What are your thoughts on Ubuntu?

I personally don’t use it anymore, and its parent company, Canonical, hasn’t had the best track record (It’s better than Microsoft at least). However, it’s by far the most popular consumer Linux distribution and a lot of people start out with it. It has introduced a lot of people to Linux and maybe even convinced many of them to switch from closed source operating systems. It was my first full time Linux distro.

Do you think it has a net positive or negative on the Linux scene, and would you personally ever use it?


Having grown up with Apple, I finally jumped ship to Kubuntu a few months ago, not knowing much beyond my need to escape the ever-intensifying evil of Apple + the general 'buntu reputation as popular & beginner-friendly.

I have been absolutely loving it, blown away by the user control & transparency, though it was certainly comforting to know there would be a bunch of polished gui tools to fall back on (+ popular, beginner-friendly forums).

That said, I’ve been more impressed with KDE than the base, and dissapointed to discover some of Canonical’s user-unfriendly decisions, so I’m already eyeing arch-based distros like Endeavour and Manjaro pretty hard.

All-told, I think that having a distro with training-wheels goes a long way toward increasing adoption, but it also seems like we might be getting to the point where the DE alone can bring enough polish to make other distributions more viable as entry points.

The one unrivaled benefit of 'buntu for beginners (in my mind at least) is a big friendly forum like askubuntu, where lots of new users over many years have made sure common initial questions are asked and answered, and there is a big base of support for new questions.

Tbh I really like Ubuntu. Great stepping stone for people to get into different distros down the line.


Ubuntu has done a lot in Linux history to make Linux and open source more popular. I am very grateful that Mark Shuttleworth has sponsored Ubuntu for so long. Ubuntu is a great OS based on the solid Debian and Ubuntu itself is the base of Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Budgie and more. Linux Mint was born because of the existence of Ubuntu. And not only interesting on the desktop nowadays but also on servers.

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I am ruined by NixOS, so any distribution without declarative configuration and atomic package management with roll-backs, revisions and ad-hoc availability of packages without installing just feels archaic now.

Unfortunately there is no declarative OS that is accessible enough to recommend to casual users (in fact there is only NixOS and Guix and neither has a graphical installer or package manager), and Ubuntu-derivatives offer the least friction so I usually recommend some such flavour.

Below is a bunch of opinions:

I dunno… Ubuntu is in a weird state today. It used to be the distro for new Linux users (well that and Mint), but now that Canonical has given up on the desktop it’s just another apt-based Gnome distro and there are others that do a better job at… whatever it’s trying to do now. Without Unity there’s just nothing special about it any more - it doesn’t have anything going for it besides a still somewhat large user base. There are the flavours for those wanting other DEs but in they’re similarly unremarkable.

The problem with vanilla Ubuntu is that it became so ubiquitous and then suddenly abandoned by Canonical, fracturing the already small Linux desktop community. I think it’s most notably losing the gaming community and Valve is looking for a different distro to support and recommend - that stupid debacle where Canonical announced dropping support for 32-bit libraries with no regard for the consequences I think was the last drop (luckily the decision was reversed after the backlash).

  • So it’s not the go-to for gamers. That’s Pop_OS!, Solus or Manjaro.
  • It’s not for wow-ing someone into switching to Linux. In fact I don’t even know what distro that would be :(
  • It’s not the go-to for moderately technical users; that would probably be Manjaro.
  • It’s not for the more principled FOSS activists. That’s more likely to be Guix, Debian, PureOS or one of the more niche ones recommended by FSF.
  • It’s not for the enthusiast and developer communities at large; we find our own niche distro. That leaves grandparents, CS courses, offices and “not a computer person” people, I guess.

Regarding derivatives:

Pop_OS! is probably the friction-less Ubuntu-derivative right now. Makes installation and setup very easy. No need to add some PPA for nvidia drivers released in the last few years and they’re even installed by default so there’s no unpleasant surprise for nvidia users trying to game on the terrible Nouveau driver; shitty but ubiquitous proprietary applications are available OotB and some even come pre-installed.

There’s no KDE-focused equivalent to Pop_OS!. KDE Neon should be it, but it isn’t. It for some stupid reason doesn’t provide 32-bit libraries without tinkering in the terminal, so you can’t use Steam OotB even though it’s right there in the software store. When asked about it the response is just “it’s a developer distro!” while the homepage clearly advertises it as an accessible distro with shiny up-to-date KDE software.

