back to article Canonical kicks Kubuntu to the kerb

Ubuntu shop Canonical has withdrawn support from development of the KDE-based Kubuntu Linux desktop after seven years for commercial reasons. Canonical employee Jonathan Riddell has said his employer will stop funding his Kubuntu work following April's expected release of the next Ubuntu LTS, version 12.04. The decision means …


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  1. Johnny Canuck

    There's always Linux Mint KDE version.

    1. Jonathan Riddell

      "There's always Linux Mint KDE version."

      Linux Mint KDE is a mostly-community-made derivative of Kubuntu (which is a package selection from Ubuntu). Kubuntu will continue as a community distro so Linux Mint KDE should continue as well.

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Pepole pay for Unity?!

    Sad KDE is dropped but the real question is: Who pays Canonical and what are they expecting?

    And are they happy with the disaster that is Unity?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Unity does what Unity is supposed to do and does it well. It's young so there is room for improvement of course by adding features but so far it has proven as stable on all the machines I run it on as any other window manager.

      Just because you don't like it doesn't make it a disaster. Taking that attitude you could say Linux is a disaster because some people prefer Windows or OSX.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


        "Unity does what Unity is supposed to do and does it well"

        What exactly is that?

        If you are talking about a replacement for the old "netbook remix" than maybe, but for users familiar with Gnome 2 and similar (Windows, older Solaris, etc) then is a lot of pointless changes for NO BENEFIT.

        Now in the old days the netbook remix was an option for such devices (small screen, possibly touch screen) and for desktop with keyboard & mouse you got something that works well that way. Now you don't, and some things are non-obvious and non-intuitive, which is a GUI design failure.

        Futhermore if you have to support folk (not geeks like El Reg readers) the last thing you want is user interfaces changing for no good reason. Most users want to USE their PC, not play with it an ooh and ahh over shiny trinkets and re-learn how to do things every 6 months, etc.

        Now to be fair Ubuntu are not the only ones with GUI developers indulging in such self-indulgent w*nkfests, but it saddens me to see change for the sake of it, and more so when Canonical fail to fix bugs in the basic code, preferring to develop pointless new GUIs for no clear benefit.

        Ubuntu fondleslabs anyone? Why do that rather than Android?

        A waste of resources, and ones that could have been used to make it smoother and easier (as they did until about 8.10) so it became the safe & cheap refuge of those moving off XP and not wanting the problems/restrictions/cost of Windows or MacOS.

        1. Mark 65


          I can't help but think that they missed a trick by seemingly convincing themselves they could take a bite from Apple's pie. Indeed, why would anyone use Ubuntu over Android? Apple certainly don't put OS X on an iPad. I would have welcomed a much more stable fixed up environment and no doubt so would anyone willing to part with money.

          Microsoft may up and change user interfaces (ribbon) but they still keep the alternatives up and running for a considerable time (mainstream office 2003 support ended 2009 and extended support ends 2014) which is why they are still hard to displace in the enterprise. I don't think Ubuntu have earned that privilege and I'm not sure who they understand their user base to be.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Mostly good points, however I haven't found anyone transitioning from Gnome 2 to Unity who has taken more than a couple of days to get used to it.

          There are some rough edges (as I said: it is young) but nothing that won't be fixed or can't be teamed. I don't like the scrollbars for instance but it took about 30 seconds to find out how to switch them back. And if you really don't like Unity it's simple to switch back to Ubuntu classic.

          What Unity does give you is an easy to use clean looking interface with very little clutter and screen real estate requirements. If you mostly use sub-14" screen laptops then that's a real bonus. Plus it stops Linux displays looking like they were drawn in crayons by a 5 year old. Something KDE, Gnome2, et al spectacularly failed to do. The first thing my dad said when he used my laptop with Ubuntu 10 on it was how much it reminded him of WinNT.

          If you don't like change then don't use it - there are plenty of other distros out there with more conventional interfaces - but change and experimentation is exactly how new and interesting technologies arise. Personally I'd prefer to be looking forward rather than looking back.

          1. lsatenstein

            I left UBUNTU and have no regrets

            My two distros (Fedora and Linux Mint) give me what I need. I develop software and have 32 bit systems of each, and 64 bit systems of each. You would be surprised that you need to test with both platforms.

