Ubuntu <3 Gnome

In a post titled “Growing Ubuntu for Cloud and IoT, rather than Phone and convergence” Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu, said that Canonical will be “ending investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.”

That’s HUGE news. Like many of you guys out there, several years back I was rather shocked to hear that Ubuntu would drop Upstart in favor of SystemD. And now it seems they’re coming back to the GNOME fold. I’m impressed! But is it really such a huge surprise? While I’m still in a state of shock (and admitted euphoria), the writing has been on the walls for a while.

With delay after delay of Unity8, the quiet death of projects like UbuntuTV and virtually no hardware vendors shipping Ubuntu phones anymore, the convergence thing never seemed to take off for them.

And, I think the recent inclusion of gnome in the official Ubuntu repositories after YEARS of absence may have been a strong indicator of where we were headed. Now, I wouldn’t have called this decision in a million years knowing how peculiar Ubuntu can sometimes be… but it’s exciting news for me because I love GNOME shell.

Now, I applaud the Ubuntu team and Mark Shuttleworth specifically for what must be a hard decision. And I do not relish the fact that the Unity desktop is going to be discontinued. In his post on the Ubuntu Insights blog, Mark stated: “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… I was wrong on both counts. In the community, our efforts were seen [as] fragmentation not innovation. And industry has not rallied to the possibility [of free software]”

“This has been, personally, a very difficult decision, because of the force of my conviction in the convergence future… but this choice is shaped by commercial constraints, and those two are hard to reconcile.”

He also pledged:

“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.”

This leaves a few lingering questions. With the end of Unity, does that mean the end of Mir? Will Ubuntu 18.04 also ship Wayland? And most importantly, how will all this effect gaming on Ubuntu?

But what do you think? Are you as big a GNOME fan as I am? Will there be another mass exodus of Ubuntu users due to this desktop environment switch up? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TheLinuxGamer. You can also support the show over on Patreon.