Honourable mention goes to ElementaryOS for its doing a good job at filling a niche (rivalling Apple in style), PureOS for carrying the torch in convergence, Linux Mint and Solus for also doing their own thing in a fairly successful manner.

Edit: I should probably commend Canonical and Ubuntu for having helped Linux adoption in the past. Even though it’s no longer what it was, we wouldn’t be here without their efforts.

Edit 2: I forgot to add that I’m quite negatively biased against KDE Neon since I recently converted my friend who after 2 months gave up and went back to Windows. They had been using KDE Neon for around a month or so and an update broke something so they couldn’t log in any more. I would have helped them solve it but it was apparently the final straw.


Elementary OS has the best out-of-box install IMO. Like something that you could install for a grandparent and require almost no instruction from you.

If I were to install something for someone who’s not imprinted on by Windows I might actually pick Elementary OS. They actually seem to care about simplicity, accessibility and style which is an impression I don’t really get from any other distro in the same way.

I periodically check out Pantheon (their DE) for some freshness, so I keep a configuration file for it around and just swap ./plasma.nix for pantheon.nix in my NixOS module imports. In fact I might just check it out right now! (This is why I want this kind of distro to recommend to friends - you just hand them a configuration file with cool stuff to show them).


That’s a lot of thoughtful statements, but I have to say I quite agree with you. Very well described and explained. Thank you for your input as it really got me thinking about a few things distros related.

Ubuntu was my first GNU/Linux distro so I have a soft spot for it. I don’t agree with it philosophically and so I don’t use it, but it has its place at the beginning of the free-software pipeline.


I know for me personally it was the first distro I used, though I never really liked most of the experience. It just happened to be the one that most people point to as the “beginner” version of Linux. It wasn’t until I found out about Mint that I started using my Linux laptop as an actual computer rather than an old laptop that I installed Linux on.


Same, was one of the first distros I used, so a bit of nostalgia there. But as soon as you try out some others it really ruins Ubuntu, making it feel like a stepping stone.


Without knowing if it has changed much over the past couple years, the friendly community support available to new users was a great benefit. I remember for example being on the road with no lan adapter and accidentally doing a dist upgrade that broke my wifi. Using my phone and askubuntu, I was somehow able to download the proprietary driver and transfer it over USB. Many other examples but that sticks out in my mind.

That said, things like the Amazon integration fiasco and articles like this scare me: Should Microsoft acquire Canonical, Ubuntu?: https://build5nines.com/microsoft-to-acquire-canonical-ubuntu-should-they/

That fiasco was long ago Ubuntu lost and removed them. Now there’s the issue of them pushing snap everywhere which one part the community doesn’t agree with wholeheartedly. That said they do have relations with Microsoft which another part of hardcore FOSS people are vocal about etc. Another part is that being based on Debian they are a bit slow in pushing updates which some people don’t like.

The benefit of using Ubuntu imo is that most tech support articles on the internet are geared towards Ubuntu and AskUbuntu/Ubuntu forums is a fairly large community than most other.

I think it’s good as a stepping stone in Linux once you get some hold you’ll be more than willing to shift unless you’re in gaming where Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distros is all the rage besides Manjaro which is understandable.

Personally I’ve been using Xubuntu and Lubuntu for the last three years because I don’t prefer either Gnome or KDE as a DE. I mainly use it because of the large repository borrowed from Debian, Ubuntu’s own, ppa etc.

Honestly Ubuntu is great. Without Ubuntu I wouldn’t have Linux Mint :p


As a new Linux user, I went with Debian first. Still a pretty popular distribution, but without the bloat that it seems Ubuntu has. Granted, I still think I could have done a better install to lessen the bloat, and the community could be a little better in terms of explaining concepts but when I net installed on a laptop without wifi card that was immediately supported, I found a Youtube video on how to make wireless work again. Next I’m going to install it on a x32 bit desktop computer and see if I destroy that accidentally since it has like 960 MB of RAM!

But overall, I feel like there are enough distros out there that I’d rather try as a newbie. So no I don’t think I’ll ever try it or use it. But in terms of positives, I’m sure someone who is hesitant might find comfort in using that first.

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Distributions include the Linux kernel and supporting system software and libraries, many of which are provided by the GNU Project. Many Linux distributions use the word “Linux” in their name, but the Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to emphasize the importance of GNU software, causing some controversy.

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