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Growing Ubuntu for Cloud and IoT, Rather Than Phone and Convergence (ubuntu.com)
756 points by popey on Apr 5, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 457 comments

I may be a minority, but I am very saddened by this. Not because I have any particular love for Unity, but rather I share Mark's conviction that convergence is the future.

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.

data convergence is the future, not interface convergence. I think they made a serious mistake conflating the two.

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.

Agreed. I used to bevery enthusiastic about continuum in Windows. But now, I've come to realize that the interface better be separate for different usecases - plus, no one want to plugin their phone and use it for work. What I want is seamless takeover from one device to another - something like Apple's continuity but way better. In today world this is all scattered into different components*, the first company that does everything can lock in a huge revenue stream.

a) Files - Dropbox b) Activity - Various browser sync for bookmarks, history (and passwords) c) Handoff - Mac is pretty good here. Windows has no equivalent.

> I used to bevery enthusiastic about continuum in Windows. But now, I've come to realize that the interface better be separate for different usecases - plus, no one want to plugin their phone and use it for work.

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.

I have to say that I find the concepts of "convergence" presented so far by various companies a bit much though.

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.

I disagree - data convergence is already here if you want it. Device/UI convergence is the pinnacle of everything to me. Meaning my phone should be able to power everything from a laptop shell to a monitor. That was the exciting part, not just an interface. No one cares if context on UI changes per device implementation - we already deal with that daily.

I agree. I want my phone to have a phone interface and my computer to have a computer interface. I also want to switch seamlessly between the two.

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 was what was being attempted. The UI would be optimal for a phone, until you docked it at which point it would adjust to take advantage of the new peripherals and larger screen. Developers could write an interface that morphed, or even completely different UIs, for the different environments.

And why developer would in an ecosystem of mostly free app?

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.

And maybe multiple non-touch monitors, where the comfortable mobile interface feels cartoonish.

> 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.

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.

We have a solution for data convergence, SD cards.

You mean dropbox.

Yeah, that's good for a lot of people too. Github/Gitlab is great for software projects. I have rsync for my music collection, etc.

You mean Nextcloud.

I'm with you. I'd like a fully free software stack across my personal devices, and I also thought that Ubuntu had the best chance of achieving this. I think the issue is in a business model that would work for Canonical.

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)

A number of canonical employees here I note - OP included. So what's the mood like 'a zillion lines of code and four years later' internally? Does juju look like any better bet? Go on - we won't tell... ;)

And Wayland.. Wasn't it all because of phones and tablets?

Wayland solves a number of other problems than phones and laptops. It modernizes code left over from the dumb terminal world. It also should be pointed out that the dream is not dead. Another project (hopefully Gnome) can pick this up, so the effort isn't lost.

Which dream is not dead? Wayland? It's definitely not dead, as Wayland has both GNOME and Red Hat behind it. Ubuntu decided to roll their own (Mir) instead of also going with Wayland.

I think we both mixed up Wayland with Mir.

Most likely Ubuntu goes wit Wayland now instead of Mir.

It looks like you also have a charisma at telling dad jokes.

personally always preferred fvwm to unity...

But how can I get a phone that can actually run the code first?

As someone who applauds this pivot, I never saw much value in the whole convergence idea. Why would I want my laptop and phone to be the same device? This seems to follow the misguided idea in software that if two ideas are similar, just make a single generic idea that solves both problems. But then you get into leaky abstractions and have to make lots of sacrifices to get it working well for both use cases.

I was always under the impression that convergence for the end user meant having the same 'computer' spread across many devices. That your phone has access to the same files as your laptop as your tablet. That identity and rights management was shared and unified across all devices. That your devices natively formed a network, a sandboxed cloud.

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.

I have to agree that sharing the UI seems like a dead-end.

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.

I totally disagree actually. With relative position pointing (except for the onscreen keyboard) desktop UIs actually are significantly more usable (not to mention, often more responsive) on my android than the phone centric android GUIs.

The only problem with this is that SDL X11 eats the battery.

My phone is a computer. My chromebook is a screen attached to a computer. My desktop is a monitor attached to a computer. My work laptop is a screen attached to a computer. My tablet is a screen attached to a computer. Why do I need so many separate computers when I have my phone on me at all times?

Because my work computer is owned by work, my phonr by me, and the desktop by my family. They don't want an unused monitor and docking station when my phone isn't there.

Don't they all have their own phones?

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.

Because your phone will never have the raw power that you can pack into a larger form factor? Granted, after a certain point this may only be relevant for specific tasks.

