Saturday, 29 June 2013 12:29

Kubuntu v Ubuntu: looks like the house is dividing

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Just a day before Ubuntu announced that it would be making its Mir display server the default from the next release, in October, the chief Kubuntu developer, Jonathan Riddell, announced that Kubuntu would not be using Mir or XMir.

Coincidence or anticipation? One wonders.

Kubuntu was an official project of Canonical until it split off and gained sponsorship by a company known as Blue Systems. Riddell was for some time an employee of Canonical but left the company some months ago.

His announcement seems eerily prescient.

Kubuntu is Ubuntu with the KDE desktop environment. Ubuntu originally used GNOME but now uses its own desktop known as Unity; applications from the GNOME desktop are present. There are other Ubuntu derivatives like Lubuntu and Xubuntu, using the LXDE and XFCE desktop environments respectively.

Riddell's announcement was very definitive. He contrasted the style of development at Kubuntu with that at Canonical: "Here at Kubuntu we still want to work as part of the community development, taking the fine software from KDE and other upstreams and putting it on computers worldwide."

And he went on: "So when Ubuntu Desktop gets switched to Mir we won't be following. We'll be staying with X on the images for our 13.10 release now in development and the 14.04LTS release next year. After that we hope to switch to Wayland which is what KDE and every other Linux distro hopes to do."

The upstream KDE project has indicated that it will not be using Mir at all; rather it will be switching to Wayland for its display server. It thus becomes difficult for a downstream project like Kubuntu to cater to another display server. Kubuntu has far less manpower at its command than Ubuntu itself which is funded by Canonical.

You'd have to wonder - will Mark Shuttleworth, the head of Canonical, consider revoking the use of the name of Kubuntu, given its similarity to Ubuntu, if it were not using the same components and, in fact, using a display server that Shuttleworth has jettisoned from his plans?

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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