            UBUNTU Unity is fine for wide screen displays. It gets out of the way. However when one needs two windows open concurrently, it does not work well.

            As a developer, the LTS version is superior to Unity, as I can have multiple large windows on the display.

            I find however, the Fedora 16 is better suited to developers and users. Mint 12 locks up too frequently as I switch from terminal mode to GUI interface.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward


          One Unity hater says "Most users want to USE their PC, not play with it" and another says it "[doesn't] allow users any customizations!" This just goes to show that you can't please everyone and that if Canonical had left the interface as-is and not introduced Unity you'd have a whole set of people moaning about how dated and tired it looks and why couldn't they be brave like MS are being with Win8 and do something different.

          On the point of not allowing customizations, if I were introducing something new I would allow as little customization as possible because, by definition, things are going to change radically over releases and letting people dick about with the set up creates all sorts of possibilities for upgrade snafus. Furthermore, you don't want to be deluged with the "I fiddled with this and it broke" types of bugs that drown out the real bugs in the core components.

          Like I've said several times now: if you don't like Unity then switch to Ubuntu Classic or install something else.

    2. Jonathan Riddell

      Pepole pay for Unity

      "Sad KDE is dropped"

      This is not correct. My paid work on packaging KDE won't happen but Kubuntu is a community distro so KDE packages will still be available in Ubuntu

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What part of "train wreck" do you fail to understand

      I am speaking this as an ex-KDE user and ex-KDE desktop admin.

      I ran a development shop for 7 years which used solely KDE as a standardized desktop. I have been running a WIndows free household (kids computers included) for 14 years 9 of which on KDE. It just worked, was simple to understand and did not require an insane amount of resources.

      That was up to KDE 3.x.

      KDE 4.x is a f*** trainwreck. The API is different and there are whole lots of places where it is f*** different for sake of being different (I develop too and I had to look at it for a couple of projects). The userspace is different with no f*** benefit. Every single program changed its name. On top of that some imbecile decided that running a MySQL server instance per user with data in user's home directiory is a fantastic idea. I used to run KDE in a corporate environment and insist on it for the exact reason that it could run OK in a setup where $HOME was on a RAID-ed NAS, all settings were in the users $HOME and you could sit down on any machine and just work with your own settings (something Windows still fails to achieve to this day). So what do I get instead of that as an upgrade present?. Mysql. On NFS. Yeah right... That is besides the general crash and burn of 4.x, crazy video card requirements (which also actually worked OK only on nvidia anyway) and so on.

      So after 9 years I just said sod it and moved all of my users (and myself) to xfce. It still misses quite a lot of what KDE 3.x used to offer, but most importantly - compared to KDE 4.x it bloody works.

      Applause Canonical. Goodbye and good riddance. Software development is not a f*** w**kfest. It is serving users which KDE failed to do from 4.x onwards.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What part of "train wreck" do you fail to understand

        Hi fellow AC. Interesting point you make about the MySQL instance... when did that slip in? I can't say I have ever been too satisfied with Akonadi's design and performance.

        However, I have to disagree with you on characterising KDE4 as a train wreck. I am both a user and a developer too, and I am largely pleased and impressed with KDE4's design, the quality of its API, and the developer community surrounding it (amongst which J. Riddell). For me it does the job very well and generally seems to evolve in the right direction so class me as a happy KDE user (from 3.x days and through the mistakes made with, and hopefully learned from, the early 4.x versions). In any case, I fully respect your point of view.

        1. lsatenstein

          KDE interface

          I like it, I find it robust, and easily configurable. My software development is with Qt4.8 and I am told that KDE is written with Qt as the GUI interface.

          I like an interface that I can mold to my habits. I don't enjoy interfaces that are not malleable.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't KDE be installed in Ubuntu then? Still, one wonders if the Muon fiasco has influenced this decision. I can't abide Gnome; quite like KDE though less since the advent of widgets. Hate widgets! I just installed Kubuntu 11.10 a couple of weeks ago and have been running it for the longest I have done yet, as usually when something basic like updating fails miserably I just uninstall it, try another distro or three and usually just end up back on Windows, because while I _can_ run the command line fixes, the point - especially of *buntu - is users who can't do command line can run it as easily as Windows.

