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Why is Ubuntu Popular? End Users Share their Opinion

Do you think Ubuntu is the most popular Linux based desktop distribution available today? Or maybe not?

One of the users over at Reddit questioned Ubuntu's popularity (in good-faith).

I am strongly wondering why is Ubuntu this popular. I don't feel like it addresses any "role" for a distro. All the other "big" distros are really specific into their specialisation.

I am having a hard time why Ubuntu has become popular. I personally view it as a distro popularized by a private industry? Is it popular because it managed to build a community or because it's easy to work with?

Enlighten me please.
Here is how users responded to him. They shared their experiences when they tried Ubuntu years ago for the first time and some users shared their current opinion as well.

*None of the responses below have been edited, except for some spelling corrections.

"It's what got me into Linux. I picked up, I think it was, a Warty Warthog disk at a computer repair store... put it on a crappy laptop and got sucked into linux from there. I've never really tried (or wanted to try) a different flavor of linux since I got into using Ubuntu... I'm happy with it and have been using it for a rather long time now."
"You can't easily get a redhat iso and suse was difficult to get. Ubuntu on the other hand sent me a CD free of charge (this was back in the day)."
"In the mid 00's the release of Ubuntu was a revolution. They put a lot of work into making everyday things easier. Especially things you need everyday. Google "Nvidia drivers linux" and set the date range somewhere in the mid aughties and you will see about 40 ways to install drivers in various distros with vastly different results all around. Ubuntu put a lot of work into that. 
They also linked themselves to the 6 month release cycle around Gnome 2.x releases making them the defacto distro of the most popular DE of the time. 
If you're coming to Linux now you might notice all the great choices availble, but things were vastly different once upon a time. Ubuntu earned it's fame and still caries it to this day."
"Proprietary drivers installed automatically, so your computer works without you needing to fiddle with the command line. This is the number one reason people use it and is what made it popular in the first place. 
Every piece of software that is distributed by a third party for Linux is made for Ubuntu first, and the other distros last, if at all. Flakpak and/or Snaps should help fix this. 

Googling for a problem with Linux almost always comes up with results for Ubuntu. 

