Ubuntu is Community

Update: Canonical has released stats showing the removal of “Community” has resulted in a 1/3 drop-off in page views to the community related portion of the site including the links that get new contributors involved.

This is how I felt when I found out Community was removed.
This is how I felt when I found out Community was removed.

So as many of you are aware the Ubuntu Canonical Design Team a few weeks back decided to revamp Ubuntu.com which is all fine and well but they decided when doing the re-design to remove “Community” from the place it has sat for years: that being the header menu of the site. Indeed, Canonical received some immediate outcry from myself and other Ubuntu Community members including members of the Ubuntu Governance and for very good reason.

After all Ubuntu is a community-driven Linux distribution operating system powered by hundreds of contributors many of which are strictly Community Members and not employed by Canonical. So I ask those of you reading this whether you think Canonical should have informed the Community of its intentions or at the very least informed the Community Council and whether the Community deserves to stay in the prominent place is has for years?

But before you formulate an answer I ask you to take into consideration that a good majority of open source projects of the scale that Ubuntu is do indeed prominently have a link to a page discussing and highlighting their community and some examples of that can be found right here.

Lets dig in a bit deeper though and try to understand what kind of websites don’t have a Community link at the top of their page and some examples that come to mind are Apple and Microsoft but of course they don’t because they are focused on making money and do not have an open source culture.

Canonical Design Team: By focusing our site navigation on the products themselves, we aim to make it clear for someone who is new to the site that Ubuntu is about all of these things: PCs, phones, tablets — you name it.

So focus on products and not Community? I don’t think that’s ok.

What do we do about this?

Well, we have a variety of options:

  • We can stomp our feet and be upset
  • We can say were leaving the community
  • We can switch to Arch Linux (or not!)

But in reality I think the one productive option we have as a community is to discuss this at next weeks vUDS (Virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit) and ask Canonical’s Design Team and the Canonical Community team why they made a decision to “spring clean” the Ubuntu Community right off Ubuntu.com.

But better yet let’s discuss what our expectations are and come to a consensus as a community. After all, vUDS is where the community comes together to make decisions. Let’s not leave vUDS without a solid timeline as to when we will see the “Ubuntu Community” having an equal and prominent placement on Ubuntu.com among Ubuntu TV and Mobile.

Be part of the discussion!

You can mark this bug as affecting you and you can also register to attend vUDS and mark yourself as attending the session scheduled to discuss this blueprint. You can also discuss it on Ubuntu Forums here.





  1. says

    Related question. Is it possible to navigate from the ubuntu.com page and find the download links for the blessed remixes? So far I haven’t figured out how to do that. Maybe I’m missing something.
    Specific example, If its possible to get to the xubuntu download link from the ubuntu.com main page, can you give me the step-by-step rundown?

    And if its not possible to navigate to the remixes from ubuntu.com, what is the expected process by which new users are meant to discover the remixes are available for download and install?

  2. Cody Smith says

    Or we could switch to Gentoo if we’re feeling braver than venturing into to waters of Arch. XD

  3. JonathanMERCIER says

    Ubuntu do not have a community but only customers. That is their point of view.

    I prefer to use a distro as fedora which

    – contribute to open software
    – do not negate that is linux
    – have a community
    – community can be into administration team
    and so many thing …

    • says

      Ubuntu can do all of those things the issue is that Community was not important enough to Canonical to stay where it was and instead according to the design team they want to focus on products which is what they think Ubuntu is.

      • Mat says

        Maybe Ubuntu’s problem is they only have one distro that has name recognition and they are trying to monetize that name on the desktop. Red Hat has Fedora. Suse has enterprise and Open Suse.

        The Redhat homepage doesn’t list linux or community. They must figure you know what it is if you are landing there. The Fedora home page mentions community 7 times, but they also have a photo of community members that lists community another 2 times. Also on the Fedora page, the word linux is somewhat demoted, being only used in the context of how Fedora benefits linux.

        I find that planet.ubuntu to be fairly vibrant, so maybe people who want community know how to find it.

  4. ChrisLAS says

    Maybe it’s the “image” community gives? This is me just reaching, but perhaps they want to try and build a high-end Apple like brand, and feel like “community” is too geeky?

    It’s not that they don’t want a strong community, and indeed value them… They just want to wow the average Joe consumer.

    Probably not.. Just an idea.

  5. says

    Excellent article Ben. I also agree with the comment about apple. Almost as iff Canonical has been in the process for a few years now (at least since Unity came around) to project a different image of Ubuntu to the world. Almost putting the consumer in his/her place… as a consumer to consume Canonicals goods… cloud storage, music purchases and storage, etc. Small changes like Ask Ubuntu where one goes to ask Ubuntu for help instead of asking the community for help. Right now Ask Ubuntu is community driven but word sound is power as Bob Marley & Peter Tosh always noted. Removing community is probably not icing on the cake yet, but the situation is narrowing.

