As much as I’ve never been a fan of Unity I’ve learned not to hate it as much as my host OS (and even in some of my VMs). Sure, my go-to desktops of late are mostly MATE distros or Cinnamon, but Unity hasn’t been completely unacceptable. With Ubuntu’s recent announcement of the demise of Unity and people openly pontificating on if this means Ubuntu is abandoning the desktop or looking to sell to someone like Microsoft who will then kill it on the desktop I started to analyze what this meant to me as a Linux desktop user. Is this the end of the road for that journey and therefore back to Mac or, god forbid, Windows?
Back when I was a big fan of OSX I looked on with horror as each subsequent release of the OS got shittier and shittier. What could I do, you either used what Apple gave you or didn’t. When I learned to not be totally displeased with Windows and then got beaten over the head with Vista, some redemption with Windows7, and then bludgeoned again with Windows 8 and then Windows 10 again the answer was, “tough shit” use it or don’t. You really didn’t have a choice in platforms. Still that never created, for lack of a better expression, existential angst; at least not recently.
It wasn’t too long ago that Apple wasn’t one of the most cash rich and largest companies in the world. With its fortunes on the rocks this Apple supporter looked hopefully that a turnaround was in order but wasn’t entirely sure it’d ever happen. I was still with two feet in two different camps: Windows and Mac. Nowadays you hear grumblings about if Apple will eventually abandon the Mac platform altogether. I think that’s a flight of fancy, but certainly they don’t seem intent to do more than keep it on life support so developers will continue to make iOS apps for them. If I was still wedded to that platform I suppose I would then feel existential angst. When your main computer platform is being end of lifed by the company that owns it there really is no other option except to go to the venerable Windows.
My move to Linux predates the rumors of Apple abandoning their MacOS platform, but it certainly was in the era of their benign neglect showing up in very tangible ways. My Linux experience may have started on Red Hat based systems but for the past year it is one way or another Ubuntu based. All of my favorite distros either are an Ubuntu flavor or an Ubuntu derivative. The notion that Ubuntu may abandon the desktop initially filled me with the same dread. I think I would have felt if I found out that Apple was saying goodbye to MacOS (or however its supposed to be spelled nowadays). I’m finally not only working well with Linux but preferring it for all of my uses. I have a Linux laptop for work, a Linux desktop running Linux VMs at home, and on my next personal laptop refresh will have a Linux personal laptop as well. All of those are running Ubuntu OS’s. If they go away where will I be, back on Mac or worse Windows?
Hold on. Hold on. This is one of the great things about Linux. There is no the Linux Company, or the Linux Desktop. I left that vendor lock concept behind when I left behind Windows and Mac. Let’s say the most catastrophic thing happens and Ubuntu stops making a desktop version of their OS. What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen? I have to chose one of another dozen Linux versions that can do the same thing. Ubuntu is based on Debian, perhaps I could try Debian proper (again), or one of its many variants. I use various Linux versions in literally dozens of VMs that I experiment with. Absolutely worst case I would have to do a “Linux From Scratch” and hand build my own distribution.
The truth is it would never come to such dire conditions. What’s the true practical worst case scenario of Ubuntu abandoning their desktop offering? The absolute worst case is the community picking the project up where it left off and moving it forward. There are enough Ubuntu Desktop variants that I’m sure a consortium could be setup to carry the baseline forward. This is the wonders of open source software. When the community shares the IP it has a resiliency beyond what any company can offer. God I love Linux, and never having to worry about operating system/computer platform existential angst again 🙂