> But... I have always wondered why Ubuntu kept so many supported and
> unsupported variants around (Kubuntu and Xubuntu). If you want to target
> the end user and gain some foothold in the marketplace, you have to focus
> on making one approach perfect, rather than scattering focus over some
> subpar solutions (for the end user).
0) I've always wondered about that too. Matthew Paul Thomas once wrote - when he was employed by Canonical, which I assume Paul still is - a rather nice blog post about "Ubuntu and “desktop environments”" (now available through http://web.archive.org/web/20101205084715/http://mpt.net.... ). That post focusses on desktop choice at install time. But to me it seems the same arguments apply to download time (ie, Canonical should focus only on Ubuntu, and should not bother with its variants).
1) Perhaps Canonical doesn't want to put all its eggs in one basket. But if that's the case one could still wonder why the variants get the exposure they get now.
2) Whatever Canonical's reasons, their behaviour fits in a pattern of Linux distributions targeting the (rather small) market segment of free software desktops with different offerings. See for example Fedora - the distribution which I actually use - which offers both two full scale desktop "spins" (Gnome and KDE) and two light weight desktop "spins" (LXDE and Xfce).
3) Do I need to elaborate on the downsides of this, well, balkanization of free software desktop offerings?