Your views wanted: is Ubuntu a good thing for Linux?


The awesome debut episode of the TuxRadar podcast has been brightening up the interwebs at for a while now – so long in fact that we’re about to produce episode 2.

For the Open Ballot section we’re revisiting a topic we’ve had loads of emails about recently; namely, the rise and rise of Ubuntu. Is it a force for good, unifying the masses behind a single banner? Or is it an inhibitor of free choice, herding us into the kind of narrow computing landscape associated with closed operating systems such as Windows and OS X?

Let us know your thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears, and we’ll shoehorn as many as we can into the next podcast.

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Your comments

Yes and No

People are associating GNU/Linux solely with Ubuntu. This is evident everywhere and is rather frustrating. Little credit is given to Debian or Gnome for their respective individual efforts when praising the merits of the Ubuntu distro.

Open source should be about choice. Without it, we might as all be using a single GNU/Linux distribution, as highlighted in the article above.

Ubuntu brought me onto

Ubuntu brought me onto Linux, kept me there (other distros just didn't work for various reasosn). In return I contributed to a lot of oss projects, started some, helped a lot of people.

So it's a 'yes' in this case I guess.

Linux Beginners

Ubuntu is especially good for linux beginners, although it brings things for the developer too. Ubuntu has the best chance of a majority share in the os market.

yes, it is! the ubuntu

yes, it is! the ubuntu effects will benefit the whole linux community.

What Ubuntu does for Linux

What Ubuntu does for Linux that is good is this: integration.

They take a different approach to Linux than most other distributions seem to, even if the end result is largely the same. Rather than stick together a bunch of apps and release it as a system, possibly documenting its deficiencies, Ubuntu as an organization seems to be trying to gauge which pieces are missing, and then trying to fill in those gaps.

It's like the days before KDE all over again. Most users just shrug and say "Sure, Linux could be configured to do that," but in reality, for various values of 'that', there are bits missing or bits which don't quite always work together. Ubuntu seems to be trying to make them work together.

Red Hat basically gave up on this point. They introduced Fedora as their 'desktop' offering, basically making it a dumping ground for packages. If things work, great, if not let upstream worry about it. Ubuntu seems to be saying "We can make the desktop work nicely under Linux" and then trying to make it true. I've seen complaints that they don't give back on the scale of e.g. Red Hat, but they certainly have made some tools which solve important problems.

I think this type of idea is powerful and useful, but I don't think that Ubuntu will ultimately be the distribution to make it all work. They have some systemic problems, for starters, plus they seem fond of making weird choices without justification. Their usefulness has already passed; they have infected the community with the idea that what they're trying to do can be done. Now someone will do it (but maybe not them).

I am a big Debian fan, so I like that Ubuntu's popularity means people cannot simply ignore non-RPM distributions and assume "everything's a redhat." However, Ubuntu is not ultimately good for Debian and will never be sustainable long-term.

I welcome Ubuntu's imminent demise. I predict two years, or less, before Canonical cuts funding and dumps the project. This will be good for the community and it will be time for a new contender in the same space to stand up and make a statement. In fact, that may happen sooner.

What comes around goes around

Same thing happened to GNU when it was "absorbed" into Linux as far as the general public was concerned.

It's long been known in marketing circles that only one name can own the word that defines the industry or product.

We've had our Xerox, our Kleenex, our Coke...and now we have Ubuntu.

Nothing odd about it. It's just business as usual.

The only place where it could cause problems is if it alienates all those fine people who are writing code. Most of them only do it for what little acknowledgment they get. Many could quit if they start feeling Ubuntu is getting all the credit, and they're being ignored.

Uhuh! Ubuntu FTW!

It was primarily Ubuntu that brought me into the Linux fold just over a year ago so i have to thank it for that at least!

I still use Ubuntu today mainly because it just works. As big a geek as i am, i'm not up for compiling my own kernel or browsing the 'interwebs' from the terminal. I might be exaggerating, but Ubuntu presented me with a fully functional, stable and working OS that was so intuitive to use.

A major 'ease of use' factor was the simplicity of installing, updating and removing software. (I'm aware not everyone cares or understands the needs for simple GUI/installation etc)

In some respects, it's the Ubuntu-haters how somewhat keep Linux from evolving; those who don't think a GUI tool is needed if you can do something via terminal.

