Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Ubuntu Open Source Linux

Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu? 631 631

jammag writes "'When the history of free software is written, I am increasingly convinced that this last year will be noted as the start of the decline of Ubuntu,' opines Linux pundit Bruce Byfield. After great initial success, Ubuntu and Canonical began to isolate themselves from the mainstream of the free software community. Canonical, he says, has tried to control the open source community, and the company has floundered in many of its initiatives. Really, the mighty Ubuntu, in decline?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?

Comments Filter:
  • Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:23AM (#44945697)

    They're making incredibly unpopular design changes without giving people any real option to do things their own way and driving their own userbase away. Unity and other ass backwardsness pissed me off SO MUCH that I learned to use Arch Linux just to get away from it.

  • by internet-redstar (552612) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:25AM (#44945707) Homepage
    It's hard to predict. But Mint, which builds on ubuntu, has some major flaws with Mint 15. We see Ubuntu still as the distribution of choice for developer workstations. Especially in the embedded linux space. Ubuntu in the server still has the advantage of having a recent kernel and being build on .deb packages instead of the horrible slow and unstable, unupgradeable yum/RPM combination.

    If Ubuntu declines, then the question is to what?
    We see a lot of ubuntu users going to arch linux for example, but these are the people who started out ubuntu just a few years ago.
    Distribution diversity is a good thing.
    But we still wouldn't recommend newcomers anything else.

    Jasper Internet

  • Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Redmancometh (2676319) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:26AM (#44945711)

    Between unity, privacy concerns, moving away from intercompatability with a new package manager, having a PAY STORE as the default app manager, and attempting to establish a walled garden with a new package manager I hope they fall hard. Or at the very least I hope they get back to their roots.

  • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:30AM (#44945735)

    The problem with most people who say "is now non-standard in the *nix way of things" is that they generally have only used one *nix –generic linux.

    What they don't realise is that the locations that they think are standard in all *nixes are actually very mutable, and many unixes put things in entirely different places. What they really mean is "is now not what I'm used to on linux".

  • Don't think so (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:42AM (#44945797)

    Ubuntu is still one of the most convenient ways to install and use GNU/Linux. I'm using it daily for everything. The point is that Ubuntu is great despite Shuttleworth's and Canonical's stupid ideas and decisions. It's great because of the community and forums. For example, my girlfriend uses Ubuntu, and when there is a problem I (who else?) have to fix it. Right now, I just take a quick look at the Ubuntu forums and helpdesk, and it's done. I don't want to imagine what would happen if she used Gentoo. :O

    Regarding the Desktop/GUI: The desktop is not a reason to switch away from Ubuntu. People who give a fuck can install another window/desktop manager, for example I give a fuck and use XFCE.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:49AM (#44945841)

    Ubuntu got popular because the ordinary people who cannot figure out how a command line works could use it.

    Hardly. It got popular because it was debian based and didn't require knowledge of every part of the system to get it up running acceptably - you installed it and most stuff worked without hours of research and hair-pulling.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:54AM (#44945863) Homepage Journal

    What's wrong with having a "pay store" as the app manager? It's better than having one place for paid apps, and one for free. All mobile devices use this method, and it works great. You can install the vast majority of your apps and libraries in one place, updates are all handled by one system rather than several.. it's one of the few things that they're actually doing right.

    Why does it even matter what the package manager is, as long as it's still using .debs?

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:12AM (#44945955)
    Distributions come and go. Linux lasts forever.
  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iskender (1040286) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:18AM (#44946001)

    How is anyone forced to use Unity in Ubuntu? There's still Kubuntu, lubuntu etc. And even with straight Ubuntu, you can still install whatever desktop you want, and select it at login.

    And I guess most none-technical people just don't care either way. If it works, it works.

    The thing is, the users aren't just SysAdmins or idiots. There are people who have used computers for ages, but have chosen not to learn to code or compile themselves. The computer-savvyness of youth means this group is growing fast. Ubuntu has turned its back on this group.

    I used the Gnome Ubuntu earlier and it was fine. Then came Unity. I tried to use the built-in KDE/Gnome, but they were buggy and slightly broken - no point to a distro if it doesn't work with itself.

    Oh well, tried Unity instead. The main interface element (dock) has NO configuration options. Nothing. Basically: I'm supposed to either be their slave or install a working interface myself. No thanks. Too bad Ubuntu still appears to have a superior update system: I don't feel like going to Mint's "good until you have to hack your upgrade". I had enough of that with the earlier Ubuntus.

