Jonathan Riddell, who has been working on the Kubuntu for the last 7 years as its sole paid developer, announced the news in a post to the Kubuntu mailing list.
The decision, Riddell says, boils down to business. ‘Kubuntu has not been a business success after 7 years of trying‘ he says, arguing that on this basis “it is unrealistic to expect [Kubuntu] to continue to have financial resources put into it.”
This shake up does not spell the end of Kubuntu however, simply a shift in the way it is supported.
Canonical will, from Kubuntu 12.10 onwards, provide backing for the KDE flavour in the same way as it does Xubuntu, Edbuntu, and Lubuntu – with infrastructure and resources rather than money.
Riddell is optimistic about the future, saying that he ‘…hope[s] and expect[s that] Kubuntu can continue’.
For an historical example of just how well Kubuntu will survive being ‘community supported’ we only need to look back to Kubuntu 11.10. This was an entirely community-supported effort that managed to shape up in time for release day.
There’s no reason to expect any seismic shift in the availability or quality of Kubuntu post-Precise.
Many voices within the KDE/Kubuntu community have long charged that Kubuntu has been a ‘second class citizen’ to Ubuntu, an accusation that has always been at odds with Canonical’s financial support of the project.
However with this change the onus on whether or not it feels second class will now fall firmly to the wider Kubuntu community itself; to ensure Kubuntu retains a strong presence in the Linux community its supporters will need to adjust to take on the tasks and jobs left over as a result of the change.