My response to Rory Cellan-Jones

Rory Cellan-Jones recently spent 24 hours with Ubuntu:

I installed a few applications – including Skype, and a social networking application called Gwibber.

But when I tried to install a free open-source audio editing program, Audacity, it appeared more complex to get hold of an Ubuntu version than the one I’ve used on a Mac.

So it was simpler than this on Mac?

What was tripping you up? Not knowing a sound recording and editing program would be in the Sound & Video category? Or not realizing how silly it is to have to open a web browser to install a program? Do you find the iTunes App Store difficult to use? Because that’s pretty much the same thing, isn’t it?

I very much look forward to reading your next article, “24 hours learning to ride a bicycle.” The wheels must just not be worth the effort.

Further Reading
Know why software installation is difficult on Linux? It’s a secret. I can’t tell you.


  1. While I do agree with you, this post is written in a way that hi-lights the negativity of the Linux Community greatly.

    It is written in largely inflammatory language, designed to patronise and humiliate RCJ and others who find that Linux isn’t ready for them, or that it doesn’t give them anything over Windows/Mac.

  2. I suppose, looking at it from that point of view, you have a point, but I think RCJ’s final point was intended to be (and he has said very places that he’s unhappy with how he has been wording things to do with this) is that most consumers buy computers with Windows pre-installed, and that while Ubuntu may be able to do just as much as Windows can, often more in my eyes, the fact is that most people are “happy enough” with Windows. Not finding time to learn a new system is different from something being not substantially better than what everyone already has.

    Also, apologies. Myself and RCJ both seem to suffer from what can only be described as acute cases of foot-in-mouth-itis, also known as “The Common Lack of Ability to Word Coherent Arguments”

  3. I agree with you 100%.The gentleman obviously is either too biased on the side of MS,or is so inept when it comes to the workings of an OS,he should be ashamed to write such drivel.I have always found it better to be at least somewhat smarter that the tool I am trying to use,how is it supposed to know what to do? Most of the comments on his blog site were apparently from people that were totally oblivious to the primes of Ubuntu,or FOSS for that matter.I for one am a perfectly happy old guy,with an inherent passion to explore new technology.Ubuntu has been a Godsend for my geeky endeavors.I currently am using 9.1 Karmic RC,and enjoying every second of it,and no,it’s not windblows!

  4. He was expecting a pasting from Ubuntu fans, and got it, @200 comments worth..

    I expect Canonical thought as a tech journo he might have read the ‘Help’ in order to find out how to install extra software… it would seem he must have navigated to a site he could download a .deb, rpm or source package of Audacity instead.
    Would his 24 hour experience have been any the better for some basic training from those who gave him the Ubuntu machine? Would he have had a different opinion had he tried Ubuntu for a week? I doubt it.
    As Ubuntucat points out in one of his ‘essays’ :You must examine your motives before moving to Ubuntu.

    What motives does a tech journo have? None, I guess,(already uses Win or a Mac at work, laptop provided and supported for working away from office , software apps paid for by company…) so he will not necessarily rave over the experience because he already gets his PC OS and apps for free.. and if he failed to install a program in the repos’ ?, Well, I would not expect him to be writing a favourable review on his 48 hours of installing a dual boot on his new Win 7 laptop either!

  5. He’s just lazy. Intellectually and physically lazy. Can’t be bothered to even make a few clicks to install Wine. “Too much bother…”

    (I can just see him popping another buttered scone into his mouth as he hunt-and-peck types that line into his company-provided laptop, smearing more grease on the keys in the process.)

    He’s a lazy journalist making himself popular with another rendition of the theme song of a lazy generation, one who “can’t be bothered” to lift that finger. “Why doesn’t it do this for me? What’s wrong with it?” ::whinge::

  6. Every time a person criticises Ubuntu they seem to get a patronising torrent of flames from angry fanboys who possibly have a little too much time on their hands and take things personally. Do you think that is good PR for Ubuntu, that the community are over sensitive and angry? The Ubuntu PR machine CAN be quite good sometimes, but quite often it’s hateful people like this who drag the PR down into the gutter. Articles like this undo all the good work done by postive advocates of Ubuntu and make the community look vicious and nasty. If someone doesn’t like or want to try Ubuntu forget it and move on… There are plenty of other people out there in the world who might be more accepting and they deserve your time more than people who have already made their minds up.

