A common cliche associated with Linux is that it is difficult for non-involved users to use and especially to modify in terms of installing new or upgrading already installed software. Having used Linux for several years, I would agree that this was an issue in the past, where some Linux distributions (i.e. bundles of the Linux operating system with additional software) would occasionally stumble and leave the system in an inconsistent state after an upgrade. However, with the Ubuntu Linux distribution, such troubles finally seem to be a thing of the past.
Yesterday, I wanted to upgrade a Laptop with an Ubuntu 8.10 installation to the newly released version 9.04. Instead of having to download and burn an installation CD, all I had to do was click on an “Upgrade” button in the Update Manager. I discovered this as the Update manager is generally used for installing security updates and this time, a short text in the window notified me that the new version 9.04 was available. So after clicking Upgrade, the release notes of 9.04 were displayed and after confirming these, a final reminder was shown, not to interrupt the system whie the upgrade was in progress. And that was it.
Three clicks was all that was necessary to upgrade the entire distribution to the next major release. This is how easy it is supposed to be. Now when was the last time you went from Windows XP to Vista with that simple of a process?
Although Ubuntu seems to have raised the bar very high, there is still room for improvement. The primary complaint I would have is that not all of the screens I mentioned were fully localized. The system I upgraded was using German as the default language whereas the release notes were shown in English. Furthermore, one of the upgrade confirmation buttons was also labeled in English. This could be a major issue for some people who don’t speak English very well or not at all.
Other than that however, I was very positively surprised.