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Ubuntu Open Source Linux

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

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-many-people-running-visigoth-linux dept.
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?"
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Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?

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  • 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.

    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

      by marcello_dl (667940) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:45AM (#44945809) Homepage Journal

      Ubuntu to arch seems a drastic step (still it is possible and productive). To those who don't like it I suggest to pick among the dozen ubuntu derivatives you find at distrowatch so you can keep using your ubuntu knowledge. Mint comes to mind. Or fall back to debian.

      • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dmbasso (1052166) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:58AM (#44946167)

        Exactly, some of my friends that used Ubuntu highly recommend Mint. But I think I'm switching back to Debian with MATE, let's see.
        Funny thing is Canonical announced they were going to accept donations more or less at the same time they made the switch to Unity. At first I thought "great, I'll be able to easily show my support", but then I learned about the crap Unity was (and still is). After a year of using Unity I can safely say that it pisses me off (like when accidentally launching an application with meta+number) without bringing any advantage for my use case. The Dash is a joke... gnome-do were much better at it, even if I had to install the mono crap.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

          by dmbasso (1052166) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:08AM (#44946199)

          s/-do were/-do was/

          And just for clarification, I've been using Unity for only around a year because I waited as long as I could before I had to upgrade libraries and stuff. The upgrade to Gnome/gtk 3 broke all my gedit plugins, and I didn't have time to adapt them. Recently I decided to try Pluma (MATE's version of gedit), and it was a piece of cake to make plugins work.

          So I can't thank you enough, MATE crew, you guys are awesome!

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by postbigbang (761081) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:06AM (#44946545)

          Unity is an interesting idea, but Shutteworth is marching off a cliff with it. Mint takes the best bits and makes them better-- with rational UI choices-- for desktop users.

          Ubuntu servers are still pretty lean and mean and understandable, however. Rip the Unity UI stuff away, and there's lots of stable Debian underneath and lots of great work.

          Ubuntu One is a rational idea, too, as Shuttleworth wanted to bring the best of the Apple and Microsoft ecosystems, but didn't read his target audience very well, then mandated privacy invasions in terms of search. Add Unity's UI ideological fork to the sense that Ubuntu becomes a lot like Google, FB, and others that ignore outcries of commercial ad revenue rage at the sacrifice of privacy issues, and Shuttleworth takes Ubuntu rogue, IMHO.

          • 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:4, Informative)

              by postbigbang (761081) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:27AM (#44947909)

              Straight-up Debian is nice, and it's stable, and it's sometimes painful to watch it evolve. Ubuntu's payload has all the stuff I need. I can strip it and make it light, then foist it up as a bunch of VMs and feed the instances through puppet or whatever, then tear them down easily.

              With Deb or the RH/Fedora/CentOS/Oracle payloads, you have to take great pains to strip them down; Ubuntu is just easier. When I'm constructing payloads, it's easier to just strip junk out of Ubuntu, rather than build Deb up. I'm sooooo tired of either the kitchen sink of payloads, or the other side, which is the barest of bones, no upholstery at all, and maybe missing the steering wheel.

            • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

              by clarkn0va (807617) <apt...get@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:44AM (#44948911) Homepage

              Debian was my first and only distro until Ubuntu hit approximately 6.04. It was then that I felt Ubuntu offered a smooth enough experience to justify the "bloat" (funny how perspectives change) that came with the switch.

              Having used mostly Ubuntu on my servers for the past seven years, there has been the odd time that I needed to squeeze Linux onto a small flash, and it was Debian to the rescue. Debian is great, but when you're used to Ubuntu it does feel unfamiliar in the way it handles some things.

              A second thing that has me still preferring Ubuntu on servers is the quicker uptake of new features. SSD TRIM is a big one, as I started migrating all of my systems to SSD in 2008, and TRIM required the newest kernels. Yeah, I could have compiled my own kernels in Debian, but as any Debian user knows, updates are a different world when you step outside the Garden of Eden that is apt-get. Ubuntu made getting such new features a piece of cake and in a timely manner.

              And lastly, there are advantages to being mainstream. There are tonnes of cool products being developed for Linux these days, and generally speaking, Ubuntu and RedHat/CentOS are the first distros to get support. Steam is one example. LTSP is another project that you're going to get way better developer support on if you're running Ubuntu. A counter example is VoIP software, including FreeSwitch and a bazillion Asterisk distros, which tend to be much better documented on CentOS.

