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Latest Ubuntu 17.10 Update Ditches the Unity Desktop, Installs GNOME

And so it begins: the Unity desktop and related packages have been removed from the ‘seeds’ used to build Ubuntu 17.10.

As previously announced, Ubuntu 17.10 will ship with GNOME Shell as the default desktop environment in place of Canonical’s home-grown Unity desktop.

Unity has been Ubuntu’s default desktop since 2011.

Currently in proposed-updates to the Artful Aardvark, the latest ubuntu-meta package update drops the Unity desktop (and associated parts) from the list of things to be installed, and adds-in GNOME Shell (and associated parts) in its place.

Other packages and features dropped from the meta-package (and thus won’t be installed by default on images builds with this package) include the Ubuntu notification system Notify-OSD — blub, gonna miss those chameleonic notification bubbles — overlay-scrollbars, and the Unity control centre, which is a forked version of the GNOME control centre.

Ubuntu developer Didier Roche ackowledge the passing of Unity in the meta package changelog, writing:

“Bye bye Unity, it has been a long and fun ride: from the Unity0 in vala+mutter for Ubuntu Netbook Edition, to Unity1 becoming Unity7 with the compiz C++ rewrite and Nux additions.

We had our load of fun, joy, sadness, crazyness… without forgetting crashes as well! Remember those shaders, those overlay scrollbars, those window stack issues, those 5am releases? And synchronizing you with the Unity2D team!

Thanks to everyone involved, all those still here, those who left.”

If you’re already running the Ubuntu 17.10 daily builds you’ll be able to install this update in the next few days. But when you do be aware that Unity won’t be uninstalled from your system, but that the new GNOME packages listed will be installed alongside them.

But Ubuntu 17.10 daily builds built from the new meta-package won’t contain Unity.

Although Ubuntu 17.10 does not feature Unity desktop by default there’s no reason to miss it. Unity 7 remains the default desktop environment in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, which is supported well into the next decade, and Unity 7 is still  available to install on Ubuntu 17.10 from the main Ubuntu repos.