Open Ballot: Winners and Losers of 2011


Another year is drawing to a close, and tomorrow we'll be recording our final podcast of 2011.

It's been a quite a year in the world of Linux: Gnome 3 was released, so was Unity; KDE 4, by all accounts, is now very good; Firefox has switched to a 6 week(!) release cycle, and at the same time seen its market share squeezed; Android has come to dominate the smartphone market, while WebOS is on life support; we've seen the start of a huge patent battle; and Ubuntu is no longer top of the distro watch rankings ... and that's just the things I could remember off the top of my head!

With all these ups and downs, for tomorrow's open ballot, we want to know who you think the winners and losers are of 2011. Is Linux Mint a big winner and Ubuntu a big loser? Or maybe you think Firefox has lost out to Chrome? Maybe we're all losers thanks to increased click tracking and the possible rootkit installed on millions of smartphones...

Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and we'll discuss them in the podcast.

You should follow us on or Twitter

Your comments

For me...


KDE 4.7 (usable at last)
XFCE (picking off Gnome / Unity dissenters)
Chrome (doing the same to FF)
Mint 12 (for MGSE and MATE)


Gnome 3 (Losing a lot of users)
Unity (for ramming a new desktop down the throats of long term users)
Firefox (for lack of stability)

For us all


Us - for losing Mike

Winner Gnome3, Looser Ubuntu

I would vote for Gnome3 as a winner. It's new completely different version, big (re)evolution in Gnome world and developers managed to deliver it perfectly. Sure it not for everybody, sure it is completely different, but that's kind of expected from new major version (sorry Firefox). But everybody accepted that, some folks love it, some prefer old style of work, but there no so much of hatred and frustration as was there when KDE4 came out.

As for Looser, I would go for Ubuntu. They made several pretty dumb decisions - replacing referral code in Banshee (definitely not good for PR, looks evilish), instead of participating on improving and success of Gnome3 working by themselves on Unity and afterwards scaring people away by it. And creating 3D version using GTK and 2D version using Qt? Come on...


I think the big winner will be Raspberry Pi, the whole iTunes/Mac/Pad-devices "you only consume digital content" is the biggest loser this year. But thankfully it looks like the Raspberry Pi guys have actually ignited some serious interest in getting eductation and how to program back in the headlines.

Also KDE clearly is the best De out there. People are finally realising it ;-)

Learning - Corrected

When I say Mac/iTunes/Pad-devices I mean users were the losers for thinking that was the only way to go...

Winners and losers

Crunchbang, Openbox, Firefox, Android, Raspberry Pi

Ubuntu, Gnome3, Unity and losing Mike

Winners: Firefox and Gnome; Losers: Unity and Google

I think that Firefox has actually been a huge winner this year. Losing some market share to Chrome happened last year already: nothing new there. Rather, the shift to a shorter release cycle has, in my experience, resulted in improved stability, and new features making it into the hands of developers and users more quickly.

With the release of Gnome 3.2, I'm really very comfortable with it. Paired with Docky and Gnome Do, it's an unbeatable desktop environment, in my opinion. The fact that it's so easily extended, and that you can manage your extensions from within Firefox (!) is absolutely brilliant, and unprecedented for a desktop environment.

In terms of losers, I think that Unity has to be it. It's slow, clunky, buggy, and uncomfortable. Whilst I applaud Canonical's willingness to take a gamble, Russian roulette doesn't always have a happy ending.

Google has also been a big loser, in my opinion. They've shut down Labs and pushed a closed web platform. The whole notion of a "Chrome web store" is absolutely ridiculous: it's akin to a petrol station that's exclusively for Volvos. They're behaving like Microsoft did in the 90s: does anyone else see parallels between IE and Chrome, Dart and ActiveX, the Android platform and Windows (as a de-facto universal platform)?

Winners / Loosers for me

XFCE is a big winner in my book. It is now my go to environment when I am looking for a new distro to test out and takes pride of place on my desktop and laptop. I'm not a hardcore super-admin user and its familiarity and simplicity make it a joy to use.

