Thursday, 19 May 2011


You don't have to search through too many new posts over at the Ubuntu Forums to realize that Canonical's new operating system has polarized the Ubuntu community1.

In common with many of the posters at Ubuntu Forums, I too have expressed the view that Unity isn't the finished article and that it will need time to mature. Even Mark Shuttleworth2 acknowledges that Natty has some "rough edges" (video - around 12:20)! However, despite my own reservations, I confess that I'm astonished by the reaction of some to the release of Natty. It seems to me patently absurd to abandon a brand just because you don't like the latest product.

It's clear that there have been disagreements about the future of Ubuntu with the new release of Gnome on the horizon and that Shuttleworth wasn't convinced about the direction that the Gnome development was taking. Moreover, with an aspiration (or "challenge") for achieving 200,000,000 Ubuntu users by 20153, Ubuntu has to become more appealing to casual users - in other words, Ubuntu has to work out of the box for ex-Windows users.

But, here's the thing: Ubuntu is free software. No-one is obliged to use it and no-one is obliged to like it! There are alternatives to Ubuntu in the Linux world and there's even a couple of choices in the Ubuntu stable:
"Of course, Ubuntu is far bigger than Unity. And the needs of the Ubuntu community, and users of Ubuntu, are far more diverse than simply Unity could address. So I’m proud of the fact that the Ubuntu community publishes the whole expression of software freedom across its archives. Kubuntu continues to improve and set a very high standard for the KDE experience. Lubuntu, the LXDE based expression of Ubuntu, is moving towards being 100% integrated. There is unique work being done in Ubuntu for users of the cloud and other server-oriented configurations. While we can be proud of what’s been achieved in Unity, we are equally proud of the efforts that go into ensuring that the full range of experiences is accommodated, to the extent possible with the effort put in by our huge community, under the Ubuntu umbrella."
Source: Mark Shuttleworth A Leap Forward (emphasis mine)
You can even run Natty using Gnome2!

Mark Shuttleworth is correct when he says that, "to be relevant", Linux needs to attract more users away from proprietary software and that will require compromises. After all, not everyone enjoys the challenge of making their computer work as (they expect) it should! I hope that those that have reacted in haste and left the Ubuntu community reflect on their decision and give Canonical time to get this right, not least because Ubuntu is its community.

1 Examples include:
All accessed 19/05/2011
2 Mark Shuttleworth: here be dragons Biography
3 Linked video around 5:44

Sources & References:

1 comment:

  1. "It seems to me patently absurd to abandon a brand just because you don't like the latest product."

    The problem is that the brand gives you no choice. Unity has been forced on the community and this neo-fascism has no place in FOSS, which was all about choice to begin with.