              • by skids (119237)

                as any Debian user knows, updates are a different world when you step outside the Garden of Eden that is apt-get

                This can be true, but I've found kernel updates are the exception. There's a robust, packaging-aware system surrounding kernels built from source that will rebuild all your modules, redo your initrd, fw downlods, etc, and repos for bleeding edge kernels.

            • What I've never understood though is why one would want to use Ubuntu over straight-up debian... (or Fedora over RH/CentOS).

              Leaving aside the case for servers, for me the answer is the same for both. As a clueless (selectively, by choice) user, I just want my computer to work. When I build a new one, I just want to tick a box at installation to fully encrypt every attached drive.

              In Ubuntu and Fedora, you just check the box. Uninstall the installer in Mint, intall the latest version, and you can do th

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:52AM (#44946885) Homepage

          (like when accidentally launching an application with meta+number)

          HOLY SHIT.

          Mystery solved. I've been dealing with that weird crap forever without realizing what keys I accidentally hit.

      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

        by gagol (583737) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:14AM (#44946231)
        Been running Xubuntu (XFCE4 desktop instead of Unity) even since Unity was shoved down my throat. Could not be happier.
        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Funny)

          by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:43AM (#44946787) Homepage Journal

          Been running Xubuntu (XFCE4 desktop instead of Unity) even since Unity was shoved down my throat.

          I wonder what sick joke it was naming it Unity, given that it was rather obvious that it would cause diversion.

        • by nten (709128)

          While I like xubuntu, wouldn't it have been easier just to download a new window manager? It is pretty seamless. Ubuntu was the easiest thing to get running on my old macbook pro, but I didn't like unity. It took less than minute to switch to my preference, which I will not state, as it is even less popular than unity. But if you want ice or enlightenment or windowmaker or kde, or classic gnome, they are all immediate options with just a few clicks. That said, I still wish I could get fedora running,

      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @09:08AM (#44947033)

        Ubuntu to arch seems a drastic step...

        His preference is probably Gentoo but it's still compiling.

    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:48AM (#44945833)

      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.

      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Christian Smith (3497) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:00AM (#44945899) Homepage

        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.

        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 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.

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

        • by Chrisq (894406)

          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.

          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.

          Will be forced once X is replaced by Mir. You will have to laod the whole of Wayland (or X as a legacy) to be able to run other desktops then - which means that it will be very different from the straight Ubuntu. There are already questions in the kubuntu [kde.org] forum and about gnome ubuntu [askubuntu.com].

        • Nobody is forced to use Unity *yet*, but the alternatives are clearly treated as second class citizens that do not get the same level of attention to detail or integration, and makes for a substandard experience that's increasingly a throwback to the days where Linux on the desktop was *only* for geeks. With Mir on the horizon, and with many developers targeting Ubuntu specifically rather than Linux in general, that situation threatens to get worse, as we could conceivably have a large pool of software with

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Blaskowicz (634489)

            *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 "h

        • 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 gagol (583737)
            That is why I am using Xubuntu these days.
        • KDE installed on ubuntu is quite nice, and is definitely not a second class citizen. I still have all of the easy GUI config tools, and I have the desktop that I prefer. So Right On, Brother! After all, it's Linux. If you don't like the desktop, it's trivial to install another one.

        • 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

      • 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 Chrisq (894406)

          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.

          You could be right - but canonical's bet is that there are a lot of people who just want something free and easy to use. My feeling is that most of these will try it then go back to Windows because its "easier".

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Requiem18th (742389)

            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

    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

      by hawkinspeter (831501) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:12AM (#44945953)
      I tried Unity and didn't get on with it, so I just carried on using XUbuntu instead. If you don't like the desktop environment, it's trivial to replace it with a different one.
    • dying desktop. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:29AM (#44946053)

      Ok the desktop isn't going to die, but it is becoming more of a workstation than a personal computer.
      That said, Windows, OS X, and Desktop based Linux distro's are going to take a hit.
      All the big players are trying to make their OS more tablet like. However the desktop is becoming more niche in its use, so they really should focus their UI on what people need for desktops now aday.

      Programming, Number crunching, CAD... Less sexy, but a move away from happy friendly OS for grandma to a serious work OS with work productivity in mind is important. I am not saying we should go back to all the old ways. There is a lot of new design work that needs to be done. But it is needs to be more business centric and less home centered.

    • 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.

