Ubuntu App Showdown 2012 was a Failure, What Will Happen This Year main blog post image
August 25th, 2013 by Michael Tunnell

Ubuntu App Showdown 2012 was a Failure, What Will Happen This Year

A little over a year ago Canonical held the first ever Ubuntu App Showdown which resulted in some really cool apps like Fogger, LightRead and many more. Many of these apps brought some new innovative ideas to the Linux landscape especially with apps like Fogger. Unfortunately, in the long term, the Ubuntu App Showdown was a Failure! There were 130+ apps submitted to the App Showdown of which practically none of them have had any sort of 'active development'. I'm looking at 34 apps in this article which includes the 3 Main Winners, 3 Community Winners, 20 Must-Haves (as stated by OMG!U), and a few more to round out the article as well as the 1 app that provides the 3%, saving the Showdown from what would have been complete failure.


Main Winners from UAS 2012:

LightRead (First Place) - very nice RSS Reader app that integrated with Google Reader's Syncing. Google Reader has been terminated and thus LightRead is now completely broken since it relied entirely on Google Reader. Last updated was on 2012-10-05.


Fogger (Second Place) - was an innovative approach to WebApps by bringing them down from the cloud and to the desktop (hence the name, clouds as low as the ground = fog). This may not seem like an innovation as it certainly has been done before but the main power of Fogger was overlooked because each FogApp had an Independent Session. This meant you could make multiple YouTube FogApps and log into different accounts for each one to which all of the fogapps would keep a separate but persistent login session.

Fogger was the most dissappointing app to fail for me because it was an outstanding innovation and I even created some FogApps for it, most notably the Wunderlist FogApp.

Fogger does not provide downloads for releases but appears to have had one beta update on June (only update in over a year).


Picsaw (Third Place) - jigsaw puzzle game that uses your own photos to make puzzles. Last updated on 2013-05-07 which was the only update in a year.


Community Winners from UAS 2012:

Ridual (First Place) - a Dual-pane file manager for Ubuntu. Last updated on 2012-10-01. Ridual's page on GitHub warns that it should not be used. "It's in development stage now, so using Ridual is not recommended."


OrthCal (Second Place) - an Eastern Orthodox Calendar, showing the Feasts of the day both in the Julian (Old) calendar and the Revised Julian (New) calendar. It also comes with other tools, such as Feast finder and Pascha calculator. Last updated on 2012-10-22.


Cuttlefish (Third Place) - Linux Automation triggered by user-specified events. Kind of like Tasker for the Linux Desktop. Last updated on 2012-08-25.


20 Apps that OMG!U claimed were Must-Haves:

  • XKCD Browser - a simple way to browse through your favorite XKCD comics. Last updated on 2012-08-19.
  • Blubphone - receive and send sms with Ubuntu and Android (which is done much better with MightyText). Last updated on 2012-09-20.
  • Postman - batch image uploader that uploads your photos to Flickr and Ubuntu One. Last updated on 2012-11-17. This app has since been removed entirely from Launchpad.
  • Cuckoo - a simple alarm scheduler with configurable alarm sounds. Last updated on 2012-10-29.
  • Tastebook - stores your recipes and search them based on the ingredients that you have now in your fridge. Last updated on 2012-08-27.
  • Cuttlefish - Linux Automation triggered by user-specified events. Kind of like Tasker for the Linux Desktop. Last updated on 2012-08-25. (Community winner, only counted once in app total for this article.)
  • Discvur - a desktop-based app for browsing through the latest popular images on Imgur. Last updated on 2012-07-13.
  • Facebook - a desktop app solely for the Facebook website. Last updated on 2012-08-27.
  • Circle - an application for file management. It groups the files of a messy folder into relevant sub-directories. Supports popular document, music, image, video types. Last updated on 2012-08-19.
  • GWOffice - an app to bring Google Docs to the Linux Desktop. Last updated on 2013-08-17. (only update of the app that I could find at all)
  • MyAgenda - an app to stay organized. Last updated on 2012-08-08.
  • UberWriter - is a distraction free text editor. Last updated on 2012-11-05 with one beta update on 2013-05-01.
  • Qtiko - music player app with a focus on design. Last updated on 2012-07-10.
  • LockBox - a digital safe app. It allows you to set up an encrypted virtual drive in which you can safely store important files. Last updated on 2012-09-12.
  • Tickit - a to-do app with a difference. Its design centers around grouping tasks into separate projects – e.g. ‘Shopping’, ‘Work, ‘Personal’, etc. Last updated on 2012-07-22.
  • Protoborsa - a desktop application for monitoring the financial fortunes of traded companies. Last updated on 2012-07-13.
  • Spellathon - a simple anagram solving game. Last updated on 2012-07-15.
  • Switz is a ‘digital Swiss army knife’. Includes a unit converter; a to-do list; an on-screen ruler, and a system monitor. Last updated on 2012-07-17.
  • Format Junkie - "all in one" media converter. Last updated on 2012-12-21.
  • NitroShare - simplifies the process of sharing files over a local network. Last updated on 2012-08-29. (it also says "2013-06-19" but that is only for making it work with 13.04 & 13.10...the app is still the same as the 2012 version.)


