One of the most popular complaints against Ubuntu, especially with established Linux enthusiasts, is that Ubuntu fails to credit Debian with its success. Now I'm not talking about abiding by the GPL and making sure any code changes are made available to the public. No, I mean we don't see a blinking banner stating how thankful the Ubuntu development team is because they decided to use Debian.
However, the Ubuntu website clearly indicates that their efforts are based on the Debian project. Going further than that would just be stupid. It would be like me telling anyone who would listen that tonight's dinner was brought to us by my local grocery store. Clearly, if folks needed to know this, they'd look at the grocery bags next to my fridge.
I've been offering advice to the Ubuntu development team and Canonical through articles like this for years now. And by and large, my thoughts have fallen on deaf ears. Does that mean that Ubuntu is bad and should be avoided? Of course not. Rather, it means that a private company and a project it sponsors is going in its own direction. That's fine, it's their money, their project, their business to do as they see fit.
The idea that Ubuntu is becoming closed off is an illusion. What's actually happening is Canonical is taking the project forward with a vision they deem of value. This has always been the case. Where existing Ubuntu users are getting confused is in believing they actually "control" the direction of the project. Wake up folks, you're simply there to participate and enjoy Ubuntu — not to run the project direction.
As I bring this article to a close, I want to present you with some things to think about. Hate them or love them, the Ubuntu developers have accomplished adoption feats that no other distribution in history has even begun to approach. They've helped to bring forth a variety of pre-installed Linux vendors to complement the limited number of vendors in existence previously. We've also seen new software come to Linux that otherwise, may not have ever happened. Titles such as Lightworks and Steam are two new-to-Linux software titles that come to mind.
Ubuntu also made discovery tools such as the Ubuntu Software Center possible, while also offering improved management for proprietary drivers. Granted, other distributions did offer attempts at similar tools, but Ubuntu was the distribution that helped get them into the hands of more users.
Am I suggesting that Ubuntu is flawless or that other distributions should be completely ignored? Not at all, in fact, so far I'm loving my experiences with openSUSE 12.3. It offers functionality not found in Ubuntu and is a compelling, exciting distro in its own right.
My closing point is this: Ubuntu helped to kickstart Linux desktop adoption on a scale never before seen in history. Don't kid yourself into believing that it would have happened with other distributions because I've seen a lot of newbie-friendly distros come and go. None of these distributions even remotely touched Ubuntu. Next time we're tempted to show our frustration about Ubuntu, let's instead consider thanking the development team for their hard work at helping to grow the Linux community as a whole.