Ubuntu popularity in downward spiral, is Unity to blame?


Posts: 3,357   +116
It has been an interesting year for Ubuntu and its backer, Canonical. Unity arrived amid much speculation in its April release of Ubuntu 11.4, with many questioning why Canonical needed to…

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Posts: 512   +8
If im not that drunk, i remember watching Ubuntu being promoted on schools and places like such back then, hell i even have installation CD's of all their versions wich came by mail, but the level of knowledge needed so users can do more than open the default apps and change the visual style are to "hi" for the casual user.


Posts: 44   +0
yep unity is the reason though i was accustomed to ubuntu so switched to xubuntu and it is excellent distro it will make its way up.


i stopped using ubuntu since the day canonical no longer offered free ubuntu cd delivery.


Posts: 161   +11
I don't think Unity is the sole reason, Ubuntu is losing share to Mint, plain and simple. Ubuntu needs to adopt Mint's approach and quit with the "You are installing proprietary software" shtick and just give me the tools I need out of the box. Let the "Open Source or Die!" crowd OPT OUT, don't make me OPT IN to have a system that functions at the most basic of levels.

That said, I installed 11.10 recently and Unity frustrated me to no end. Again, there should be a choice upon installation or first boot to allow the user to choose Unity or a more classic desktop.


Posts: 13,970   +1,778
Unity makes sense for those new to Linux, but many power users found it frustrating to work with. The initial fallback into the old Gnome 2.x environment when lacking 3D acceleration just confused matters. Now at least, with the release of 11.10, Unity functions with or without 3D acceleration, providing a more consistent environment.
I guess that's important to Linux desktop users (hmm; maybe most important to gamers), but being a server side user myself, 3D makes no sense and would not be a criterion for choosing a Linux distribution for me. As you might guess, GUI access is seldomly used for server side config, building and code development.


Unity is not the only reason - 'buntu has been in decline since long before it became the standard GUI. But recently Unity has contributed to a surge of users deserting 'buntu and moving to Linux Mint, Debian or other non Debian derived distros such as openSUSE, Fedora and even Arch.

The reasons for 'buntu's fall are numerous, but the main reasons in my humble opinion are:

- Ignoring what their users actually want and making pointless changes to the GUI.

- It now has a reputation for being buggy and broken on release.

- The 6 monthly distribution upgrades pushed through the update manager, causing more misery and breakage for their inexperienced users.

- False marketing: There was a time when they were "selling" it as "Linux for human beings" which it clearly wasn't, but they've now dropped that marketing along with the brown themes... nowadays they don't even want you to know it's Linux... 'buntu is in fact a lot of very bleeding edge software which is mainly based on Debian's Unstable branch.

'buntu's main page: http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu

What is an operating system?

An operating system is[...]
If you're the sort of person who has to ask a question like that, then you should seriously never be considering installing an OS, certainly not a Linux OS and most definitely not two OS's...

How does it compare to my system?

With Ubuntu, you can do everything you can do with other operating systems. But faster. And for free!
That's clearly bullshit. I'm a "hardcore" Linux user, you can call me a "freetard" all you want. I'm also an arsehole who thinks noobs should do their homework and use a search engine before asking the same stupid questions that have been answered a million times before... but I would never make such an absurd and misleading claim. I would much rather someone stuck with windows, than installed a Linux OS based on misleading and false marketing like that.

- 'buntu started as a very community based OS, the forums were a nice place to be - not any more. The forums have been rotten to the core for the last few years, member and also staff turn over is high, moderation is excessive and enforcement of Canonical policy on the forums is quite simply at the oppressive level - which goes against all the principles of free software. That's before we even get to "stealth bans" or removal/locking of threads criticising 'buntu and Canonical Ltd policy, products and services.

- Canonical's lack of upstream contribution.

- Alienation of many hardcore Linux users because of all of the above.

To me the graph spells out how artificial 'buntu's success has been. You can clearly see that Debian, Fedora (a descendent of Red Hat Linux for those that don't know) and openSUSE (formerly SUSE Linux) show slow and steady popularity fluctuation. Those three have been around a lot longer than 'buntu, Debian in particular since 1993, so the period from '05 to '11 does not really show the full picture. In fact all three of those distros have risen slowly and steadily over the last 10+ years. 'buntu on the other hand, emerges, rises sharply and is now dying away again - much like any other fad.

'buntu have simply been the victim of their own short term success. Linux Mint have merely taken the "best" parts of 'buntu and produced something that users actually want - not something which needs to fit a corporate agenda. That is how the GPL works, that is how free software works - if you produce ****, others will merely keep the best parts, the rest will be discarded - no one is under any obligation to put up anything which they don't like. This is why Mint will succeed (for now) where 'buntu failed.


Let the "Open Source or Die!" crowd OPT OUT, don't make me OPT IN to have a system that functions at the most basic of levels.
There are legal reasons for this as well as ethical ones - there are also matters of system stability and security involved. If you're making a statement like that, it's clear that you understand neither. If you do not respect the basic principles of free software, then you are actually biting the hand that feeds you and showing no respect whatsoever for the huge amount of work these people put in to this. There are reasons why proprietary firmware was removed from the Linux kernel, why S3TC was removed from Mesa and why all distros don't just come with java or flash preinstalled - none of the reasoning behind it was "religious" or made by "open source or die" people.



Posts: 3,357   +116
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I guess that's important to Linux desktop users (hmm; maybe most important to gamers), but being a server side user myself, 3D makes no sense and would not be a criterion for choosing a Linux distribution for me. As you might guess, GUI access is seldomly used for server side config, building and code development.
The point was more about the fact it defaulted to a totally different DE when 3D acceleration was unavailable. For those experienced with Linux (and with Gnome over the years) it would have been annoying at the very most, but for those new to Linux it would have been a thoroughly confusing situation to land yourself in.

