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Ubuntu's curioius direction

Posted: April 27, 2013 in Tech

I've been an Ubuntu user for some time now.  I think my first release was 6.06 (June of 2006), and it's been my primary home OS ever since.

Probably the thing I like best about using Ubuntu (or Linux in general for that matter) is having the ability to customize it to work the way you work.  You can make a Linux machine exactly the way you want it, and no two are completely the same.  There are few limitations to what you can do with it.  In a word, Linux is freedom.

So you can probably imagine my dismay when that freedom starts being taken away.  Rather than a blank canvas on which to paint your masterpiece, you're now being given more of a coloring book, where you must color inside the lines.  And those lines are getting more and more narrow.  Gone is the "you can make this any way you want it" philosophy that I loved about Ubuntu, and in its place is a "this is how it's going to be", Microsoft-like mentality.

The rationale is that the folks at Canonical want Ubuntu to have a cross-platform common UI (because after all, a cell phone, a tablet, a laptop, and a desktop PC are all the exact same thing, right?).  I mean, why would you want to use your mouse to draw precise lines using your CAD program when you can use your big, fat finger on the screen and make it look like a bowl of pasta?

A few days ago I upgraded to the latest Ubuntu release, which is 13.04.  Immediately I noticed that the tray support was gone.  I noticed this of course because all my apps that need the tray were now hosed, including my HP printer software.  Ubuntu says that any apps using tray icons should have been using "indicators" by now, but in reality, there is a lot of software out there that exists because of the good graces of the vendors, or at least a few dedicated individuals, so requiring them to change it is most likely going to lead them to just drop support altogether.

So now I'm back into "find a decent window manager" mode.  I tried cinnamon (too many bugs) and am now playing around with gnome 3  (quirky).  I might bite the bullet and try KDE next.  I mean, it can't be any worse than Unity, right?

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