In a bit of surprising news, Canonical via its mailing list has announced that it will cease support for its Kubuntu distribution after 12.04 ships in April. Jonathan Riddel, Kubuntu’s previous maintainer, stated in his e-mail that Canonical is preferring to treat Kubuntu much like other leading Ubuntu-forked offerings and provide the infrastructure, rather than produce it in-house and support it also.
Above, I stated that this news is “surprising”, though it might not be. In the past year, Canonical has made some major strides in pushing Ubuntu as hard as it can, to help set it apart from the rest. The company developed a brand-new user interface, Unity, and has shown the media and fans alike what can be done with that on televisions and tablets. It’s clear that Canonical has a focus, and that focus is to make its flagship product successful.
From a business perspective, this move by Canonical makes sense. Kubuntu never took off in the way it hoped, so it’s nonsensical to keep pumping cash into it (unless of course you’re the rare company that would pay to keep certain customers happy).
In truth, I’ve always considered Kubuntu to be a lackluster Ubuntu. It just never had the same level as polish as Canonical’s flagship, and aside from those who have to have Ubuntu’s underpinnings available, I’ve considered openSUSE and PCLinuxOS to be superior alternatives.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Canonical handles itself this year. Is 2012 finally the year that Linux gets recognition in the marketplace? Let’s hope so.