Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth recently announced that Ubuntu will be ceasing development of the Unity 8 desktop environment and dropping its Ubuntu touch development for phones and tablets.
So what’s next for the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system?
A few years ago the developers made a bet that the next big thing was mobile. They were largely right, but Ubuntu hasn’t had much of an impact in that space. So now Canonical is focusing on a different next big thing: cloud services and Internet of Things products.
But millions of people still run Ubuntu on desktop computers, and Shuttleworth is starting to describe what the company’s shift in focus will mean for those users.
Shuttleworth made some comments in a long thread on Google+ that make a few things clear:
- While the mobile team is disbanding and Canonical is focusing on more profitable spaces including servers and devices, the company will continue to focus on “delivering a high quality desktop for everybody to use.”
- Canonical will be investing in Ubuntu GNOME, which is currently available as a “flavor” of Ubuntu, much like Lubunxu, Xubuntu, or Kubuntu. But starting with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, it’s likely that Ubuntu GNOME will be the default version of the operating system.
- While Unity 8 is going away, Canonical may develop a theme that helps GNOME look more like the discontinued desktop environment.
- The new “snap” package system will continue to be available in future versions of Ubuntu, as well as for other GNU/Linux distributions including Fedora, Debian, and openSUSE.
- While the default desktop environment is changing to GNOME, Unity 7 packages will still be available in the archive for people who want to use them. And Unity 8 might not be entirely dead either… as third-party developers consider forking it (although there’s talk about moving from Mir to Wayland).