Diversity is another big winner. Ubuntu making user interface changes that not everyone gets on with means that some users are looking elsewhere for a flavour of Linux that better suits their needs or is nicer to use. Of course, Linux Mint will pick up some users but I wouldn't be surprised if other distributions started seeing figures slightly increased as well. That is of course if you are using DistroWatch as a yard stick which, again, some will not agree with.

Sadly Ubuntu will be in the looser category, which is a huge shame. I see what they are trying to do with Unity and personally, if I had the time and money to get it onto a tablet then I would do it tomorrow! I just think that if you spend many years as the most popular distribution, especially amongst new users, I would do some investigation as to why you are there before you change a big aspect of the system. I find Unity less intuitive to use and that gets tedious when its being used for day to day simple tasks.



Android (especially now the source has been release for ICS - roll on CM9!)

Linux Mint - Their approach to Gnome 3 looks to be the most user friendly, it's a good idea that you can use some or all of their extensions, turning them off if you start to feel more comfortable with the new desktop


Canonical - for forcing Unity on their users, also by doing their usual thing of not contributing to upstream projects such as Gnome 3, but further proliferating more Linux apps


Gnome3 seems to have won over Unity with a little help from Linux Mint.
A big one for me is Sabayon though. Its all Win. Can't wait to see it get even better.

Winners: Mint 12 certainly

Mint 12 certainly for MGSE--the best implementation of Gnome Shell yet.

Gnome for Gnome shell, a small, fast and extensible UI.

Android certainly for its market share, but also for ICS.

SCO, for loosing, appealing and loosing, and on and on.

Sun, for selling to Oracle.

Novell for selling to the kracken.

Certainly web-os.

Ubuntu for getting sucked into the world of touch interfaces and in the process, leaving many of its users feeling like they were touched in the wrong places.

Apple for sadly loosing its soul.

Linux is a winner every

Linux is a winner every year

Losers: unity, gnome3 & canonical, oh and us for losing Mike

Twas a very good year for FOSS


Chromium for its path to becoming the new standard in Open Source web browsers.

KDE 4.7 for cleaning up their act and promising a bright new world for KDE.

XFCE for being the GNOME 2.* of the next generation of Desktop Enviornments.

Mint for listening to the community.

Android for putting Linux in the hands of millions who don't know what an Operating System is.

TuxRadar for continuing to be hilarious, insightful, and informative

Slackware for continuing to be powerful, rock-solid and fast.

The Linux community, especially on Freenode, for always being helpful and enthusiastic. Cheers, mancha.


Ubuntu for going in the wrong direction and then failing to own up to it. This year may be remembered as the year Canonical became much more corporate in their philosophy and stopped listening to what the community wanted.

Novell for selling their soul.

Firefox for a bloody strange release schedule.

RMS for blasting the integrity of Free Software activists with his ever controversial and off-colour comments.
"I'm not glad he's dead, I'm glad he's gone"

May 2012 be the year of Linux on the desktop.

One obvious one

Loser: HP
Winner: Everyone who got one of their knocked-down tablets

Well based on the press

Well based on the press conference today the biggest winners of the last half century would probably be those promoting the standard model or just Higgs boson in general.
If you leave quantum mechanics and go into Linux I would have to say one big winner would have to be Linux Mint, to my mind at least they listened to the complaints regarding the coming technology and released the best release they could make based on it. I think everyone who has found a desktop OS would also have to be classified as a winner, no matter which said desktop is, found means they at least have given the alternatives a fair chance.

To me there are two clear losers, Gnome and Ubuntu, instead of working together they separately to the same work with pretty much the same problems/advantages. Meaning that at least half the work would be a waste of time if they just would have tried to do things together.

Winners Google, Loosers Netbooks

Biggest losers this year have to be netbooks, and Linux in general by being prevented from showcasing on these great little devices.
Biggest winner.. Google via Android and GoogleChrome. Google is everywhere and has succeeded in growing its brand exponentially. Even my 87 year old mother has heard of Google.

Who are the Loosers? Linux Users..