My point is Unity not working with or without 3D acceleration from the start was a huge mistake on Canonical's part. I personally feel they released it too early, but as the years have rolled on I've come to expect nothing less.

I cut my teeth with Ubuntu 6.06. I'm yet to experience a release anywhere near as solid overall than that release since. Granted thats subjective at best, but having experienced every release since the very first I used to learn to use Linux I just haven't been as impressed.

I appreciate where your coming from though. I don't need a GUI or 3D with my servers either. ;)


In my opinion Unity is the reason. What else?

Besides that voices against it are silenced on Ubuntu Forums. Polls and post are merged and deleted... threads closed for "revisions"...

Ubuntu stopped been "cool".


I agree...I installed 11.10 recently and Unity frustrated me to no end.

Guess I will have to load mint as it is based on Ubuntu, which I have used for years and until 11.04 was very happy using their 32 and 64 bit versions on various equipment. Yes, the 64 took more effort yet was doable, the effort with 11.04 and 11.10 makes it hell MS is not so bad after this just more $$$ for software so if Mint works like Ubuntu 10.10 only updated like/near 11.10 that will be a win-win for me, unless upon installation or first boot to allow the user to choose Unity or a more classic desktop.


Unity keeps me from upgrading my good old 10.4 (I use this machine for work and at home too). I'm a linux user for more than 12 years from slackware through redhat to debian and from 2008 mainly ubuntu. I was quite happy with gnome and the stability of 10.4 with some packages from ppa or backport repositories (I needed the newest versions).

But now 10.4 is getting old, and I've tried every release from 10.4 and none of them were better... sadly release by release the GUI changes became more and more iritating (removed config options, frustrating and buggy 3d needing unity, still a bit unusable gnome shell, bad/rushed out classic gnome support), and I think this is unlikely to change in the near future (ubuntu leaders seem quite hardheaded)... and this will leave me no other choice but to change to some other distro (I'm thinking mint here...).

Or this is a good time to start the gubuntu project ;)


According to the statistics, the downward spiral started well before Unity.


Three reasons for Ubuntu's fall

1. Unity
2. Unity
3. Unity

Foisting a slow as dog, over-candied, unfamiliar interface on core users would be a more verbose articulation.


Posts: 5,746   +14
not surprised. I tried to install this on 3 different computers. On all 3 the installation failed. I gave up.


I've been using Ubuntu for many years, but not full time accept for the past 2 years. Started around 9.10.

Unity is not that big a deal for normal surfers, email, and the like. Load Cairo Dock and things are better or add the Kubuntu OS frontend/shell and it is nice and clean.

Anyhoot, all the Linux systems are STILL not ready for prime time right out of the box, esp for gamers and the like. Apple/Mac, Windows, most just work right out of the box and gamers and others can just load, update, and use. I do not like Windows, so I try not to use them. I do have all the above though... 5 or 6 computers in my home. XP, iMac Leopard, Vista, Ubuntu... least favorite are the windows products, but my son, who games, needs and requires it.

Why should I have to go VIRTUAL or load some other software to TRICK the system and play or use a particular software?

As for Unity... upon the load/boot, you should have a choice, of that I agree. Download and put Kubuntu Shell in place and you will like it... XFCE...


Posts: 4,311   +567
TS Special Forces
I think Unity is a large portion of the reason - and after using 11.10 I've decided this is my last buntu distro I'll be using. The next time something happens and it will take me more time to fix than reinstall I'll be slapping LMD on those machines. I hate the way the changed so many little things in 11.10 for who knows what reason.


Posts: 1,382   +72
My problem with it is I never got it to work with wireless encryption on my laptop even tho everywhere you look on different windows machines you find some type of wireless manager. Why couldn't they devote some of those many people to work on wireless for ubuntu, sort of like a chrome os machine? It worked better on my desktop but failed to boot 1 out of 5 times even after updates. Finally, why do they expect you to install an entirely new version every 6 months? Work out the bugs in the existing version and release it every 3 years, like windows. I never can see the business implications (like with firefox) in how it can be tested in such a short time in a business. Does anyone run a business anymore? I no longer use it because a power failure knocked out the final hard drive it was on and I never reinstalled it. Maybe it's bad luck.


It has to do with Unity, but also with the general attitude. Ubuntu has, from the user perspective, a HUGE problem. It cannot manage the headphone jack on a large variety of laptops. You either get both headphone and LS playing simultaneously, or you get none. Now, most of the computers sold nowadays are laptops, and if you bought one, presumably you would like to take it with you, and would not have everybody listening to what you listen to. Thousands of users must have reported the bug but it was always assigned lowest priority, and a solution was never attempted. And it is something that affects every user, every day. While top priority is of course Unity, which nobody ever wanted, and how to make the dock semi-transparent, which nobody cares about. I will not even comment on the intelligence of persons who cannot see the advantage of a rectangle having four corners, and insist on cramming every single hot spot northwest. I think that, in the end, we will all leave MS alone with his priorities.


Unity is not rubbish. It is pretty cool and works quite well. Traditional users will find it annoying though.

The major problem (as I see it) is the fact that more and more settings are being hidden away or just not there. People don't want to dig for basic tweaks.

Mint and Kubuntu are great alternatives.


Anyone who considers Google Trends and Distrowatch to be a authoritative gauge for interest on Linux distros should likely not be writing about Linux at all.

Ubuntu is alive and well