So that’s what is wrong with Ubuntu!

A while ago I posted an article wondering why a big number of hardcore Linux fans hated Unity and Ubuntu so much. From my point of view (a newbie to Linux just playing around with different OS) everything looked fine. And I still believe Unity and Ubuntu represent what most PC users need: a clean interface similar enough to Windows (which is what most of them are used to), with the support of a large dedicated company that ensures consistency, and a huge community of users out there to get responses when something isn’t working. But this week I read this interesting article on Wired Magazine about the next developments and I finally saw the big picture.

The problem is not that Ubuntu or Unity aren’t good enough. The real issue here is that Canonical is moving a little further from the open-source community values with every update. Instead of taking advantage of the community to work together for the greater good (better standard software for everyone) they are working on their own. They are still developing great software, but missing the point that makes Linux such a powerful concept and losing the input of hundreds of developers who would help them for free to make their OS better. It doesn’t make sense to close that door, and I understand how that might feel when you are a respected developer in the open-source community. Just look at Linux Mint, which is basically what the larger community came up starting at Ubuntu and working all together to make it better.

Although I think Canonical’s strength and Ubuntu’s popularity are still a great push for Linux and open-source systems, I believe they are drawing an important line between the community and their own company. And that line will hurt Canonical more than it may hurt the open-source community, which as always will find its own ways to create great things… because it’s just easier when you have thousands of people working together.

8 thoughts on “So that’s what is wrong with Ubuntu!”

  1. There is a little bit more to it than that as well. Ubuntu has been called out in the past for it’s lack of contributions to the Linux community in a general sense. One famous example was when Greg DeKoenigsberg called them out (prior to Unity) for having contributed only one percent of the code for GNOME and having implied that they were a champion of Linux for home users. They’ve also been called out for being responsible for around one percent of total updates to the Linux kernel despite being the most successful distro at current.

    1. Thanks for your input Cole, I agree. I also read that they are not in the top when it comes to donations to keep the ball rolling despite having a business going on thanks to it. I’m pretty disappointed, to be honest, although I still hope Ubuntu Phone and UbuntuTV are successful so people get interested in Linux.

      1. Yeah, I have pretty high hopes for Ubuntu Phone to be totally honest. I am also really excited for Firefox OS.

  2. I don’t think Ubuntu is hurting Linux or the open source community. They’re simply providing more options. They still release their software as open source and give the users the freedom to modify and redistribute it however they see fit, and they also offer their services and software (such as Unity and Ubuntu One) to the community for inclusion in other distributions–it’s not Canonical’s fault that other distro’s don’t want to adopt them. As far as the whole Wayland vs. Mir debate goes in developing the successor to the X Window System, I think being upset about Canonical’s action is really hurting Linux more than the fork itself: it’s like saying MATE and Cinnamon are hurting open source because they’ve forked from GNOME. Canonical intends to make Mir open source and freely available to to the community at large: it’s up to the community and the individual user to use it. It goes the other way, too. I run Ubuntu (and Unity is my preferred desktop), but Canonical hasn’t done anything to stop me or anyone else from switching to GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, or whatever. I actually have KDE and Xfce installed and configured, along with Unity, for when I’m feeling the desire to have a slightly different experience. I like having the options and the choices, so I really do support Canonical’s developments.

    1. Thanks for your input, Rob. I agree with the idea of giving more options, and I have said before that Ubuntu is helping a lot in terms of spreading open-software solutions across different audiences. You don’t have to be a geek to be able to install, run and be happy with it, and I give Canonical all the credit for that.

      However, it seems that taking that direction is putting them in bad terms with the open-source community. If those people feel uncomfortable with/betrayed by Ubuntu that’s something that Canonical has to work on. The power of the open-source resides on the community.

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