I installed the much anticipated release of Feisty Fawn (Ubuntu 7.04) last night on my desktop at home. I can really tell that the maintainers listen to the community and work to fix bugs (even ones that are notoriously long-standing).
Feisty Fawn installs with the open source Radeon drivers for my ATI card by default. This time however, I can click on “Administration” -> “Restricted Device Drivers” and check a box to use the ATI maintained Fglrx drivers instead. And I emphasis one click. It auto-configures my xorg.conf file, rebuilds my depmod list, removes fglrx from my restricted drivers, and runs the post installation aticonfig configuration script. I am told to restart, and when I do, I have painless direct rendering. You can’t appreciate the simplicity of this until you have done all this the old way.
The middle ground of proprietary software / drivers is managed quite well by Ubuntu in this release. Unlike many other distributions, Ubuntu is realistic about having an OOTB experience that works with no hassle. This means one-click installation of proprietary codecs, proprietary drivers, and proprietary software. How to handle closed source code in an open source world has always been the subject of heated debate, but the world should really take note of what Ubuntu has done. Why should the user suffer because of philosophical differences between two programmers?
I cannot use AIGLX because of the lack of support in ATI’s drivers, which left me frustrated. However, the way Ubuntu informed me of this scenario directed my frustration where it is deserved – at ATI not Ubuntu. Ubuntu is dedicated to using open-source software, but accepts that closed-source is a necessary evil in the world at this time. Instead of dwelling on this, it is managed gracefully so the end user wins.
Congratulations Ubuntu on a wonderful release.