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.