After six years of placing Unity as the default user interface on Ubuntu desktops, Canonical is finally pulling the plug on the project. Instead, the company will be deploying GNOME as the default Ubuntu desktop starting next year.
Canonical also confirmed that it was putting an end to the development of Ubuntu software for smartphones and tablet computers. That essentially means that all hopes of enacting a unified experience with docked mobile phones serving as desktop have now vanished.
It goes without saying that the move marks the company’s return to the early years of Ubuntu when the desktop featured GNOME rather than a Canonical-developed user interface.
“I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell….We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS,” Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, said in a blog post.
“We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS,” which is expected to ship a year later, i.e. in April 2018.
Shuttleworth admitted that the company’s focus on Unity rather than on GNOME was seen by many as a “fragmentation” within the Linux community.
The switch to GNOME also makes it clear that Canonical have given up on Mir and moving over to the Wayland display server which happens to one of the prime contenders for replacing the X window system.
Considering that the developments path of Wayland and Mir are separate, the company has “no real choice but to use Wayland when Ubuntu switches to GNOME by default,” said Canonical Community Manager Michael Hall, ArsTechnica reports. He added: “Using Mir simply isn’t an option we have.”