Ubuntu, openSUSE and the Definition of Easy
To hear fans talk, without Ubuntu, Linux desktops would be still be basic window managers. Even Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu's founder, recently implied that those who questioned him held the view that "Linux is supposed to be hard so it's exclusive."
Such attitudes always remind me of how the Soviet Union once claimed to have invented every major scientific theory and new piece of technology in the twentieth century. True, Ubuntu did increase awareness of usability on the Linux desktop, but that does not mean that Ubuntu and its Unity desktop have a monopoly on usability.
The truth is, long before Ubuntu, other distributions were stumbling towards usability. Although Ubuntu's ability to grab headlines accelerated their progress, other modern distributions have arrived at very different usability philosophies than Unity.