Canonical gives Ubuntu clout - just look at it's inclusion on netbooks or the upcoming UI changes for Jaunty's successor. These progressions also make it upstream/downstream and benefit everyone. For most people Ubuntu is simple yet powerful enough - those who don't like it will always have options, but to vent over the single biggest contributor to modernization of Linux as a "brand" and as a system is petty and smacks entirely of 'I WANT TO BE THE ONLY GEEK IN THE PLAYGROUND".

Ubuntu is Linux for people with other things to do

I'm a software developer and entrepreneur, and I've been using Ubuntu for 3 years now. I switched over from Windows XP, and even now that I use a MacBook Pro, I am still running Ubuntu on it. I am also running Ubuntu on a small form factor PC hooked to the TV and on my home server.

To me Ubuntu strikes a good (but not perfect yet) balance between out-of-the-box features and the full power of Linux - which I consider the *only* serious PC OS. I really don't have time to be bothered about fixing sound, networking, touchpad, webcam, etc. issues every time I upgrade my systems. I want to perform actual work on these systems, be it development, social surfing, multimedia, etc, but surely not spend my time on system administration issues. And Ubuntu does the best job so far at keeping me away from such issues. I am even considering buying support from Canonical.

That said, I can't still recommend Ubuntu to non-techies on their desktop. I've tried a couple of times and both experiments failed with the users formatting the system and going back to Windows XP. Nor have I insisted about running Ubuntu on my company's servers. We've tried CentOS in the past and are now running Debian. Whatever makes our sysadmin happy.

What bothers me

I am student and somehow computer specialist wannabe. I've been using Debian since Woody and I'm very happy with this distro.

Ubuntu is a great and easy to use distro which could encourage many people to use GNU/Linux.
One thing that bothers me with Ubuntu is that when people makes new .deb packages they tend to forget that not everyone are using Ubuntu. These (Debian and Ubuntu) distros are quite different (different software/repos/versions) and not everything works just fine in Debian. People just put packages for Hardy or Ibex and think that's all right with everyone using debs. Well, it's not :)

Yes -> No

Yes at first.

Then if becomes no when it tries to over simplify to suit new users that are very much into windows.

New users equates ubuntu = linux
New users will blindly sudo anything (like in windows), don't believe? write them a worm and they will happily sudo into it.


I've benn using Linux for 8 years. I've tried many distro and I think Ubuntu is the best one, at least for my needs and my taste.


Look at Linux as a high powered motor vehicle, but it's uncomfortable and sometimes hard to handle. UBUNTU is the smooth five speed transmission, the leather seats, the easy handling steering, acceleration and braking.

I think Ubuntu has moved LINUX light years from my first Distro install in 1999. Now I can load Ubuntu on public computers in the Library and users from all walks of life (READ: Not geeks) can surf the web, print documents, edit spreadsheets, manipulate photos, watch DVDs - all with supplied open source resources. Quite honestly, if it wasn't for Ubuntu and the user experience that ubuntu has made for users, I would still be using Macs.

"Yes" to the title, "Maybe Not" to the content

"is Ubuntu a good thing for Linux?" Yes

"Is it a force for good, unifying the masses behind a single banner? ..." No

Since when has Ubuntu been trying to unify the mass, undo what the community has progressed, and eliminate all the alternatives?

What I have seen in my unfortunately few years of using Linux was that the rise of Ubuntu has forced many major distributions to rethink about their approaches, accelerate their development and produce a more friendly interface and tools to the sophisticated core of the Linux system. Linux in the last four years has changed a lot. Every major distro is trying to produce something better than what others have or improvements of existing tools. Sure, Ubuntu didn't do that all research by themselves, but it seems to me the appearance of Ubuntu has somewhat stimulated or rejuvenated the development of Linux. Mostly importantly, the fruit of these research and development gets adopted across the platforms, and comes back to us.

I agree that there seems to be an irritatingly increase in the wrong use of Linux to really mean Ubuntu, and I'd like to believe this is the reason why there is an increasing number of people distrusting/disbelieving Ubuntu. I think the solution to this problem is not to criticise or oppress Ubuntu, but more importantly to educate the 'online journalists' to use the right words (and the first few I have seen using the Linux = Ubuntu lingo don't even seem to really understand Linux (or computer systems)!) But I think Linux education has always been a very weak part of the Linux movement.

Anyway, I think Ubuntu is a good thing for Linux, but doubt Ubuntu is really try to do any controversial thing as suggested by some as mentioned in the content of this post.

dragged into the user friendly mainstream

Ubuntu is fantastic for the linux OS, without it, it would not be the mainstream contender for consumer products that it has become, i played with linux for years (never really 'getting' it) and returning to windows, then ubuntu came along, dragged the competition out of the bedroom and into the real world.