    I was giving Mageia 1 a go but the x86-64 version has an appalling issue with ATI graphics. The 32-bit version seems nice enough, but I don't want 32-bit.

    I've got openSUSE on the other box, basically because one recognises one network adapter, the other recognises the other. Neither recognises both and I _really_ have neither the time nor the inclination to adapt drivers from other distros. But for once I'm persevering with Kubuntu! And it's running quite well (once I sorted Muon out). All I can say, really, is LOL!

    Glad I've still got Windows on both machines as well. Given the usual claims of the *buntu zealots, I expect my real problem is I'm not their Gran.

    1. zanto

      "Glad I've still got Windows on both machines as well. Given the usual claims of the *buntu zealots, I expect my real problem is I'm not their Gran."

      whatever floats your boat Ken. all the best.

    2. Jad

      They have stopped paying to have a developer working on KDE ...

      But they are going to continue providing the servers, storage, and other services that will support Kubuntu, they're just hoping that the "community" will do the work of the 1 person who was paid.

      It seems strange to me though because KDE has gained lots of support since they introduced the Unity interface (not from me, I hate KDE too, and was happy to move away from SuSE because of that)

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        It specifically like SuSE because it still gives you the option, and mostly manages to have GNOME and KDE live together. I didn't like Unity, though, and it appears I'm not the only one. I really wish there would be a movement that would keep an interface that people like instead of giving in to this Microsoft syndrome that change MUST happen.

        But that's just me. I'll use Linux Mint, I think . It's OK for what I need it for.

        1. Mark 65


          This is the very point though. Although Microsoft have brought about change seemingly for change sake (the ribbon is growing on me, a bit like fungus would) they still support the old way for a long time. XP is over 10 years old, and Office 2003's extended support ends 2014 (normal ended 2009). The fact is their corporate wealth and size allows them to do this whereas Linux shops would no doubt have problems competing on this front. As such I would argue strongly (and in agreement) that in order to compete Linux must offer stability of its interface - they can't support multiple versions so keep it familiar and stable i.e. no Unity. However this also raises the issue of GNOME developers making whimsical changes that all inherit and I applaud the Linux Mint people for doing their level best to do the right thing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Linux must offer stability of its interface

            can't see that - Linux offers choice in pretty much everything, including - and - given the rage people get into - especially - desktops and (human) interface. Isn't that part of the joy of Linux - you choose the desktop, the filing system, yada yada...?

            Unless you meant stability in terms of don't fall over, which Linux has, has had for years

            1. Mark 65


              I'm thinking Linux as in "the packaged article the end user sees" i.e. Mint, Ubuntu, etc etc rather than the kernel. I'd like to see it become more than a project, hobby, or geek/enthusiast toy as it has genuine benefits to offer. However, switching interfaces on a whim or being held to ransom by the upstream project just won't cut it. Users don't want to keep learning changed interfaces for the sake of it. Microsoft may have gotten away with it but they are the exception for the reasons I previously stated. Linux (the bundled end-user part) could and should be so much more than it currently is and I'm hoping Mint will provide that as Ubuntu was a big change for the positive when I moved over from Mandrake Linux.

          2. zanto


            enlightenment e16 has been around since 1997

            "The Enlightenment Window Manager was first released in 1997 by Carsten "Rasterman" Haitzler"



            also see:


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ken Snorker 24-7 - I don't mean to be disrespectful but

      why do you bother with Linux then ? After all if Windows meets all your needs, why go for the unnecessary headaches ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why do I bother with Linux?

        Because I want to break free of companies like (and specifically) Microsoft. I've been testing distos for a decade hoping one will run for a week without some ridiculous bug cropping up that for the average recently-ex-Windows user would require the local geek to sort out to make the system usable again, but that pretty-much became a thing of the past in Windows.when everything went NT a decade ago.

        Also I multi-boot anyway. Apparently can't help it!

        So, no, Windows doesn't meet all my needs, since a major one is to be free of duplicitous mega-rich corporations. Not sure where it ends though. Since my annual Linux reconsideration, installing systems that install or come with the version of FF current when the ISOs were built, I actually decided to upgrade my Windows 7 laptop FF build from 3.6.2* - and then I read here, yesterday, disturbing hints of tracking to come to FF in the not-to-distant future, when for more than any other reason I run FF to avoid all that shite (given the right add-ons.Though, ironically, two of the three add-ons I use that weren't supposed to be compatible in FF 10 are working now, just like in FF 3, after opening the .xpi and editing the max version no. in install.rdf. I didn't think that sort of thing was supposed to be possible since FF 4. Also, I suspect that isn't really irony).

  4. FrankAlphaXII

    I dont use anything but KDE, its a comfort thing. Ive used it since I first learned Linux in the 2000's, and while KDE 4 really took some getting used to its still what I use. This decision just gives me even less of a reason to abide any of Canonical's products. Fedora 15/16 are just fine for me.

    But as long as Ubuntu still runs the X Server, you can use any of the existing Desktop Environments on it, like GNOME, KDE, XFCE, etc. Though it might take an inordinate amount of tweaking to get them running. I dont use any of Canonical's products so I dont know if you can do it. Im almost tempted to fire up a test VM to see what it would take.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not surprised

    Kubuntu has been known to be one of the worst KDE distros around for years. So surely any KDE shop was looking elsewhere.

  6. Jonathan Riddell


    "The decision means development of Kubuntu will stop"

    This is incorrect. My development on work time will stop. After 7 years as a community distro we have many contributors to carry on development.

    I stopped working on Kubuntu for 6 months last year and that release happened successfully.

    1. Jordan 1

      Re: correction

      Then may I be the first here to thank you for your work? Kubuntu was the first Linux distro I found that I really liked (way back in 2007), and I use it as my primary desktop distribution to this day.

  7. keithpeter Silver badge

    Anyone actually paying for Ubuntu desktop support?

    Hello All

    Does anyone here actually pay for desktop support from Canonical?

    I imagine that Canonical are selling server support and cloudy support things, but are there IT support managers out there who will be shepherding their flocks from 10.04 to 12.04 on the desktop? In numbers?

    If there is an IT manager here with a significant desktop estate running 10.04, can we have a Web cam / quote wall for when the 12.04 is rolled out?

    Personally, I rather like the new Gnome and Unity and the Unity 2d variant is quite swish. Could use a quicker response when invoking the dash.

    Canonical sales are apparently around £22 million a year, according to a not very reliable company report site. Must be selling some licenses to someone for something. T shirts, stickers and mugs don't bring in that much.

    @Mr Riddell: good luck to you sir, and I look forward to using your work as you are the Qt man by all accounts.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      @Anyone actually paying

      I doubt it. In fact, I doubt there is any paid support of significance for the desktop.


      Because of the number of bugs I know of in 10.04 that have been reported, in some cases community fixes released, and they have done NOTHING about getting it out via their repository. I can't see them getting away with that on a paid contract.

      Hell, if paying a few hundred quid got my list of half a dozen or more similar bugs actually fixed I would do it!

      Also I can't see any large users wanting the changes that 12.04 plans for the GUI compared to 10.04 which is exactly the sort of reason that MS has had to keep XP on support so long. Enterprise users want stability, and would be much happier with the 10.04 LTS being security-fixed for 5 years or longer.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. squilookle

    Personally, I would not go to Kubuntu if I was looking for a KDE based desktop anyway, although I did like it and I hope the community does keep it going.

    I can understand the reasons for the decision and don't think it is a huge problem, especially as the community will likely pick up the work. However, Canonical need to be really careful about how these decisions come across. Whether you like Unity or not, shoe-horning the users on the main distribution onto it has not been a universal success/well received, so withdrawing support for one of the alternatives probably won't fix the dent to their image.

    On the other hand though, I suppose it does show that atleast they have confidence in Unity, and you would want to know they are confident in it if you were going to adopt it.

  10. Miek

    Feeling minty here.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is as much "Unity über alles" as it is a business decision.

  12. lsatenstein

    UBUNTU will leave the desktop

    For you UBUNTU Users, consider that the Linux future is with the Android and similar Linux distributions. And since UBUNTU's deep pockets have limits, there is a decision to stop this KBUNTU or Other Desktop investment where there are insufficient returns and look to cover expenses. Even a millionaire has limits on expenses that do not bear results.

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