Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments


In the second decade of the 21st century, just after 2010, from Ubuntu 10.04 lts to Ubuntu 19.10, Joey Sneddon, author of OMG Ubuntu, combed the ten most decisive moments during this period. Let’s review them together.

1. Brand rebuilding

Ubuntu in early 2010 looks like this:

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

At that time, the Ubuntu logo and font also looked fancy:

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

In the past, the appearance of Ubuntu was mainly orange and brown, and the slogan of “Linux for humans” sounded a bit out of date in the 2010’s.

But none of this lasted long. In March 2010, canonical carried out a comprehensive brand transformation before launching the release of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. The remolded brand image is more modern.

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

Of course, not everything is perfect. The new wallpaper introduced at that time was called “Purple vomit” by some users. It’s really not very popular, so it has to be redesigned before the release of Ubuntu 10.10.

2. Move the window button to the left

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

One of the most controversial events in the history of Ubuntu is undoubtedly the dispute of window buttons in Ubuntu 10.10. At that time, Ubuntu decided to move the window button from the right side of the window frame (like windows) to the left side (like MacOS) in version 10.10. So the whole community was expressing dissatisfaction, and the decision was strongly condemned.

In the end, Ubuntu didn’t flinch, and the issue seemed to be forgotten a few months later, and not many people mentioned it again.

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

Until 2017, Ubuntu 17.10 moved the window button back to the right.

Joey believes that this is actually the first attempt of Ubuntu’s belligerence, and this firm and uncompromising attitude has become more and more obvious in the releases over the next decade.

3. Unity desktop

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

For many, the introduction of unity is a defining moment in the history of Ubuntu. That’s the key to building a user experience for a distribution. The unity desktop was launched in 2010. Initially, it was designed to replace the Ubuntu netbook launcher UI. But surprisingly, the unity desktop became the default desktop in Ubuntu 11.04.

On the one hand, unity is arguably the most successful and widely used Linux desktop environment ever. But on the other hand, it’s also one of the most divisive and controversial Linux desktop environments of all time.

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

Early versions of unity didn’t have much to help when there was a problem, there was a lack of key features, and there were obvious performance problems. Sometimes it feels like Ubuntu’s design and engineering teams are moving in very different directions. However, once these early problems are solved, it is a good product in itself.

It can be said that unity has made Ubuntu no longer just a Linux distribution, but a real operating system.

4. Failed Ubuntu mobile crowdfunding

Canonical kicked off 2013 with a new plan: announcing the introduction of Ubuntu to smartphones.

Later that year, Ubuntu launched crowdfunding for the program, targeting $32 million. As a result, two million dollars were raised in 12 hours, 12.8 million dollars in a month, and the Ubuntu edge crowdfunding campaign failed. Mark Shuttleworth’s fantasy of “high-end smart phones” has not been put into production, but Ubuntu phone has planted a seed.

5. Once Ubuntu one

From unity, HUD and scopes to sound menu, memue and web application integration, Ubuntu has been moving forward. Ubuntu one is one of those achievements.

Ubuntu one is a set of cloud services, including free and paid online storage, brand music store, music stream, dedicated synchronous applications for windows, Mac OS and Linux desktop, and mobile applications for Android and IOS. It supports paid application purchase and more.

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

This is an emerging experience that Ubuntu is trying to bring. It just doesn’t last long. Although tens of millions of users around the world can use it (it can also be used normally on windows and MacOS desktops), Ubuntu one can’t find a way to make a profit.

6. Controversial shopping experience

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

When you do some search, there will be some shopping recommendations, and the recommendation results don’t look so smart. Users will also be harassed by spam. Shopping lens, which brings this function, has been marked as spyware by many users.

To determine whether the search query in dash is related to shopping, unity sends each word entered to the remote server. The remote server will parse the search terms and pass them to Amazon store for a set of (possibly relevant) product results. These are returned to the users in dash. Although there is no identifiable personal information in the data to and from Amazon, the information is not optional, and Amazon will get the search content by default. These privacy issues are hard to ignore.

At this point, the Ubuntu distribution feels more like it’s built on profit, seeing the user base as a commodity than a community.

7. The first Ubuntu mobile phone

After several years of development, the first Ubuntu phone was launched in early 2015.

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu edition is made by BQ, a Spanish mobile company. It sells for 169 euros and is of average specifications. But it seems that the finished products are not as good as the previous hype, and they are limited in sales and distribution. Joey thinks the mistakes of the Ubuntu phone era can even be written in a paper.

The full release of an Ubuntu phone is still a great achievement. Unfortunately, its exaggerated marketing may be out of place.

8. Snap application

In the end, the Ubuntu phone project failed to achieve the goal of subverting the mobile industry and starting a new era of personal computing, but some of the work survived and continued to develop.

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

Launched in 2016, snap application format is an improved version of sandbox and click package format created for Ubuntu on mobile phones and tablets. It has been a great success.

Snap is more than just a GUI application format. Many of its core functions (such as transaction update, automatic update, application rollback, etc.) can better meet the requirements of server, cloud and Internet of things.

Canonical introduced desktop support for snap applications in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and later provided support for. Snap application side loading, snap application side loading, snap application side loading and snap application side loading through snapcraft storage snap://url Processing and GUI browsing support. In just a few years, snappy managed to do what the early “Ubuntu software center” didn’t: attract many independent software developers.

9. Dramatic 32-bit support events

Ubuntu’s reputation is based on “providing the best Linux operating system for all types of developers,” and it often has to make some tough decisions.

When Ubuntu abandoned its support for 32-bit installation images in 2017, it was also committed to preserving 32-bit archives. However, starting with Ubuntu 19.10, some developers were frustrated when they planned to remove full support for 32-bit applications. This year’s steam incident turned that around.

Valve announced that if it abandons 32-bit as planned, steam for Linux will no longer officially support Ubuntu, and the latter’s attitude has changed. Ubuntu decided to continue to maintain some important 32-bit libraries to keep applications like steam running.

Unlike in the past, this time Ubuntu compromised and chose to listen to feedback and adjust accordingly.


Mark Shuttleworth’s blog post announced the end of the age of unity 8. As a result, Ubuntu phones, tablets, unity 8 desktops, OTA updates and so on are all gone. This may be a good opportunity to correct. Canonical can focus more on the core advantages of Ubuntu next.

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

Gnome shell has become the default user interface for the Ubuntu desktop, which is a very popular change. Ubuntu also conducted a GNOME desktop survey and listened to more user feedback.

The core of Ubuntu 19.10 is the Gnome 3.34 release, and its performance has been greatly improved. Since switching to gnome, everything has gone smoothly, and Ubuntu 19.10 has received more than expected reviews.

This has laid a solid foundation for the future, and the next long-term support version will be carefully designed according to the needs of the Ubuntu community. Although the end of the unity era is a pity, Ubuntu has made full use of the opportunities offered by GNOME desktop, and thus reaped huge rewards.

Finally, here’s a ten-year trajectory of Ubuntu

Ubuntu: ten years, ten key moments

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