There are MANY other apps that were in the Showdown:

I'm not going to go through all of them because that is 130+ but I will touch on a few that didn't get much attention like the above apps.


  • rapid-get - an apt-get alternative increases package installation speed by parallelizing downloading with removing, installing and upgrading of packages. Last updated on 2012-07-09.
  • Anagram Finder - provide a word and the app displays an anagram of that word. Last updated on 2012-07-02.
  • Armorforge - a graphical user interface which allows to configure complex Apparmor-profiles and start them directly in AppArmor. Last updated on 2012-07-14.
  • DoStuff - an app to bring the popular "todo.txt" Android/iOS app to Linux. Last updated on 2012-08-16.
  • Download Monitor - monitors the amount of data uploaded and downloaded over a network. Displays graphs of this network usage. Allows a quota to be set and warns when it is about to be exceeded. Last updated on 2012-08-20.
  • Harmony Organiser - a music folder organiser. Reads ID3 tags of mp3 files to enable you to organise your music folder. Last updated on 2012-07-11.
  • Houston - desktop dashboard for cloud server management. Last updated on 2012-07-30.
  • Mass Renamer - an application that let you rename a batch of files with some common keywords to an unique name convention, with optional numbering. Last updated on 2012-07-11.


The Showdown was not a complete waste...

Thanks to Variety.


Variety is a wallpaper changer for Ubuntu which is featureful, yet slim and very easy to use. It can automatically download wallpapers from various online sources, allows rotating them on a regular interval or on demand, and provides easy to use ways to separate the great images from the junk. It even lets you have full control to filter images specific to your resolution size. If you are a multi-monitor user, you can limit the wallpapers to only fit your preferred resolution.


Variety was last updated on 2013-06-14 and has had active development throughout the year.


What will happen with 2013's App Showdown?

Canonical has announced a new App Showdown for this year but this time it will focus on Ubuntu Touch instead of the Desktop. It is anyone's guess whether moving the focus to the mobile apps will make a difference to the longevity of the Showdown apps but what we do know is that the first Showdown was far from a success. Out of the 34 apps listed above only 1 app continued development and is still an active project. That is a 3% "success" rate. On the bright side, it would be pretty hard to not at least make some improvement this time around.


What do you think went wrong with the Showdown? Do you think this year will be different?

Let me know in the comments below...


Update: this update is just to clarify something...for some reason people are complaining about something I didn't say. I am saying the Showdown was a failure. The point of the Showdown was to ignite the development community in Ubuntu but what it did was create a lot short term boosting that ended in almost everything fizzling out. People are claiming that I said these apps are failures but that is not at all what I said...to those who are complaining about something invented in their own head, please read an article before you comment on it.