  7. I see you like the Dark Room theme :)

    My favorite is Dust.
    I digress, anybody who tries it out without guidance or technical know-how of Ubuntu will probably not know their way around it. So, you might just tell the journalist upfront what she did wrong and how to correct it. I doubt she is bashing Ubuntu for this one tiny thing, so there should be no reason to get up in arms about this.

  8. This is irresponsible journalism. Criticizing a product for flaws it doesn’t have to an audience that probably knows nothing about the product is misinforming the public. It is irresponsible.

    There were no disclaimers about “I had a few difficulties, but learning anything new can take time, and I spent only 24 hours with it.”

    The take-away message Rory Cellan-Jones left his audience with is “Ubuntu is a waste of time and too much bother. No one but geeks would want to use it anyway. It’s too complicated. Stick with Windows.”

    I’m not saying Ubuntu is for everyone, but this “article” is rubbish and not worthy of the BBC.

  9. When I came from Windows I had no concept of a package manager, the “Add/Remove Programs” applet just meaning “Uninstall Crap” to me. Maybe that’s part of the issue. Discovering Ubuntu’s similarly named option actually meant listing, describing, organizing, and installing applications was … an incredible experience (one that Windows could do well to have, I think).

    However, going to a program’s web page, finding the download, and then getting it installed from there is still generally how users think about getting software — and that aspect is less easy, if not difficult, in my limited experience on Linux.

    In conclusion I think a lot of the problems people face in relation to this are due to the preconception of installing things through installers (separate “EXE” or maybe a MSI), rather than as packages using a package manager.

  10. It should be easy to pop a small tutorial on how to install new software on a first install, if the user is new to Ubuntu. He could be asked “Are you new to Ubuntu? -> Did you know that installing new software is as easy as clicking here and here?”. Problem solved.

  11. The take-away message Rory Cellan-Jones left his audience with is “Ubuntu is a waste of time and too much bother. No one but geeks would want to use it anyway. It’s too complicated. Stick with Windows.”

    That’s exactly right, and, much as we don’t like it, it’s only a problem if it’s also not true.

    As it happens, it is NOT true, so in some ways it really is irresponsible journalism. He missed the chance to inform all the BBC’s readers that there really is an alternative and what some of the simple steps were to use it, like the new meaning of Add/Remove Programs. I was very disappointed to see that.

    On the other hand, this is exactly the sort of problem new users bump into. They don’t read documentation. They just don’t. There’s no point saying they “should.” I think Sebastian’s point about a popup firstrun tutorial would help there. Even the busy Cellan-Jones might have scanned it :).

  12. John 0n 28/10 and Quixote on 03/11 hit the nail squarely on the head.

    After a couple of months I was just about ready to format Ubuntu off my various PC/laptops. Tired of being flamed by the “supporting Community” for not loving their CLI. I bought manuals (they don’t flame me) but got fed up with common stuff that DID just work under M$ proving a step too far in Linux (mobile phone, VPN, BBC website).

    In-case your wondering; it was finding this site from flame-central that persuaded me to have another go. That and a mate who got most of the web add-ons needed set-up for me. RCJ wrote:

    “But, even after some help from a Canonical advisor who came and installed a few add-ons such as Flash”

    Do they plan to off that service to every noob who just wants to watch a youtube vid with his/her friends? That’s what be needed if the forums keep lighting up and wonderful help of the type created by Ubuntucat is not the standard.

    Hanging in there with 9.10

  13. Rory Cellan-Jones knows absolutely nothing about technology and has no experience of computing whatsoever. He got the job as BBC tech journo because his wife is on the BBC board of directors and they probably fancied getting a few free phones and laptops.

    The man is an ignoramus and couldn’t use a computer to any degree of competency even if his life depended on it.

    Before becoming BBC technology correspondent, he was ‘home affairs’ correspondent, reporting on the price of cheese and such like.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *