Why do Linux fans dislike Ubuntu so much?

If you haven't, I strongly recommend you to test-drive Ubuntu.

Going through Linux forums and talking to the hardcore Linux supporters in there I always get the same impression: they hate Ubuntu. Is not that they never liked it, since according to DistroWatch this was the most popular Linux distribution for a couple of years (now Mint is topping the charts, after a really fast growth); it’s more like every step Canonical takes brings Ubuntu farther from Linux fans.

Let’s look at Unity, for example: it’s just a dock that gives you quick access to your favorite applications. Actually it’s quite similar to MacOS’ Dock. But while everybody admires Apple’s design, most Linux users have acidly criticized Unity. Even though it works fine (I haven’t had problems with it) and the interface is great looking, they dislike it and leave Ubuntu because they say Canonical is “focussing in just adding fireworks to the system instead of making it faster and better”.

I understand that, for someone used to control everything from the Terminal, developing or even using Unity is a waste of time and computer resources. And they might be right: if we could all learn to do everything through plain text and command lines the world would be a much better place. But let’s be realistic here: if we want Linux to get bigger, we need it to be somehow accessible for most users. My parents are not going to learn the sudo line to run an specific program, they need colorful icons and organized folders. If they want to play music, they want to browse to My Music folder and double click on the song’s file, not open the terminal and type some understandable line that they have to look up at Google every time because it’s hard to remember and writing the wrong thing might break the whole system. I like Linux, but I still want things to be easy and look nice.

I think that’s what Linux users can’t get over about Ubuntu. Not that long ago using Linux would proof that you were good with computers, that you were a real geek. But now these Linux lovers can’t stand that when someone looks over their shoulder and sees their desktop they say something like “oh!, Is that your Linux thing? It doesn’t look that different from Windows or Apple!”. The fact that everyone, even their parents, can just install Linux from a CD and use it for everything they need, makes Ubuntu not cool anymore.

And they have their good reasons: in order to become a real alternative to Windows and MacOS, Ubuntu is getting similar to them in terms of interface and design. Is that a bad thing? In terms of efficiency, yes. But in general terms, I think is good: it makes it easier for everybody to star playing around with Linux, and it helps to spread the word of open-software. There are a lot of Linux distributions out there, but right now Ubuntu is probably the best one to start with for the average users. I believe Ubuntu is making Linux accessible to the masses, and I can only thank Canonical (and the huge Ubuntu community, of course) for it.

12 thoughts on “Why do Linux fans dislike Ubuntu so much?”

  1. They haven’t discovered the true power of the unity and they like the purity and style of the old menues. The quick list in 12.04 will make the one click into correct folder awailable again. and it will be more stable and ccsm wont crash horribly. Dual monitor fix will boost some popularity. i HATED UNITY, but the hotkeys are just so….. brilliant. and now tapping between windows is faster due to their fixed location. super +2 is always chromium and so on. very practical. alt num pad moving windows and so forth also. I hope they continue making it more keyboard friendly, without changing the mose/touch experience. keyboard is more ergonomical, faster and more confortable to have in the lap. and alt+f2 hotkey!!! hell YEAH !! I didn’t bother looking over the spelling sorry bout that.

  2. Thanks @pererik87, you just left SO many interesting things there… About 12.04 I’m excited about the longer battery life. I find that a killer feature for laptops.

  3. GNU/Linux is the correct name of the operating system. Linux is the kernel, an important part of the os, but no the entire os. Therefore, using the word “Linux” to refer to the entire os and not to the kernel is simply wrong. Let’s talk about this properly :).

    I personaly dislike the Ubuntu distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system for several reasons, mainly because they pack a lot of privative software in an operating system designed to be free of it. Big big nonsense. Also, they call themselves a “Linux” distribution which is simply wrong, and a double mistake from them since Ubuntu is based on Debian and Debian call themselves GNU/Linux since a long time.
    Then we have the technicals reasons, it’s the most bloated and slow of the distros out there, and Unity is a kind of user interface designed to take control of the users, treating them as stupid and in consecuence, hindering their progress with computer skills.

    1. @José: technically you are totally right… but for common use just “Linux” is widely accepted. Even thw Wikipedia has an article on “linux” and then an article on “GNU/Linux naming controversy”, but if you search for “GNU/linux” you are redirected to the “Linux” article. Maybe we should also talk about “Linux/Android” and “Unix/MacOS”? 😉

      But that is a different discussion, so getting back to the article: you are again right, if the OS is supposed and ready to be completely open-source it should. But if we want the average user to play with it, does it make sense that they can’t see any Flash based website, for example? If laptops come with really nice Nvidia graphic cards, doesn’t it make sense to work with Nvidia drivers? These are just two very basic examples, and I believe that if possible open-source should be used, but I rather get people into open-source software one step at a time!

      Slow? Probably compared with other GNU/Linux (wink) distros yes, but it should be compared with Windows or MacOS. Treating the users as stupid? Cars and elevators treat them as lazy, calculators treat them as REALLY stupid, agendas treat them as forgetful, medicine treats them as weak. The whole point of technology is making life easier, making things accessible for more people, and most people won’t have the time or won’t be willing to improve theur computer skills.

      Canonical wants to compete for the average users market, and that’s what it takes: making things easy and pretty rather than efficient, going towards what the users already have. If people likes it and wants to go further they will, and they will find the distro that works for their needs. But first they have to be able to play with it a little.

  4. The OP is not being honest about the criticisms of Ubuntu and Unity. Its not that its too good looking (hardly), that its the opposite of minimalist, or that its just fireworks…Not in the slightest.

    Its inefficient. It works like a cell phone. It may “work”, but for people who multi-task and maybe even cut and paste between different apps, or for people who have tons of apps and like them catagorized at a SINGLE touch of a button (rather than 3), the traditional drop menu and panel with tabs is still King. None of this new stuff is better than Gnome-2 with Compiz, or XFCE with Compiz, or KDE for that matter….It doesnt even look as good.

    The best DE for Unix systems was probably the LookingGlass project, now dead thanks to Apple.

    There are some fanboys for Apple over on the Ubuntu forums, and I blame them for giving Ubuntu bad advice. Ubuntu should NOT copy Apple….and if they do, they should at least go for the desktop version rather than trying to compete with a cell phone on a desktop!!

    I like 3d effects. For a dock I use Docky or Cairo. I like my spinning 3d cube effects. I like water dropplets on my desktop. I DO know how to use the terminal, but I also like video games and Eye Candy…I dont like Unity.

    Cinnamon has some flash and neat tricks, but its SOOOO much better for getting work done.
    XFCE is also coming up to about where Gnome2 used to be.

  5. Also, I reject “GNU-Linux”. Why? Because Stallman didnt create Linux. Stallman created some useful applications that became part of the free software community, and created the Free Software Foundation…..Truth be told, when Linux was being created he didnt even try it himself. He had a friend tell him that it was ‘based on System V’ and inferior to BSD/Pac-Bell Unix….He ignored Linux for years after it got going, until the whole community who had been waiting for Hurd realized that it wasnt going to happen. His kernel was too ambitious and he was not skilled enough to create it.

    Stallman did a lot for free software, and a lot of the Linux tools wouldnt be here without the FSF and GLP…There was always the Public Domain, but GLP is more like a contract than just a license in that it requires you to give back and cooperate to make the programs better, post-hoc to continue using the license.

    Stallman didnt create the kernel, and nor did he or the FSF create the ‘operating system’ as a whole. Rather, Linux used Free software that was written by that community, as does BSD and others, without the help or notice of Stallman until years later.

    Debian was really the first to give recognition to Stallman for Linux and they were the first to use Gnu-Linux. However, after partnering with Stallman and FSF they soon got sick of him trying to micromanage their project and they told him to F-Off. However, they invited him back for a more supportive role, making it clear that they were autonomous from his preferences…Today, Stallman wont even recomend Debian for free software because even though they have nothing but free software in their vanilla OS, Debian supposedly LINKS to non-free repos they provide, so that people coudl theoretically find out about the existance of non-free software and learn how to install it….Talk about fanatical, ontop of kicking Debian in the teeth when they were pretty much his primary claim to involvement with Linux in the first place.

    Sorry to sound harsh, but I dont think Linus unfairly took credit. Stallman didnt create GNU-Linux, but Linux happened without Stallman.

