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Canonical abandons Unity, Mir, Ubuntu Touch

Canonical abandons Unity, Mir, Ubuntu Touch

Canonical has announced that it is abandoning development of the Unity desktop environment, effectively ending its mobile efforts, and will be moving back to GNOME for the next release of Ubuntu.

Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth has officially ended the dream of a converged Ubuntu Phone future, announcing that his company is abandoning development of its phone platform, Unity desktop environment, and associated technologies to concentrate on traditional desktops, servers, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Canonical first teased its vision of having a pocket-sized device which could operate as both a fully-functional desktop computer and a high-end smartphone in 2013 with the unveiling of the Ubuntu Edge convertible smartphone. The company's stated aim of raising $32 million through crowdfunding to construct the device, which at the time existed purely as a solid plastic mock-up handset with no electronics and rendered images, was missed by a country mile, though whether that was the company's plan - to build up hype for the handset with a headline-grabbing record-breaking crowdfunding campaign without risking actually having to build the thing by hitting a more sensible funding goal - remains unknown.

What is known is that the company signed up partners for the Ubuntu Touch mobile platforms off the back of said publicity, though for low-end rather than flagship devices. The ability to use the smartphones as desktops, too, got lost along the way, until appearing in 2016 on the Bq Aquaris M10. This was powered by Unity, Canonical's in-house desktop environment based on work originally done for small-screen netbook devices and shared by the company's desktop Linux distribution - but now Unity, and Ubuntu Touch beside, is officially for the chop, four years after the Ubuntu Edge was announced.

'I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity 8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS,' Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced in a post so surprising many took it as a belated April Fool's gag. '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.

'The choice, ultimately, 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.
'

The move will see Canonical drop development of Unity 8, the latest version of the desktop environment, and switch back to the GNOME Shell it had previously abandoned. The move spells the end of Ubuntu Touch, which is heavily integrated with Unity, and also of the company's in-house X replacement Mir which will be switched for Wayland in future releases of the operating system.

6 Comments

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lacuna 6th April 2017, 14:18 Quote
It was an interesting idea but destined to fail. Even Microsoft have failed to compete with android and iOS so It's pretty unlikely that this would have achieved sufficient market share to sustain itself.
RedFlames 6th April 2017, 14:40 Quote
Seems like it's the season for companies announcing 'we cocked that one up didn't we?'
wolfticket 6th April 2017, 15:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
Seems like it's the season for companies announcing 'we cocked that one up didn't we?'
Maybe the Trump, Putin, Brexit, etc, etc (etc...) effect? These seem like good times to bury bad news:

"Oh no, a company designed software that was rubbish and/or compromised my privacy in some way... Oh wait, never mind, I just heard we're on the brink of war with Spain."
jrs77 6th April 2017, 16:20 Quote
The biggest problem is that there are too many distributions and too many GUI-projects for Linux. And everyone tries to create their own packaging-system ontop of that.

I love Linux, but at the same time I hate the fact that it isn't unified enough to gain any traction in the market.

Canonical had the right idea by trying to market a unified system, as that's what's needed to gain any support from hardware companies and software developers. And in turn this support is what people expect there to be.
Not being able to use printers/scanners for example is a big NO-NO for most users to give Linux any chance to begin with, or there not being the usual software available.

A huge percentage of users would instantly switch to Linux, if it would work just like Windows or MacOS and have all the software available and all the support for their hardware. And I'm one of them, who can't switch, because of exactly those reasons.

So yeah, it's sad to see that it didn't work out, as this means a step back actually instead of seing any progress in the above mentioned points.
Cthippo 7th April 2017, 10:24 Quote
I guess the one big advantage to this all being open source is that if there is a way to make it work, someone will probably mess with it until they find it, and if there isn't then it's less likely to be completely lost until the hardware catches up.
proxess 7th April 2017, 10:38 Quote
It's a shame this didn't gain traction. I believe they had the right idea with Unity, convergence and Mir.
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