Loving Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu has always had its critics, but it remains the most popular personal Linux distribution of them all.

My writing compadre Bruce Byfield wrote that while "Ubuntu first appeared, the free and open source software (FOSS) community was delighted. But, "In 2011, that honeymoon is long past. Although Ubuntu remains the dominant distro, criticisms of its relationship with the rest of FOSS seem to be coming every other month." To which, I can only reply, "So what else is new?"

Ubuntu started as a Debian fork almost seven years ago and I can still find Debian developers who are ticked off about it to this very day. Since then, as Byfield notes, Ubuntu, and its parent company Canonical has gotten into hot-water with one party after the other in open-source circles.

A short list would include Debian's continued jealousy getting in the way of co-operation between the closely related Linux distributions; countless accusations that Canonical/Ubuntu is all about promoting Ubuntu and not Linux; and that Ubuntu doesn't contribute its fair share to the Linux kernel and other up-stream open-source programs.

But this, this is all old news. Ubuntu has long endured these criticisms. So have the other Linux distributions.

For years there was a site called Boycott Novell, now called Techrights, which pounded on Novell for its Microsoft partnership and related issues. Back in 2004, I wrote about why Linux users hated Red Hat. The reason then was that many Red Hat Linux users felt betrayed by Red Hat leaving its personal distribution behind for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

I could go on and on, but you get the point. FOSS fans tend to be passionate. They don't dislike something, they "hate" it. They don't like anything, they "love" it. To which I can only say, "It's just software people!"

I don't see Ubuntu being any less "loved," then it ever has been. Sure, there have been recent issues, such as the dust-off between Banshee and Canonical on music sales fees, but I really don't see any change in either how Ubuntu approaches the Linux community or how Linux users view Ubuntu.

What Ubuntu has done for Linux is to market it to the masses. CIOs and CTOs, know Red Hat and Novell's SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), but if ordinary people know any Linux, it's Ubuntu.

Without Ubuntu I know many people who never in a million years would have touched Linux. It was too strange, too techie. Ubuntu has made it possible for pretty much anyone to use Linux.

Indeed, as Byfield points out, Ubuntu is also trying to get business customers, but I don't see how that has disappointed any one's original "initial expectations" for Ubuntu. Any Linux, any software project, that hopes to gain a large audience has to become more business like and look to other businesses for work. Even as Ubuntu reaches for the business clouds, it remains true to its intention of providing everyone and anyone with an excellent, easy-to-use Linux distribution.

While I've never 'loved' Ubuntu, I like it quite a lot and I'm sure many more people will continue to both like and love it. Sure, some people won't like the changes, but that's the nature of change--you can never make everybody happy. That said, I see Ubuntu continuing to make the vast majority of its users happy for years to come.