Ubuntu GNOME merged into mainline Ubuntu

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
Apr 26, 2017
Updated • Apr 25, 2017

Ubuntu has been using the Unity environment developed by Caonical Ltd. since the netbook edition of Ubuntu 10.10, initially released on June 9, 2010. However, it has been decided that the Unity environment would no longer be the standard environment used for the popular GNU/Linux distro.

In a blog post by Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical, he says, "We are wrapping up an excellent quarter and an excellent year for the company, with performance in many teams and products that we can be proud of. As we head into the new fiscal year, it’s appropriate to reassess each of our initiatives. I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS."

It has been the goal of Canonical and the Ubuntu teams to create "Convergence," with multiple different avenues having been traversed such as Unity and Ubuntu for phones.

Shuttleworth said, "I took the view that, if convergence was the future and we could deliver it as free software, that would be widely appreciated both in the free software community and in the technology industry, where there is substantial frustration with the existing, closed, alternatives available to manufacturers. I was wrong on both counts."

Shuttleworth went on to talk about how they are comitted to the Ubuntu distribution, and that he recognized the opinion of the community on their design and utilization of Unity on past releases.

Shuttleworth said, "In the community, our efforts were seen 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."

Ubuntu GNOME developer Jeremy Bicha posted on the Ubuntu GNOME website the release of Ubuntu GNOME 17.04, and discussed the future of the GNOME featured distribution, including the news that the project was being shut down and merged into the main Ubuntu releases in the coming release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

In his post, Bicha says, "As announced last week by Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will include GNOME instead of Unity. Specifically, it will be GNOME (including gnome-shell) with minimal Ubuntu customization."

The developers of Ubuntu GNOME are also members of the Ubuntu Desktop team, and so they will still be actively working, and there at least appears to be no loss or changes to the teams.

Ubuntu is probably the most famous GNU/Linux distribution, and for many years was also the most popular choice for home users. Ubuntu is also used frequently on many server environments, although falls behind in ranking on that front behind it's ancestor; Debian.

When Ubuntu made the switch from using GNOME 2.x to the Unity desktop it caused quite the stir amongst the community with many users opting to leave Ubuntu and move on to other distributions. While there have been some users who supported Unity, it was widely seen in poor light.

What's your take on this move? Let's hear what you have to say in the comments below.

Ubuntu GNOME merged into mainline Ubuntu
Article Name
Ubuntu GNOME merged into mainline Ubuntu
Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical, announced that Ubuntu Linux will use GNOME instead of Unity from Ubuntu version 18 on.
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  1. steve saines said on April 27, 2017 at 6:24 am

    I hung onto Gnome long past the hype to “move to the future”…I’m now using Unity for the first time with 16.04, because I got tired of ‘fighting the current’….only to find my resistance to change is shared by the majority. Been using Ubuntu since 8.04. I look forward to ‘going home’ to Gnome.

  2. dark said on April 27, 2017 at 3:37 am

    I wonder if Canonical would switch to Microkernel sometime in future considering they have switched to Gnome and Wayland.

  3. Maria said on April 27, 2017 at 12:30 am

    What theme is he using?

  4. Joe said on April 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I tried installing the Ubuntu Gnome flavor in VirtualBox and ran into problems that I couldn’t fix. So I installed the default Ubuntu release, installed Gnome and made it the default, and it’s been smooth sailing. I have to say that I welcome this news, and it makes me inch ever closer to making it my main OS.

  5. GalegO said on April 26, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    I don’t like Unity, but there some nice features, like the universal menubar at the top, and searchbar to find any file… Maybe the Ubuntu Team can improve GNOME with these features

    1. foolishgrunt said on April 27, 2017 at 12:38 am

      GNOME shell also has a universal menu bar – for applications that support it.

  6. Mark Hazard said on April 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I think that I will like the switch next April.

  7. Henk van Setten said on April 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I think this may be a good development. Back to the essence, getting rid of hard-to-fulfill pretensions? So far I’ve only seen a bunch of screenshots of Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1, but at first glance this looks better to me than what I saw of Ubuntu 17.04 with the latest Unity 8 desktop.

    Speaking of the latter’s persistent default color scheme, I think it’s high time for Canonical to employ at least one UI and ergonomics expert who happens to be not color blind ;-)

  8. 2for1 said on April 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Hit me,
    but I really like UNITY.

    Makes it very easy and faster
    to find items,
    (instead of diving into a sea of sub-sub menus)…

    Will UNITY still be offered as a choice
    during/after installing Ubuntu Linux?
    (or only GNOME offered?).

    1. Anonymous said on April 26, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      My memory for names suck so it’s easier for me to dive into a set of sub menus.

    2. Joe said on April 26, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      Gnome (Shell?)’s default launching is similar to Unity’s – hit the “super” key and type the name of the program – no need to dig into submenus. The applications menu is actually not available by default and has to be added (I like searching when I know what I’m searching for, but then having the option to browse menus when I don’t remember the name of the program).

      I think it’s pretty safe to assume that SOMEONE will continue Unity – desktop environments in Linux only seem to proliferate, and rarely die.

    3. Jilano said on April 26, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      I won’t hit you (yet) ;)

      I don’t know if you’ve tried Gnome 3, but you can easily search through all your programs/settings just like Unity. Press your “super” key then type and you’l get instant results!
      About Unity still offered as a choice, I think they’ll stop supporting it soon if it’s not already the case. But I might be wrong.

      PS: I’m sure we’ll see some awesome tutorials on gHacks soon, but you can also make your Gnome 3 desktop looks like Unity by adding some extensions such as “Dash to Dock” and such (https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/307/dash-to-dock/

      1. trends said on April 28, 2017 at 4:26 pm

        Thanks for the good news, JILANO and JOE.
        Didn’t know Gnome 3
        could do that (SuperKey + type query trick)!.

        Will try that next
        on one of our Gnome (3?) PCs.

        HOW do I find out if
        a PC has GNOME version 2 or 3?…

        Thks again, all!

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