Ubuntu Tweak: After three days 'dead,' user outcry brings it back to life

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There's nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder, as the old saying goes, and that's apparently just as true for software projects as it is for people.

Case in point: Ubuntu Tweak.

Fans of Canonical's popular Ubuntu Linux distribution are probably already familiar with Ubuntu Tweak, which lets users modify not just the OS in general but the controversial new Unity desktop in particular, adding extra flexibility beyond what is offered in Ubuntu itself.

I've written about Ubuntu Tweak on a few occasions--most recently when the “Precise Tweak” version was launched back in April for Ubuntu Linux 12.04 “Precise Pangolin”--but last week, news about the software took a darker turn.

Specifically, rather than releasing a “Quantal Tweak” edition following Thursday's release of Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal,” the Ubuntu Tweak project announced that it was shutting down.

'Not free any more'

“When you see this article, the development of Ubuntu Tweak is stopped,” wrote developer Tualatrix Chou in a blog post on Friday.

“You may ask why I made this decision to stop the development of Ubuntu Tweak,” Chou added. “I may write 10,000 words to describe how I start this project, how I feel happy from this project, how I feel bad from this project…But I just want to say: If making free software is not free any more, why still doing this?”

Chou's announcement inspired more than 275 comments, most of them lamenting the end of the project.

Ubuntu Tweak has been downloaded more than 3 million times since the launch of version 0.4.999 back in 2009, according to its Launchpad page.

'I don't really want to give up'

Monday, however, brought good news for Ubuntu Tweak fans.

The QuickLists Editor in Ubuntu Tweak 0.8.1 now works under Ubuntu 12.10 'Quantal Quetzal' (Click image to enlarge.)

“I would like to thank you all, who left your message here,” Chou wrote in a new blog post  today. “I was really moved! You made me know that Ubuntu Tweak is still valuable, and as the first software project I made 5 years ago, it is just like my baby, I don’t really want to give up the development.”

Escalating development and maintenance demands had made the project come to feel overwhelming, Chou explained, particularly given that he also has another job. Canonical did not play any role in the decision, he added.

A new version debuts

Looking ahead, the pace of development on the software will slow down, Chou noted, but he wasted no time in introducing Ubuntu Tweak 0.8.1, which “works better on Ubuntu 12.10,” he said.

Bottom line? Ubuntu fans looking for a degree of customizability not present in Ubuntu itself now get to keep this popular tool after all. To try out the latest version, you can download it for free from the Ubuntu Tweak site.

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