It’s probably the most popular Linux distribution for home use now, but Ubuntu just isn’t my cup of tea.
I’m sure it’s pretty nice if you only need desktop features, but it just doesn’t feel right when you want to use it as a server. I usually need a couple of server programs on each operating system I install: at least a web and database server with some PHP glue. Ubuntu aims to make your desktop life in Linux simpler and it does that pretty well. But all those “features” have an adverse effect on the server role.
One of my major annoyances is that you can’t be root. That’s a security feature to prevent people from messing up, but it also prevents easy server administration. You can run things as root by using the sudo command, but it’s not quite the same. You always have to add it in front of the actual command and you also need to provide a password every 5 minutes or so.
A second annoyance is that you’re pretty much in the dark when you’re trying to do more advanced stuff in Ubuntu (read: when there isn’t a GUI for what you want to do). The location of configuration files is a bit weird if you’re coming from a non-Debian distribution so at least some hinting would be nice.
A third annoyance is the crappy “service” configuration GUI, or in other words: which program starts when at startup? The GUI only allows (un)ticking a box and that’s it.
And last but not least, the software versions that are available can’t follow my requirements. Debian stable has e.g. PHP 5.2.0 with some fixes backported from newer PHP 5.2.x releases. New small features of a point release are not backported and version numbers aren’t bumped either. This will cause version checks to fail.
When you go past the GUI, you’re left alone and sudo adds a couple of jumps to make your life a bit harder. Debian, Ubuntu’s big brother, scores better in the server department: you can be root and there’s documented runlevel changes, but it still isn’t ideal.
For some odd reason, I’m far more comfortable running Gentoo. The only disadvantage is that you need to compile practically everything, but that in turn also results in the fastest Linux I’ve ever used because everything is compiled for your machine. But I guess it’s each to his own.