.. who can't switch to another desktop environment or those Linux users whose productivity suffers when not working in an environment they solely use ...

Many of us, mere mortal penguins, accustom ourselves to working in one (and ONLY one) desktop environment, and so when radical "earthquakes" (or "glacial shifts") in the iceberg of desktop environment took place, suddenly there are a lot of pissed off penguins.

Myself for one, was (or still am? ) heavily dependent on Gnome. So much so that when Gnome 3 ca out, I was freaked out... I find myself thrown into an environment where ... dual display is quirky, firing applications feels like doing exercise for the arm, switching windows is confusing, etc... In short, I was like 18 mths old baby dabbling with the computer....

the thought of abandoning Linux flared up (but only for a short while :) .. until someone told me about Openbox) Oh what a joy Openbox is!

Gnome3's premature birth may not be so much of a trouble for those few penguins who can use multiple desktop environments - it made me feel like a loser.

And in thinking more about it, ALL desktop environments/ window managers should have "Cheat Sheets" to enable ANYONE who's interested in using / switching to it to funciton effectively within 20 minutes.. Just a single page containing the absolutely-most-essential-no-extra-bull-crap "phrases" (something compact, just phrases, not lengthy paragraphs mind you) that can actually be used to get someone "Up and Running", do configurations, anticipate most likely problems etc

Documentation??? Who wants documentation? Nobody wants thick manuals and obscure/unclear bodies of text.. we want "Cheat Sheets".. If there's no quick way of learning, and we can't nimbly hop here and there, we all LOSE as a result. "Cheat Sheets" make us winners.

We should be able to change desktop environments/app suites/text editors/package managers/whole distros etc, you-name-it, JUST AS EASILY AS WE CHANGE CLOTHES.

If Linux-Land finally reaches this state one-day-some-day, then we are all winners

So, my greatest wish for the new coming year, is to see a "Revolution" or a "social movement" in production of Cheat-Sheets (you know, something of the scale of that Occupy thing they have going on in the US).

So, may "Cheat Sheets" flourish in Linux Land!

Looking at just the last few

Looking at just the last few months, Mint's the winner Ubuntu's the loser. That might be the big Linux story of 2011.

In the long run, though, I think we're all losers if the best our collective savvy can do is make us from Ubuntu to a tweaked Ubuntu clone, replete with its own bizarre customizations, instead of to stable, straight-forward, upstream-respecting Debian!

On a more positive note, I think Linux as a whole has done well this year. Just look at all those Humble Indie Bundles, most of whose games will run on Linux; look at the release of Scrivener; look at the impending release of Linux-compatible Netflix.

Yes! No!

I really think KDE deserves a special mention at the end of 2011. The developers have buckled down and worked really hard on the desktop and it shows; KDE is now an eminently usable desktop and I hope that through 2012 it can shake off its tarnished reputation. I urge anyone who ditched it after 4.0 to give it another try now.

The filing fairy is having an off day again...

This thread should be in the features section rather than podcasts!

Evolution is the Looser

Linux and especially the Gnome Desktop had been evolving into a very flexible and usable desktop, then the Revolutionaries took over and saw a Tablet future. Babies were thrown out with water and Gnome 3 and Unity forced upon a thereto happy user base.

The result are two desktop environments that few like, let alone have the best hardware to run it upon and are left searching for something else to run upon their old desktops, laptops and notebooks.

The winners for next year, I think, will be Linux Mint with MATE and the ability to keep a check on the evolution of Gnome 3, (in case it does become more usable as the developers realize their enormous gaff of ignoring the good old desktop). XFCE and KDE will almost certainly gain user-base from the follies of others.

The Loosers will be Gnome, for not remembering the disastrous launch of KDE4.0 and, Canonical for forgetting their users, who helped them evolve a Linux based computer OS which normal people can use.

Yes, we need to change (evolve) and need to release experimental packages but we also need to keep a stable system for people to use in their work and play.

