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What he isn't telling you johnc is that the Debian Edition isn't anywhere the polish of the 'normal' Ubuntu version. And giving what Debian is about, it isn't as easy to make it user friendly as is modifying Ubuntu.
kwin no tearing for my intel hd4000 on kde 4.10.5, compiz is a piece of shit..., tearing every 2 o 3 hours of usage..., and I need to restart time and time again...., ubuntu is really unstable for intel graphics, since 11.04
Actually, I'm not terribly worried about Chrome OS. Especially with all the NSA-hubbub, people losing trust in cloud services etc. could really put a dent to ChromeOS adoption. Well, not only because of that, but because a pure cloud solution simply isn't very feasible except for trivial purposes. Tablets pretty much have the average joe market covered, too.
Then there's the possibility that Tizen OS (the desktop version, the one with the re-branded GNOME Shell as UI) could end up as a formidable contender. This depends on how much Intel is going to push Tizen for the ultrabooks, though. Which remains to be seen.
Well with ubuntu current "Marketshare" i think if canonical closes the doors today, it would not be news beyond a couple of forums here and there after all out there in the real world ~1% is considered in "others" category as an statistical range error and this apply to other desktop focused distros ovbiously, about the impact as was before will be minimal.
Every now and then appears a company trying to be the next big thing without contribute or put real manpower to fix the real issue holding desktop linux back grab some market and then suddenly dissapear and as coincidence the first thing all tried was a new desktop enviroment, to name few Mandrake[well mandrake wasn't so bad tho], Lycoris, Lindows, Corel Linux just to name few, so this won't be apolycaptic or anything close, sure canonical maybe is bigger but the fuss is around the same.
Ubuntu Market without exageration is basically a PR bubble since beyond their 3 surviving projects everything else has come from upstream with minimal to none influence from canonical and you can check this out yourself
1.) easy of install: same as debian unstable [remember Debian basically is 3 distros at the same time -- stable = redhat competence -- unstable = ubuntuish -- SID = archish] and this days all user focused distro have uber easy graphic installers[fedora/mint/opensuse/etc]
2.) security: backported from debian unstable and SID
3.) Hardware support: totally upstream backported from debian
4.) Upstart: do nothing better than any other init system and is transparent to the user
5.) Unity: rewrite fetish? some love it some hate it basically another concept choice of desktop for linux no biggie here
6.) Patent protection: completely from upstream and FSF, if existant
7.) Support: completely from upstream maybe less now
8.) Documentation: mostly upstream but i recognize they did an effort in present it nicely to the user
9.) LTS: few of the good ideas coming from canonical but redhat/debian came first
12.) Ubuntu store: horrible performance but it works probably to be replaced later for packagekit
Sure i admit PR or not they managed to snatch some final users from windows and kinda create a principle of brand recognition but ubuntu still present the same issue for mass adoption than any other linux suffer and Mir just hurt it more, i mean the only back that linux offer is the massive collective not companies and even IBM understood this and that alone says a lot.
Problems for any distro to attack mass market:
1.) subpar graphical system: WIP by Intel/AMD/VMware/IBM/RedHat/Collabora/X.org foundation/Samsung/Freedesktop.org/FSF/Lunar systems/community named Wayland/DRM/KMS/Gallium
2.) subpar Drivers: WIP many hardware manufacturers/FSF/kernel.org/etc but still miss many
3.) ABI stability: 1 fix a big part of it but still certain solution must be created
4.) Lack of Motherboards/BIOS support: is a fight against the current and outside server mobos every mobo introduce an different challenge due to lack of support of standards[Microsoft hairy hands around] even apple gave up here and started to produce their own hardware
5.) Multimedia: many many legal issues pending and lack of standart API[gstreamer and ffmpeg trying to]
6.) Power management and tooling: big leaps done but still need lot of work
7.) Software Distribution: every linux basically have a package format and a unique store -- packagekit trying to set some common ground
8.) Lack of Key apps: adobe suites, cad/design, specialized gadgets, etc. Redhat has improved this a lot but mostly for workstation grade software
9.) Games: improving
10.) lack of standard integrated multimedia API: DirectX or OS X core classes -- SDL trying to fill the gap
11.) toolkits: just too many
12.) Money muscle for hardcore Publicity: Redhat and IBM have the cash muscle but i doubt they move before most of this TODO get done otherwise is burn money
13.) OEM support: we lack a LOOOT
14.) Focused support/distribution network: only Redhat have one but is not focused on desktops for now
like i said not ubuntu ot mir or wayland or systemd will magically solve those issues