Love or hate it but Unity was IMO the best shot we had at getting an open source unified phone, tablet and desktop experience...and now this is effectively Canonical not only shutting down Unity, but refocusing efforts away from convergence and towards more traditional market segments. I mourn the death of this innovative path.
That said, hopefully this convergence with GNOME will eventually lead back to convergence...but for now that dream is dead it would seem.
You should be able to shift your view of a document from a desktop to a laptop, but that doesn't mean the fundamental interface from one should be shoe-horned into the other.
That could mean a phone that is docked, but when you have 10x the screen real estate, a keyboard and a mouse the interface should be different when docked vs when not docked.
a) Files - Dropbox
b) Activity - Various browser sync for bookmarks, history (and passwords)
c) Handoff - Mac is pretty good here. Windows has no equivalent.
You seem to have a misunderstanding of how continuum works in Windows. The interface is separate when you hook up a phone into a dock (it's a desktop interface) and the newer devices can also do it wirelessly.
Windows went with a "similar UI language" for all platforms but still maintained huge differences between each platform because that made sense. It was never the same UI.
As you said, unified interfaces aren't that important. I'd be perfectly happy with a phone that runs a Linux desktop while docked and gives me an Android GUI/Stack while in "portable mode". The only thing really needed then would be the possibility to open the Android part in a window in the "Desktop mode", so one could still do messaging etc. while docked.
Personally, I think that would already get us 80% there. The much bigger hurdle (and afaik the one Canonical had trouble with) is then establishing a market position.
Who cares if you have the same interface on your phone and PC. I mean seriously, there is absolutely no point and you end up wasting time designing some sort of interface that doesn't suck on either platform.
Incidentally, what you describe as data convergence is part of a theoretical computing model I call PAO: http://tiamat.tsotech.com/pao
This is a ton of added complexity to developers without any real return but for ubuntu.
And ties programs to ubuntu flavored linux, unless obe is willing to do even more work for free.
At least in the demos I saw, the mobile UI would turn into a traditional Ubuntu Unity look, with floating windows and keyboard+mouse interaction.
So it sounds like they were working in the direction you describe.
The dumbest move, IMO, was not using Wayland and working with that dev community to improve it's functionality on mobile (one of the reasons given for Mir). Shuttleworth seems to point this out in the post.
Turns out rolling yet another display server rankles noses and takes a lot of dev cycles.
OTOH, most of the hard work is done. My Ubuntu Phone mostly works. The stack is complete. I'd love to see interested people taking that code and keeping it going. I'd spend spare time on contributing if this were to happen.
(I'm a Canonical employee and Ubuntu developer, but not on the convergence/desktop/phone side, and my opinions here are my own and not that of my employer)
Most likely Ubuntu goes wit Wayland now instead of Mir.
I never understood it all looking the same, having a shared UI. The screen real-estate and input are too different to make a unified presentation. My biggest complaint about Windows 10 is that the power user on a laptop suffers for the imagined mobile user.
The funny part is, focusing on shared data and identity brings you closer to convergence than an elegant UI does.
We saw this in the leap from WinCE to the iPhone, and from tablets that were essentially laptops with the monitor facing outwards, to iOS & android tablets. Besides the hardware finally getting to the right place, designing the UI for the experience was a huge leap.
"Convergence" feels far too much like trying to compromise one to suit the other, right when we've finally learnt not to do that.
The only problem with this is that SDL X11 eats the battery.
I don't really like the one device to rule them all philosophy, a single device would be too compromised for the different use cases I have for computers, but I don't think this is a valid objection in this vision of the future.
No one has to worry if the compute core of the family room computer is available, for example- they just use the family room computer, which is its own separate device, and already affordable for nearly everyone.
Given FirefoxOS is also retired and ChromeOS seems to be in the process of being replaced by or merged with Android, I figure the cross-platform toolkits are more likely to win than the browser OSes.
Imagine, a process per browser tab for all the things! Why should this not be the case? It would be a revolutionary improvement in process visibility, in general. moreover I don't see why there would be any limitations over what you get with ps and dtrace.
Indeed, I suspect there is a quite nice visualization of the kernel itself that would fit nicely in a browser tab. Maybe not a real-time picture, but surely you could do simple simulations at the very least, and perhaps set configuration options if you wanted to change your own kernel.
React Native and NativeScript are exploring different tactics beyond the most limited webviews on Android and iOS systems. Crosswalk and others explore yet another approach for bringing better webviews to such platforms.
At some point too, performance doesn't matter so long as the users are happy. A lot of technical folks notice performance, but most consumers do not. WebView-based application toolkits don't need performance to "win", they just need that sweet spot of developer productivity and user engagement that is much easier to do than you think, with or without "performance".
But I think that any hope that this could come from the desktop Linux world, and be successful, was misguided, for the same reason why "Linux on the desktop" never happened at large scale (to all the people who are about to respond "it happened for me": sure, and I'm well aware of that - but that's not what the phrase actually ever meant, and we all know that). This is an even bigger problem with phones, because with the PC ecosystem, at least you can go around shopping for an alternative OS relatively easily, and common hardware is relatively open spec-wise. So something that has 1% market share on the desktop, will probably have an order of magnitude less on mobile.
On top of that, it's not enough to implement the base system. You also have to maintain it long-term, to port existing apps to it or write new ones, and to maintain those. Within the OSS model, maintainers are generally users. So the maintenance burden is high enough for desktop Linux as it is (because of relatively fewer devs/users, compared to OS X and Windows) - and then you throw mobile into the mix, which is an even smaller group. I just don't think it can work at that small of a scale.
Interesting to see the latest Samsung phones doing the same thing, but running Android and having Samsung behind it that attempt is much more likely to bear fruit.
Fair play to Cannonical & Shuttleworth for giving it a try, but widespread adoption was always a pipe dream I think.
I'm not sure if going with Wayland will hamper the eventual convergence, but I doubt at this point we will see an open source convergence before we see one in proprietary form.
No one stops others contributing to projects which still work on convergence, but use shared stack at the same time.
I mean when you walk it's a phone, when you at the desk, the same device is connected to monitor, keyboard and mouse.
I don't mean the interfaces should actually be different. Just that "the same interface" is not the motivation by itself.
Unified interface would be good for that. If the interfaces are actually different, the app could be adopted automatically by its UI framework, or by "window manager", etc.
I know Gnome has for ages built features with some theoretical touch device in mind, but only Canonical/Ubuntu has ever shipped remotely viable touch based hardware.
It makes no sense from an usability point of view
It's like insisting on a steering wheel for a plane.
Different means of interaction and limitations and use cases require different interfaces.
Also the "Ubuntu on the phone thing", it seems they were doing it because of the wrong reasons (mainly "We like Linux") rather than focusing on the user and the ecosystem
Why should we all have to buy another completely separate computer if we want to use a mouse/keyboard/monitor, when we already have phones?
The interfaces for the phone mode and the laptop mode could be very different, no problem with that.
With that in mind I welcome this move from Canonical. Converging on the same stack as everybody else is going to be good for the Linux desktop. I'm not worried anymore about compatibility issues, Mir and Wayland.
When the phone form factor will be able to fit enough computing power to be also a laptop, we'll find a way to design the appropriate UI. However note that with a fast and responsive network connection we could use phones as dumb terminals to remote processing power, so maybe that will be the solution to convergence.
Only the Nexus 5 and 7 are fully supported at present though.
yes like you i believe one OS across all devices is a good idea, but the interface need to adapt to screen size, and provide a different and suitable experience for certain categories of screen sizes and different mode
I believe a good option would have been to have a touch-mode and a desk-mode (desk mode being a more traditional task bar desktop UI)
anyway, it is really weird they didnt see this, with all the talent they have and the resources they had, but, they failed, so they were wrong
Someone else will try and will succeed, because yes, one OS experience across all devices is still a very good idea .. we just need someone to execute it better
No one was trying to make a one-size-fits-all UI.
At least one third party is still keeping the dream alive with a crowd-funded WP10 phone announced this past week:
Half the apps (explorer and vlc are the two I used the most) work horribly in touch mode and the other half work horribly in desktop mode, like the way the pdf reader default to full screen.
The moment someone makes a phone that runs one of those Intel mobile chipsets, which can actually run x64 version of Windows, and all the existing apps, is the moment when I'll buy into that "it's a smartphone! it's a desktop! it's both!" line. But not before.
And I agree about Ubuntu, and thus Unity, looking like the best shot for a free software unified OS.
But none of that was gonna make me use Unity on my Linux desktops. shrug
Convergence and ramification are the cycling nature of any system's evolution path. Not just convergence.
Legitimately never thought I'd ever see this. Possibly the best thing that could happen for desktop Linux in this age.
Edit: and of course this would mean Ubuntu/Canonical and Fedora/RedHat basing their desktop OS's on the same platform, which can only mean easier development of desktop software and services.
Ultimately, I think it's a good, necessary move. Linux on the desktop will only happen when the environment is at least as uniform as that of Windows—from the perspective of application developers, at least.
Just because OSX does it (I don't think windows 10 does this) it doesn't mean it is a good idea.
Settings -> Appearances -> Behavior -> Enable workspaces
I personally care only about function but even if you are form-above-function guy Unity gives you many tools to make it look good:
(courtesy of r/unixporn )
me, i like gnome 3 and unity. all told i think this is really good news from canonical, for wayland, for gnome, for desktop linux in general, etc.
I'm one of the ones who loves Unity 7, it's always been faster and less memory hungry than GNOME or KDE for me. I will just have to cling onto the LTS for as long as possible.
In the long-term I think this is good for Ubuntu and Linux users in general, less diversity can sometimes help an ecosystem form. I think many users just want a DE to stay out of the way and make life easier, so I hope some of the Ubuntu ease of use focus and community will get injected back into GNOME. I really hope a huge flood of users coming back forces them to look at their memory usage and get it under control.
This is what I've always liked about linux. The UI/UX experts at Gnome/systemd say "linux is NOT about choice", but that's why I chose linux over a decade ago, for choice. If some part sucks for me, I can replace just that part.
Anyway, consider Mate, the forked continuation of Gnome 2. It's been updated to use gtk+3, it's still easy to use, and it performs well.
I don't recall them saying this at all. In fact, I would argue that Gnome's pursuit of a novel interface is very much about choice. It's not like they firebombed the xfce and KDE projects and ran away with the fortune. They said, "the window/taskbar/menu interface is widely done, let's do something else". Now, I happen to like Gnome, but like you said, if you want something else, then I agree that's what makes linux great.
In this case, you can't have it both ways. You can't live on the cutting edge, as Fedora does, and then complain that the cutting edge is too different than the old way. Run CentOS if that's your concern. Otherwise you only succeed in dividing the project's focus. But that's really orthogonal to the Gnome project or to the issue being discussed in that thread.
Gnome3 made a decision. If you don't like it saying "linux is about choice" is meaningless. If you believed that, use something else or fork the project. That's what linux is about.
I just found some of the most obvious examples online of "linux is not about choice". But that's also the response to systemd becoming a hard dependency in most distros, because Gnome components have dependencies on systemd components. And it's the response when systemd made it harder to have /usr on a separate partition. https://freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/systemd/separate-usr-i... And it's the response when systemd pulled in the udev tree and then started requiring devtmpfs for udev. And it's the response when you put "debug" on your kernel command line and systemd sees it and spews so much debugging output into kmsg during bootup it overloads the kernel (eventually they backed down and fixed it). And it's the response when GTK+3 3.1x made client-side decorations unconditionally enabled, breaking some window managers (eventually they backed down and fixed it). etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. They just love making life difficult for everyone else and justifying it with "linux is not about choice".
... but that's all besides the point. My point is, I agree with you: if you don't like it you can always choose to fork it (unlike Windows or macOS or a proprietary Unix). That's what Mate did. That's because linux is about choice. The philosophical opposition to that is what is wrong.
As long as you don't try to choose e.g. vertical panels instead of the forced top panel.
I suggest Xfce. It does the Gnome 2 thing better than Gnome 2 ever did. The default colors, theme and background image look dated, though, but are easy to change.