MeeGo and Nokia

MeeGo and Nokia are losers in 2011 for me. Just as MeeGo was looking like an exciting, pretty, alternative mobile OS to both iOS and Android, Nokia decide they want to go with Windows Phone instead. The result: further development of a great, multi-vendor-backed, open, mobile OS now looks uncertain and Nokia's share price instantly drops 25% and is now 50% down on where they were. Well done MS's man, Stephen Elop, now at the helm of Nokia.

Mint Wins

The Winner: Linux Mint, by taking the needs of users seriously and working to fix some of the elements of GNOME Shell that GNOME 2.x users found frustrating. They have even managed to steal spotlight from...

The Loser: Ubuntu. Unity is a mess and is unlikely to be seen on any other distro, leaving Ub in the wilderness. If Ubuntu sticks with Unity and does little to make it customizable for the user their fortunes on the desktop are unlikely to improve.

The award goes to...

Nokia--big time loser. I'm surprised that Elop is still there.
HP -- biggest turn around. For dumping Leo before it was too late. The question now is whether Meg is willing to do what is needed or will just be posturing.
WebOS -- most potential. Instead of languishing inside a corporation going open source can give it a big boost, depending on how it's done.

Apple-- biggest loser. Starting a scorched earth patent attack seems to have burned it's own feet.

Samsung-- large winner, for standing up to Apple.

Microsoft-- big loser. Meet the old boss-same as the new boss. While not progressing in any significant way in the mobile arena, the DoJ sanctions have expired and Microsoft is seen very rapidly returning to it's old ways. Making all those "MS has changed" fools looking stupid.

Barnes and Noble -- big winner. Standing up to MS has earned it a lot of good will.

Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth-- the "Who died and made you Bill Gates" award.

Plasma Active project -- the "huh" award. Certainly the most intriguing project of the year, but is it going anywhere?

Finally -- the most ominous trend award goes to the idea that "giving users the ability to look under the hood, change the oil, and adjust the timing make an object harder to use and less secure".

Oh and Mint,

Certainly it has made itself look better then Ubuntu. Now it is facing it's biggest chaallenge. Going from a derivative distro to learning to stand on it's own.

Plus kudos for LDME.

Winners & Losers of 2011 - Ubuntu

Ubuntu really came back to life this year. Canonical really is pushing Ubuntu into becoming a Market level OS. Canonical has made Unity -in my mind- stable and very usable in the 11.10 release. Linux Mint 12 is good, but to unstable. I really dislike the Gnome 3 extensions make it very unstable. An update in my Linux Mint 12 caused me to lose my Windows 7 Partition. If you do not like Unity try XFCE.I though consider the implementations of KDE 4 and LXDE very efficient also.

Who Cares???

Winners: Those of us who stuck with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.

Losers: Anyone who runs mint.

I am posting this from the future, and unfortunately that is all I am allowed to tell you right now...

I never used Kde.But I just

I never used Kde.But I just started trying kde 4.6 .OMG it is a dream desktop.Please give a try.

Arch Linux and KDE

IMNSHO, the winners are Arch Linux and KDE.

The rest is noise. From losers.

Da losers and winners

The winners are Mint for sticking with Gnome2 and helping out with Mate, am running Ubuntu 11.10 with the Mate repo and loving it despite the bugs. Tried XFCE and didn't like it, sorry Mike, but we all love you. KDE gets a big thumbs up for taking care of business and fixing their desktop. I'm just too much of a Gnome fan. Netbook displays like Unity and Gnome3 are for netbooks, also win for the users who are still sticking to Linux after these really rapid and controversial changes. The losers are Ubuntu, does Mark S. expect we will take it up the ass without even any lubricant? He's the biggest loser IMHO. Happy holidays and thanks for a great magazine and podcast. The best mag and publishing team on the planet, hands down!

Interface changes

Losers: Interface changes (e.g. Google Docs)
These days I seem to be forever re-learning how to use programs and wondering where my favourite features have gone.

Firefox & Thunderbird for their continual updates which break add-ons. Developers don't seem to be able to or want to keep up with the pace of change. Add-ons get abandoned.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Username:   Password: