Maybe it's just me, but I believe Ubuntu and Canonical have a severe case of the Not Invented Here. Instead of building on one of the three most suitable distributions at the time (each with advantages, disadvantages and often trade-offs): Debian, and Mandriva Linux (formerly Mandrake Linux) and MEPIS, they have forked Debian, and created an improved but incompatible version. Furthermore, they have their own proprietary web-based translation tool, their own proprietary bug-tracker (what's wrong with Bugzilla, Trac, or Request Tracker), they had two version control system ("Bazaar" and "Bazaar-NG"), which aimed to combine "the best advantages of all the rest", and wrote many system utilities from scratch.
The worst thing is that they are burning money fast. Mandriva used to be profitable for a while, and could have been more if it had a better management when it started. And Red Hat is very profitable. All the distributions I mentioned (including Ubuntu) are open source and may survive the going-away of their parent company, either by a new company being established, or by the community working on it. By open-source I don't mean the FSF-fanatical view in which every component must be free software, but rather the fact that it can be bootstrapped and usable using FOSS exclusively.
Ubuntu has done some things well: good hardware detection and integration, viral marketing, positive hype, etc. Debian has its own share of problems, but I still think it's more independent and economically-sound and less NIH-syndromed than Ubuntu is. So I guess from now on, I'll use Debian instead of Ubuntu when I do (i.e: when I'm not using Mandriva or Fedora or whatever), and recommend everyone to do the same.
Some people think Ubuntu is perfect. It may be very polished, but it has its share of problems. I think Debian is actually better in this regard with its rigid quality control. No one can deny Mandriva has bugs, but they have a public bug-tracker, and they fix these bugs. I guess fast-moving and bug-free are often trade-offs.
So stay cool, be independent, think for yourself but cooperate with others, and don't be "Ubuntu". Cheers.
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