It has become quite a friendly beast now, and i have 3 different versions of linux running on my home pc's/laptops, and only 1 pc with windows. i doubt very much that i could have said that without Ubuntu raising everyones game.

The linux community should be supremely grateful to Canonical for doing to linux what Sony did to games consoles, Nokia did to mobile phones, BMW did to the car market, Dyson to vacumn cleaners etc, etc.

without Ubuntu, linux would still be a geek only OS, with Ubuntu we have a user friendly OS and plenty of geek only OS's, i think the term i am looking for is, 'we can have our cake and eat it'

It's all about choice

I think many people are overcomplicating this. As I see it there is no issue. Linux is all about choice - if you like Ubuntu use it, if you don't then use a different distro. Simple!

With regard to LXF and their (over?)coverage of Ubuntu, I think they have the balance about right. To be honest most of the articles/advice is equally applicable to other distros or can be adapted without too much effort.

I have seen it all, and Ubuntu rules.

Having used everything from dos 3.1 to vista (win 5.11 just last week on an old electron microscope) and installed linuxes since sarge days, I have formed a few opinions. If you are making software for yourself it does not have to hold your hand through the whole learning curve. If you want others to use it you have to work on that. On some early installations I could not open any programs since my mouse did not work and the keyboard shortcuts were obscure. As a scientific user with some excel macro tinkering behind me I should not have to find a system that stops me in my tracks and made me in to the win ME (spit) box to google for help.

Spreading Linux through the desktop

Unix and such systems worked hard on the datacenter (servers) side. Windows use a different marketing strategy going first through desktops and then into the server market with great results.
Ubuntu is using that same strategy, first making common people love their desktop experience and then spreading.
Ubuntu is great and on the other hand is a good brand. From Ubuntu we already have lots of derivative "new" distributions and "projects".
So when it comes to Ubuntu it is producing great juicy fruits to the FLOSS community and common users.

I agree with the second

I agree with the second commenter, I been through the same where I moved from Redhat to Mandrake to Fedora then to Ubuntu to SLED (XGL made me do it) and finally back to Ubuntu and stuck with it. I also introduced Linux to couple of my friends who don't know anything about Linux and they use it happily because of Ubuntu. From my point of view I would say "Yes", I see stuff on the Internet for software point of view that were otherwise would have been just for OS X and Windows and now offered for OS X and Windows and Ubuntu to some extent to other Linux distros. This wasn't possible 5 to 6 years ago.

Yes -- a resounding, absolute yes.

I've been using GNU/Linux since Slackware 3.6 (~1998), and I can say, without a doubt, that Ubuntu is helping the GNU/Linux community.

I borrow from the Perl community as to my reasoning: "Make the easy things easy, and the hard things possible" .. and "There's more than one way to do it".

Ubuntu embodies these philosphies. They realized that one of the major barriers to adpotion for Linux was that it missed the largest Operating System market segment (non-geeks). So, they provided a set of interfaces that made using GNU/Linux as simple as clicking on the proper menu. They offered the non-technical market the opportunity to get to learn and love Linux, without the harsh realities of XOrg configuration and reading dmesg output.

Even with these new features, Ubuntu hasn't really removed anything. You can still use the terminal, and all of your favorite tools for getting the jobs done. There's no breakage of compatibility for power users.

Ubuntu's menus offer a new, much easier, less featureful, and (arguably) more reliable way to configure GNU/Linux (if you've ever made a typo in your xorg.conf file, you know what I mean). If you want more power, fire up vim or emacs and get down to it. If you just want to finish your school report or monthly invoice statement, hit up the System menu. If you love apt-get, use it. If you would rather shoot yourself in the head than use a command-line, Synaptics offers a reasonable alternative.

The fact is, Ubuntu is lowering the barrier to entry of GNU/Linux. People that formerly would shudder at the word "Linux" are now excited to hear the word "Ubuntu".

Yes, they may be getting the credit for software they didn't write. But, when push comes to shove, newbies don't care who wrote the software -- they just care that it works. If Ubuntu is exposing that software to more people, those proud engineers that wrote our commonly-used tools will have a larger fanbase. In the near future, being able to say "I contributed to xxx" could be like saying "I was in xxx movie".

Absolutely !!

I have to agree and say Ubuntu is a wonderful thing...

