Ubuntu Unity is dead: Desktop will switch back to GNOME next year

Pablo Tucker
April 7, 2017

Ubuntu's Unity desktop and its related Ubuntu Phone project were always long-shots, so it was not unexpected that Canonical would eventually call a retreat. Note that Shuttleworth didn't specifically state that Ubuntu software development for smartphones and tablet PCs was coming to an end.

While Mr Shuttleworth has confirmed that Unity 8 will be dropped he reaffirmed his "ongoing passion for, investment in, and commitment to, the Ubuntu desktop that millions rely upon" as well as confirming that Ubuntu will continue to provide support for their existing LTS that use Unity 7 by default.

He points out that the community viewed the Unity effort as fragmentation and not innovation even though the aim was to deliver it as a free software, an alternative to the closed alternatives now available to device manufacturers.

Ubuntu gives up on its Convergence: In the recent years, Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution has spent a lot of work and time on Convergence for smartphones.

From the 18.04 long-term support version of the OS, due in April 2018, Ubuntu will switch back to the GNOME desktop. He also clarified that Canonical didn't see any financial future for the company's efforts with Ubuntu for mobile.

Ars Technica quoted Canonical Community Manager Michael Hall as saying that Canonical would also be switching from its homegrown Mir display server technology to Wayland, which has become something of a Linux standard outside of Ubuntu. "Using Mir simply isn't an option we have".

Canonical's mobile plans were hampered by same forces that doomed Mozilla's more popular Firefox OS phone project, as well as Jolla's Sailfish OS and Samsung's Tizen.

"The cloud and IoT story for Ubuntu is excellent and continues to improve". And industry has not rallied to the possibility, instead taking a "better the devil you know" approach to those form factors, or investing in home-grown platforms.

The choice, ultimately, is to invest in the areas which are contributing to the growth of the company. You all probably know that most public cloud workloads, and most private Linux cloud infrastructures, depend on Ubuntu. All of those have communities, customers, revenue and growth, the ingredients for a great and independent company, with scale and momentum. While Shuttleworth praised the work done by Canonical's Unity 8 team, he said that "markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear".

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