In my opinion, Gnome 3 is amongst the best desktop shells I've ever used. It's focus on simplicity in the base, while including extensibility using, well, extensions is unparalleled. I like that I can choose my own complexity and features without resorting to editing config files or hacky black magic. It's only marred by a subjective lack of quality, quantity and consistency in applications, as is the entire Linux/Unix desktop.
So to each their own. I also think KDE 4/5 are much nicer than KDE3.
Try and switch to Gnome 2 / MATE for a little bit and see the drastic improvements in responsiveness, though. That's what kills gnome 3 for me. Even on a nice high spec machine I still end up conscious of the UI latency, and that's really not a good position to be in. The UI needs to get out of the way, and a key part of that is being fast.
I don't use anything GTK2 based any more as the lack of smooth scrolling support is really jarring for me, despite the fact that I still like Gnome2's basic design.
It makes much more sense for them take a better base to start with, and then rally developer effort to make it more customizable/productive, than take a project with a huge featureset but very fragile and unstable.
I completely agree with this. Back in the Gnome 2 days I was very happy using Ubuntu. As someone who has used MS Windows for a couple of decades, the way the Gnome 3 desktop switched to Mac-style interface, without any option to change back really irritated me. I don't think I'm alone, I think there are a lot of people who have used Windows who were alienated by the gnome changes and gnome devs preference for creating shiny new things over having things that worked and had few bugs.
I have tried to customise gnome in the past and it didn't have sufficient customisibility to have a windows-style bar at the bottom with apps, start menu and clock and also menus on the apps instead of on a common bar. I did try Mate but the distro wasn't up to the quality of what it was trying to replace. This was probably 3 years ago now though.
Making the file manager like the Mac finder was pretty annoying too (I think that was KDE 4 though). So much functionality went away when they did that.
As far as I can tell, this just means that your only options are Android or iOS. It's not easy to get a Jolla/SailfishOS phone that will work on most Canadian or USA networks, and with this announcement it seems that Ubuntu phones won't be around for much longer. This coupled with the death of Firefox OS means that there's really not much of a choice. Certainly you can run AOSP with no Google Apps, but not having Google Play Services tends to cause more and more problems, or at the very least means your phone is less and less capable as time goes on.
I guess in general we can all celebrate that Ubuntu is moving to GNOME / Wayland and is ditching convergence, but I think the fact that there's no healthy alternative to iOS / Android is quite sad. If Canonical is exiting the mobile space to work on other things, what other alternatives do users have?
If you make a mobile operating system but you don't make devices, you need to be able to convince device vendors to sell the product for you to end users. They didn't succeed in that.
It should be a bit concerning how uncompetitive the market is that you really cannot even try to launch a mobile OS of your own as a product, since you are beholden to telecom operators and handset manufacturers on both ends, all of whom have government granted monopolies or protection in their own industries to prevent competition.
Take Microsoft - it became a handset manufacturer and is still struggling to make Windows Phone a winner.
That was because Microsoft could have all the money in the world, but couldn't operate a cell network out of thin air that would promote their devices. They also had limited access to hardware - they had to outright buy Nokia to even get minor device manufacturer access, and even then few companies ever offered Windows Phone devices despite Microsoft throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at it.
When Microsoft cannot make inroads - a company that outright buys entire business sectors to own competition - its disastrous.
And the implication from that is that if vendors aren't looking to make a ubuntu phone, it's because their customers aren't asking for a ubuntu phone. Regardless of how many layers there are between Canonical and the end user, there weren't a lot of end-users asking for a Ubuntu phone.
FirefoxOS phones were pretty much the same story. Limited hardware that wasn't available in the US market.
With both, it may not have been a lack of global interest; but a lack of interest in the limited markets they chose to release in.
When the iPhone first launched, it wasn't adopted by everyone. I remember when, in ~2009, I and a few friends were the only ones I knew who had an iPhone. It wasn't until around 2011 that pretty much everyone I knew had a smartphone.
The basic business lesson is that you have to "cross the chasm" from early adopters to mainstream users - you can't just start selling a new product to everyone and expect to succeed without massive resources, and even then your product can still struggle (see: Apple Watch). Really, the only way to pull it off is to establish a niche market before targeting the general market. This book  does a great job of explaining the process - Mozilla and Canonical execs would do well to read it!
Sadly, many startups don't seem to have very good business sense and long-term thinking. "If we're not the iPhone yesterday, then we can't compete and we might as well 'pivot' and 'focus' on our 'core offerings'" - not true! There is a market for a user-respecting, fully (or even mostly!) FLOSS smartphone, but my parents certainly aren't going to buy one - they just got their first iPhone last year after all - so sell to me and people like me, not them. Then, maybe in 6-8 years, once the platform has matured and the FLOSS benefits become obvious, you'll start to break into the general market and start to challenge iOS and Android. But I don't think most companies are down for that; sadly, most are just focused on next quarter's profits instead of building something lasting.
iOS = Locked in ecosystem
Windows Phone = Locked in ecosystem
Android = Alternative to iOS
Windows = Alternative to iOS
On a technical level, Windows Phone devices performed around the same as iOS devices (fantastic), but lacked mainstream apps (the same problem as Blackberry) but without the backwards compatibility with Android apps.
Basically, Windows Phone was doomed to be the "not android, and not iOS" smartphone despite the great technical aspects of the OS.
But then came the Windows Phone 10 reboot, with the promise that all 8.1 devices would get an WP 10 update, promise that they eventually broke by allowing only premium devices to get it.
So no, WP wasn't doomed if Microsoft managed to keep the roadmap steady, instead of rebooting left and right.
On the other hand, they seem to be having some luck with hybrid laptops/tablets. Something that most Android devices still do very poorly.
I'm optimistic because I've never seen one of these 3rd option OSes take the approach mentioned in the Crossing the Chasm book linked in my earlier post - they all went straight to mass market vs. targeting a niche, dominating, and then using that beachhead to expand into other markets. If someone makes a legit or mostly-legit FLOSS mobile device, targets it at the appropriate audience, and slowly and patiently nurtures an ecosystem, I think a 3rd option can succeed.
