Canonical has announced that it’s abandoning plans to develop versions of the Ubuntu operating system that run on smartphones and tablets… and that means the company is also giving up on the Unity desktop environment that was supposed to provide a “convergence” experience no matter what type of device you were using.

Starting with Ubuntu 18.04, the desktop version of Ubuntu will used the GNOME desktop environment.

But Unity and Ubuntu for touchscreen devices might not be all dead just yet.

Developer Marius Gripsgård has expressed interest in forking the software and continuing its development after Canonical gives up.

Gripsgård is a developer with UBports, a team that’s ported Ubuntu phone software to run on a variety of third-party smartphones including the Fairphone 2 and several Nexus and OnePlus devices.

Meanwhile, a new project called Unity8org is also underway and the group’s github page describes the project as a fork of Canonical’s Unity 8 repository, as of April 5th, 2017 (the day Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced plans to cease development).

It’s too early to say how successful these efforts will be. While Unity got off to a rocky start, it’s earned some fans over time. And there’s no shortage of examples of community-based open source projects for desktop environments. But it will probably be a while before we know for certain whether Unity has what it takes to become one of those.

via Phoronix

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9 replies on “Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment may live on… as a third-party fork”

  1. After the news yesterday, I spent a few hours getting Gnome up and running with the same icons (numix circle) and theme (arc dark) I use on Unity, and found an extension and a tweak tool to get the launcher thing looking just like Unity’s. Only thing missing is showing app titles and menus in the top bar like Unity. I find Gnome’s top bar useless in comparison to Unity’s.

    1. I’m glad to hear it. Could you pass along the name of the extension and tweak tool? I like Unity (it’s what got me hooked on Ubuntu when I first tried out several various Linux distributions to figure out what was right for me), and I would love to get GNOME running as similarly as possible! Thanks in advance.

    2. Ubuntu 16.04 is slated to be supported until 2021. Maybe by that time the group attempting to fork Ubuntu with a version maintaining Unity will be “ready for prime time” for you by then. As for me, Unity is way too complicated to navigate compared to Lubuntu, Xubuntu or even Microsoft Windows — and takes up much more CPU power and RAM than the first two alternatives.

    3. GNOME’s menu bar is a waste. Unity is in the right direction, with pressing the “alt” button you only need to type the menu command of a specific application. It’s a very useful feature.

      I think Ubuntu will stick to its UX/UI in Unity 7.

  2. I’ve been waiting for them to switch back to gnome. I hated unity.

    Ive been using Xubuntu, only because of its simplicity. I will switch back to Ubuntu and try this out.

    1. Me too. I feel like xubuntu is so simple that a normal windows user will feel very familiar with once you change the “taskbar” location from the top to the bottom. I personally prefer cinnamon desktop environment because it looks soo great but xfce is the best for a live usb.

    2. I am not a fan of Unity either. When I used a full Ubuntu install I actually used Edubuntu which adds a suite of educational programs and also a GNOME or Metacity option which was much smoother to use than Unity was. Too bad Edubuntu is evidently being deprecated as a 16.04 wasn’t released and I haven’t heard of an 18.04 version being worked on (that project didn’t release non-LTS versions). Nowadays when I use Linux it is usually Lubuntu.

  3. I find this to be very interesting. I have been looking software other than windows and android to bridge the gap between devices. The problem has always been support for a limited number of devices. In order to make this truly viable it will have to support the same devices that support android. otherwise it is niche and will not survive.

    1. That would be impossible, since testing all Android devices out there is next to impossible. Example, Samsung will only support Samsung devices and so on. The only way to get an Unity phone is to have a support just from one manufacurer/ODM, then work from that point. Only one hardware spec is needed. Mobile phones are different than desktops.

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