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Ubuntu a generic distro

Filed under: General Linux — Kaleb at 2:04 pm on Friday, April 4, 2008

Ok so I was checking my daily digg news and i came across one of the more popular things dug that day which was Is Ubuntu becoming the generic Linux distro?

Ok now aside from the fact that this guy has had a total of like a year of Linux use and is not very well formed to actually express his opinion on the statement, I agree with his opinion. I suggest you read his blog to understand fully what this article will entail but to sum it up, he thinks that Ubuntu is becoming Linux and that to some new users Linux is Ubuntu.

I think he is right in this aspect. Many new users that I have talked to seem to think that Ubuntu is Linux and Linux is Ubuntu which you may or may not know is not true. Ubuntu is Linux yes, but Linux is not Ubuntu. I do not think that Ubuntu being a “generic” Linux distro is a bad thing. However I think it is a bad thing when new Linux users use Ubuntu and only Ubuntu because it does not express the actual power of Linux which is the community and the openness. Some new Ubuntuers (Ubuntu users) seem to think that by using Ubuntu they are getting the full Linux experience and that all Linux distros are the same or worse. So why change? Now you should all know that all Linux distros are not the same, and that they are definitely not worse. The thing about Linux is that one distro is not for everybody. Each distro has its uses and different users may like different distros for what they do. For example I use Gentoo and Arch Linux because I think Gentoo gives you the best performance and options for software packages, and that Arch gives you a very clean and fast operating system. Very fast (if you haven’t tried arch I suggest you do, it has the fastest package manager I have seen). And Owen likes Slackware for his reasons. That right there sums up the power of Linux.

I think that having a generic Linux distro is a good thing in some areas, for example, like what Ubuntu has been doing so far it brings lots of new users to the Linux world from both Windows and Macintosh worlds. However like I previously stated. Linux is not Ubuntu, so what do we need to do, show these new Ubuntuers the way. Show them out into the openness of the Linux world and express to them that Ubuntu is not the only way to go. What I suggested on my comment to this guys post was that (I know it will never happen because Ubuntu wants users and does not care about the other distros) Ubuntu should have some kind of a post install pop-up that has something like “Ubuntu is not for everyone, try out some of these other Linux distros…” and have it list some other distros that Ubuntu has partnered with. Doing something like this, I think would drastically increase the power of the Linux community as it continues to bring new users to the Linux world.

Now with that said, I think that us non-Ubuntu users should not poke fun of those Ubuntuers, like I have seen countless times on IRC and forums and what not. What we should express for them is that there may be another, better way to go, which may be in the form of a different Linux distro.

This has been my rant on Ubuntu as a generic Linux distro, thanks for reading

Kaleb Porter

IRC: magma_camel (find me in the #archlinux channel on (my website is undergoing hardcore maintenance so it is currently offline)



Comment by J S

April 5, 2008 @ 12:05 am

Ubuntu is having great success in converting people to “Linux” – there is generally a good mix of starter programs (OOo,Firefox,etc) on the live-CDs and a huge active community that is important if you have a problem to solve.

It’s based on Debian that is used for many other Linux varieties (I use DamnSmall for a lot of quick boot situations) so the tools learned under Ubuntu are applicable to a wider range of distributions – as are system compatibilities – I once had a FreeBSD NAS install crash and found that my wide range of Debian-based repair disks didn’t like retrieving files from FreeBSD formated drives – so I had to download a FreeBSD repair CD.

Hardware vendors offering Linux pre-installed are more often offering Ubuntu, which is expanding the user base.

Ubuntu has a refresh and launch cycle that keeps up an amazing pace of continuous improvements not seen in many industries including software “companies”.

Just point a link to to show the wildness of the Linux frontier.



Comment by Daniel

April 5, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

Well, Ubuntu *is* a great distro for beginners, and serves its purpose well. It introduces people to Linux. I personally use Ubuntu because of the ease of use, as well as the huge, supportive community that has grown.

We need to not confuse new users too much. I don’t think jumping right into some of the more advanced distros is a good idea.

As for it becoming the generic distro, it is based on simple observations I’m sure. Where I am all of the Linux users run Ubuntu, excepting a couple Fedora users (one of whom uses Ubuntu as well).

I am happy to consider other distros now that I have some knowledge of how Linux works. But Ubuntu made it easy enough to start.


Comment by Kaleb

April 5, 2008 @ 9:42 pm

I agree with both of you, don’t get me wrong, I like Ubuntu for the very reason I wrote this article: it brings users to Linux. However my point in this article was not to bash on Ubuntu. It was simply that the users that first use Ubuntu, the non tech savy ones, do not know of the other distros that there are. And therefore they stick with Ubuntu, or even move back to windows because Ubuntu did not show them how powerful Linux CAN be. All I was suggesting is that Ubuntu needs to show these new users the way to the other great and beautiful distros that are around which is the real power of linux.


Comment by Owen

April 7, 2008 @ 10:32 am

I recommend Ubuntu as a starter distribution. I think that its a great starter distribution. Personally for me its a little bulky and doesn’t perform as well as I would like.


Comment by Kaleb

April 7, 2008 @ 10:34 am

I agree compleatly with Owen on this. It is a very good starter distro. However it is to me, the Windows of Linux, trying to be the OS for everyone.

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