Has Ubuntu become boring?
Ubuntu has long been one of the best known and most popular Linux distributions. But has it become too boring and predictable to retain the interest of users?
One writer at OMG Ubuntu asked that question after looking at a chart of Google search volume for Ubuntu from 2004 to 2017.
Joey Sneddon reports for OMG Ubuntu:
This graph represents Google search volume for Ubuntu (the OS) from 2004 until now, 2017. Looking at the image it is hard to not conclude one thing: that interest in Ubuntu has peaked.
But has it?
I think there are a couple of possible reasons why people Google for information on or about Ubuntu less than they used to.
And most of those reasons are actually positive.
1. Ubuntu got boring
2. It Now “Just Works”
3. Ubuntu Phone Didn’t Help
4. Expectations have shifted (i.e the rise of mobile)
OMG Ubuntu readers responded with their thoughts about Ubuntu:
Hengels: “Ubuntu works, it is not perfect, has still some quirks and bugs but is generally seen quite predictable. I do not care what distro/desktop I am using. For real Linux users the command line is the core of each professional Linux distribution. The differences between the desktops are just irrelevant.”
Ziggystar: “There is a distinct lack of excitement, and that is the fault of Ubuntu itself. While I agree that the Unity 7 desktop is very stable….it also seems to have been forgotten by Canonical in their preoccupation with MIR/Unity 8, Snappy, and Convergence. This was most evident last year with the release of 16.04 which was nowhere near as good as 14.04. in terms of it’s polish.”
Devon Grier: “You nailed it with the is getting boring. Boring is not always bad as boring usually means stability which in my line of work as a system administrator that is important. Though with Ubuntu 16.04 I am experiencing a lot of bugs which on three different machines causes a lot of application crashing. After reformating with Ubuntu gnome all my problems seem to be gone which leads me to believe it to all be related to Unity.
I will also say a lot of hype has left Ubuntu with the failure to deliver Unity 8 and Mir. Something they promoted to soon. With so few changes in Ubuntu happening since 12.04 they would have been better off staying with gnome and using Wayland. At least there user base would have seen notable amount of changes going from LTS to LTS.”
Steve Chabot: “It was always kind of boring…until something didn’t work like it needs to. Then it gets exciting. Lots of surfing the Internet looking for troubleshooting info. Very exciting. Love spending my weekends googling the frak out of every forum on the planet to find my answer 30 result pages in trying to make hardware “just work”.”
OOioqipoiOoo: “I just realised with this article that it’s been about 6 months since I even turned my laptop on. I use my phone for everything these days. Sadly this means I’m probably an Android user rather than an Ubuntu user, something that has slowly occurred since the missed opportunity of Ubuntu edge. Until they bring full convergence in a reliable mainstream way, I’ll probably remain an Android user. I enjoyed my 12 years with Ubuntu. I just don’t need a desktop OS in the same way I used to.”
JQPublik: “Personally, my faith and admiration for Ubuntu began to falter with Mir’s repeated (and ongoing) failure to materialize. Add to that the underwhelming performance of the Ubuntu phone and the chronic postponement of Unity 8 on the desktop, and I came to feel that wherever Ubuntu was going to find it’s “Convergence,” I was more interested in simply using my desktop. Gnome 3 grew up and gave me the sublime interface that I had with Unity, but even better … in fact it was my desire to have the latest Gnome 3.xx that I finally left Ubuntu for Manjaro.”
Johnny: “I’m one of those people who believe that Ubuntu is in dire need of a rehaul. The direction of Ubuntu is very unclear. Users just want to log onto a desktop that just works, that is easy to get work done. One needs to ask whether Unity 8 will solve this problem, or will it just make things more complicated. The early stages of Ubuntu had that vision, hence its popularity. But the introduction to Unity distorted that.”
Marti van Lin: “I’ve been a Alpha/Beta tester and used Ubuntu as my primary OS for 10 years. I dislike where its going (Unity 8, Mir, Snap) and thus moved over to Fedora.”
Electric Prism: “For me personally I feel like Canonical getting dirty with the community is what put me off from Ubuntu.
There are many features in Ubuntu that I absolutely despise and feel are rickety, but the main durant is canonical’s reputation and attitude.
I feel like Mark Shuttleworth should have done more to assuage all the anti-canonical people over the last 5 years. Offical statements like “We’re committed to open source more now than ever” would have been very beneficial at the right time.”
DistroWatch reviews Minimal Linux Live
Linux offers a wide range of distributions, from distros that are bundled with gobs of software and desktops, to tiny minimalistic distros that can be run off a USB drive.
Minimal Linux Live is one such distribution, and DistroWatch recently did a full review of it.
Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:
Minimal Linux Live is, as the name suggests, a very minimal Linux distribution which can be run live from a CD, DVD or USB thumb drive. One of the things which set Minimal Linux Live (MLL) apart from other distributions is that, while the distribution is available through a 7MB ISO file download, the project is designed to be built from source code using a shell script. The idea is that we can download scripts that will build MLL on an existing Linux distribution. Assuming we have the proper compiler tools on our current distribution, simply running a single shell script and waiting a while will produce a bootable ISO featuring the MLL operating system.
I was intrigued by Minimal Linux Live, particularly by the idea of using just one shell script command to build the entire operating system. I was pleased to find the distribution does indeed build and run exactly as the documentation says it will. I was also interested in running such a minimal environment in a web browser and was pleased to find MLL does run (admittedly slowly) in a browser. There is not a lot we can do with a command line only distribution in a web browser, but I can see how it would be a useful educational tool.
In a way I feel as though MLL is Linux From Scratch for people who want to automate the build process, skipping the manual work. And, in this regard, MLL is effective. We can run the build script and come back an hour later to a working, tiny distribution.
There is not a lot we can do with MLL on its own, apart from testing hardware, rescuing files or running simple scripts. However, the platform is there to build upon. Much like other minimal distributions, such as Tiny Core Linux, the power of MLL is not in what it does, but in providing a core platform on which we can expand. In this regard, MLL does very well.
How do you choose a Linux browser?
Linux offers a wide range of web browsers, there’s one for just about any kind of user. But how do you pick the right web browser for you?
This topic came up recently in a thread on the Linux subreddit, and the redditors there posted some interesting answers.
Corrugatedcardboob started the thread with this post:
How do you pick a browser?
I’ve been using computers for a long time but recently I felt like I wanted to become more of a serious user. For a very long time I’ve been using Firefox. I was aware of different browsers like Safari, etc. but I didn’t realize there were so many.
Why are there so many different browsers and how do you find out which one is best for you? Ultimately a browser is just a window with tabs, so I don’t understand why there are more than a few of them.
His fellow redditors responded with their thoughts about choosing a browser for Linux:
TheSolidState: “How do I pick a broswer? FOSS is a big priority, so it has to be firefox or chromium or probably lots of smaller ones. As is privacy, so it can’t be anything from Google, or with stories about phoning home to Google or binary blobs from Google. And I find it helps if it’s popular to have good plug-in/add-on supoprt. So firefox.”
Dfldashgkv: “Being packaged for major distros with security updates is also a major plus.”
Idas_Hund: “If you care about privacy you shouldn’t use Chromium as it calls home all the time (Yes, even Chromium). You should check out Inox and Iridium for Chromium-based and Google free web browsers.”
Jflesch: “1) By principles : I will never trust a browser that is not open-source. Browsers have become far too important in our everyday lives to be trusted when closed-source.
2) By features and correct support.
3) At this point, in my opinion, it leaves only Firefox and Chromium. However Chromium is mostly a Google project, a company. And as any other companies, their goal is first to make money (and when it’s free, you’re the product). Whereas Firefox is developed by the Mozilla foundation, which I trust a lot more.
Also, I use a Firefox extension that, afaik, simply cannot exist in Chromium. I believe it is because of restrictions to add-ons that Chromium places on its GUI.”
Thgntlmnfrmtrlfmdr: “Firefox is by far the best, especially if you care at all about privacy. It’s really not even close.”
Adevland: “It’s a process of elimination, really.
Eliminate all those that suck for you for various reasons, and what is left is the best for you.”
TingPing: “There are effectively 3 browser ‘engines’ on Linux at this point. Chromium (blink), Webkit, and Firefox (gecko). Chromium is the most popular, generally the most performant, the most secure (it sandboxes its processes), most actively developed, etc.
Most of the new browsers use Chromium as a base for mentioned reasons. Firefox is still interesting for political reasons but is still making progress. Other than Firefox forks nobody bases off of it afaik. Webkit is stuck in between and probably the least interesting of them. I believe Epiphany is the only browser on Linux using a maintained release of Webkit (though QtWebkit is being revived).
There are so few engines because they are massive and complex projects that require lots of work. Now why do a ton of browsers based on them exist? Probably because people are very opinionated and for a few maybe there is money in it.”
Dnshane: “With Firefox finally migrating to process separation (running web content in a different OS process than the browser itself) and moving development from C++ to Rust, I think Firefox will probably be the most secure browser going forward. They are also taking add-in security very seriously, moving to a model requiring developers to sign their add-ins (it’s a tricky problem space, but basically I think Mozilla is doing the right thing there).”
PQtran: “I was also a long time user of Firefox, mostly because I grew up with it. I found that performance was an important criteria for me as a user so I started using chromium more. Now I value both performance and the ability to customize your browser experience and so I primarily use Vivaldi.”
Did you miss a roundup? Check the Eye On Open home page to get caught up with the latest news about open source and Linux.
This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?