The much misunderstood Ubuntu 9.10 upgrade poll

Canonical

on 6 November 2009

Gavin Clark at the Register recently reported that only 10% of people upgrading to 9.10 had a satisfactory experience. Serdar Yegalup at Information Week then reported that 40% of people upgrading to Ubuntu 9.10 had issues that they considered unfixable. Both of these conclusion were based on a poll on the Ubuntu support forums.

Serdar had the wisdom to point out that the poll is self-selecting (but still reported it). However, and I write this so you heard it here first, I don’t think we will have to wait long for a Microsoft shill to report his figure as fact and reference Information Week as evidence.

So let’s look at this poll. While we don’t have exact figures it is reasonable to assume that hundreds of thousands of people upgraded to 9.10 in the last few days. The quoted poll has a sample of 2158.

The poll is also on a support forum.

I upgraded to 9.10 a while ago. Flawlessly. So I saw little need to go tell a forum. This is where people go when they have problems. Gavin and Serdar were shocked to find people with support issues on a support forum. I have no doubt the help line at Microsoft has taken a lot of calls recently, but I would not extrapolate from that a large percentage of Windows users are having upgrade problems.

Tellingly and almost the last word on this are the polls from our previous releases, none of which were considered or reported as upgrade disasters:

Jaunty Poll

Intrepid Poll `

Hardy Poll

Gutsy Poll

A very useful summary of these findings by Nicholas Ipsen is here. I am linking to these polls not because I want to provide evidence that the Karmic upgrade experience is or was good or bad, there are other more qualified to comment on that, but that there is nothing new here.

All this of course is of little consolation if you are affected by an issue. Which is why we have the forums and Launchpad so that we can gather data, isolate the issues and fix them if they are an issue with Ubuntu or alert someone who can if they are not. We do this all the time with every release and we are doing it with Ubuntu 9.10.

So what we seem to have here is a poll that has existed for some 5 releases being ‘discovered’ and the data used to support a pre-disposed position. As we operate in the open and publish feedback good and bad, this is the risk we take I guess. Gavin and Serdar had some broader points that we could engage on regarding the readiness or otherwise of Linux for mainstream computing. But to base or support their arguments on this poll does little to illuminate and a lot to obfuscate.

Gerry Carr

Head of platform marketing, Canonical

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