    • says

      I think they are just in a tunnel vision right now and anytime anyone is critical or has a discussion publicly that is contrary to what they are doing well… They let the dogs out very literally.

      • says

        word sound power… “congress” the keyword is CON, “community” is the communication of unity… without the community base Ubuntu will become just another distro and maybe it already has without our realization.

        Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world with billions of accessible cash. They could comfortably lose 70% of their physical product sales (products last a long time for example), but they will still retain users and and continue to be a huge company because A) they have a nice product with easy interface B) more important they have locked in users through app purchases and music purchases. Apples users will never want to go elsewhere with their purchases. They are essentially locked in to Apple forever (technically not). People who have purchased thousands of dollars worth of music generally dont jump ship and go elsewhere. Shuttleworth knows all this. Hes a business guy before he is everyones buddy giving out free software. Purchases of apps in the Ubuntu Software Center, purchases of music, online storage, business solutions, and now with the advent of the Ubuntu Phone, this should lock Canonical in just like Jobs did for Apple. Ubuntu was about community before Unity. Once Unity came around Shuttleworth saw the plan in place to monetize everything. I dont blame him… sooner or later it had to be monetized for the longevity of the project. It could have been done differently IMO.

        The end result will be far less community involvement but more products and a better OS. Its now for the end user to decide where he/she wants to be. Better this and that in an OS where they have to buy apps or free software. If Canonical can survive 10-15 years of growth… they wont look much different then Apple or Microsoft. All 3 now have products like phones & other devices, and a free to inexpensive OS. The gap is closing quick.

  6. says

    I don’t agree with you that Ubuntu is a community-driven distribution. It’s been a very long time since it has been anything like that. I think it’s better that Canonical changes the website to reflect the truth, rather than pretending that Ubuntu is something that it isn’t.

  7. john smith says

    You’ve an error in your article: it’s not community-driven, is: “Canonical-driven, community-exploited” OS.

    In a community-driven things like the shopping-lens enable by default would never happen.

    Ubuntu is becoming a digital supermarket, where users are just meat with money.

    It serves Canonical interests and nothing more, no different than Microsoft or Apple, at least those don’t pretend.

  8. DebianDude says

    Canonical really needs to get their priorities straight and community should be number one.

  9. Ryan Arwood says

    Thank you for the article Benjamin. Coincidentally I was talking to some, non-linux user friends, about my thoughts of open source and I mentioned that the main reason that I don’t use Ubuntu on a day-to-day basis is that fact that I don’t see eye to eye with their take on community. To me, and I concur with you, Canonical is quite straying from a community feel. I stopped using Mac os some years ago because I wanted to be using an os that was centred about community.

  10. James T says

    I don’t agree with your article. I think Ubuntu is great exactly because it doesn’t pander to the community. Cannonical has strong leadership which doesn’t always come from the community. I’ve always found Ubuntu to be easier to use than other distributions but at the same time it has always challenged the norm. We should support them because they are trying to make a sustainable operating system. Yes, this involves making money and yes, this involves making some design decisions and strong leadship.

  11. Winfried Maus says

    Open Source or not: At the end of the day, Ubuntu is a commercial PRODUCT and Canonical is a COMPANY. I don’t think the implications of either need to be spelled out, it should be obvious. There is no such thing as a free lunch and in product development the involvement of a “community” always ends exactly where it would begin to hurt any commercial interests.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing, and at the same time it is not necessarily a good thing either. It’s just the reality. “He who pays the piper chooses the tune.” When it comes to Ubuntu, that guy is Mark Shuttleworth. Not “the community”.

    If you just use Ubuntu, that isn’t a problem at all. It’s an Open Source platform. It can be customized and still has COMMERCIAL support and backing — that’s GREAT! We don’t want to work ON Ubuntu, we want to work WITH Ubuntu and be sure that the platform will still be around in a couple of years. That’s why we use Ubuntu in our company and NOT SOME COMMUNITY-DRIVEN project! Except for the fistful of big names, community driven projects tend to disappear over night. Commercial products like Ubuntu and MySQL usually last a bit longer. That’s another ugly and unpopular reality.
    But if you care so much about community and want to be part of an Ubuntu-related community-driven project, you should better look at the foundation of Ubuntu and invest your time, energy and efforts there: Debian. If you want something that’s even closer related, why don’t you join the Mint team? Or the Xubuntu team? Kubuntu? Those flavors are certainly more community-driven than Ubuntu could ever be.