Friday, 31 December 2010

Why I may be leaving Ubuntu very soon

Ubuntu has been my primary Operating System for a number of years now and although it wasn't the first Linux distro I tried it's certainly been the one I've used the most due to its amazing usability and professional quality. Recently, however, I feel that Canonical have gotten a little too big for their boots.

I recently upgraded to 10.04 LTS from 9.04 after I got the message it was no longer to be supported. I had put off upgrading due to driver issues encountered in 9.10 (Broadcom wireless). After I installed Ubuntu and got my wireless working I went about my normal customisation of the system – installing my preferred Icon, Metacity, GTK themes etc. When I went to change my login screen I discovered that the functionality to do so had been disabled – as had the function to change system sounds. As someone who rants and raves to his friends about how customisable Linux is and how it doesn't require hacks to change basic things like the Login environment I felt a little bit betrayed by this new direction. But I remained as a quiet grumbler for a few months.

I then read that Ubuntu was ditching GNOME for a new interface they're deveoping called 'Unity' which, I believe, is a version of the Ubuntu Netbook GUI for the desktop market. I thought this was good as I believe it could only improve people's choices and such in the Linux market and that it could potentially bring to the table new ideas (which is never a bad thing). I then read a little more and discovered that Unity's interface is not very customisable at all. The launcher cannot even be moved. Why not? Doubtlessly there will be themes and the like developed for it and I presume I will be able to install GNOME onto the system but will it be the diluted GNOME that Ubuntu provides? Will I no longer be able to choose my own login sounds or login screen? Why not? It seems like an enormous step backwrads to have to faff around in /usr/share/sounds when I used to be able to use a menu? Bah.

I hope that these changes to Ubuntu's system are temporary or Canonical risks becoming the Apple of the Linux world and I for one will certainly be jumping ship elsewhere.

I may write a follow-up post about Ubuntu alternatives if I get the time to play around with them. Stay tuned.


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