But what if I could plug my phone into a dock that gave me substantially more power, but I didn't have to make a massive context switch i.e. wait for syncing over a network for files etc, or log in again and load up what I already had open?

Pshhhh 768k ram ought to be enough

Computers aren't special, rarified objects. Computers are dirt cheap, and it's simply more convenient to have lots of different computers lying around than to have to move one around.

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.

Portability and duplication. I don't want to have to lug a phone and laptop everywhere. They both can do the same thing and increasing have the same amount of power. You have different interfaces for how you interact with them: on the go or at a desk. But you can just pick up and go somewhere else and pick up without missing a beat.

And who brings the dock in that somewhere else you're going? How's leaving a dock everywhere better than leaving a laptop or even a chromebook everywhere?

Application convergence already happens via the browser; this takes much wind out of the sails of OS convergence. However, it also means that browser focused OSes, ChromeBook and FireFoxOS, will probably be the ones to win, in the end.

Or WebView-based cross-platform toolkits will win, in the end. (Electron, Cordova, React Native)

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.

If "winning" means "same operating system on all devices" then I don't think Electron, etc are competing in that contest. ChromeOS (which I understand to roughly consist of a Linux kernel and Chrome, and not much more) is by far the closest in concept.

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.

They share the browser limited performance and bring a load of issues with them, they're at best a way to work around browser -> sensor access and bypass the appstores barrier.

For now, at least. The thing that will happen is that as they continue to "win", they find deeper ways into the platform. Cordova apps on Windows already run "first class" in the UWP app platform's JS stack. Electron apps don't currently, but there are bridges being built there too.

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".

I thought they cancelled FFOS, didn't they?

They did, though of course it's open source and somebody else could pick it up and continue development if they so chose.

It's not that convergence is useless per se - indeed, the fact that both Windows and Android keep trying indicates that it's desirable.

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.

Spot on, these were the major challenges that always faced the idea.

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 am sad too, in fact, a scan over the comments suggests we aren't so much in the minority. I think too that his conviction was right, it is merely possible that his strategy of going out on his own on Mir wasn't the right one.

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.

Literally a week ago. Could this be related to Shuttleworth backing down?

Kudos to Samsung for the amazing efforts but DeX is far from open.

Of course but I meant that the proprietary version was here.

Then you can add Windows Continuum and whatever it was Motorola's project was called to the list.

Convergence doesn't need to go away. KDE project for example put some effort in making common components[1]. It's just that Canonical's methods of handling it went completely off on a tangent with reinventing the wheel (Mir instead of Wayland and so on). So it's not surprising, they finally realized the huge complexity of that task, and inability to do it alone.

No one stops others contributing to projects which still work on convergence, but use shared stack at the same time.

1. https://community.kde.org/Plasma/Convergence_Overview

While I agree it'd be nice to have Linux running on all the things I don't see the point of trying to make the interfaces the same. Each device is used differently and should have an interface that reflects the way it's used.

While interfaces should not be the same across devices, being able to dock you phone and continue using its applications on normal monitor of your desktop, with keyboard and mouse would be convenient.

I mean when you walk it's a phone, when you at the desk, the same device is connected to monitor, keyboard and mouse.

But then each application is essentially 2 applications in one.

It's the same application, but with 2 different interfaces. Of course, a UI toolkit that can do "write once, interact in any way" would be helpful for the implementation.

Which is essentially two applications as I said. The only difference is that they may share some state, but there are other ways to handle that too.

What I mean is that "convergence" benefit is not same UI on different devices out of pure whim, but the ability to use the same application from phone directly or using desktop monitor mouse and keyboard.

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.

Just like any responsive website is.

So it's easy with what is essentially a document viewer, it's much harder when it comes to real apps, the desktop interface is dumbed down for the limitations of a phone.

Convergence already means that GNOME on my (quite un-rotatable) desktop PC has a rotate-lock button and that I have to do an awkward slide-to-unlock gesture with a mouse to get to the login screen.

No thanks.

Just FYI, if you hit enter or just start typing your password the lock screen slides away. Or at least it does on Fedora, but I can't imagine that's anything customized.

Also works in Ubuntu.

I personally really liked Unity, and I was following Unity8 development for a long time so I'm genuinely disappointed to see it go - partly because I really thought it could shape up to something really cool and partly because as you say, the convergence dream is basically dead, as is any realistic future of Ubuntu on touch devices.

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.

Does anybody besides platform developers want a unified phone, tablet, and desktop experience? I certainly don't; it sounds like a very bad idea.


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

Engineers overengineering things when they have no new ideas. That's the entire convergence story

Phones are already damn powerful, and will get more so.

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?

