Did Ubuntu dump Unity for money?

Canonical dumped GNOME for its own Unity desktop years ago, but now the company has reversed itself and will release Ubuntu 18.04 with GNOME instead of Unity.

So why did Canonical give up on Unity?

Christine Hall speculates that it all came down to money for Canonical, and she lists the reasons for the company’s shocking switch from Unity to GNOME in Ubuntu 18.04.

Christine Hall reports for ITPro:

Canonical’s official announcement about GNOME and Unity

In case you missed it, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth announced the big change to Ubuntu’s desktop environment in a blog post:

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.

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.

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.

This has been, personally, a very difficult decision, because of the force of my conviction in the convergence future, and my personal engagement with the people and the product, both of which are amazing. We feel like a family, but this choice is shaped by commercial constraints, and those two are hard to reconcile.

Linux users react to the news about GNOME replacing Unity

The news about Ubuntu replacing Unity with GNOME caught the attention of Linux redditors and they shared their thoughts in a long discussion thread:

ShibaTheDestroyer: “This didn’t concern me, really. Gnome can be customized a lot, and if canonical is smart, they’ll create a very unity-like experience through extensions. This means users keep their muscle memory, the gnome project gets more support, and canonical has a smaller and easier to maintain codebase. If it’s done well, what’s the problem? ”

Csolisr: “GNOME Shell can be customized, to an extent. But for some developers that wasn’t enough, so forks began to appear – in particular Cinnamon, from the developers of Linux Mint.”

DSMcGuire: “I guess Unity 7 did fill the void until Gnome was usable.

However, like other have pointed out I don’t understand the switch to Gnome which uses GTK when KDE uses QT and they’ve been working with QT for the past 3/4 years with Unity 8! Why not ship KDE and knowledge and work gained could kinda/sorta get transferred over.”

Edarfoc: “They are going to rely even more heavily on Debian, which defaults to GNOME.”

Charged_Buffalo: “It isn’t just the community and upstream that have ramifications – it’s also Ubuntu’s branding. Admitting and stepping down development of Ubuntu Phone and Unity 8 is a large hit to the public representation of the company. The upside, as you mention, is that community efforts should be doubled to produce a better GNOME desktop interface (only time will tell if it will). In terms of UI, it also breaks the thematic colour of orange used throughout the desktop environment (whereas GNOME’s UI is a mix of blue, black and white) which impacts the overall branding.”

Phyrz: “I was worried so this morning I installed ubuntu-gnome-desktop and after a couple of hours fiddling with gnome-tweak and the control panel and installing a bunch of extensions I think this will work out okay, for me at least.”

Whiskies: “Really wish they’d gone with KDE. I can’t see the GNOME devs being open to improvements from Canonical that conflict with their vision.

It’s a better desktop at this point, even if historically it hasn’t always been. Haven’t Canonical developers gotten familiar with Qt and QML from the Unity experiment? Those skills would transfer over nicely.”

Avamander: “Should have aborted Unity at start, not killed it when people started liking it and it’s old enough to go to school.”

Ubugtu: “I’m astonished by this move. Unity is my preferred desktop, and Unity 8 looked fantastic.

I like GNOME too, but too much vertical space is wasted in windows and menus imo.”

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This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network.