Ubuntu has been facing some backlash ever since they introduced Unity. I don’t know how many users actually migrated to other distros, but some long time Ubuntu users did switch to Linux Mint from my Google+ circle. I don’t think that’s a good sign for the distribution and the company behind it, Canonical.
I also don’t think there is anything wrong with Canonical of Ubuntu, it’s change that was inevitable. Ubuntu uses Gnome as its desktop environment and the Gnome project was moving forward with the long-awaited version 3. Gnome 3 brings some radical changes to the UI, which was extremely important to keep it ready for the new breed of devices which as ‘touch-enabled’. Gnome 3 meant change; change in the way a user interacts with his PC, change in functionality, usability and features. There were some conflict of ideas which lead Ubuntu team to create their own shell instead of using Gnome 3 shell, it was called Unity. It was not a new concept, Ubuntu already had that interface for netbooks.
So, this is what brought us to Gnome 3 shell and Unity conflict. Every other distribution which uses Gnome is moving to Gnome 3 shell, including super-forces of the Linux world – Fedora and openSUSE. Even LinuxMint gave in, so Ubuntu actually had no choice but to adopt Gnome 3.
Yes, there are users like Linus Torvalds and Greg KH who have pointed at the problems they are facing with Gnome 3. Did they ditch Linux and went the Mac way? No, they are using their preferred distro with other desktop environment.
Your and my needs may not be what Greg or Linus’ needs are – that doesn’t mean your needs are less important than theirs. But, just they way they did not ditch their preferred OS, you also don’t have to ditch Ubuntu just because you don’t like it.
There are certain things that Ubuntu team has done to make GNU/Linux more popular among average users (by average users I don’t mean Gentoo users who compile their own OS). Ubuntu offers out-of-the-box support to hardware, makes installation extremely easy. It has not happened over-night. It took than almost half a decade to reach here. So, there was a lot of hard work behind what they have done.
You can easily migrate to LinuxMint, Zorin or any other Debian based distro – that’s the beauty of GNU/Linux. But, you can also stay with your favorite OS which enabled you to break the vendor lock of Microsoft Windows.
I use a mixed environment – openSUSE/Fedora on my laptop which doesn’t have any proprietary hardware, Ubuntu on main PC, Lubuntu on Dell Mini and another Kubuntu on another PC. This mixed environment keeps reminding me of the advantages and disadvantages of Ubuntu, which I started to take for granted.
Installing printers, scanners, web-cams is a charm under Ubuntu. There are so many thinks that Ubuntu does with greater ease and I like it. Yes, I do have my reservations with Unity. All I need is to disable Global Menus when a window is not maximized. Having to go from the bottom of the page to the top left is quite a journey. Ubuntu team must also develop some extensions for Unity on the lines of Gnome Shell Extensions so as to offer greater level of customization.
That doesn’t mean you should stop using Ubuntu until they do that. I will heavily recommend 3 Ubuntu derivatives which you *must* try if you are not very happy with Unity (I will suggest keep using Unity and keep filing bug reports so that the developers know what you want).
Kubuntu: It is based on KDE which is extremely beautiful desktop environment. It offers almost Windows like experience so you won’t have to learn anything. Since its Ubuntu you get all the goodies of Ubuntu. In case you do need any Gnome app, you can easily install it on Kubuntu.
Xubuntu: If you are a big Gnome 2 fan and don’t want to stuck in past with Gnome 2 (or its fork MATE) you should try Xubuntu. It’s a lightweight Ubuntu which runs very well on low-power machines. It’s very beautiful and offers everything that is good in Ubuntu, along with the ability to install Gnome apps.
Lubuntu: This one is a rock-star. It is one of the most efficient Ubuntus. It is extremely light weight (needs lesser resources than Xubuntu), simple and gets the job done. The interface is similar to Windows or Gnome 2 with minimalistic design. You can, as usual download all Gnome apps on this one as well.
Gubuntu (Ubuntu+Gnome 3): You can also use Ubuntu with Gnome 3 and customize it using the extensions. You can create almost Gnome 2 like UI with Gnome 3 – thanks to extensions.
So, if you are not happy with Unity, you don’t have to stop using Ubuntu. You don’t have to give up the ease of use and support. You can still use Ubuntu just pick the one you want.
If Ubuntu doesn’t cut it for you, don’t worry there is a whole lot of GNU/Linux out there. Just use what works for you