Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Ubuntu for tablets and phones is dead, and that the Ubuntu desktop OS will be reverting back to GNOME instead of using Unity. It’s a major change, one that Shuttleworth describes as ‘a very difficult decision.’ This spells the end to Canonical’s visions of ‘the convergence future’ — instead, the company will be focusing on the areas of business that are growing, Shuttleworth explains, which includes servers and VMs, the cloud infrastructure products, and, of course, the desktop, among other things.
Ubuntu comes in many shapes and sizes, and is used by consumers and businesses alike. The desktop software is popular enough to be offered as an option by many computer manufacturers, and it is similarly found on servers and behind big projects. Ubuntu desktop isn’t going anywhere, but it will revert back to using GNOME as its default desktop with the arrival of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.
Though Ubuntu for desktop has found favor among both consumers and businesses, the mobile variant of the software never struck a major chord with manufacturers or consumers. Unity 8 development has been slowly plodding along, but never reached a finalized stage, and many critics in the Linux community positioned it as fragmentation.
Despite Canonical’s best efforts, the community has elected to eschew Unity 8, and Shuttleworth indicates it is not in the company’s best financial interest to continue pursuing it. Acknowledging this reality, Shuttleworth went on to say:
In the community, our efforts were seen [as] 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.