    • All this Ubuntu hate is silly. While most distributions are networks of collaborating volunteers, Canonical is a company. Company's need to pay employees and have revenue.

      Ubuntu is simply following the Google approach: create an open platform through which you can sell your services. Just like if you don't like Google apps you can use CyanogenMod, if you don't like unity or the software center or Mir, don't use them. Ubuntu is open source... You have the freedom to do what you want. We should be praisin
  • I agree (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skiron (735617) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:25AM (#44945705) Homepage
    I used to use on my laptop (4 years ago?) as everything used to work out of the box, but gradually they changed things and Gnome bloat got worse, and the file system layout got more confusing and basically it is now non-standard in the *nix way of things. I moved back to Slackware which I use on my desktops. 10 times better.
    • 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".

  • 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.

    Grtz,
    Jasper Internet

    • by bazorg (911295) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:11AM (#44945949)

      If Ubuntu declines, then the question is to what?

      Right now, Id say... Android.
      I've signed up for a broadband service which is bundled with a sports TV channel. I can access that TV channel via the web or using a native app for Android and iOS. When I try using Firefox (on Windows 8 Pro 64) it just will not work. I try IE. Not compatible with that browser, tells me to try a different one.

      I tap the Android app and... It just works. Now let's think of what can I do to have that same channel on a larger TV screen. Since I don't have a smart TV box (only free to air channels), I can use that old media centre PC I've been trying to set up for 2 years. Pay £100 for Windows and then get that kind of experience? nah. Pay £100 for Apple TV? Looks great at the shop but will not touch my local media collection. Install Ubuntu? OK, but during a recent upgrade the wifi stopped working with no explanation. Maybe I can get Android x86 and hope for the best, or I can get a cheap £50 android box and just get it over with.

    • by robthebloke (1308483) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:24AM (#44946025)

      If Ubuntu declines, then the question is to what?

      Amiga OS?

    • What are the major flaws in Mint 15 that you mention? I've recently upgraded to it on one of my computers and it seems very similar to previous versions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by grcumb (781340)

      It's hard to predict.

      Well, I'm not so sure about that. I predicted it [imagicity.com] back in 2011. Money quote:

      Ubuntu is slipping out of control. Canonical have stopped listening and – more importantly – working with the community. The number of defects is growing, but Canonical’s response is to make it harder for mere mortals to submit bugs. They seem to think that strong guidance is needed for their product to grow in new and interesting ways. Fair enough, but they’re confusing leadership with control. They’re

  • 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: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 drinkypoo (153816)

        What's wrong with having a "pay store" as the app manager?

        There would be nothing wrong, if you got a checkbox for "only free"

        I don't want to be advertised to by my package manager. That is wasteful and unnecessary.

  • Linux Mint anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

    by captainpanic (1173915) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:28AM (#44945725)

    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?

    If I want unnecessary bling-bling and a lack of functionality, I'll get a Windows computer. If I want to be a hipster, I'll get an Apple. I use Linux because I like simplicity and functionality. As soon as Ubuntu stopped delivering that, I switched to Mint.

    • 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.

      • by jez9999 (618189)

        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

        How come Debian didn't get popular, then?

        • by Svartalf (2997)

          They didn't put as much effort into "it just works" with mostly the latest and greatest as Ubuntu did. Debian's got more amazing amounts of "stuff" than people were prepared to deal with- and the good stuff was oftentimes in "Sid" which meant you weren't as stable as Ubuntu USED to be.

    • by houghi (78078)

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

      Isn't that desktop and not distribution related?

      I use openSUSE, because the _I_ can decode what I want to use. With the DVD you can select KDE or GNOME or with an extra click XFCE or LXDE. Or I add it afterwards, if I want to. I can even have multiple ones and let each user on the PC decide what they want. No need to change the distro if you want to change on of its programs.

      Now if you do not like Unity, but do

    • 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 barista (587936)

        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.

        Except it's more useful to me if it's at the bottom. If it takes up too much space, make it resizable, like the Dock in OS X.

    • by Kjella (173770)

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

      Linux was and is still predominantly used by people who can use a command line, but Ubuntu won a following with those who don't want to. I came from Debian which was a nice, solid base but very few cared about the desktop. That was something which just happened to run on top of the rock solid server they were building. Hell, when I switched Debian still didn't have a boot screen, it was text scrolling past because who cares on a server? But it was 2007 and it looked a DOS boot from the 1980s, I'm not going

      • by RoboJ1M (992925)

        It also won a following from people who *can* use a command line but didn't necessarily spend every spare hour outside of work inside of one trying to get the GPU drivers to work or *insert common hardware name here*.

