Linux Mint Is On The Rise
Ubuntu has long been the popular choice when it comes to Linux distributions. The open source operating system even managed to be picked by large computer OEM Dell for the company’s netbooks and select desktop computers at one time. As far as free alternative operating systems go, Ubuntu was the top choice of many Linux users. Lately; however, the distro seems to be declining in popularity. According to ZDNet, Pingdom has gathered Linux market share data from the past few years and found that the once popular Ubuntu OS has given up a great deal of ground to competing distributions. In particular, Linux Mint has risen to the 11% usage level that Ubuntu held at its prime versus Ubuntu’s current 4% market usage in 2011.
Linux Mint 11’s desktop.
Interestingly, Linux mint started at 0% adoption in 2005 versus Ubuntu’s 11% in that same year where it would grow to 4% in 2007 and grow slowly to 5% in 2010. From there, the adoption grows rapidly to it’s current 11% market usage as of November 23rd 2011 (based on DistroWatch ranking data).
Linux Mint 11 is a very respectable and speedy distribution and is comparatively very media friendly and easy to use out of the box for newcomers. These qualities likely have contributed to the operating system’s place on the Top 5 Linux Distribution list.
Wait- What Happened To Ubuntu?
Ubuntu gained fame due to its friendliness to newcomers, casual users, and enthusiasts/power users alike. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes over at ZDnet notes that the operating system’s popularity is wavering. Linux Fans have cited Ubuntu’s recent interface overhaul-dubbed Unity- as a possible source of the decline in popularity. Kingsley-Hughes believes; however, that in the latest iteration(s) Ubuntu has spread itself too thin by attempting to appeal to too many people at once.
The Ubuntu 11.10 installation. One of several slides on everything that is packed in tight in Ubuntu.
On that point I think he is correct. Ubuntu has been attempting to become the Windows equivalent of the Linux space. This goal in and of itself is a noble one; however, it also goes against the grain of the “ideal Linux OS” (meaning the OS that users want to use). Linux itself is (by comparison) a niche operating system, and within that general term spawns numerous Linux distributions that are even further niche and highly specialized products and user experiences.
I have to concur with Mr. Kingsley-Hughes on this one, even with my own personal lackluster (or “meh” in less technical terms 😉 ) opinion of Ubuntu’s Unity it’s not bad or difficult enough to get rid of to cause such a drop in usage. The inherent purpose and goal of a Linux distro is to be a highly specialized and customizable user experience that is easily tailored to a specific users’ wants and needs. Ubuntu is falling out of favor with many Linux fans due to it trying too hard to appeal to everyone in a “jack of all trades, master of none” method instead of the perfect distribution for each individual aspect that makes Linux so appealing to users to begin with. Many design and under the hood changes have taken place in Ubuntu to accommodate the mainstream Linux goal(s) and in doing so a lot of users and configurations aren’t as easily obtained with Ubuntu anymore. There’s now more programs included by default and more programs running to maintain the something for everyone system, and that is not what many Linux fans want out of their distributions. They want a distro that only does what they want with as minimal of resources as possible while still being productive for example.
What are your thoughts? Is there a reason for Ubuntu’s decline or is the distro’s time in the spotlight simply over (for now at least)? Have you moved on from Ubuntu? You can read more about the Linux usage data here.