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Death of Ubuntu's Unity and the Ubuntu Phone - What you need to know

Ubuntu 17.04

In this article we here at Peach are going to try to give you the facts about the direction of Ubuntu and their recent decisions to change Ubuntu and how it will or will not effect Peach OSI. As you may or may not realize, Peach uses the XFCE window manager system which, like Gnome, is based on the GTK+ toolkit. Ubuntu has been developing and using the Unity desktop for several years. With that fact known and with the growth of Ubuntu derivatives that give the desktop user an alternative to the Unity desktop, I wonder if derivatives like Peach OSI have played any role in Ubuntu deciding to abandon the Unity desktop? Whether or not that is the truth or not doesn’t really matter at this point because I do look forward to seeing what they (Ubuntu and Canonical), with their resources, do with Gnome 3. Peach users, by in large, should feel confident that Peach OSI will do our best to incorporate any new improvements to our systems as Ubuntu moves forward with their developments as we continue to develop Peach OSI as we always have – with performance, reliability and an eye toward ease of use which was and is the reason that we started this project in the first place. What we are witnessing with Ubuntu is the same that everyone in the Linux development game is experiencing. In order to survive we all have to make decisions that take into consideration the financial aspects of those decisions. The reason that Ubuntu phones and tablets has failed is not that there was not the experience or technology to make it possible but that the public at large would rather not have a free and open source portable platform that has Linux as its OS and as the public often does – it opted out of such research and programs by supporting the status quo.

Need an example?: For the past 5 months we have been working on a flavor of Peach OSI code named Cyborg. Our idea was/is to develop a Peach OS that incorporates our basic OS with Android capabilities, such as Google Play and access to the millions of Apps that are available thereof. We’ve traveled down many pathways to get there, natively installed, virtual machines and emulators – each with its own set of advantages and issues but in the end we are having to scrap the program because of two basic issues. Number one is lack of support for the program and number two is the fact that Google will not give us permission to include any Google made Apps like Google Play, Google Earth, basically anything with the title “Google” even though they openly publish these Apps as “Open Source”. How they get around this is by tagging the open source definition with they reserve the right to allow or disallow “permission” of their applications to only “approved” devices. Taking into their considerations for building Chrome capabilities that more and more allow for Chrome users to install Apps directly with Chrome – this “approval” of specific devices seems to be less important than keeping you – their end user – tied to them for marketing and other profit making purposes.

So in the end it’s really up to you and where you decide to place your trust – and make no mistake – when you give your hard earned dollars either by buying products or making donations you are making a conscious choice of what the future will be. Ubuntu is doing nothing more than swimming down stream with the current because to swim upstream against it would eventually depleat whatever resources are left. If there ever was a time that the community of “Open Source” developers needed your support that time is now. Otherwise I’m afraid that in the near future any innovation or “free” to the public resources will be long gone. Read on to read more about the changes with Ubuntu.

 

Canonical is giving up on the Unity desktop project and will switch the default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME next year. Canonical is also ending development of Ubuntu for phones and tablets ending the goal of creating a converged experience with phones acting as desktops .

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth explained  "I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity 8, the phone and convergence shell," he wrote. "We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS," which is supposed to be available in April 2018.

This reverse logic is a return to the early years of Ubuntu, when the desktop shipped with GNOME instead of a Canonical-developed user interface.  Canonical Community Manager Michael Hall confirmed that the Ubuntu phone and tablet project is over.

By switching to GNOME, Canonical is also giving up on Mir and moving to the Wayland display server, another contender for replacing the X window system. Given the separate development paths of Mir and Wayland, "We have no real choice but to use Wayland when Ubuntu switches to GNOME by default," Hall stated and continued "Using Mir simply isn't an option we have."

Canonical has found financial success in the business IT market, particularly with server and cloud based software. The cloud and IoT story for Ubuntu is excellent and continues to improve. You all probably know that most public cloud workloads, and most private Linux cloud infrastructures, depend on Ubuntu. You might also know that most of the IoT work in auto, robotics, networking, and machine learning is also on Ubuntu, with Canonical providing commercial services on many of those initiatives. The number and size of commercial engagements around Ubuntu on cloud and IoT has grown materially and consistently.

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 and our IoT story in snaps and Ubuntu Core. All of those have communities, customers, revenue and growth, the ingredients for a great and independent company, with scale and momentum.

This doesn't mean that Canonical is ending desktop development, he wrote. 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, Shuttleworth wrote.

Shuttleworth acknowledged that Canonical's work on Unity instead of GNOME was viewed as "fragmentation" in the Linux community. While Shuttleworth praised the work done by Canonical's Unity 8 team, he said that "markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear."

In 2013, Shuttleworth told Ars that Canonical could be profitable if it trimmed itself down to focus on its most successful lines of business. But he kept investing money in Canonical because of his phone ambitions. He even predicted that "the desktop on its own will die" without a mobile counterpart. But nearly four years later, phones have not killed PCs, and it doesn't appear that the death of the Ubuntu phone will have any long-term impact on the Ubuntu desktop's viability.

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