  • by Christian Smith (3497) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:27AM (#44946041) Homepage

    Ubuntu got popular because the ordinary people who cannot figure out how a command line works could use it. It looked quite a bit like Windows, which was a good thing. A task bar at the bottom, and a menu with a lot of functionality. Unity is too different, and made it slower too. So, many people seem to switch to Linux Mint.

    I mean, even the close/minimize/maximize buttons had to be switched around to the top left... WHY?

    Having the task bar at the side makes perfect sense on modern aspect ratio displays. Todays laptops are very genererous in width, but not so generous in height, so wasting height with a taskbar doesn't make sense if it can live on the side. When working in Windows, I move the taskbar to the side, which makes an enormous difference in usable screen on small laptops.

    Putting the window decorations on the left just moves them closer to the left taskbar. Left? Right? Arbitrary really.

  • by internet-redstar (552612) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:33AM (#44946079) Homepage
    Being popular as a distribution does not mean they are evil. And the comparison with Windows is just plain _stupid_
    Microsoft promotes software patenting.
    Microsoft embraces and extends open standards to break them - allows importing of data but only crappy exporting.

    Now, I do agree that Ubuntu made some less popular decisions to make money.
    While I don't like it either, they are easily apt-get removed.

    Ubuntu also does their software development in OpenSource fashion.

    I think some of the ubuntu-bashing is unjustified and unconstructive.

    Ubuntu has a certain amount of critical mass which is very interesting and which leads to a better quality experience than for example with Fedora.
    While I don't agree with all the 'dumbing down', it still allows power user to dive as deep as they want into the system and into the code. And I like the fact that it's not required for novice users.
  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:23AM (#44946279)

    They're making incredibly unpopular design changes without giving people any real option to do things their own way and driving their own userbase away. Unity and other ass backwardsness pissed me off SO MUCH that I learned to use Arch Linux just to get away from it.

    Its the "we're going our own way" decisions - like Mir instead of Wayland, etc. This leaves you thinking - If I keep with Ubuntu I will be out on a limb, forced to use Unity, etc.

    The problem is that if people really wanted stuff rammed down their throats willy-nilly, they'd be running Windows 8. Linux is an operating system that people choose, so restricting choices goes against the nature of the demographic.

  • by fisted (2295862) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:34AM (#44946345)

    What turned me off Linux based OSes 10-12 years ago was the amount of text file hacking that was required to get a usable system.

    Thank god for modern concepts like ,,Registry'' and non human-readable binary file formats. Yay:)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:40AM (#44946397)

    FYI, Mint does have a release based directly on Debian which I have been running without issue for some time.

  • by myvirtualid (851756) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `wonwwp'> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:01AM (#44946513) Journal

    I switched from WIndows to Ubuntu years ago after evaluating many distro communities and distro directions. At the time, Ubuntu appeared to have a good vision, and good balance between "it just works" (my computer is vital to my professional life and MUST work with minimal effort) and "power users will be at home" (my first jobs were on UNIX systems decades ago, this was very important to me).

    From a technical perspective, Ubuntu was just a little ways ahead of others, IMHO.

    From a community perspective, it was miles ahead! Fewer trolls, easy to participate, easy to grow, good tools and sites for the community. Most other distro sites and fora were, well, slapdash, poorly conceived, for the cognocenti, and full of the usual Linux aggressive bullshit ("well, just do cmd-alt-bang-fork-shift-nano-vim, you stupid goof, it's obvious!").

    That made the switch easy, and I recommended Ubuntu many times and used it for years.

    Then Shuttleworth slowly became less benevolent, community tools became harder to use, information that had been easily available began to disappear, and the distro itself became muddled. There was just no way to be a comfortable power user anymore, at least not without major effort.

    And if I'm going to spend major effort, why use a system I don't like? So I started switching.

    I tried Mint, I tried pure Debian, I made mistakes and learned a lot. Great. But.

    I enjoy being able to configure as desired and be a power user occasionally, but I don't want to have to be one all the frikkin' time. And Mint and Debian required way too much hand-holding. Eventually, because too many things didn't just work, I went back to Ubuntu. But it was nasty and ugly and difficult to use and didn't support my 4 year old laptop as well as it used to and just wasn't fun.

    I caved. I bought a Mac a few weeks ago, a 13" Air. Wow. What a beast! It's fun to use, easy to use, I can get work done without pain. LibreOffice on this thing screams!

    Sure, I don't power use much anymore, but you know what? That fun is gone. Life is too short to spend so much time tweaking config files, and too short to use ugly, obtuse, opaque systems like Unity. I never thought I'd ever say this, but I love OSX.

