I'm a hibernating Debian developer but have been running Ubuntu on my personal machine since 2008.
Since then every upgrade to the next release has been a catastrophy. As a general rule the upgrade:
- broke somewhere in the middle of the upgrade requiring me to finish the upgrade "by hand" with "low level" tools such as dpkg, apt-get and aptitude
- made the machine unbootable
- broke the display driver
- broke networking
- lost all my GUI customization
So an upgrade will take me around 1 1/2 days of work and will result in a system that has a lot of additional stuff running and installed that I don't understand, don't need and which is using up resources and finally the majoritiy of my polish, that made my machine work like I wanted it to, will be broken.
Why upgrade? Because old releases will start to be incompatible with current software and I won't be able to install software that I want or need for work.
Why not change distributions? Yes, I should. I think I will try to change back to Debian testing at some point. Last time I did my harddisk failed immediately after and I was lucky to be able to restore part of my world from the previous drive and some backups, which beamed me back into Ubuntu.
The assertion, that I should change back to Debian testing is interesting however. Why would that probably be quite an optimal choice?
Because for one Debian does not distinguish between "supported" and "unsupported" software - all software in the Debian repository is equally un/supported. It's up to the individual debian maintainer to keep up with the bug inflow and to maintain the package quality.
Ubuntu on the contrary has the "main" repository which is officially supported and universe and multiverse which are not. All of KDE is f.ex. not in "main". Both multiverse and universe are maintained mainly by the "Ubuntu Developers". There is no single person responsible.
The direction of Ubuntu is to some fuzzy part determined by a company, Canonical and a person, Mark Shuttleworth. As has been seen with Unity the goals are being determined by "visions", which are some big new ideas that are wanting to be realized.
There's not very much of such visions in Debian. Debian's realease goal is in major part to be as solid as possible and to keep upgrade problems as low as possible.
So I think, Ubuntu's goal is to lead by innovating. Stability is certainly not a higher priority.
Thus in the name of innovation, stuff will break. Software will disapear. It is possible that your settings, polish and configuration will self combust with the next upgrade.
I think this also means that Ubuntu's target audience are "endusers". People that will not look below the hood and change stuff. If you do that, that's fine, however it's not Ubuntu's goal to support you there.
On the contrary Debian rather targets the technically savvy person and will try to fix any and all possible configurations that are possible.
Let's see if these statements can be backed by anecdotical data from my last upgrade from 10.04 to 12.04.1.
first the offically documented upgrade procedure fell apart, since the APT::Cache-Limit wasn't sufficient for the upgrade. It did not break right at the beginning of the upgrade procedure but somewhere in the middle and left the system with broken dependencies, that the upgrade manager wasn't able to fix by itself. From that point on I was on my own. It took me about 5 hours.
I think the root cause of this was the list of additionaly configured package repositories. Ubuntu possibly didn't test their upgrade procedure with more than the "offically supported" package repositories.
After rebooting there was no more network. NetworkManager simply didn't start.
The problem here is that something in Ubuntu doesn't expect "auto" entries in /etc/network/interfaces that can't be successfully configured during boot. The latter file is a heritage from debian and meant as a network configuration file. Ubuntu I think doesn't expect it's "target users" to touch that file. Network configuration is expected to be done through the GUI tool NetworkManager.
My graphical login would stall without getting anywhere. So I could not log into X11. Thus no web browser or googling to help me debug my problems.
The problem here was avfs. I had put "mountavfs" into my bash .profile.
That was working in the past but, for unknown reason stopped to do so in 12.04.1. That command will block anything that will come after it.
Again avfs is not in "main". I'm on my own and I don't think Ubuntu plans for users that do stuff with their shell configurations.
Ubuntu's big goal was once to compete with Windows. Windows' target is not solely the "enduser". It's targeting developers, integrators, endusers, industry etc.
But I think that Window's application surface is much smaller and they have got those applications under much tighter control.
Windows' text editor is utter crap and has been utter crap for as long as it has existed. It doesn't change.
On the other hand Ubuntu's applications keep on changing a lot. That means breakage. And I don't think that's a strategy that will allow Ubuntu to compete with Windows on its traditional ground.
On the other hand Apple has extremely tight control over their platform. It seems to be quite reliable stability wise.
Tomáš Pospíšek, 2012-08-26