Ubuntu, is a 'distro' of Debian (kind of more or less as things are going now)
Most of what they release is a package, built around Debian, built around Linux... but, different.
To the 'core' of Ubuntu, they tie things, packages. They are getting rid of (for now) Gnome and replacing it with Unity (except for Edubuntu) Ubuntu Is now Gnome. (Kubuntu is Ubuntu built around KDE) Gnome, Unity and KDE are 'desktop' environments.
(halfway there, I think).
There is a never-land between having the various 'desktops' (Gnome, KDE, Unity or what have you) and 'us'.... and between the desktops and Linux/Debian...
I would like to call that the 'Core' of what Ubuntu is. The only thing I have been unable to divorce completely was the 'email' package. Other than that... almost everything else seems to be tacked on, added, installed or glued in place to make a distro called 'Ubuntu.' (maverick, natty, warty or what-ever.)
Others have made distros, off of Ubuntu (mentioned in the last added thought) Mint (and then Penguy) Ultimate Edition, and many others now out there)...
The core, built on Debian, must be smaller than the full distro.
THAT is what all the stuff can plug into, that you want, don't want, need or would rather have Windows, than...
That is what I would like to see released, with the options of ticking off what I would like. (hopefully not that email package.)
The core distro, should then be both functional, faster, what I want, and... MINE!
I don't want 20-30 of the things that they are forcing...
Removing them is not necessarily safe (found that out in warty and forward with 'email package'...
If done this way, a slick system would allow really cool options for software/hardware developers to release with absolute minimal garbage, and a clean Ubuntu function..
In my case, I would have the simplicity I like, and not have to read tons of poorly written documentation, to ultimately say to hell with it. (Don't get me started on the forums)...I like that email package a hundred times more... Some of the documentation is not bad. Most is not written for newbies, or those that communicated in human dialects.
Have I answered?
It Is Modular... they just don't let it seem so.
But, then again... I really don't know much about computers