There has been some interesting debate on my local Linux users mailing list in the past few days. Just added my bit to the conversation, and thought I would re-post it here:
It is with interest that I have been reading the debate on Unity and open source software recently.
This is my take on it. I am one of the people who have for the most part moved on, from using Ubuntu. That said, if it were not for Ubuntu, I would never have switched to using Linux based OS's. The simple fact of the matter is that Ubuntu has made it very easy for non-computer literate people to start using Linux. As Ubuntu switched from Gnome2, it has made doing what I do with my system more difficult, though I doubt that is the case for most new Linux users, simply that my requirements are different.
Fortunately, by the time Ubuntu was becoming more difficult for my particular use, the time I had spent with Ubuntu, had given me enough skills to switch to Debian, which is more suited to what I want from an OS. In fact I predominately use two versions of Debian, stable with backports, for when I want absolute stability, and testing the rest of the time, because I find it fun to use. Without the time spent using Ubuntu, I would have been too frustrated to be able to learn how to be comfortable using Debian and would therefore have stayed using MacOSX.
Though I initially thought my issues with Ubuntu were due to Unity, I soon discovered that I don't like using Gnome3 for precisely the same reasons. It has nothing to do with either of them being bad, just suited to a different type of user than me. Fortunately the developers are still developing those desktops, because I am sure they are and will be of benefit to a large proportion of users, myself included, with the bits I can take from them.
Instead of becoming angry about the developments, I searched for an alternative, and have found that I actually prefer using XFCE, over Gnome2, albeit with the same Gnome applications that I was previously using. If Gnome3 and Unity hadn't been developed, I would still be using Gnome2, which though I do like, is not as good for my situation as what, those developments have forced me to find.
I think the crux of the matter is, if you don't find the direction of your current open source products suitable for your personal use, just look through some of the many freely available alternatives, but don't lose appreciation for what you did find useful, or the continued effort of those developers in what ever direction they feel necessary to head in. Without that freedom for them to decide in which direction they take their projects, we wouldn't have had the stuff which some people feel put out about them changing, or the future stuff that they will inevitably develop, that we will also find very useful.
What I can see of the Ubuntu development in particular, is that they are still focusing strongly on a system that is very conducive for people to switch to from other proprietary systems. This can only be a good thing, not just for them, but also for the other Linux distributions. Because out of the huge numbers which do enter into using Ubuntu, as sure as night follows days, some of those numbers will also carry on to other distributions as well, which most likely wouldn't otherwise happen.