter.

Back to my original comment: nobody buys Ubuntu.  It’s free, and it’s stupid and selfish to get mad when you don’t get support for something that’s free.  However, it’s also stupid, and insensitive as well, to pretend to provide support when, really, you’re just jacking off and wasting people’s time.  

Copyright © Sean Elliott Russell

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