No market is ever truly "won" - they are all susceptible to disruption, no matter what monopolies or duopolies may exist. Not saying said disruption is easy, but it is always possible, and personally I think it is something worth pushing for vs. settling for the status quo, esp. when said status quo is either closed (iOS) or not very user-respecting (stock Android w/Google services).
Now, you are absolutely right that no market is won forever. Like you said, Blackberry was once king of the hill and was toppled by Apple. But again, like you said, Apple had a better product (and the resources to bring it to market).
So now, the question is: what's the next thing? The next "winner"? Where's the better product than iOS and Android today? Sailfish? Tizen? Mer? Fuchsia is in development at Google and looks intriguing, plus it's open source. What else could "win" mobile?
^^ I don't see how the above makes me a Linux fanboy?
As far as the next "thing" or "winner" goes, I'm not sure what that will be. My only hope is that it's not locked down and non-free by default like mobile operating systems have been. However, seeing the way AI and such are shaping up, I'm skeptical that we're not headed for a very closed, proprietary future with few if any viable alternatives to the mainstream offerings of Apple, Google, Amazon, etc.
I don't believe that a "better product than iOS and Android" exists today. Sadly, Ubuntu Touch will never be that better product, nor did Canonical ever really give it the opportunity to be.
So, what could "win" mobile? Given that the smartphone market has basically matured, the only two viable approaches are:
1. Develop a niche product that could eventually grow into a mainstream offering, or
2. Build the next "big thing"
Unfortunately, Canonical tried to make Ubuntu Touch a direct iOS/Android competitor from the get-go and they barely made it to market before everything folded, so I'd argue they tried to take a 3rd approach and failed. Right now, I don't see anyone who's really taking either of the above approaches with much success, but I guess the good news is disruption _is_ coming. When and how, we'll just have to see, but one thing is for sure: Ubuntu Touch is out of the running.
Having said that, I am not sure why? Ubuntu Phone seems largely functional on a few devices, but installing it and using it remains a pain.
Only makes sense if there is no money left.
I'm pretty sure they tried very hard indeed. They just didn't succeed.
I say this as a long-time user of Ubuntu Touch. I don't love it, it is not without its flaws. It's just the best mobile OS I've found, primarily because it doesn't nag you with privacy-invasion at every turn. I'll miss it when it's gone.
I don't know about this. The last phone they released was the Meizu Pro 5, which had an Android variant (sold in stores) and an Ubuntu variant (sold online only, and you had to dig for it if you didn't get redirected from ubuntu.com). The hardware itself for the phone wasn't awful by any means, but buying one was hard enough because the manufacturer only sold out of Asia.
Further, the Meizu Pro 5 didn't work on most networks in Canada and the United States. Why would I buy a phone that doesn't support 3G/4G? I'd _love_ to support Canonical by purchasing an Ubuntu touch device, but you could hardly say that they tried. Their handsets were few and far between, and they locked out a large portion of the market because of the phone's baseband frequencies.
I think that they could have succeeded, at least in the small, had they actually released a device that power users could use comfortably.
And also ignore locked bootloaders, DRM code in ARM TrustZone, never updated BSP that make most devices use old kernels, userspace blobs for graphics and video playback, lack of proper hardware documentation and fact that most of out-of-tree drivers that are open source are simply horrible.
Google never wanted FOSS stack on your phone in first place. Same true for phone manufacturer's, hardware vendors, carriers, media companies and governments.
So there simple not much you can do other that support rare open hardware efforts and use extremely overpriced custom-built phones.
>The Neo900 project aims to provide a Fremantle (Maemo™ 5) compatible successor to the N900, with a faster CPU, more RAM and an LTE modem. This is all based on a free, mature and stable platform - the GTA04. We'll provide complete, ready-to-use devices, as well as motherboard replacements for your current devices.
Most importantly, the Neo900 is an open platform, carrying on in the tradition of the Openmoko project. Neo900 will support all operating systems available for GTA04 (QtMoko, SHR, Debian, Replicant, ...)"
It's also worth pointing out that Samsung has been investing in Servo, and that Tizen has good support for HTML5 apps, so hopefully we can see mobile web apps increase in popularity to get us away from the walled garden approach.
I don't see many other options emerging. It's possible that a community-led effort to finish work on Unity 8 (and possibly port it to Wayland) may emerge, but that would only solve the phone UI issue, the main problem holding back open-source phones is likely to be closed bootloaders and lack of drivers. By supporting Tizen we can get Samsung to handle the low level stuff.
"This document provides information about how to contribute code to Tizen, including the following:
* Cloning over SSH
* Submit a patch to the Gerrit
* Review a patch on the Gerrit
* Submit a package to the build system
* Review and accept a package on the build server (for release engineer only)
1 - GTK+ based
2 - Took Bada OS C++ SDK with its Symbian C++ like flavour
3 - Rewrote the C++ API into something more appealing
4 - Thrown everything away and replaced with EFL, plain C API with C++ will come soon
5 - Now they are adopting .NET Core with Xamarin Forms
How can anyone invest time developing for them?
What alternative do you suggest? I suggested they were the best remaining option for an open-source mobile OS now that Ubuntu were dropping out of the race. What other options are there? Sailfish? Anything else?
This ideology of open-source mobile OS goes back to Openmoko.
None of them managed to sell enough devices to keep a profitable business.
Nokia managed it with the N900 and the N9, the only reason they didn't continue is they lost their bottle and sold out to Microsoft.
Also as a former employee I can tell they didn't sell that much units, specially when compared with Symbian devices.
Meanwhile, Tizen is available for people wanting whatever their changing offering is. I guess just budget regular rewrites in a new language/platform you had to learn into your FOSS app on Tizen with either few contributors or the more common zero. That's some great ROI.
What will stop Samsung from closing it off when it gets too popular? (And, BTW, it's not like Samsung hardware is the pinnacle of OS design. Exynos is notorious for being hard to make custom ROMs)
Just to mention I used to like MS technologies.
Least problems I had with ASP 2 / AJAX web app which works for nine years without significant problems.
