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The Ubuntu Popularity Decline

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The Ubuntu Popularity Decline

The top 5 linux distributions (a.k.a. the “linux popularity index”), courtesy of DistroWatch, shows Ubuntu in a slow but progressive descent compared to Linux Mint which is decidedly charging forward.

What is causing the decline for Ubuntu? Im not 100% convinced it is because of Unity. I myself am no fan of Unity. I have, up until this point stuck with Ubuntu 10.10. Over the long weekend here in the USA, I was ultimately forced to reinstall Ubuntu (I screwed it up all by myself!) so I choose to install Xubuntu 11.10. So far, I am enjoying Xubuntu a lot. Its very clean and crisp and FAST. My computer has a bloated feeling when using Ubuntu, even version 10.10. I cant comment on Linux Mint though, but will be giving Mint a try soon. Xubuntu is very easy to configure and re-arrange and its very similar to Ubuntu pre-Unity. But more on that for another time.

Unity came out with the Natty release which was back in April of this year, but Linux Mint overtook Ubuntu back in late 2010 after the 10.10 Maverick release. Why? Are linux users ultimately getting tired of change?

Every new release of Ubuntu brings some sort of change. Which music player is default? Banshee? Rhythmbox? Does it matter? Users get accustomed to a program after a while. I was loving Rhythmbox until Banshee took over. Then, I found love with Banshee and its integration with Ubuntu One, my podcasts, my radio stations, etc. But now Ubuntu is going back to Rhythmbox! Same thing has happened with the default chat program. Empathy, Pidgin, cups attached by string, etc. How about Ubuntu picks one and goes with it? If Ubuntu makes an app a default app, then should be giving extra resources to the developers. This would solidify a particular app as default for a while.

Another thing that would solve the back and forth default apps problem would to be have a rolling release cycle. At the very least, I think that would help.

Yes, even I… “Mr. I Heart Ubuntu” can get tired of all the changes. I just want a system that works and is fast. Remember when Ubuntu promised under 10 second boot times? Its like Ubuntu has ADD or something… Hey look! A squirrel! And on to some other project Ubuntu is cooking up.

So here we are. Ive sketched out a typical ‘phases of decline’ chart below…

DistroWatch is saying that Ubuntu is on the decline. But where on the chart above would that put Ubuntu? I would take a guess that Ubuntu is still in the early phases and probably at the “blinded” point. Ubuntu wants to do great things and is blinded that it needs to fix its myriad of problems users complain about. If it fails to reverse course (inaction) then it will continue with faulty actions (Unity?). By that time, if Ubuntu hasnt made decisive action to fix its wrongs, then Mint and other distros will solidly stay ahead.

I would love to hear your feelings on why #1) Ubuntu is apparently in a decline and #2) where on the ‘phases of decline chart’ would you place Ubuntu?

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I am a linux user for over 10 years and Ubuntu linux is my only operating system. I originally made the jump from Windows to Ubuntu and open source back in early 2007 (using Ubuntu 6.10) for privacy and virus concerns.

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