I had my first experience with Ubuntu nearly five years ago with a Xubuntu 15.10 Beta ISO on my only laptop at the time. Through the years I’ve had the pleasure of using nearly every flavour of Ubuntu, as well as many of its derivatives. So much of where I am today, in regards to how I use my computers, and the experiences I’ve had are thanks to Ubuntu and the people working on it. It’s no small feat to deliver a desktop operating system, let alone one of this calibre. There have been many moments where I’ve lost sight of this, and perhaps been unkind and untrue in my criticisms or judgements of the project, but I’m well aware, now more than I ever have been, that Ubuntu and the people behind it are absolutely awesome, and I’m very grateful to be able to use this product.
While I am technologically inclined as a person, I do also tend to lean more towards the “consumer” personality in regards to how I prefer to use my computers. This usually leaves me in a weird median between doing hacky things, and considering hacky things to be undesirable. Which, of course makes no sense, right? Well, Ubuntu seems to be quite a perfect fit for me in many ways, and one of these is compatibility. I’ve not had the experience of trying to get print drivers working on Ubuntu, or trying to fiddle with WiFi drivers, or even trying to figure out sound cards… The thing is, Ubuntu has kinda just handled all of this for me. I’ve not been worried about whether or not a laptop I buy is going to work or not, because I’m usually pretty confident it’ll do exactly what I need it to when I’m running Ubuntu, and so far, this is the norm. I know that not everything is perfect, and there will always be hardware that needs some extra TLC for any number of reasons… But as far as I’ve seen, Ubuntu is unparalleled in its support for modern (and yes, many older) computers! I believe this is a massive benefit to Ubuntu and its users, and I know that it takes a lot of work to pull off, which is why I’m very appreciative.
The benefits don’t stop there, though, and perhaps I’m preaching to the choir, but I’m certainly glad to do so. To me, Ubuntu is the standard for an open source desktop operating system. It doesn’t throw its users out to sea as a sacrifice when it comes to being open. It’s clear to me that user experience shouldn’t be sacrificed just because it’d be the easy thing to do, and it seems Ubuntu gets this as well. I know that GNOME isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (BTW there are some pretty tasty flavours for those looking for something else! ), but I do think that it’s a fantastic choice overall, and in particular, I think Ubuntu’s touches that make the desktop what it is are critical. Even as someone who is somewhat of a proponent of dropping system trays and desktop icons, I’m very happy that the focus on what their users need and want is an upfront concern. The Ubuntu Dock is part of this as well, and I think it ensures that usability is not on the sidelines. The gist of this is… Concern for the user. Ubuntu continually iterates on what it delivers, based on what its users want… And as a very happy user, I’m glad.
I’d like to happily touch on the fact that Ubuntu has constantly pushed the boundaries in ways that will continue to influence Linux, open source, and tech as a whole. The improvements to GNOME Shell that allow it to be fluid and responsive in ways it never has been before is something that benefits just about everyone using GNOME and its technologies on other platforms! But there’s something… more. Something I’ve been pretty hyped up about for a little while now, and that’s ZFS. I recently broke something on my machine. It was pretty bad, and resulted in some broken user profiles and authentication issues, and eventually I was at the point where I figured a reinstall would be the only solution… Until I realized I had done this install using the experimental ZFS option in the installer. The benefits of this being that, when I installed software, removed software, and updated my machine, a snapshot of the system was automagically created, allowing me to roll back to any one of these points and just continue as if nothing had changed… And THAT right there is already a benefit beyond massive. It’s undeniably necessary, and the fact that Ubuntu has been making strides to bring ZFS functionality to the platform, and even allow us to use it as our primary filesystem shows that they’re not blind to the benefits of advanced filesystems, even for simple users and uses! Things can break sometimes… Users have a tendency to break things, no matter how experienced they might be… And this just means that perhaps people won’t be left in the dark the next time they need a bit of help. I can’t express enough how awesome this is to me.
So, three years ago, one of the first things I’d probably do as soon as I installed Ubuntu is remove
snapd. That is no longer the case. In fact, I look for everything as a Snap nowadays. Maybe not because it’s better than everything else, or because it’s perfect and without flaw… But because it solves problems I want solved. Like software with release cycles that differ from Ubuntu’s. I just don’t need to worry about that because I can always be up to date with things like Telegram and Discord. Both of which are platforms with constantly evolving protocols, and keeping up with those changes is something that can be rather tedious to do… And no one really wants to be left out when it comes to new features either. With Snaps, this just isn’t a concern. I log into my machine in the morning and Telegram opens up, telling me that it’s been updated and lets me know what’s new. I need not interact with it at all. This is just one piece of the puzzle, as well. Being able to control an application’s access to my data or hardware is very nice, and it’s something I take advantage of on my phone all the time, so surely it makes sense I’d be able to do it on my desktop or laptop, too! The point is, I think Snaps solve issues that have existed for a long time now, and while it’s not perfect and there’s still work to be done… They’re absolutely awesome in my opinion, and I think the benefits they pose for users and application developers alike are plenty.
I love Ubuntu. I love how it’s progressed, and I love what it enables me to do. There are so many aspects to how we use our computers, and there are so many angles to look at things from… But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from using Ubuntu, it’s that it’s always getting better. Improvement, and ambition is what I expect and see from Ubuntu constantly. This speaks volumes to me, and the passion of its community and maintainers is both inspiring and admirable. Once more, thank you for all you do! I know it’s the work of so many people that make this possible, and there’s no way for me to really thank everyone, but I hope that my sentiments are well-conveyed when I say I appreciate everything you’ve done. <3