    Afterall, this is free software right? You cant give it to the public and still claim ownership at the same time….BSD and even Apple uses some of Stallmans and other FSF/GPL tools, but nobody thinks he created those OSs either. Linux is modular and there are alternatives to every application Stallman ever wrote, for Linux. Not to downplay what Stallman has done for free software as a whole, but its really just ‘Linux’. GNU is something he tried to add on when he just started to get involved in Linux with the birth of Debian.

    1. Wow, thanks for your two comments, Nick. I think you are right about Unity, but I still believe we should look at it as a promotion tool for the whole Open Software option. It is not the most “open” or efficient distro, but it’s appealing for newbies, easy to install and easy to get around with. It’s a good way to start using Linux, and once the users change their minds and start playing with it we can think on getting them further.

      Which distro would you recommend instead? One that is better and still can be installed and ready to use in 30 minutes or one hour?

  6. I like Ubuntu, I use it on my old laptop and it works well and it’s fast, something that I couldn’t always say with Vista. I’m not a gamer and not a computers expert, I use my computer basically to surf the web and for school stuff. I really like Unity, I mean all the cool effects you could get with Compiz and Gnome were awesome but they slowed my old cheap computer so I didn’t use it and Unity has improved a lot since 12.04, it looks cool by itself and it’s way prettier than Windows 7 for example or in my case Windows Vista.
    I know there are better GNU/Linux distros but I’ve been using Ubuntu since 2009 and I don’t feel like changing it now. Maybe when my computer finally dies and I have to buy a new one.

  7. I like Unix, FreeBSD, Linux (kernel not gnu – becose of Sallman)
    I use Linux kernel based OS (Android, and PC Distros) beside microsoft (i only user)
    I neutral to Microsoft, Apple

    I dislike Ubuntu becose:
    1.) it contain mental and emotional attack to client users (end user)… (It is not user friendly Enviroment also Gnome, xface, KDE and so on… ) it is simple ill. Comercial software do NOT infuence client users on mental or emotional area (Intentions or desires -> This distribution triing to mind controlling of user brain = alfa + beta + teta < – this is problem of many distributions enviroments no one of them is neutral to all peoples "therefore it is not free becose they awaitning something from you!!!"… If somebody uderstand this message, I would like to say: we need generick libC (not gnu "glibc" I know today is this only generic libc for free but I said We NEED this Change![free] thrust my) alternative of gnu (binutils/coreutils real freedom without Sallman=he is schysophrenic) we need disconnection from ubuntu (I can not breath that distribution is full of stress MENTAL PAIN, AND EMOTIONAL PAIN) we need alternative to kde, gnome, xface, cde, e17, gtk (old ugly), we need programators (evrybody speeking about "software" nobody building alternatives to comertial), ubuntu contains ill phylosophy, and negative energy (<= intentions, desires)

    2.) UBUNTU DESKTOPS ENVIROMENT "Triing Mind controling clinet users using wallpaper, sounds, uniti (ill), T-Shirts by downloading, And it washing yours brain" … do not use this distro…

    3.) it contain spritual materials (schysmas=root of sociopsychologycal illnesses)

    4.) are you Ubuntu user? 🙂 you need psychopharmaceuticas (social attack against you) that energy of ubuntu comunity, unity desktop enviroment, sounds, stress inside of it … (intentions and desires) is not compatibile with all peoples of world …

    1. I was a Ubuntu user (where I used to work I managed to convince my manager I could do everything they wanted me to do with open/free software), and although I have had it running alongside MacOS X in my laptop I don’t use it anymore. And even though I saw Unity as a good way to reach the common Windows user (fancy icons with cool animations, everything easy to find) I have since moved my interest to Linux Mint. Which is still based on Ubuntu, but it simplifies everything to the basics: this is what an Operative System is for, nothing else. I like that philosophy as it liberates resources (I’m a big fan of efficiency when it comes to computers).

      Now, all that said… I think you are a bit of an extremist here. Yes, it would be awesome to have millions of alternatives, but at this point we are still dominated by Windows and OSX and it would make more sense to focus on alternatives that can make the whole open software idea more popular. That’s where I think Ubuntu plays a big role.

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