As with any software project and organization, Ubuntu and Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, have faced criticism from the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community for certain practices. Some of the notable areas of criticism include:
Snap packages: Canonical's introduction of Snap packages, a containerized package format for software distribution, has drawn criticism from the FOSS community for various reasons. Some critics argue that Snap packages are tightly integrated with Ubuntu's core system components, making them less compatible with other Linux distributions and potentially creating fragmentation in the Linux ecosystem. Others have raised concerns about Snap packages being automatically installed or updated without explicit user consent, and the centralized control Canonical maintains over the Snap Store, which may limit user freedom and choice.
This was particularly irksome and I myself was extremely pissed of by this and was completely turned off to Ubuntu after this. I used snap to install chromium and then I could not remove snap without removing chromium! I was shocked to see this and upon doing some research came across Linux Mint's decision to disable snap. It seems snap is allowed to overwrite parts of APT packages lists. Not cool. See here and here.
Quote from Linux Mint team on their website:
[…] as you install APT updates, Snap becomes a requirement for you to continue to use Chromium and installs itself behind your back. This breaks one of the major worries many people had when Snap was announced and a promise from its developers that it would never replace APT.
A self-installing Snap Store which overwrites part of our APT package base is a complete NO NO. It’s something we have to stop and it could mean the end of Chromium updates and access to the snap store in Linux Mint.
Amazon integration: In previous versions of Ubuntu, Canonical integrated Amazon search results into the Unity desktop environment, which drew criticism from the FOSS community for perceived privacy concerns. Critics argued that this integration sent search queries to Amazon by default, potentially exposing user search data to third parties without explicit user consent. Although Canonical later provided options to disable this feature, it raised concerns about user privacy and data protection.
Intellectual property controversy: Canonical has faced criticism for its handling of intellectual property (IP) issues related to FOSS. For example, in 2012, Canonical announced a policy that prevented the distribution of Ubuntu remixes that used proprietary drivers or firmware, which was seen by some as restrictive and contrary to the principles of FOSS. This policy was later revised, but it raised concerns about the company's approach to IP and FOSS licensing.
Community engagement: Canonical's approach to community engagement has been criticized by some members of the FOSS community for perceived lack of transparency and inclusivity. Critics argue that Canonical's decision-making processes and communication with the community could be more open and participatory, and that the company's focus on commercial interests may sometimes overshadow the needs and opinions of the broader FOSS community.
It's worth noting that Ubuntu and Canonical have also made significant contributions to the FOSS community, including the development of the Ubuntu operating system itself, as well as contributions to upstream projects, community initiatives, and open-source technologies. However, like any organization, Ubuntu and Canonical have faced criticism from some members of the FOSS community for certain practices, which reflect differing perspectives and opinions within the broader FOSS ecosystem. Despite all this, Ubuntu is also the most popular Linux distro out there and is often on the top of most lists of Linux distros.