Ubuntu shop Canonical has withdrawn support from development of the KDE-based Kubuntu Linux desktop after seven years for commercial reasons.
Canonical employee Jonathan Riddell has said his employer will stop funding his Kubuntu work following April's expected release of the next Ubuntu LTS, version 12.04.
The decision means Canonical's advancement of Kubuntu will stop, along with paid support. Riddell was Kubuntu's lead developer. Canonical has pulled the plug because Kubuntu has failed to take off commercially after seven years plugging away.
For Kubuntu to continue, Riddell said, people must take the initiative on tasks typically poorly supported by the community process that are vital to success – such as ISO testing.
Canonical will now treat Kubuntu in the same way as it deals with derivative distros of Ubuntu by providing "infrastructure" - meaning the Ubuntu core and packages – instead of the addition of funded manpower.
Ubuntu 11.10 is the base for the Xubuntu, Edubuntu, Mythbuntu, Ubuntu Studio and Lubuntu in addition to Kubuntu.
Riddell called Canonical's withdrawal of support a "big challenge" for Kubuntu and KDE but added it was also a "rational business decision".
"Kubuntu has not been a business success after seven years of trying, and it is unrealistic to expect it to continue to have financial resources put into it," Riddell said. "I have been trying for the last seven years to create a distro to show the excellent KDE technology in its best light, and we have a lovely community now built around that vision, but it has not taken over the world commercially and shows no immediate signs of doing so."
Kubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu that appeared in 2005 and differs by continuing with the KDE desktop, called Plasma, instead of going with Ubuntu's Unity desktop. ®