    All the philosophical and principled reasons for using Linux have largely been abandoned by Ubuntu, other distros are way behind, and if I'm going to use a commercial OS - which Ubuntu clearly wants to be - I might as well use a nice one that works well on insane kick-ass hardware. I'll be on OSX on this Air for years. Goodbye Ubuntu.

  • by Lisias (447563) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:45AM (#44946791) Homepage Journal

    Between Windows 8.1, which is revolutionary, and OS X there is simply no room left for Linux any more.

    Bullshit. I don't see a single server box running Windows 8.1 neither OS X. ;-)

    On the Desktop, however, you can be right (with that "revolutionary" put aside - that bunch of scraps put together IS NOT revolutionary - it's just a tablet dumbed down to be used on a Desktop, and then hammered further to get the Desktop back).

    I used to know half a dozen people who used Linux and now ALL of them have switched to something better.

    I am one of these. But not because the options tuned better, but because what I was using became worse.

    Windows is a bag of shit. Nuff said.

    Mac OSX *is good*, very good. But not THAT good. There's nothing (eye candies aside) that my MaxOS Box do now that I didn't did at least so fast and conveniently with my (correctly configured) OpenSUSE 11.4 box running Gnome 2. The *BEST* professional box I ever used (and it's utterly missed).

    People are tired of recompiling kernels, looking at crappy fonts, having NO drivers for common hardware, and all the general stupidity and uselessness of Linux.

    It's almost 10 years since I compiled a kernel for the last time (Gentoo doesn't count - it does all the job alone, freeing you to see PR0N all night!). And I *am* a Linux heavy user. It just happened that I know some guys (like OpenSUSE) that thought it could be a good idea doing that for me, and then charging me with support when I want to do something unusual. Guess what? This model works fine for me (not that sure for them, however).

    The lack of device drivers for Linux *IT'S YOUR FAULT*. Stop buying shitty devices, and go for ones that Linux already supports. I don't see anyone buying Booster or any other shitty Stereo to install on their Mercedes, Porsche or whatever. WHY IN HELL people spend a lof of hundred of dollars on I7 computers with tons of RAM and SSD, and then go cheap on video, sound and ethernet?

    You got what you pays for. Stop bitching about it, and grow up. You are the stupid and useless here. ;-)

    And I haven't even begun with the security, performance and privacy flaws inherent to ALL open source software!

    You haven't begun with it because there's no way to start with, at first place.

    Every piece of software has flaws and insecurities. Open Source ones just happens to allow you to see for yourself.

    Take *ANY* Windows update. Do you can see what they're fixing? No? Me neither. And one of these updates fucked up a entire country this year. []

    Yeah, I know you're just trolling. I know you're, at best, being paid to astro turf against open source (but chances are that you are just a moron doing it for free - some people just love to be slaved for free, what we can do?).

    But it happens that I am in the mood today. :-)

  • People forget... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:58AM (#44946951)

    People forget that not everybody lives in the US or Western Europe. There are millions, if not billions of people on this planet without computers and probably when they do get access to them, they won't be able to afford Macs and Windows PCs. Ubuntu (or maybe some other linux distro) is in a position to tap those markets when they open up.

    Face it, their desktop, tablet, phone offerings, aren't going to make a dent in the West. They don't have to. It's in the 2nd and 3rd world countries, that future growth is going to occur and there, things could be very well be different.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @09:13AM (#44947087)

    This! Unity and their unwillingness to listen to their user base drove me away. I used to be a huge Ubuntu fan and have it on a lot of the machines at work and at home. No more. It's not like their aren't other distros out there that will listen to the users.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @09:28AM (#44947241) Journal

    I work at the command line all the time. I run Debian Sid on almost all of my computers. I really tried to give Arch a shot, but damned if it didn't break on every other update. Yeah, yeah, I'm supposed to read the release notes, so it's "my fault". Whatever, I can "apt-get upgrade" Sid any time, no matter how long I've left the computer, and it works.

    Here's an example. A the top of the news items on, we see:

    Deprecation of /etc/sysctl.conf


    From version 207 on, systemd will not apply the settings from /etc/sysctl.conf anymore: it will only apply those from /etc/sysctl.d/*. Since the settings of our /etc/sysctl.conf shipped by procps-ng have become kernel defaults anyway, we have decided to deprecate this file.

    Upon upgrading to procps-ng-3.3.8-3, you will be prompted to move any changes you made to /etc/sysctl.conf under /etc/sysctl.d. The easiest way to do this is to run:

    pacman -Syu
    mv /etc/sysctl.conf.pacsave /etc/sysctl.d/99-sysctl.conf

    If you never customized /etc/sysctl.conf, you have nothing to do.

