I really thought that Ubuntu was the distro that might finally cross over into the mainstream.
I've now completely changed my mind, and I will be looking for a new distro.
What's changed my mind? Not the radical change in user experience, not the continual churn of new applications for commonly used things like listening to music or watching video, and not Canonical ignoring their loyal user-base but going for the 'new' (although all of these things are annoyances).
It's actually the way Canonical has split the established user-base into "I don't like it" and "I think it's the bee's knees" camps over Unity. What they've done is effectively alienated a considerable part of the people who (like myself) were strong advocates for, and encouraged the use of Ubuntu to users of other OS's. Unfortunately, the most valuable advocates are probably the people with most experience of Linux and Ubuntu, and who are most likely to be the ones upset.
I don't actually mind there being another UI. I don't mind them switching default apps. What I do mind is the "do it our way or not at all" approach of removing the old way of doing things. I feel it's almost as if they are deliberately making a statement of disinterest in some of their most loyal users.
I have recently been unpleasantly reminded about how unresponsive Canonical can be. I know that they have limited resources, and also rely on knowledgeable community members, but I don't like how fast thing change in the normal release process, and how quickly problems are swept under the carpet. I keep to LTS releases, because making significant changes on a regular basis to my daily use machine is not of interest to me. I have been using Hardy since about 6 months after its release, and I was suddenly informed that Google were stopping builds of Chromium for 8.04, because it had moved out of support.
They were right. As a desktop release, Hardy dropped off of support (on desktop systems) in about May this year.
Why was I still using Hardy? Well, in Lucid (10.04), Canonical imposed KMS (although to be fair, it was part of the Kernel), and completely broke suspend and resume support for ATI Mobillity graphics adapters even though it worked flawlessly in 8.04, broke Composite Rendering support (for Compiz), and also crippled Xv performance for video playback. Despite several defects raised by users of Thinkpads and Dell laptops, the calls languished unresolved, and the last suggestions were to upgrade to 10.10, which is *NOT* an LTS release. I spent 10's of hours trying to work out why all of these things were broken, before deciding that I could not afford the time to understand enough about KMS to be able to do anything useful, and went back to Hardy.
I've now (mostly) switched to Lucid, but have had to disable KMS (which is a blunt fix) to allow suspend and resume to work, and also turn off Advanced Desktop Effects (which I used to catch peoples attention), and switched mplayer and Xine to use a raw X11 frame buffer for rendering video (I've not worked out how to do the same for GStreamer/Totem). If I can't get Composite Rendering working, there is basically no chance that I will be able to use Unity on my Thinkpad, even if I wanted to.
So, I will keep the Hardy partition until I've checked that there is no other gotcha's from Lucid, and will then look around at my options. Maybe I will use Xfce on Ubuntu, but it was nice, for a while, to be able to use a Linux distribution that just worked without too much fiddling.