> "you need just a good bridge to OS UI language"
For moblie apps, Xamarin is that bridge (can always build web apps too):
Plus, .NET Core is cross-platform, good cross-platform tooling becoming available (VS Code, etc...), and you don't have to use C#.
If you're interested in writing games, Unity uses .NET (Mono in particular):
It's developed with the support of the Linux Foundation, with the code released under open source licences. There are some parts of the design that are licenced by Samsung (e.g the SDK), but overall it looks pretty open to me.
>"it's not a real platform"
It has shipped in multiple devices, including every TV Samsung have sold since 2015:
>"It's a toy Samsung uses to threaten Google with."
It's a little more than that. At the moment it's not got much traction on phones, but I still maintain it's the best option for an open-source mobile OS that we've got left now that Ubuntu are out of the picture. If you can think of a better alternative that currently exists, by all means feel free to share it.
Some core components are not (or were not) free software. And the license for the SDK gives Samsung the rights to revoke forbid specific users from using it.
Open source on Android is in pretty good shape on the whole, which is one of the big reasons why Unity never really caught on except among the tiny fraction of developers who were genuinely into Linux desktop application development specifically.
- Replicant (http://www.replicant.us)
- Plasma Mobile (https://plasma-mobile.org)
- Tizen (https://www.tizen.org)
I understand that choice in the Linux world is very important, but I also think that choice (taken to extremes) can be crippling. My opinion is that we have too many desktop environments, and too many distros.
If we imagine a hypothetical scenario where in June 2010 Ubuntu committed to Gnome as the DE, imagine how much progress would have been made with Gnome in the last 7 years, not just from a coding perspective, but from a community and social perspective.
I consider it supremely important that we educate as many computer users as possible about the negative side of proprietary software (lock in subscriptions, proprietary file formats, closed source privacy concerns etc).
What Ubuntu did back in 2010 (I think) did major damage toward that vision.
I applaud Mark Shuttleworth for making the decision, even if he only got there because of commercial reasons. I really hope that Canonical and Red Hat can work together to make Gnome not just a technological success, but a social one too.
At the moment, linux still needs more and more High-Quality Desktop Applications.
On one hand, freedom is freedom. You can't say "here have some freedom" then when people do what they want say, "oh I didn't mean that much freedom!"
That said , I think Canonical has a responsibility to do things smarter since they (like it or not) are the face of Linux for a lot of people.
If I am at all representative for early Ubuntu users they themselves might also have lost quite a few enthusiastic fans in the process.
From what I read here they won quite a few enthusiastic users as well so it's not all black and white though.
I think it's important for experimentation to occur. Don't contribute to the incumbents only because you want the fewest opinions available.
My initial thoughts were more hypothetical - and I definitely wouldn't suggest that Gnome is the best software/DE around!
If we take Linux Mint for example - they've gone out on their own with custom/forked versions of simple things like XEd, XPlayer, XReader. That isn't experimentation, it's just a difference of product development philosophy. I'm not saying we should all be clones and all use the same software, but at what point do we say "ok, there are 57 text editors out there, let's work with one of them to improve that feature set rather than go out on our own with the 58th editor". Surely the hours of development going in to these "X" apps would be better spent contributing back to something that everybody can use and is already using.
I think for me it all comes back to a deeper philosophical and moral issue - why can't we all just get along and work together on shared solutions.
I feel like this is a relevant quote: "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
And having defaults doesn't imply a lack of choice IMO. It is still easy to change DEs on a vanilla Ubuntu as it should be. I don't bother with the variants, I just install vanilla Ubuntu and install my DE of choice in place.
Yes, many distros offer this out of the box right now, but it's not at the forefront of Joe-average's mind, because it's still not easy enough.
I just think that if there was less fragmentation (see my Linux Mint XEd example above), we could make much faster progress toward a FOSS world for the average user. Note, I'm talking about less fragmentation - not zero fragmentation.
I might be a small minority, but I _like_ Unity 7. I have never used Unity 8, and I thought the Ubuntu phone was misspent effort, but wow. Now I have to figure out if there is a way to style Gnome to look like Unity 7.
I wonder what this means for Mir vs Wayland as well.
I don't think it would be too hard for Canonical to create some installed by default extensions and themes to make Unity users feel more at home in Gnome. The global menu is the only thing I can think of that would maybe be a little too tricky to be worth the effort.
In a way, maybe the year of the Linux Desktop was more convincing. At least people knew why they wanted that.
I like gnome3 visually, but some design choices by the gnome team I don't understand. While unity uses a global menu, which displays the menu items in several columns, The gnome global menu has 1 column, with for most apps a single entry (quit).
I'm fairly sure implementing unity/mac style global menus on GNOME can be done with an extension.
And if they don't contribute as much to the desktop, we'll probably see improvements in other areas such as performance.
BTW, I would go even further: will they still invest in the Snap package or they will do the same and go to a community oriented package system?
Try the Firefox Nightly for example: https://firefox-flatpak.mojefedora.cz/
In my understanding, GNOME Shell doesn't support Mir, only X11 and Wayland, so.
I have tried gnome shell in the past, but I still prever unity because of the global menu.
This is good news for linux on the desktop. Not that diversity isn't good, but Unity has been stale for years while Gnome has been progressing, but suffering from the fragmentation that Canonical caused.
Hopefully this will result in more contributions upstream, which will benefit all linux distributions. This was always the main complaint with Canonical.
This is huge and was my #1 request for the previous post for Ubuntu 17.10. Gnome on Fedora is amazing and I have had people walk up to me and ask me - what OS am I running ?
It is so much better for Ubuntu and Redhat to have joint stewardship of Gnome going forward rather than split energy on wasted competition.
My next biggest request is flatpak vs snappy - I cant believe that the package management wars are beginning all over again in 2017. Just pick one and be done with it. RPM and DEB will never converge, but we have a narrow window of opportunity with flatpak and snappy.
> Can Flatpak be used on servers too?
Flatpak is designed to run inside a desktop session and relies on certain session services, such as a dbus session bus and a systemd --user instance. This makes Flatpak not a good match for a server.
Whereas Snap documents say:
Package any app for every Linux desktop, server, cloud or device, and deliver updates directly.
I wish the next generation of linux has a single package manager :(
Package management used to be my biggest frustration with computers. A couple years ago, I switched to nix  and now use it across all my unix-like systems (not sure how well it works on Windows, I haven't tried). Most under-rated piece of software I use, I'm surprised it hasn't blown up yet.
Let me flip this question - what does nix have that snap or flatpak does not ? From what I have read, they are pretty much the same.
I haven't used flatpak or snap before, but the comment I linked outlines a lot of the benefits I see with nix. Conceptually it's more like Make + a package manager, if Make were a (well designed) pure functional language and wasn't afflicted with grotesque generated code.
* apt/dpkg will remain the base packaging software on desktop and server. They're well-tested and familiar.
* flatpak will become the primary format for installing desktop software outside of repo. This'll be nice for some large open-source projects that cause grief for distro packagers, and will also give companies a single target for major Linux desktops. Flatpak is too narrowly-targeted to replace snap in all cases snap was designed for.
* snap will become a mechanism for image-based application deployment, primarily IoT.
* docker/lxd/whatever will be used to target immutable deployments, primarily servers.
Also; in the case of CoreOS, the base image is still built using a package manager (portage). Not sure about that other guy.
I will never go back. Gnome is way more polished and enjoyable to use.
Every Linux users should benefit from this decision; I am excited to see the improvements they will make to the Gnome environment.
Canonical just didn't have the resources to push a 3rd mobile platform. Hell, even Microsoft gave up (who did have the resources, and IMO made a mistake in giving up).
I just hope I get a good usable *nix terminal with the laptop mode ;)
I'm holding out at the moment, as it's missing one feature from Cinnamon that I really like (the ability to launch and control any audio player from the sound icon in the tray), but when Fedora 26 launches I may finally have to switch over.
I hope that Canonical shifting back to GNOME will further its development under Wayland and not spend a crapload of time doing more work for Mir.
Do you really think that? To me, this is just a collection of really old stuff and features that should be a matter of course.
Case in point: "the headline feature" (adjusting the color temperature of your display depending on the time of day) is something that has been around for years one way or the other on all operating systems.
Or take: "Bookmarking webpages in Web now takes a single click." Hasn't that been the case since, like, always? Even if I'm wrong, I would hardly file such a feature under "really cool stuff".
But not in Wayland. I'm happily using Redshift in Cinnamon (one of the other things keeping me on Cinnamon), but the fact remains that having it built into the distro makes it more readily accessible to everyone.
Windows 10 doesn't have that. What's your point?
(Also, FWIW, Win10 insider builds do have it out of the box.)
Shipping this feature out of the box with an OS install started happening only recently (e.g. Night Shift came to iOS only 1 year ago, Windows 10 is getting it just now, AOSP has a "secret" knob to turn it on and it's enabled in 3rd party ROMs, etc).
EDIT: Nevermind, this ticket looks like it might:
> It looks like it needs to be hard-coded for compatibility with every app
By using a white-list? I thought it worked with every app which uses the MPRIS DBus interface.
I was using Gnome shell on a old eeepc. The interface is dumbed down and you have to install a bunch of extensions to make it as functional as Unity.
What was worse is that the launcher automatically triggered the search function, and that slowed down the pc to a crawl.
I'm using KDE on it now and, even though less stable, it has a decent interface and it is surprisingly snappy.
I would be willing to spend a lot of money for a decent FOSS phone, but there just isn't anything out there. Ubuntu was my only hope |:(
Yes, works fine and there are a lot of awesome apps, e. g. https://f-droid.org/repository/browse/?fdfilter=osm&fdid=net... or https://f-droid.org/repository/browse/?fdfilter=youtube&fdid...
> Android without Google play is still an exercise in frustration.
What are your pain points? Because not being able to install most of the apps in the Play Store also applies to Ubuntu Phone.
Mostly being able to find OOTB tools that I want. I use f-droid on my android and I usually end up just going back to the play store to find anything worthwhile.
The Ubuntu phone gives me a real OS that I can just "apt-get install" something, then make a shell-script or something similar to fix my problem. Android's shell-system is a joke, which makes sense as they don't really want it to be usable. Ubuntu's shell system is much better, which means I can fix the problems that I come across myself.
EDIT: I can even use my existing scripts and tools that I have for my desktop on my ubuntu phone. It may be more accurate to say that I want a "Linux" phone, than a "FOSS" phone, but, I'd like it to be both.
Okay but to be fair: If you had the Play Store on Ubuntu Phone you would probably also go there a lot more often. Especially for OOTB experiences ;)
> The Ubuntu phone gives me a real OS that I can just "apt-get install" something, then make a shell-script or something similar to fix my problem. Android's shell-system is a joke, which makes sense as they don't really want it to be usable. Ubuntu's shell system is much better, which means I can fix the problems that I come across myself.
That sounds nice indeed!
Actually, I would probably not, though I can't deny I would be intrigued to have it as an option. I am able to set up most of the things that I would want via something like apt, or shell scripts or similar
Ask one of your Chinese friends, they have a driving eco system over there.
Disclaimer: I am really happy using Ubuntu everyday.
But it's also very sad. Canonical tried to bring the open source technology to consumer devices, failed, and never really looked like succeeding in the first place. Although they made the Linux desktop accessible to new large audiences (including myself), they too cannot make the next step in making the technology a real success on the general consumer market.
Ironically, their desktop popularity gave them large popularity amongst developers and sysadmins, which now allows them to have a great business case to sell to enterprises for cloud and IoT. The same guys that boosted the popularity of Linux with a desktop for everyone are now going to be making almost all their money on enterprise licenses for headless systems. Ugh.
WRT to unity, at least it's improved. Ubuntu w/ unity currently has the best multi-monitor multi-dpi user experience I've seen on linux. I have a retina laptop with 2 external displays and ubuntu unity is the only thing that just works out of the box.
I agree. Sadly, GNOME's huge controls also seem to be optimised for touch screens. There are several semi-maintained hacks to reduce the padding throughout the DE:
It's a mess. I wish GNOME just automatically looked like the bottom screenshot when there's no touch screen connected.
