I wrote a li'l blog entry on Linux.com about what I think is the over-use and misuse of the word "bloat" with regard to Linux distros (Ubuntu is a frequent target).
Here's an excerpt:
So wha'd'y'think?A former Windows user, I thought I knew what bloat was until I started using Linux (Ubuntu was my first Linux distro). Bloat, to me, was software that is not really for the user, but for the operating system. In Windows it was stuff like anti-virus and anti-spyware stuff, disk defragmentation tools, registry cleaners, and the like. In Linux there's no need for any of that "bloatware."
Now I'm a Linux user, yay! So imagine my confusion now when I hear Linux distros described as "bloated!" The only thing I can come up with to justify applying the term to Linux is all the "libraries" used by some applications and desktop environments.
...fellow Linux users, let's please stop throwing that word around and scaring away newbies who have no idea what we mean (even we Linuxers can't agree on what it means). We don't want them to imagine that there's little difference between Linux and any other OS, except that ours is free and therefore probably not as good as those "professional" OSes. Linux is amazingly customizable! It's only as "bloated" as you need it to be. So if you think a distro is bloated, fix it! But don't tell the whole computing world that "it's bloated" and risk having newbies miss out on some really awesome stuff!