More people are talking about it, so more people hear about it."
"People love to hate on Ubuntu and it would be naive to think that's it's for beginner, it's a very active distro / community with a lot of available packages from the real world ( enterprise app ). It's pretty much #1 in the server side with RHEL / CentOS, for instance Netflix uses Ubuntu pretty much everywhere on AWS ( and they have thousand of instances )So it's #1 on the desktop and probably server too. Seriously it's a good distro don't listen to the canonical cirle jerk, plus they have a top notch sec team."
"I use it because it works. For me a distro is a good package manager plus a repository with packages I want. The rest, like in any other Linux distribution, I can customize to my liking. Ubuntu fits this idea quite well. It has the largest package repository (I think), which is at least somewhat tested to an extent that installing/updating anything doesn't cause any major breakage. Also, you'll probably have the least problems with proprietary/closed-source software if you use Ubuntu, so you won't have to waste your time on fixing things that shouldn't have been broken in the first place."
"Yup. Not only all of what you just said, but it's also the distro that most devs test against when porting games to Steam (they'll frequently list Ubuntu 12.04-16.10 as an OS requirement...it would take some research to equate that to another distro).
I'd rather have as few hurdles between me and game compatibility as possible...without having to use Windows. Although I will say that I'm tiring of Unity and trying to find a way to transition to GNOME without breaking my current install. Unity may not be the best foot to put forward when it doesn't play so nicely with multiple monitors and such; hopefully my luck improves in another DE."
"In the beginning, Canonical (maker of Ubuntu) used to mail out physical installation CDs to anyone who asked for one (or many in some cases). Ubuntu touted itself as an easy to install and use Linux distribution, so that, combined with free CDs, made it rise in popularity faster than most distros."
"Ubuntu is popular because Canonical made an effort to make it popular. Canonical saw the potential in Linux and did what no other company/distribution had the nerve to do . . . make it user friendly.Anyone who used Linux before Ubuntu will tell you that Linux-based systems before 2004 were absolutely horrible, in regards to "average users". I first tried a Linux distro with Debian in 1999 and it wasn't long before I said "oh holy crap screw this".Ubuntu launching when they did was great timing because Linux systems were no where near user-friendly but they were generating massive marketshare in the server space.Using the momentum of server adoption with the approach of making Ubuntu for "human beings" gave Ubuntu a massive jumpstart on garnering attention.They didn't stop there, they capitalized on that momentum to start marketing in a large space including sending free CDs to anyone who asked for them. This was a massive boon for Ubuntu because no one else was doing that and when people heard about it they went "hmm what is there to lose" resulting in them actually trying it.They then started making partnerships and deals with companies to sell Ubuntu with their computers.They started doing initiatives to help companies and even cities switch to Ubuntu as a platform. In many cases having Ubuntu forked into custom distros.Canonical simplified the process of getting software to users and for users to get it via PPAs from Launchpad. openSUSE was technically doing something similar before Canonical but their service isn't as seamless and when combined with the other efforts Launchpad just had a much higher chance of succeeding."
"The way I see it:Ubuntu offers lots of GUI convenience applications that other distros don't like "Additional Drivers" and take a "meh, you do you" approach to proprietary software usage when some other distros(Debian) shove libre software down your throat. Since Ubuntu is more convenient in those regards it has more users.Since it has more users, when developers develop software for Linux(game or just general software) they always develop for Ubuntu first.Since Ubuntu has more software that is more or less guaranteed to work, more users use Ubuntu.And the cycle continues."
"I used to do the Gentoo circus, tried all kinds of optimizations without really getting much out of it.Decided it wasn't worth the hassle as I wanted to get work done rather than compile, even on my very fast workstation. Landed on Ubuntu with Cinnamon because it works the way I want it. Been running all kinds of distros from Slack, via Mandrake, SuSE, Red Hat, Debian and Gentoo from the early days of Linux, but after I started using Ubuntu, I haven't even bothered trying other distros as it works the way I like/want it to and I'm happy.Your mileage may, of course, vary!"
"High level of out-of-the-box functionality combined with low maintenance on the user's part makes it a great choice for people who just want to use their computers instead of fuckin' around with the OS all the time."
"Anyone who used Linux before Ubuntu will tell you that Linux-based systems before 2004 were absolutely horrible, in regards to "average users". This is a correct statement, and Ubuntu did the Linux community a great service by raising the bar for distros being easily installable, hardware compatible, and bug free compared to anything out there at the time. At some point, maybe in around 2010, most of the rest of the Linux distros caught up with regard to these criteria.Forgetting about Ubuntu usage stats, Ubuntu doesn't seem to be a leader anymore in the desktop space. I remember when Ubuntu releases were exciting, and I can't remember the last time that was, maybe 2011 or 2012, when I sort of gave up expecting any new developments. Personally I think Unity and Mir were missteps in the desktop space, though maybe they fit into Canonical's larger plan w/re phones. Momentum was lost.I would still recommend Ubuntu or Mint as a noob distro, the only difference being desktop preference (and DE experience is not equal on all distros). I certainly would recommend Ubuntu LTS over Debian stable simply because the age of Debian packages can be a bug or instability in itself for many desktop users. And Ubuntu LTS might be my first choice on a server as well, because it's good enough."
"It's because you ubuntu works really hard at awareness.When I was in college and what distro hopping to learn different things I went from Debian to a Ubuntu server core. The installer was like Debian's which I really liked but more organized. Then Debian later re-organized theirs.Ubuntu is a good all around good easy OS"
"Because it actually has really good defaults and the biggest maintained repository.And the whole "Ubuntu is bloated" thing really is just a meme and a myth. I know many Linux users who went through the "Arch because that teaches you real UNIX" phase settled down with Ubuntu because, at the end, you realise it's just as Linux as other distros, and you have the benefit of having a great big binary maintained repository and working defaults instead of every upstream dev thinking in their own way."
"When it first started other distros did a piss poor job of making an easy to use system. The only distro that came close was Mandrake which was by far easier than anything any other Linux distro had. The problem with Mandrake was that you had to do things their way because it predated a lot of the infrastructure we have nowadays. When Ubuntu came onto the market there was a lot of hype about it because it was based on a well established community distro and they actively made it easy to use. It also disregarded philosophical principles of free software when they contradicted functional requirements. Nowadays that latter one is pretty much the only differentiator that's really left standing. The progress on "make everything easy to use" doesn't seem to have progressed much further meanwhile most other distros have made a lot of progress in terms of how easy to use they are. The only thing that really makes Ubuntu "easier" nowadays is the out-of-box hardware support."
"At home honestly I really really like Unity, I could easily get by with Gnome 3 too though.At work, A lot of web applications recommend running Ubuntu or Debian, but tend to recommend Ubuntu. So its what we run, if someone highly recommends Cent OS or something we will run that."
What do you think about Ubuntu's popularity? What are your own reasons Love Ubuntu? 


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Ubuntu Vibes is a blog that brings latest news, tips and tricks about Linux, Ubuntu & Open Source Software. The blog covers desktop & netbook editions and different desktop environments like GNOME & KDE.

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