Most GNOME apps look great because they titlebar is actually a toolbar, but I spend most of my time in portable third-party apps which have large, empty titlebars. This is the one thing I immediately envy when I see a Unity screenshot.
I want convergence. Real bloody convergence. I want to hook my laptop's /dev and /sys , port applications over to my phone, continue using them, until I get to work, and then expand them back out there. And all the while, they would never quit, halt, freeze, or die.
Or I want to be able to collaborate on a program, send it to a buddy, have them work on it, and then get it back.
I will be happy to see if the best parts of Unity make it back to GNOME - GNOME just feels clunky right now. But I will continue using Ubuntu regardless.
what? unity? has it changed so much in the last 2 years that its defining features have changed from being difficult to use, resource-hungry, to the opposite of that?
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That being said, I think that we have reached a stage where its become very easy to switch between Linux Distros. I remember 5 years ago when I tried to switch from Ubuntu to something else, It was pretty noticeable (mostly because of font rendering). But these days I think the situation is much better, and I think it really speaks a lot about the progress that has been made on the usability aspect.
I was not very happy when they decided to make Unity mac-like by moving the menu to the top bar. It has to be the most idiotic decision around for anyone who has multiple monitors. Even with a single monitor, it is a pain in the ass to move the mouse all the way to the top left corner for the menu to appear, and then orienting myself with the items presented.
It's certainly not perfect and I had some complaints with it (I like window-local menus), but they didn't make the decisions just because.
I thought that integrated menus are a great idea - even Apple does it. It saves vertical space and looks "at one" with the rest of the system.
Honestly 'even Apple does it' is a poor argument. If global menu would be a really good and generally accepted idea we'd see it implemented in GNOME and KDE (via extensions at least).
I am using KDE on anything I can, and I have no problem with them doing things like the global menu. KDE tends to get things right to my taste.
I'd like to state that I'm a happy Ubuntu user, and have been using Unity for the past few years and have generally found it to be a good ui for the desktop. I know many many others fall in the same bucket.
I ended up dropping desktop Linux entirely last year, but Unity was the only thing that I thought wasn't matched by any other desktop operating system.
Everytime someone installs an image with 'Ubuntu' in the name the cloud provider has to pay Canonical? Or what else could be the main revenue stream 'in the cloud'?
The #rhel channel on FreeNode was WAY more helpful in terms of skill and response time, and that was free. :/
I want to pay, to support them, but I'd like it to be worth it. Currently, it's hard to see where it is.
I feel like Ubuntu's Mir pushing was one of the big things holding back Wayland from widespread support and adoption.
I'd love to dump X without feeling like I'm shooting myself in the foot sometime in the next few years.
The Ubuntu phone thing was a nice idea, but obviously never going to fly, so it's nice to see canonical putting their efforts where their actual users are.
Are you basing your views of Unity on recent experience?
I suspect they thought if they got that, they could converge things back on the desktop
With each Ubuntu release Canonical made fewer changes to Unity 7 on the desktop (the one I remember is moving from a global menu to a menu in a program's title bar), because the new awesome was around the corner...
Furthermore, even if the dream of a free as in freedom Linux phone is pushed down a bit down the future, I think that a joint community/Canonical/Red Hat effort will eventually materialize.
P.S. I hope for a return to the brown and orange theme too!
While I do understand their change of focus, after all someone needs to pay those developers somehow, and resources are limited, it kind of reminds me about Red-Hat's decision that enterprise was where money is, as they switched their focus away from desktop.
Cloud and IoT are basically where enterprise is going and where GNU/Linux is just part of the underlying services, but not the main product being sold.
Translation: "We don't really care that much about Linux on the desktop because it's not making us much $$$."
Your actions are a huge let down to the community. You caused a lot of strife with the move away from Gnome to Unity in 2010, and now you're ripping the rug out from under even more users after feeding us crap about convergence, etc. for the past 4-5 years (?). Nobody asked you to do any of that phone or convergence stuff, but peddling it like it's the next big thing and then pulling it without ever even really shipping a working product is just amateurish and make the whole FOSS community look bad.
You and FOSS companies like you - please stop. Next time you have an idea that's going to be the next "big thing" or a "world-changing paradigm shift", ship something before you start hyping it to the tech press. Ubuntu Touch/Unity 8 is just the latest in a long line of embarrassing open-source let downs that took enormous amounts of time and energy away from the community with absolutely nothing to show for it.
A disappointed ex-Ubuntu user
1. Canonical must worry about the bottom line. It is a company before being a "FOSS company."
2. You are accusing Canonical of hyping before shipping. But also complaining that they did ship Unity and it was "a lot of strife". Either, or.
I think Canonical is doing what many other companies in technology do: try to catch an opportunity to become a de-facto standard. Becoming so is very difficult.
Canonical has failed with Launchpad and now with Unity convergence. But one cannot say they didn't try. Unity in particular is pretty good for daily usage (my opinion) and version 8 looked very promising, at least in the showcases.
We cannot always have our cake and eat it too.
2. I think these are two unrelated points. To clarify:
a. Canonical hyped Convergence and Ubuntu Phone, but never delivered on the hype. That's bad, both for their company image as well as for the entire FOSS community as a whole. It makes us seem like a joke.
b. They shipped Unity. Now, they're trying to un-ship it. They've handled the entire situation very poorly. Not upset that they did ship, just saddened by the way the entire situation was handled.
I would argue that Ubuntu is the de-facto standard for cloud and IOT. They've achieved a ton of success in becoming a standard at least there.
No one is saying that didn't try. What I'm asking is: Should the community give Canonical a gold star for trying? Will opponents of FOSS software? I don't think so, because overall the failed hype around Ubuntu Phone and Convergence just looks bad and I think Canonical has handled the entire situation since 2010 very poorly.
Not sure I quite understand what you mean by, "We cannot always have our cake and eat it too." Personally, I just wanted Canonical to follow through with the hype and deliver on Convergence and Ubuntu Phone.
Shouldn't you be happy rather than disappointed?