        So no, no thank you to Linux Mint.
        Ubuntu works and I like being able to load applications using Super + Search on the Dash or whatever it's called.
        Which was the only feature I liked on Win7.

    • by lennier1 (264730)

      Ubuntu was the first distribution I used on a regular basis (back in the Gnome 2 days), because the large number of beginner-friendly tutorials and support forums made it easier to get started.

      When Canonical and Gnome both began to screw up the system (Gnome 3 and Unity on the horizon) I moved on to greener pastures. Since I've developed a personal preference for Debian-based systems after years of exposure to different systems on desktops and servers, Mint with Xfce was the obvious choice for little ol' me

  • Time to move (Score:3, Interesting)

    by andrea.sartori (1603543) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:35AM (#44945771) Journal
    Ubuntu ceased being relevant sometime around 2011. The walled garden approach does not work with the open source crowd.
  • 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

    I've been a Ubuntu user and staunch defender ever since the hoary hedgehog release (2005), but slowly lost my appetite. It must have been the Unity straw that broke my camel's back,and oh yes Mint 14 (with Mate) was such a relief.. but then Mint 15 dissappointingly needed some touch-ups to make it behave...
    So I'm still searching. What should my next Linux release be, I ask you?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:48AM (#44945829)

    I have no idea what all of you are going on about, I LOVE Unity, why? Because its not Windows 7/8 and its closer to XP, but its Linux!

    This is the first time in 13 years of trying out Linux Desktop variants whereby I can actually feel in control of my system and feel like its my friend, instead of my "RTFM" enemy.
    I have no idea what all of you are going on about, I LOVE Unity, why? Because its not Windows 7 and its closer to XP, but its Linux!

    This is the first time in 13 years of trying out Linux Desktop variants whereby I can actually feel in control of my system and feel like its my friend, instead of my "RTFM" enemy.

    Yes, I am aware of the myriad of problems involving proprietary drivers not being open and running proprietary code, Yes I realise that Ubuntu steps on the toes of the FSF movement. But you know what? I don't care. I've finally kicked the Windows habit and I'm loving it because this is the longest time that I have been off Windows, ever.

    I say well done with the Unity interface and well done with the "It just works" functionality of installing/uninstalling apps, and if I dont want to bother sudo'ing in terminal I can choose to use USC.

    To top it off, it runs Steam, what the hell happened? Why did everyone abandon it? Please dont.

    Yes, I am aware of the myriad of problems involving proprietary drivers, Yes I realise that Ubuntu steps on the toes of the FSF movement. But you know what? I don't care. I've finally kicked the Windows habit and I'm loving it because this is the longest time that I have been off Windows, ever.

    I say well done with the Unity interface and well done with the "It just works" functionality of installing/uninstalling apps, and if I dont want to bother sudo'ing in terminal I can choose to use USC.

    To top it off, it runs Steam, what the hell happened? Why did everyone abandon it? Please dont.

    To use a car analogy, Ubuntu is the Camry or Celica of the car world now, and if I want to change the oil filter I finally can because its right up on the front of the engine and easily acessible.

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

    by illogicalpremise (1720634) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:18AM (#44945997)
    This opinion piece is based on the faulty, or at least debatable, claim that Ubuntu needs to satisfy "hard core linux users" to be relevant. The core of Ubuntu users are more typically ex-Windows users trying linux for the first time. A large share belongs to casual gamers and that is likely to increase as Steam on Linux gains traction.
    • No, I would say the premise was that it has to satisfy some group of people, which it increasingly does not.

    • Re:Wrong premise (Score:4, Interesting)

      by umafuckit (2980809) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:26AM (#44947907)

      The core of Ubuntu users are more typically ex-Windows users trying linux for the first time.

      I keep reading this here. Perhaps it's true that first-time Linux users initially try Ubuntu, but there seems to be the notion on /. that once you've learned Ubuntu you "move on" to a more "hardcore" distro. But why should you? If Ubuntu works for you, then why move to something "harder"? If you're using Ubuntu for work or home surfing then there's no productivity gain by switching distros. The only reasons I can think for doing so are ideological, or because you want to explore and learn more about Linux. In terms of actually doing work: there's no point and messing around with difficult distros just sucks up time.

