I'm excited for a new Ubuntu release—for the first time in a long time

I haven’t liked Ubuntu for a while, but it looks like Canonical and the Ubuntu community are returning to what made the Linux distribution great in the first place

nww linux predictions 2017 ubuntu 4
Credit: Ubuntu

It's been many years since I regularly used Ubuntu. Back in "ye olden times" I would consider myself one of the most outspoken advocates for Canonical's Linux distribution—often proclaiming the (near) perfection of Ubuntu—but those times have long since faded into the mist. 

Nowadays, I use Ubuntu only when there is a good reason to review a new release—which has happened less and less. And even in those cases, I tend to use it sparingly. 

There were many reasons for that change. Mostly it boiled down to a general disagreement with the direction Ubuntu was taking.

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I wasn't a fan of their in-house developed desktop environment (Unity). I didn't like how slow it was. I didn't like how buggy it was. I didn't like how un-customizable it was. I guess it would be fair to say, "I didn't like it." 

But it wasn't just Unity. The Ubuntu/Canonical disdain for pieces of tech that were "not invented here" simply annoyed me. Display servers, startup systems, package management systems, app stores ... there seemed to be a never-ending parade of new software being rolled out for Ubuntu that was replacing already-existing (and working) software that had been developed outside of Canonical. The net result was a system that was looking less and less like other Linux distributions—and with no clear benefit. 

I harped on Canonical and the Ubuntu crew (whom I have a huge amount of respect for) about this for several years. Their penchant for developing new software to replace working software that was "not invented here" was a particular thing I chided them for rather constantly. I even went so far as to dub the act as "being Canonically."

Making Ubuntu great again

But then... things changed. Rather all at once. 

Unity is gone. Mir (their in-house display server)—also gone. Ubuntu itself is refocusing on existing technology already embraced by the broader free software and Linux communities: GNOME, Wayland and the like. 

They're taking some of the best of the free software world, packaging it, testing it, polishing it and shipping it to Ubuntu users. 

In other words, they’re returning to what made Ubuntu great in the first place. A return to what made me love using Ubuntu so many years ago (back in those pre-Unity days). 

Much has been written about this topic already, but I wanted to put these thoughts out there in one spot: I am proud of what Canonical and Ubuntu are doing here. These are exactly the moves they needed to take, and while I know they were not easy decisions for the company, I want to high-five each and every one of them for doing so. 

Is it enough to get me to move my work and personal machines to Ubuntu right now? No. My Ubuntu time is in the past. I've moved on to a Linux distribution that better fits my style (greener pastures, if you will—those who know me can feel free to groan at the pun). 

That said, for the first time in several years, I am legitimately excited to install and test out the next version of Ubuntu when it ships in the fall—to see how the Ubuntu community has embraced the GNOME desktop and how they present it to their users. I think it is going to be a big win for everyone in the Linux world. 

Now, before you get worried that I might be going soft on Ubuntu, never fear. I'll still be making fun of Snappy every chance I get.

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