    Why can't the package manager do that for me? Sure it's easy enough to do, but I'm lazy. This could easily be automated, and I don't have time to manually do things that could easily be automated. That's what computers are supposed to do for us.

    I really wanted to like Arch. I ran it on my laptop for a year and a half. But I've gone back to Sid, it just works.

  • by NickFortune (613926) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @09:35AM (#44947325) Homepage Journal

    How is anyone forced to use Unity in Ubuntu? There's still Kubuntu, lubuntu etc. And even with straight Ubuntu, you can still install whatever desktop you want, and select it at login.

    I guess that rather depends on the user. The people posting to Slashdot are savvy enough to vote with their feet, whether it's to another 'buntu, or another distro. But Slashdotters aren't your typical Ubuntu users.

    Ubuntu built its rep in no small part as the Linux that you didn't need to know Linux to use. A lot of the Ubuntu userbase are people who don't know how to change desktop environment or window manager. They're people who don't want to know how to do those things. All they know is that they found a computer system that they liked, and each release seems to be taking them further away from that system.

    I personally don't mind Unity, I can pretty much work with whatever desktop is installed by default, as I use the apps and not the shell. So long as I can switch easily between apps, who cares.

    Well, not the people who work with your computers the way you do, clearly. But not everyone does. I mean I'm happy with an xterm, launching apps from the command line and alt-tabbing between them. It gives me everything you want in a desktop ... but I know from experience that most people hate working that way.

    And I guess most none-technical people just don't care either way. If it works, it works.

    If that was true, they'd ALL be happy with an xterm, alt-tab and a choice of wallpaper. And the year of Linux On The Desktop(TM) would have happened ten years ago.

    Ubuntu worked well for a large set of non-techie users. It wasn't a million miles away from what most of them were used to in Windows, except that for various reasons, it suited them a bit better.

    Canonical seem to have an urgent need to fix something that wasn't even remotely broken. And while it doesn't affect me personally I still can't see what they're doing as a viable long term strategy.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Blaskowicz (634489) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @09:36AM (#44947347)

    *Everything* is second class citizen on linux, already. You never know if you're running the "one true platform", be it distro, package management, init system, desktop. Should you run a .rpm or .deb distro? (with debian being the white knight according to a lot of the dorks). Is YAST the solution to all problems? Is systemd the true solution, or a lock-in like the one you describe? Is Xfce great, or second class? What about KDE? KDE is the epitome of big dependencies (installing one KDE app will pull in "half of KDE"). I'd wager installing a KDE app is a bigger problem that the imaginary Mir dependencies you openly fear.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:19AM (#44947817) Homepage Journal

    What I've never understood though is why one would want to use Ubuntu over straight-up debian on servers (or Fedora over RH/CentOS). I do understand you get newer package versions, but outside of the touchy-feely eye-candy desktop stuff, the difference isn't that wide, and frankly debian stable is stable in every meaning of the word.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Requiem18th (742389) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:45AM (#44948167)

    On way to state it is that they started as the friendly libre desktop and then at some point decided to become the "cheaper macintoch".

    It's not just the design, they, or rather Mark, gave a full u-turn to the entire philosophy of the project. Sould we go back in time, you'd find that the project was full of idealism. Ubuntu was a philantropic project, free CDs were shiped, at Canonical's expense, to those willing to help others become free.

    The promise was that together, as a comunity, we could overcome the technical and political issues that held FOSS back.

    That's not the way ubuntu is advertised nowadays. Now ubuntu is advertised as this wonderful OS that does some of the same things MS and Apple can do but won't run any of the software you bought for those.

    Personally, I blame the iPad. Ok it's Mark's fault first, but the iPad showed that people would ignore the problem of software incompatibilty as long a the thing was easy to use, had a web browser and was shiny.

    So Mark decided to give the finger to the communy, called "Ubuntu is not a democracy" and embarked in a campaing to make ubunty the desktop version of an iPad: Shiny, dumbed down and incompatible with most Windows software, but with Firefox.

    Actually I'm surprised ubuntu hasn't decided on Google chrome as their default browser, but even Mark realizes that would be handling the keys of the kingdom to a potential rival.

    The obviousl problem is that, most people, including most ipad owners, already have a Windows PC where they do most of their work and any matter of serious gaming.

    MS is the path of least resistance, and since it comes with most computers, it's "free". Apple is the luxury vendor. Ubuntu was de idealist but has lost it's original vision. Ubuntu really has nothing going for it nowadays. Mark is trying to fix that problem techically where it was a political problem to begin with.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by i.r.id10t (595143) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:28PM (#44951021)

    Well, it sorta has unified all of us who hate it....

Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell." -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"