Fight for the Internet 1!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Leaving Ubuntu or Staying Ubuntu?


This is a thought piece, related to my choice of Linux Distribution Ubuntu. Recently I thought about moving from Ubuntu to some other Linux Distribution.


Some of what brought on these thoughts are as follows (in no particular order):
  1. Firefox kde support being dropped.
    I personally loved this package and would really struggle to live without it now.
  2. Kubuntu being dropped by Ubuntu
    I have never liked Gnome, either versions 1, 2, or 3. I have always felt that with rare exception KDE was a superior desktop environment. (The biggest exception being the initial development and release of KDE 4, which was a colossal debacle to even its staunchest supporters. Why KDE? Just WHY!?)

    But I certainly don't think Gnome2 was bad. (I have no opinion on Gnome3, since I've really never used it or 2 enough to know the difference.)
  3. Focused move onto Unity (and thus on Gnome).
    Again, I don't use Unity at all (or Gnome) nor particularly like it. I've even felt it was a hinderance to the Linux Desktop adaption worldwide because Gnome is not as similar to the Windows Desktop as KDE is. But again, that's only my limited opinion.
At the time of these things happening (especially items #1 and #2), I began to worry that Ubuntu might be moving in a direction that would ultimately not support my needs as a user.

Where to go for an alternative?

If I am going to pick a new distro, what are my other options?:
  • Red Hat/Fedora: Not Debian, and possible stability issues compared to Debian based systems. (Again, only possible ones. I'm not flaming here.). On the plus side it does include Firefox-Kde-Support natively, I think. But I would miss the apt-package system, which I love a lot. I also would miss the Ubuntu PPAs, which are darn useful.
  • Debian: Doesn't keep up enough. I have to wait too long for kernel updates with important features that enhance performance and graphics and fix bugs.
  • OpenSuse: Not based on a Debian system, which puts me at a disadvantage. I've been using Debian since I started Linux. On the plus side it does include Firefox-Kde-Support, I think.

The Real Issue

Eventually I realized my alternatives were not what was important. The ultimately important question is what really matters: "What do I want from a distribution of Linux?"

My answers so far:
  • KDE 4 (with desktop effects)
  • BTNX (Button Configuration for my mouse)
  • Firefox (with KDE integration) (latest)
  • Gimp (very recent versions)
  • VLC (very latest)
  • Eclipse
  • Vim
  • Ssh
  • Amarock
  • Gwenview (very latest)
  • Konqueror
  • LiberOffice (very latest)
  • Wine (very latest)
  • Pidgin IM (very latest)
  • Proprietary Driver installation (easy and convenient installation)
  • Wacom Tablet support
  • Synergy
  • Avidemux (very latest)
  • Klipper
  • Workrave
  • Regular updates to keep as current as possible while also maintaining as much stability as possible
A lot these things I want (mostly software packages) can be found in other distributions of Linux.

Some Pro's for Ubuntu

  • Ubuntu Software Center: Great idea and pretty good execution, plus they keep adding more stuff to it.
  • Ubuntu is really really popular: It's a namebrand that third-party software contributors and developers actually account for, more than most other distributions of Linux.
  • PPAs: These are just awesome.
  • Finance Support: Ubuntu is making a lot of money and has a good backing. They are also pushing their technology into new areas and trying new things. Even if I don't always like or care for what they do, that's something to be admired.
  • Ubuntu for Android: Just plain awesome, especially because I so want to use this for my next phone.


I started writing this about two months ago and now as I finish it, I am happy to report all of my issues have been solved.
  • Kubuntu's Future: Kubuntu received funding from another external backer. (I believe they were offered backing by a couple of companies.) They aren't going anywhere, and in fact this may be a better move for them in the future.
  • Firefox kde support: Firefox kde support has been provided by a member of the Ubuntu Community, which is very awesome. This just demonstrates how the Ubuntu PPAs are a great aspect of the Ubuntu community. I was considering whether I should step up to providing a PPA to solve this problem, but someone did it for me.
  • Ubuntu's focus on Unity: Unity has been around for years now and I've been mostly unaffected sitting in my KDE castle. So, why start to worry now with Kubuntu backed by external parties?
Lastly I have seen the Ubuntu community work hard to support various packages and software I care about. People really try to help and support a lot. Just today I found that Ubuntu had added the 'btnx' and 'btnx-config' packages back into their repository, after they had been disabled a few weeks ago due to a bug preventing readiness for OS version 12.04. This just showed me in a small way they are doing a lot of what I want from a distribution.

So yeah, I'm staying with Kubuntu/Ubuntu. I hope other's experiences are generally as good or better than mine as well. Peace all. :)


  1. Have you had any success with btnx in 12.04? I only find a version for 11.10 which will not install as it can't satisfy the dependencies.

    1. @neilmca: Yes I have had great success with getting BTNX and BTNX-Config installed. Initially for about a month it wasn't available but then it was suddenly added! Give it a try. You can probably test it using a liveboot cd even.