      Personally, I moved from XP to SuSE back in 2001 or so because I wanted more flexibility, a CLI that works, etc. The only reason I switched to Ubuntu was because I got fed up trying to install new versions of software on SuSE. I don't know if it's got better, but back then I wasted a lot of time searching websites to find the right RPMs to resolve version conflicts. That's all gone with Ubuntu. So my reason for switching distros was purely productivity related. Other than that, SuSE was just as beginner friendly as Ubuntu was back then.

  • by Barryke (772876)

    I switched to CrunchBang. Its less annoying than the Unity interface (i have no use for its features, they just get in the way and frustrate me) works great on my old (non-pae) notebook.

    Now in CrunchBang i just have to right-click to start applications, and manually have to add new applications to that menu, but that was surmountable.

    • I learned to love that menu. At first I was really annoyed with how much work I had to do to set up the system the way I liked it but I had just come from Ubuntu where everything is done for you. It was a real eye opener to see how much customization is possible in Linux. I think that using CrunchBang really changed what I expected from a distro and more than anything, it helped me learn the system as a new user and gave me quite a bit more confidence.
  • by keneng (1211114) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:26AM (#44946037) Journal

    Chinese government and Steam as clients and you dare to say there a decline in Ubuntu? The fact you write an article about Ubuntu in DATAMATION means there must be some validity in its rising popularity. In Germany, they are giving away Ubuntu CD's for all Windows XP users. That doesn't sound like a decline in fact the author didn't even mention that aspect. Gnome is still available as an alternative session along with other Window Managers(twm,KDE) from the Ubuntu repos although it isn't the default. Users that don't like Unity can simply change the session.

    My clients are seeking alternatives to windows. When I show them Ubuntu, they are impressed and it's like a breath of fresh air for them. They didn't know they could do that. Even more important, they are starting to use Ubuntu to do their DATA BACKUPS. Does that indicate a sharp decline in Ubuntu? I would say quite the contrary.

    With all the NSA distrust recently, people are actually going out of their way to familiarize themselves with gnupg, enigmail and tor in Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux distros which provide digital privacy/anonymity. I have been getting other clients wanting to learn about this aspect also.

    He's right with respect to some decisions the users may disagree with the benevolent dictator now and then. That's why I also use Debian GNU/Linux because the other distros have their strengths and for each user to discover those themselves.

    One last aspect, Ubuntu is part of the bigger GNU/Linux community. It does function as a separate business entity, but the backup plan is the source code remains available to the global GNU/Linux community forever through forks. The author's fear of jumping onto an Ubuntu sinking ship is bullshit. In fact it's far from sinking. The Ubuntu phone will be popular. It's just that not everyone wants to buy non-existant product without having experienced the touchy-feely try-before-you-buy aspect. I'm one of them. I have faith in Ubuntu's direction, but I prefer to see to product made before buying it. The hardware is coming and GNU/LINUX and all its flavors will rise and not just ubuntu.

  • by trickstyhobbit (2713163) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:31AM (#44946069)
    It's not like their trajectory is set in stone. Canonical may respond to the criticisms from users and begin to move in a new direction. Plus, Ubuntu is a fantastic base to build on cf Linux Mint, and I still think Ubuntu is the best way to introduce new users to Linux. I think it is nearsighted to proclaim the beginning of the end.
  • by oneandoneis2 (777721) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:39AM (#44946103) Homepage

    Ubuntu's been my default when I've needed to get Linux installed & working on a machine with minimal fuss for years.

    I hate Unity, it's a dreadful UI. But hey, it's Linux - I install my preferred WM and copy my config files into place, and the UI is perfect again.

    I dislike the package manager, but I install synaptic and stop caring.

    I hate Upstart. I've never been able to use it for a single piece of software without having to jump through hoops (at best) or rewrite the code (at worst). Like Unity, it strikes me as a product designed with a philosophy of "It works pretty well for most cases, and everything else can get stuffed". But I don't often have to make anything work with it, so I can mostly just ignore it.

    There was a time when Ubuntu was a distro I genuinely liked and was happy to recommend. That's no longer the case, and appears to be a common attitude. So they've definitely gone into a decline.

    But I still reach for the latest Ubuntu when I need a new Linux box. I just take a few more minutes to work around the warts, whereas once I didn't have to. It's still very good at being an easy-to-install Linux distro that mostly JFW. So long as it keeps that, and doesn't screw up by preventing me from working around the crud, it'll do pretty well.