I came from a M$ background a few years ago, and have been using Linux for about 4 years now.

Whats wrong with making the word "Ubuntu" synonomous with "Linux".
In my opinion, there are soo many variants of Linux, the poor newbie is swamped for choice.

So Ubuntu will probably be the first they try. I must admit, it is good and it "just works" - no messing around with binary drivers etc. Perfect for the Linux newbie, just dipping his/her toe in the free and open-source pool.

Once you have used Ubuntu for a while, then you can start branching out and trying the others.

So what I am saying is Ubuntu is the "hook" that gets people away from M$ land and then the choice is theirs !!

I have been on Ubuntu for 4 years now, upgrading at each 6 monthly release.

Just a few days ago I installed openSUSE 11 and was blown away by KDE 4.1 - so now I need to decide which distro I will be using from now on.

P.s. I just happen to be South African, so Ubuntu is a good choice (biased opinion), but if another distro does it better - I am free to move :)

I am also a LPI trainer, which teaches ALL Linux, not just one.


That Ubuntu has raised the profile of Linux is, I think, without question. On that level it's a "good thing". Let's face it, anything that demonstrates there *is* an alternative to M$ is a good thing.

However, I can see nixhamster's point - how many of us refer to a vacuum cleaner as "a hoover"? So in that sense, like it or not the word "Ubuntu" is becoming synonymous with "Linux" which isn't necessarily a good thing. There are a lot of distros out there which have a lot to offer. None of them (not even Ubuntu) can be "all things to all people" though.

The single biggest difference is the freedom of choice.
Fed up with windows? Want to try xyzlinux? no problem. What's that? xyzlinux doesn't do what you want it to? Try abclinux instead. THAT is your freedom, your CHOICE. It's something you don't get with Windows.

My first encounter with Linux was with RedHat 7 followed by Suse then Debian then Ubuntu, each with their good and bad points. I think it's important for (potential) linux adopters to be encouraged to explore the differences. Yes, there are a lot to choose from, but the same applies to cars: a selection of manufacturers offering an array of features, but when all's said and done a car is basically a propelled metal box on wheels which takes you from A to B

Ubuntu is valuable

I'd like to echo the cautiously positive views of many of the other posts. Ubuntu is most definately appealing because of its ease of use, and I applaud that. And in many ways it's dominance is natural, it currently supplies a product which fits a lot of people's need.
But I would argue that there is something very ironic about writing articles celebrating the diversity of choice in the Linux ecosystem, and then focusing only one particular distro. That's not to say that you need to change everything so radically (i.e. an issue which uses only slackware is probably not the way forward)
I'd say it's about providing an insight into a distro that is more than just a review, and giving people the courage to try something new, and thinking of new ways of approaching old tasks.
And there is something to be said for encouraging people to have a slightly more general set of skills, so that when the next big distro comes along, they are not stranded with a very specific mindset and a steep learning curve.

Somewhere in between

It's a great thing in my opinion that Ubuntu gets known more by the public, but I think the people behind Debian, GNOME, the Linux kernel and many more also deserve part of the attention. Without those people Ubuntu would be nowhere.

What makes Linux so strong is that it's made by lots of different people and groups. Everything, even different distros, work together to make a good product. It seems a good idea to me to focus at this, the big Linux community, who makes a lot of good distros and other products as opposite to the closes-source companies, who focus at making one product for all.

Of corse yes

Ubuntu is quite godd for strarters, and as a simple alternative to windows, it's quite good to, if ubuntu can capt all the newbies to itself, then at least other distros foruns become less lame with newbies with dumb questions. if then that newbie want to no more about linux and want to understand it, and dig trough linux distro's and philosophy, the better, else let them use ubuntu.... what's the matter if a user thinks ubuntu is linux and linux is ubuntu??? right now 90% of users think windows is OS and OS is windows.. so at least they'll learn a word.. alternative...

ubuntu helps me to install my Nvidia drivers

My mobo is basically NVIDIA the real problem is so far only Mint & Ubuntu will load the needed drivers.

I wanted to install OpenSolaris from the LiveCD, but OpenSolaris could/would not load my Nvidia network driver.

Perhaps, the reason for Ubuntus' success is that it helps people like me to "use" our pc "now" & not later. I use my pc to trade currencies on a daily basis when the market is open.

Now on to another matter I have become painfully aware of. I am not sure how state this, but there is a lack of awareness concerning the needs of the newer boxs. Everyone talks about Debian; however, I need a i683.iso & not an i386.iso to realize/utilize the power of q677 & 4gb of memory. I did not realize this new box would create so many issues.

