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Ubuntu 18.04 To Ship with GNOME Desktop, Not Unity

Notice: This post is more than a year old. It may be outdated.

ubuntu 17.04 zesty zapus desktop

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will use GNOME as its default desktop environment, and not Unity 8 — or even Unity 7.

In an extraordinary blog post that I have yet to fully digest, Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Canonical is to end its investment in Unity 8, Mir, Ubuntu for phones and tablets, and will no longer pursue its goal of “convergence”.

‘we will end our investment in Unity 8, the phone and convergence shell’

In a further striking admission Ubuntu’s founder adds that the Ubuntu desktop will ‘shift back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.’

“We will continue to produce the most usable open source desktop in the world, to maintain the existing LTS releases, to work with our commercial partners to distribute that desktop, to support our corporate customers who rely on it, and to delight the millions of IoT and cloud developers who innovate on top of it,” he says.

Despite the blunt about turn in developing technologies and projects that have dominated the project over the past few years Shuttleworth reaffirms Canonical’s “ongoing passion for, investment in, and commitment to, the Ubuntu desktop that millions rely on.”

All current LTS releases will continue to be maintained and supported as expected going forward. The Unity 7 desktop has been in maintenance mode for several years.

But on the diversion into the mobile space the Ubuntu founder is more pragmatic.

“I was wrong about Ubuntu Phone”

“I took the view that, if convergence was the future and we could deliver it as free software, that would be widely appreciated both in the free software community and in the technology industry, where there is substantial frustration with the existing, closed, alternatives available to manufacturers. I was wrong on both counts,” he writes.

“In the community, our efforts were seen fragmentation not innovation. 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. What the Unity8 team has delivered so far is beautiful, usable and solid, but I respect that markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear.”

“The choice, ultimately,” he concludes, “is to invest in the areas which are contributing to the growth of the company. Those are Ubuntu itself, for desktops, servers and VMs, our cloud infrastructure products (OpenStack and Kubernetes) our cloud operations capabilities (MAAS, LXD, Juju, BootStack), and our IoT story in snaps and Ubuntu Core.”

Details are still scant as to the true implications of this news as it has, no understatement to say, caught a lot of people by surprise.

In the mean time, your thoughts?