    And hey, maybe eventually they'll get back to doing stuff that people like, instead of avoid.

  • Ubuntu seem to be trying to go for mainstream with easier/better looking UI and tools - but they feel unfinished, actually buggy and not feature-complete; at the cost of pissing off the historical Linux community by going their own way on a lot of topics seeming to distance themselves from and piss on the community and the mainstream projects. I'm wondering who's left ? They also seem to be spreading themselves very thin. Could we have an nice, finished, desktop OS, instead of half-baked / pipe-dream stag
  • by Chewbacon (797801) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:57AM (#44946159)
    I switched to Kubuntu simply because I hate Unity's minimalism and lack of customization and I hate Mint's sluggishness. I haven't looked back. I like *buntu distributions simply because they're the easiest to get up and running. Unless you need a highly customized Linux system, you can't argue with *buntu's simplicity when it comes to installation.
  • by jones_supa (887896) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:58AM (#44946163)

    The Unity desktop has for years suffered of terrible stability and performance issues. Part of the blame goes to Compiz, which makes for a quite heavyweight graphics stack for simple desktop effects. On certain computers Compiz also crashes every now and then. If you put the vanilla Ubuntu desktop to a small Atom / Bobcat laptop, you can easily see that even the basic functions are painfully slow and thus the desktop unusable. When we go up to relatively fast Core 2 Duo machines, even then opening the Dash is laggy and also dragging shortcut icons from Dash to taskbar is a jerky experience. Just try it.

    Additionally there are some weird issues that seem to linger from release to another, some of which would be easy to fix:
    * Brightness is changed in two steps at a time. Apparently the button press event gets handled by both OS and BIOS. Setting /sys/module/video/parameters/brightness_switch_enabled to 0 can be used as a workaround.
    * Hibernation is disabled by default, while in practice it works just fine on most machines. (how to enable it manually [ubuntu.com])
    * Bluetooth adapter on/off state is not remembered across reboots.
    * I always get that "Your current network has a .local domain, which is incompatible with the Avahi network service and not recommended" popup. This just creates a bad out-of-box experience. What is Avahi? Why must I even care about it? Why did not the installer configure my hostname better then?

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:48AM (#44946453) Homepage

    It seems every 7 years a distro rises from the ashes becomes popular and then implodes. Redhat, Mandrake, now Ubuntu.

    I just wish the Gnome team would pull their heads out of their asses and work on functionality instead of ohh shiny.

  • 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 DiamondGeezer (872237) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:25AM (#44946649) Homepage

      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.

      I think you've nailed this ridiculous TFA on the head. The people who want to hack config files all the time are those people who have no lives.

      For the rest of us, we want power and convenience without being boxed in by geeks or corporations. Ubuntu is fulfilling its role for large numbers of people who don't want to hack config files or search for obscure libraries to get shit done.

      The operating system is there for a purpose. I do not live to make the OS happy.

      As for the idiots who went to Slackware: "Good luck with losing your virginity".

  • by misfit815 (875442) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:36AM (#44946723)

    I used Ubuntu for a couple of years, until Unity came along. My history is all Microsoft, all the way back to DOS 3.3. I still earn my paycheck on C# and SQL Server. When I began using Linux, Ubuntu made the transition easy for me. And then they introduced Unity, and tried to pretend my laptop was a tablet. After trying a couple of others, I settled on Lubuntu and have been extremely happy with it ever since. I hope that train keeps rolling for a long time.

  • Decline? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:48AM (#44946841)

    While I am not an Ubuntu fanboy, exactly in what arena is the "decline" occurring? Is Ubuntu more well known today than before? Yes. Is Ubuntu available preinstalled on more hardware today than before? Yes. Is the Ubuntu brand branching into more markets than before? Yes. The only metric, if it is even is one, is that Ubuntu has upset die hard linux users, many of which weren't Ubuntu users anyway.

    Case point 1. Ubuntu didn't like the direction Gnome 3 was going so they came out with their own Unity desktop. Well, evidently most Linux users agreed they didn't like where Gnome 3 was going. Whether they like Unity or not is a moot point as every other desktop is still available under Ubuntu.

    Case point 2. Ubuntu, having problems with x.org, along with everybody else, needed a new display server. They could have gone with Wayland, but they chose to go their own way (much like Redhat and OpenSuse have done with various core technologies). Can people still use/install x.org or Wayland, yes. Should Ubuntu be faulted for wanted to streamline the display server to work on various platforms? Evidently many people think so, but why?

