Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

Just past the 2010s, in the second decade of the 21st century, from Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to Ubuntu 19.10, Joey Sneddon, author of the omg ubuntu website, combed through the most decisive ten moments of the period.

1. Rebranding

Ubuntu in early 2010 looked as long as it looked:

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

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

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

The former Ubuntu look was accentuated in orange and brown, and the slogan “Linux for Humans” sounded a bit dated in the 2010s.

But none of this lasted long. In March 2010, Canonical underwent a full-scale branding before launching the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS release. The remodeled brand image is more modern.

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

Of course, it’s not perfect, when the new wallpaper was introduced by some users called “purple vomit.” It’s really not very popular, so it has to be re-designed before Ubuntu 10.10 is released.

2. Window button moves to the left

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

One of the biggest controversies in Ubuntu’s history is undoubtedly the window button controversy in Ubuntu 10.10. At that time, Ubuntu decided to move the window button from the right side of the window frame (class Windows) to the left (class macOS) in version 10.10. The entire community was thus expressing its displeasure, and the decision was strongly condemned.

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

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 at Ubuntu’s Belligerence, and this firm intransigence is increasingly evident in the release of the next decade.

3. Unity Desktop

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

For many, the introduction of Unity was a defining moment in Ubuntu’s history. This is the key to the release building user experience. Unity desktops were launched in 2010. Initially, it was intended to replace the Ubuntu Netbook Launcher UI. Surprisingly, however, unity desktops became the default desktop in Ubuntu 11.04.

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

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

Earlier versions of Unity had problems with nothing to help, critical features were lacking, and there were significant performance issues. Sometimes it feels like Ubuntu’s design and engineering teams are moving in a very different direction. However, once these early problems are solved, they are a good product in themselves.

It’s fair to say that Unity makes Ubuntu no longer just a Linux distribution, but rather a start to make it a real operating system.

4. Failed Ubuntu Mobile Crowdfunding

Canonical kicked off 2013 with a new program: the announcement of the introduction of Ubuntu to smartphones.

Later that year, Ubuntu launched a crowdfunding campaign for the program, targeting $32 million. As a result, $2 million was raised in 12 hours and $12.8 million in one month, and the Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign failed. Mark Shuttleworth’s fantasy “high-end smartphone” failed to go into production, and the Ubuntu Phone planted a seed.

5. Former Ubuntu One

From Unity, HUD, and Scopes to Sound Menu, MeMenu, web application integration, and more, Ubuntu is moving forward. Ubuntu One is one of these achievements.

Ubuntu One is a suite of cloud services that include free and paid online storage, branded music stores, music streaming, dedicated sync apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux desktops, mobile apps for Android and iOS, 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 (and work perfectly on Windows and macOS desktops), Ubuntu One can’t find a way to monetize itself.

6. Controversial shopping experience

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

When you do some searches, there are some related shopping recommendations, and the recommendations don’t look so smart, and users are harassed by spam, which is later labeled spyware by many users.

To determine whether a search query in Dash is shopping-related, Unity sends each word entered to the remote server. The remote server parses the search term and passes it to the Amazon Store for a set of (possibly related) product results. These are returned to users in Dash. Although there is no personally identifiable information in the data to and from Amazon, this information is not optional and Amazon obtains search content by default. These privacy issues are hard to ignore.

At this point, the Ubuntu release feels more like an interest-based, user base as a commodity than a community.

7. First Ubuntu phone

After several years of building, the first Ubuntu Phone went on sale in early 2015.

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is manufactured by Spanish mobile company Bq and is priced at 169 euros, in general size. But the finished product appears to be less than the previous hype, and is also limited to distribution. Joey thinks the mistakes made in the Ubuntu Phone era can even be written in a paper.

The full release of a Ubuntu phone is still a remarkable achievement. Unfortunately, its over-exaggerated marketing may not be appropriate.

8. Snap app

The Ubuntu Phone project ultimately failed to achieve its goal of disrupting the mobile industry and launching a new era of personal computing, but some of the work survived and continued to develop.

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments

The .snap app format was launched in 2016 as an improved version of the “sandbox” .click package format created for Ubuntu on phones and tablets. It was a great success.

Snap is more than just a GUI application format. Many of its core features, such as transaction updates, automatic updates, application rollbacks, and more, better meet the needs of servers, the cloud, and the Internet of Things.

Canonical introduced desktop support for Snap applications in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and soon provided support for .snap application side loading, snap://url processing, and GUI browsing through Snapcraft storage. In just a few years, Snappy managed to do what the early “Ubuntu Software Center” did not have: attracting independent software developers.

9. Dramatic 32-bit support event

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

When Ubuntu waived support for 32-bit installation images from 2017, it also committed to retaining 32-bit archives. However, some developers were frustrated when they planned to de-fully support 32-bit applications starting with Ubuntu 19.10. This year’s Steam event turned this around.

Valve announced that Steam for Linux would no longer officially support Ubuntu, which changed its attitude, if the 32-bit move was abandoned as planned. Ubuntu decided to continue maintaining some important 32-bit libraries to make applications like Steam work.

Unlike in the past, This time Ubuntu compromised, choosing to listen to feedback and make adjustments accordingly.


Mark Shuttleworth’s blog post announces the end of the Unity 8 era. As a result, Ubuntu phones, tablets, Unity 8 desktops, OTA updates, and more are all gone. This may be a good opportunity to correct, and Canonical can then focus more on the core strengths of Ubuntu.

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 to hear more from users.

At the heart of Ubuntu 19.10 is the GNOME 3.34 release, which has improved performance significantly. Everything has gone well since switching to GNOME, and Ubuntu 19.10 has received more reviews than expected.

This has laid a solid foundation for the future, and the next long-term support ingress version will be designed to meet the needs of the Ubuntu community. Despite the lamentable end of the Unity era, Ubuntu took full advantage of the opportunities offered by GNOME desktops and reaped the rewards.

Finally, here’s a Ubuntu 10-year development trajectory:

Ubuntu: Ten Years, Ten Key Moments


Ubuntu: 10 Years, 10 Defining Moments

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