I'll be the first to admit that my experience with Ubuntu is limited as in most cases (two that I recall) I've installed something else over the top of it right after the install finished. There are a more than a handful of things that annoy me about the way Ubuntu does things. I've been reading all of the woeful tales of upgrades going horribly awry and trying to figure out exactly what the Ubuntu folks are doing since Debian upgrades with the notable exception of dist-upgrades when you've done major alterations to sources.list are accomplished pretty smoothly.
It seems like Ubuntu is drifting into releases territory where folks who use distributions based on RPM are used to inhabiting. That is pretty disappointing and seems contrary to what Ubuntu is supposed to accomplish in terms of being a simplified version of the Debian distribution with a turd-rific color scheme 'unifying' the user experience. The previous sentence made me throw up a little. Hard releases put a whole lot of responsibility on the user to download entire ISOs instead of continually doing incremental updates when there are patches or, if you're running testing or unstable, new versions of the packages as Debian does. Does backing up, wiping the old install, and going through the installation process again seem like it works for most people? It seems to be the only way, from what I've read this morning, to have predictable results especially since X seems to be the package that breaks most often. When I say breaks I mean is uninstalled as part of the dependency chain for another package without realizing that X should be a dependency for a good number of other packages and most of the tools Ubuntu supplies for administration tasks.
While I'm glad that another distribution has joined the flavor of the month roll call that Knoppix dominated for so long but I'm more than a little disappointed that the philosophy behind planning releases seems secondary to hype. I wasn't convinced then and I'm not convinced now.