1. I mean to imply that it was a waste - they created a bunch of controversy, and for what? If they were not committed to Unity for the long-haul, they should never had made the switch away from Gnome in the first place.
2. In the intervening years since 2010, a ton of people have come to use Unity and gotten used to it instead of Gnome, and now Canonical is pulling the rug out from under those people. This whiplash, knee-jerk approach is just a horrible way to treat your users and is very disappointing.
This behavior reminds me of MS forcing Metro UI on people in Windows 8 for years and then (mostly) abandoning it without ceremony in Win 10. I don't expect MS to care about anything other than the bottom line, but I had hoped for more from Canonical.
So in general if someone recognises they've made a mistake, they should continue on making that same mistake regardless?
>"In the intervening years since 2010, a ton of people have come to use Unity and gotten used to it instead of Gnome, and now Canonical is pulling the rug out from under those people. This whiplash, knee-jerk approach is just a horrible way to treat your users and is very disappointing."
If enough people want it, Unity can continue to exist as a community-led project, just like how GNOME 2 got saved by MATE.
Doesn't sound to me like Canonical is admitting a mistake. Quote from OP:
"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." (emphasis added)
My point is that Canonical's behavior, both in 2010 and now, is bad corporate citizenship. They're showing very little regard for their users and their community.
> If enough people want it, Unity can continue to exist as a community-led project, just like how GNOME 2 got saved by MATE.
Honestly, I hope that doesn't happen. If convergence and Ubuntu Phone aren't happening, I'd rather see the resources go into other DEs that already have a strong community like KDE, GNOME, or MATE.
I'm happy they are dropping it, but disappointed that they started altogether. That's a lot of time we as a community could have been working together, but weren't. I can be disappointed in those "lost" years, but happy that we're done with them.
Lately I've been hacking some projects on the Arduino Industrial 101, which has a small Atheros AR9331 MIPS based SoC, but it ships with a very old OpenWRT that doesn't seem to get much in terms of updates. I spent time building a new image for it based off of the LEDE fork that is being brought back into OpenWRT, then wrestled with various parts of the Linux side of the board, but ultimately I really don't want to be managing build pipelines for Linux system updates. At this point I may just wait for AVR changes to Rust to land and ditch the Linux side all together.
That's all to say, it really would be nice to have a small footprint embedded Linux distribution that wasn't mainly focused on routers like OpenWRT (not a knock on OpenWRT). Raspberry Pi and Samsung Artik 10 aren't really something I'd completely consider as embedded systems (also not a knock on either of those boards).
That beeing said, LEDE is not only for routers - I think the ubus/procd/netifd system is pretty great - there is uhttpd-mod-ubus that allows you to configure everything via json-rpc (also websocket support is coming)
Maybe the tradeoffs from LEDE to run with fine with a current kernel/userland on 32mb (or even 16mb ram) / 4mb flash devices might make it more complicated to use it as general purpose system.
The way forward would be to fork lineage os as a base, make it dead trivial to port any device that has a pre-existing 14.1 nightly build, then set up build slaves for the community to test with.
3 of them are now true. Karma.
Ubuntu has done well in growing the Linux community. I hope they continue interesting work in the future.
Now the next step is to give people a good migration path to Fedora or Debian.
I also think that convergence is the future, but I don't think the market is ready for it. Phones run on ARM, desktops run on x86. The non-Pro Microsoft Surface is good, but many people still have a few x86-only legacy applications or devices that need a "real computer". USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 adoption is just barely in its infancy, and it'll be a couple of years before we start seeing it on affordable mass-market phones, laptops, printers, monitors, and so forth.
I think we've got another decade or so to go, but the pieces are slowly moving into place. Unity was a bit too far ahead of its time.
Xiaomi is releasing the Mi6 in some weeks with 8 GB of RAM, so it's only a matter of time until we get comparable specs like we have in MacBooks or even Desktops in the smartphone form factor (which will be incredible in itself).
Maybe I'll get what I always wanted, which is a traditional desktop OS tweaked for tablet usability. Maybe I'll just get nothing.
Build a terminal-only window manager with firefox built in.
IMO possibly what I think of as the lost years of Ubuntu are over.
I tried a few times but concluded that they had decided to go in a direction where I didn't want to go.
I always thought Canonical wouldn't be around much longer, and these news seems to confirm that. I'd, as a long time Ubuntu user, miss them.
Why does it make it less appealing? Ubuntu userspace running inside WSL is still Ubuntu. If you need support for it, you'd still go to them, same as if you would if you were running it in a VM or on dedicated hardware.
So yeah, desktop is a afterthought for Canonical, however it is still important.
I shared the Shuttleworth's view on convergence.
I mean I appreciate what you all were doing, but ya, I like MATE.
That said, it's interesting that most commercial desktop software for Linux these days seems to be written in Qt, not Gtk. Also, while this is anecdotal, most new projects (as in, started recently, as opposed to old software having new releases) seem to be trending Qt in my experience. So there's a weird divergence here between the DE and the apps.
Some of the facts are still true. Say for example, Qt is now licensed under LGPLv3, which several corporate hate. GTK+ is licensed under LGPLv2.1+.
Also, there is a paid Qt license if you don't like *GPL.
Now that Ubuntu is going back to Gnome, although I may not switch back to it immediately, it will at least be in my mind as an option whenever I keep upgrading Linuxmint.
So from my purely practical non-sysadmin perspective - a positive change.
But we could have a system that works like service-files without all the downsides of systemd.
And that's why people are so against systemd. It's not a better system. Sure, it has some parts that are better, but it, as a whole, is worse. They were just able to play the politics game. Not sure why people always tout that as a positive.
Why not just build it for server and desktop because that's what Ubuntu is best at, and not chase the latest fads?
What do you think Cloud means?
Yes, I realize a lot of Ubuntu users have already gotten used to it, and some may even prefer it, but I'm sure the majority of new users would feel confused and turned off by it. I would argue Ubuntu has to focus more on gaining Windows users than on keeping the hardcore Linux users.
My mother in law managed to find that option on her own, I'm sure you can as well :)
I hope they can also align their release schedule with the Gnome team. I want to be on the latest desktop and get access to all the new features as they come out - not six months later.