    Case point 3. Ubuntu has announced several products that never caught on or never made it past the technology preview stage. Does that mean they've lost their focus or are they just like all other "real" technology companies exploring new technologies that ultimately don't make it to market?

    Case point 4. Desktop computing, while not dead, is not what it was just a few years ago. Does Ubuntu's trying to compete in mobile markets, while still maintaining desktop support mean that they are lost or that they are trying to stay current?

    Now, I can also argue many points where Ubuntu blew it. But I can do the same for Apple, Microsoft, Google, Redhat, Suse and most every other tech company. The reality is that for every tech idea that succeeds, there a many good ones that never make it to market. That's the nature of the game. Ubuntu isn't declining, they are in the game, albeit as a small player compared to Apple and Microsoft and Google. However, unlike the big three, with Ubuntu, you still get freedom.

    So, if the question is "Has Ubuntu as a desktop Linux only offering declined?" Then the answer is yes. But has Ubuntu as a brand and a technology company (really Canonical) declined? Well, that answer is not at all.

  • Death by Unity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dakiraun (1633747) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {nuarikad}> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:52AM (#44946877) Homepage

    While there are many arguable points that have resulted in Ubuntu declining popularity, I can't help but think the biggest of them by a long shot is the awful Unity desktop. Everyone I know that used Ubuntu has switched specifically because of that desktop. Most have gone to Mint with Cinnamon or MATE, and some to xbuntu or other OS's. Unity, much like the Windows 8 shell, is just too App-centric and confusing.

    They've done a lot to make Linux more mainstream, and that's great. Their rise led to many other flavours of Linux which are a more polished product though (like Mint Linux) and people are starting to migrate towards something that suits their tastes. Now with Valve's recent announcement about the SteamOS, I can see more folks moving away from Ubuntu and to a Linux flavour that fits their needs.

  • by YoungHack (36385) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:57AM (#44946943)

    For a decade, I've set up a server with listening VNC servers for remote access through our switched network. Yes, it is somewhat undesirable from a security point of view, and we require SSH tunneling or VPN for machines off the immediately local network.

    I can tell that less emphasis is going into "remote" use of X11 and more going into the "desktop" experience, because this work pattern is almost entirely broken of late. I can't find a display manager to reliably work with XDMCP (and supply session switching, language choice, etc.) under the most current update.

    Crazy stuff is broken. The menu option of KDM just doesn't work (i.e. the widget is just broken). Some incompatibility with the new X11 apparently. LightDM is so unstable as to not be usable. WDM has an upstart bug that prevents the computer from booting (though this is the manager I use--I edited the rules in the script to fix the boot). GDM has the annoying 'Super-D' bug so no one with a D in their username can login (yes, this can be fixed and the session startup scripts are still a problem on my platform).

    It's absolutely insane that you can't find a display manager that actually works properly over VNC. It breaks a straightforward work pattern that I've used for a long long time.

    These people think they can make a phone. In my experience with Ubuntu that viewpoint is absolutely self-delusion.

  • 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.

  • Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gregthebunny (1502041) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:59AM (#44946959) Journal

    At least in my world it's been declining. I was once an Ubuntu fanatic. "It's so easy," I would tell people. It passed my girlfriend test. It passed my parents test. I used Ubuntu every day for years. After 10.04 LTS, things started going downhill. Once 12.04 LTS hit the streets, things started going downhill faster. I have since switched to Ubuntu's upstream parent, Debian, with LXFE for the desktop. Clean, simple, elegant. I'll keep this.

  • In the last few years, Ubuntu and GNOME stepped beyond the useful compromise Unix made between suitability for technical people and suitability for average people, and leaned towards the latter with generally no good reason. Sure, Ubuntu was pushing for an alternative to the X Window System, but so were the Wayland folk, supported by GNOME. The GNOME folk have been toying with the idea of making systemd a requirement for GNOME, making GNOME infeasible on other platforms.... because apparently your window manager should have a dependency on your init scripts? GNOME has removed all the options that make it usable in GNOME3, while at the same time embracing unreasonable defaults and suggesting the community write extensions to make it usable again? And so on.

    I suppose if we want everyone eventually running KDE on FreeBSD, we're well on our way there.

  • by CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:30PM (#44950221)
    Ubuntu will still be around as long as there are other popular distros like Mint, that are built on top of Ubuntu.

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