Many of the developers of derivatives share the wait and see attitude of the major distributions. However, their closer connection to Ubuntu -- as well as the fact that adopting Unity as their default would mean less work for them -- makes their reservations about the new interface all the more damning. If the major distributions are simply unconvinced, then the Ubuntu-derivatives seem to be deciding against it.
These opinions are worth hearing, because they come from experienced users and developers, some of whom have done their own usability testing. They are not the casual reactions of users, but of people who have strong motivations for examining Unity carefully. Nor do the reactions appear spiteful -- if anything, their attitude seems to be mild curiosity and well-reasoned disappointment.
Yet the implications could be even more interesting. Assuming that these reactions are representative, then Unity is failing to gain broad acceptance. Even more importantly, considering that the criticisms are about Unity's basic structure -- and not just about missing features -- you might wonder if any modifications to Unity could make it a popular choice. And, should that be true, how long will Ubuntu continue to pour resources into a project that lacks popular appeal?
Ubuntu, could, of course, decide to ignore negative reactions for several releases. Perhaps Ubuntu is even large enough that it could ignore such reactions indefinitely, particularly since Unity is not aimed at experienced Linux users like the kind who work on other distributions.
All the same, these early reactions leave Ubuntu looking isolated, and for Ubuntu to insist too strongly on Unity might only increase that isolation. Ubuntu already looks estranged from the free software community after its disputes with GNOME and its insistence on forming new projects or supporting smaller ones rather than becoming involved with mainstream ones. In the end, Unity might only increase that estrangement.
Possibly, future versions of Unity can defy expectations and win critics over. But in the developers of other distros, Ubuntu and Unity face a skeptical audience that is not going to be easily impressed.
ALSO SEE: How Ubuntu's Unity Can Be Improved