Over the past few years Ubuntu has become somewhat divided from the rest of the Linux community and it could easily be renamed “Linux Marmite,” as you either love it or hate it.
A number of reasons are often cited for disliking Ubuntu. Top of the list seems to be Unity. I maintain that Unity is a really good desktop environment. I spent some time working with it and I find it incredibly intuitive but my view of Unity is in the minority. I think that people coming to Linux for the first time and choosing Ubuntu as their distribution of choice will probably not be as put off by the experience as users that were brought up on Gnome 2.
Collaboration and the spirit of togetherness also appears to be a reason to dislike Ubuntu and the MIR-versus-Wayland argument seems to have made the divide between Linux user and Ubuntu user even greater. From a Linux user’s point of view though, why do we care whether Ubuntu uses MIR and whether all other distributions use Wayland? As a user of an operating system, do I care how the windows are displayed on the screen? Surely as long as they work properly then there isn’t a problem.
Wayland versus MIR is surely an issue for software developers, not for people who use the software. Most users who move to Linux from Windows aren’t going to care about MIR or Wayland. The graphical desktop is either going to work or it isn’t; they aren’t going to care about the display server that the desktops sit on top of. If the desktop doesn’t work, then the user is either going to try another Linux distribution or they are going to revert back to Windows.
Ubuntu 13.10 is just around the corner but what if Ubuntu ceased to exist?
Nobody can deny that Ubuntu has lifted the profile of Linux from a geek’s plaything to an operating system that the average grandmother can use. Looking at the top 50 distributions at Distrowatch, the following distributions are based on Ubuntu:
- Linux Lite
- Ubuntu GNOME
- Ubuntu Studio
The fact that so many distributions base themselves on Ubuntu must show that Ubuntu has good qualities as well as bad. Ubuntu has a high profile outside the Linux world. It has the best installer, great repositories, a great community, great forums, a huge user base, it is stable, forward thinking and is truly innovative.
If after failing with the Ubuntu Edge campaign it was suddenly announced that Canonical were withdrawing funding what would happen? Would Linux be crippled forever? The answer is clearly no. Linux was around before Ubuntu and it will be around long after Ubuntu ceases to exist. Each and every one of the distributions above could base themselves on Debian. Given that Ubuntu is going down the MIR route, many of the distributions may well decide to do this.
If there were no Ubuntu then there would be a large hole left behind. All users thinking of giving up Windows for Linux would need a new go-to system.
If Canonical removed funding from Ubuntu it would undoubtedly continue as a community distribution and it would probably find itself blending back in with the rest of the Linux world. I believe that if Ubuntu failed and disappeared, another distribution would spring up and fill the void that Ubuntu left behind and it would become popular, be hated for it, start causing its own divisions and the same arguments would rage on.
Ubuntu. You either love it or hate it. I love it. Without Ubuntu there would be dozens fewer distributions to review.
Gary Newell is 38 years old and lives with his wife and 3 children in the North East of Scotland. His blog, Everyday Linux User, a top ten finalist in our Best FOSS or Linux Blog competition, provides news, reviews and how-tos about Linux for the average ordinary everyday Linux user.