Mark Shuttleworth recently wrote about internal competition in Ubuntu in his blog. Mark says:
In Ubuntu, we have a lot of internal competition. Ubuntu and Kubuntu and Xubuntu and *buntu-at-large have to collaborate and also, to certain extent, compete. We handle that very well, I think, …
I don’t completely agree.
What’s wrong with the statement?
There is not much competition between the flavors. Different flavors have different target audiences*, and there is next to no overlap between the groups.
Sadly there also isn’t much collaboration between the flavors. We lack communication too often. As this many times mean unexpected work with broken features, it also heavily affects the Xubuntu development, since the Xubuntu team essentially only has one technical contributor.
* What’s the target audience for Xubuntu?
In the future, Xubuntu will have an even more clear target audience providing the only “conservative” desktop environment as Kubuntu has Plasma via KDE 4.x and Ubuntu will have the new GNOME Shell via GNOME 3.x.
I also would like to note that while Xubuntu has been said to be the lightweight alternative for older computers, it isn’t really how the Xubuntu community, or at least most of it, has been thinking about it. Many comparisons do already show that Xubuntu is coming nearer to Ubuntu in terms of memory usage, though these comparisons haven’t had much to do with real-life usage patterns and/or didn’t really test the base systems but a set of applications.
If you strive for the lightest of the Ubuntu systems, you should look into Lubuntu, which uses LXDE as its desktop environment.