So I have install Sidux-2009-01-xfce-amd64.iso as alearning device to learn how to use Debian. So as a listener I like your talk show. I listen while trading, thanks.

ps, I have installed both Mint & Ubuntu amd64.iso & feel they were both slower than Ubuntu 8.10. What your thoughts on that subject, please. thanks


Ubuntu is absolutely great for Linux


The question that really needs to be asked instead is: is average Linux geek good for Linux? The answer to that is by and large NO, based on the ridiculous reasons why they think it's bad.

Ubuntu has allowed me to convert two windows drones to Linux at work just in one week. If I was showing these guys a 'Linux according to the anti-ease of use Linux geek' there's no chance. More developers on the platform = more for everyone. There is NOTHING wrong with people thinking Ubuntu = Linux. That's how anything reaches critical mass as people need something to relate to.

The way the average Linux nerd expects the average 'normal' comnputer user to resort to RTFM'ing and command-lines clearly shows how little real social interaction these guys have with normal people.

To the Linux haters, get off the IRC and see how the real world ticks over!

Ubuntu is good - but not the best!

Anything that raises the profile of Linux against Windows is good and Ubuntu has certainly done that. There is a large amount of investment from Mark Shuttleworth into his distribution. However, it's not the ideal for everyone, it's always a matter of personal taste. Lots love it but also lots prefer a different distro. For me, the usability and hardware detection is far better on PCLinuxOS and although I regularly test other distros I always return to this.


Yes they are good. For a beginner. I myself am into Mepis, Antix, and Parsix. Three variations all Debian based. Linux is a solid system.

I like Ubuntu

Why is the Linux community so scared of a linux distro actually succeeding and becoming mainstream.

I think that Ubuntu is linux's best chance of becoming mainstream.

The reason windows became so popular, is marketing, people assoicating windows with the pc. Ubuntu can do that for linux.

So what if ubuntu leads the way. It means more people that use linux and if the linux user base actually grows bigger than 1%, mainstream software companies and magazines will actually take linux seriously.

Dont get me wrong, I am a ubuntu user and enjoy using the OS, as it is easy to maintain and upgrade.

Well guys, its all about money

Novel and RH puts a lot of money for their linux
developers and the Ubuntu/Dell folks just
package all that with some proprietary add-on
for free, and so kill their business completely.
Just take a look at the Greg's FUD ...

Just getting used to Ubuntu 8.10

I've just loaded Ubuntu onto a rebuilt Athlon 3800+ system and am quite impressed so far now that I've tailored the desktop. I like the Synaptic package manager which I originally discovered on my 4Gb Eee PC. It's a nice Debian distro.
I've also got Mandriva 2009 running on my other AMD box plus the Eee PC (Once I decided to move away from the original Xandros install.) I used the Xandros for about a year and, despite others decrying it as rubbish, found it very suitable for the little Kneetop.
My first foray into Linux was with Mandrake 7.0, free with PC Plus magazine in 2000, I've pretty much stayed with Mandrake/Mandriva till now.
I've also got Gentoo running on an old Sun Ultra 2 dual Sparc system, it was great for learning about some of the Linux nitty gritty. I find most modern distros are immeasurably better than when I first took an interest.
While I'm enjoying my new found "friendship" with Ubuntu, I still love having the choice.

Ubuntu is Definitely Good

Ubuntu is Linux for the mainsteam. It's Linux for people like me, who don't want to spend endless hours toying with settings to get the distro the way they want it - not that we can't, or won't, we just don't want to.

Face it, Ubuntu is becoming mainsteam. The minority of Linux users who think they're doober-awesome because they can compile their own kernel, know how to use vim, emacs, and 40 different text editors, and spend all day in their homes tweaking their systems dislike Ubuntu because it makes Linux unspecial. It makes Linux another OS, albiet a much, much better one. I can be one of those types of people at times (Can't we all?), particularly when dealing with a user who is definitely ID10T. I wish I could do things some of the greatest Linux users could do, but I know that even if I never learn how to do those things, with Ubuntu my system will still start, run, and act like a great OS.

Ubuntu is a great Linux distro for the beginner, the intermediate, and anyone who needs something which just works. You can go in-depth with it if you want - but you don't have to.

Now, can someone help me compile this kernel so I can add ext4 functionality and recode input/output functions? :P

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