I have been com­pletely floored by Ubuntu’s new Migra­tion Assist­ant. It’s cer­tainly some­thing that we have needed in the FLOSS world for a long time. Any­thing we can do to reduce migrat­ory hurdles is by all means welcome.

To play dev­il’s advoc­ate, how­ever, I’d like to point out a defi­ciency of such migra­tion tools. To take an estab­lished example, wit­ness Moz­illa Fire­fox on Win­dows. When you first start it, you are greeted with a friendly wiz­ard to port set­tings and book­marks from Inter­net Explorer. If, like most people, you allow it to pro­ceed, it will replace the care­fully-selec­ted default Fire­fox book­marks (not to men­tion the awe­some BBC Head­lines live book­mark) with those from IE. The res­ult can be a cluttered, advert­ising-laden (Win­dows Mar­ket­place, any­one?) mon­stro­city that has lost the sim­pli­city and ori­gin­al intent of the product being loaded.

The Ubuntu Migra­tion Assist­ant poten­tially raises this applic­a­tion-level mis­de­mean­our to an OS-level atro­city. As this review of the util­ity demon­strates, even the Tele­tu­b­bies wall­pa­per of Win­dows XP can be migrated with ease, not to men­tion the afore­men­tioned book­marks. This can ruin the inten­ded look and feel of the OS, thus pre­vent­ing the user from exper­i­en­cing the OS in a clean, ‘pristine’ state.

Is this a good or a bad thing? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that the design­ers of this tool should be care­ful to select default set­tings which do not unne­ces­sar­ily alter the user exper­i­ence. Tread care­fully.

LotD: Linux Genu­ine Advant­age

Eh-Oh! / Sridhar Dhanapalan by Sridhar Dhanapalan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
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