You have that backwards: why should your phone present the same UI when it's plugged into a keyboard and mouse and when it's not docked?

I'm for device convergence, a small phone as powerful as a current pro laptop. We're still not there and the battery would be a problem too.

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.

I agree. I think once (if/when) we ever get next gen battery tech, we may start seeing more things changing.

MaruOS might be interesting for you:



Only the Nexus 5 and 7 are fully supported at present though.

Huh. I have a barely usable Nexus 7 2012. Might be worth getting a used Nexus 7 2013 in order to play with this.

I agree, I was really looking forward to it. Imho the mistake was to partner with Meizu and BQ whereas distribiting images (at least to start with) for the Pixel/Nexus line phones would have been more effective. That way people could have put their toe in the Ubuntu Phone water before committing. I donated to the dev that was working on the OnePlus 3 port, I was really looking forward to it, it could have been my next laptop (if only the OP3 would have supported HDMI via the USB3 port or MiraCast.)

the requirements for a good desktop interface is different from the requirements for a good phone interface and arguably different from the requirements for a good tablet interface

size matters

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

I don't really see why there are comments like this in this thread. Obviously they need to have a different UI, but Ubuntu Touch already offered a different UI depending on what it was running on. Or at least that was the idea. See the animation on https://www.ubuntu.com/mobile.

No one was trying to make a one-size-fits-all UI.

Windows? Microsoft are pushing ahead with development of UWP and Continuum, with the creator's update due in 3 weeks - despite no new Lumias.

At least one third party is still keeping the dream alive with a crowd-funded WP10 phone announced this past week:


I'd consider windows 10 evidence that proves convergence is a bad idea. It does an absolutely terrible job of being a tablet and a desktop OS. At times it feels like two OS's in one and at other times it feels like you're stuck in the wrong mode (and after a reboot you are).

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.

It's an interesting device, but I think it's going to be a dead-end because of ARM.

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.

It did have a touch mode and desk mode ffs!

I agree about the intuition about convergence, and I'm not at all persuaded about the comments that "we want data convergence but not device convergence". I think that without device convergence, we'll see the desktop continue to become marginalized.

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

You're not, I don't like Ubuntu as a distro as I believe they've put testing and security in a back seat, but the one thing I really was excited about was the convergence of mobile and desktop, it seems like the future to me and it's something I've wanted since my first smart phone.


Convergence and ramification are the cycling nature of any system's evolution path. Not just convergence.

> We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

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.

I'm a bit torn. I like the design of Unity more than I do that of Gnome, but I think that less fragmentation is extremely desirable.

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.

Canonical bending their demonstrated ui talents may just lead to a better Gnome 3 experience.

Do I live in an alternate universe? Do people really think this looks good? http://toastytech.com/guis/ubuntu114defaultunity.jpg

That's a 6 year old screenshot. They've made incremental improvements since... but yes, I've grown to appreciate it. The most annoying part of unity7's interface is its alt-tab function: It toggles between apps, not windows, and that's annoying.

That's the same behaviour as OSX. At first I also hated this behaviour, coming form the Linux/Window environment. But after using it in conjunction with ALT+` (to cycle through app's Windows) I actually find it better than the standard Windows behaviour.

Hey, what do you know. We just released this last month, but it didn't get any love from HN:


Yeah once you learnt to use alt-backtick to switch window apps this is a much better experience IMO. Doesn't work without that though.

My biggest issue with the macOS way is that there are edge causes when using Spaces. The biggest being "stand-alone" Chrome apps like Signal Desktop are still tied to Chrome, even though they get their own icon and a separate place on the Dock. CMD-Tab'ing to Signal Desktop might just send me to a Chrome window. Ugh.

That's why Google has been phasing out Chrome apps for a while now.

Google has been phasing out chrome apps on all platforms because alt tab is broken in osx?

I am with unethical_ban on this. Most of the time I am switching between multiple instances of the same app and this drives me crazy.

Just because OSX does it (I don't think windows 10 does this) it doesn't mean it is a good idea.

So use alt+`, which allows you to switch between multiple windows from the same app without the clutter of other apps.

Alt+` (or whatever key is above tab, if you have non-US keyboard) toggles between windows of the same app. I don't know if there is key combination to toggle between all windows, though.

On GNOME 3 you can toggle between Windows using Alt + Esc.

It certainly makes better use of space than the thick header bars that gnome ships with by default. At least one Gnome developer seems to think so too https://blogs.gnome.org/mcatanzaro/2015/10/17/time-to-use-he...

It looks acceptable, but more important than how it looks is how it works. Ubuntu has by far the most usable desktop, in the default configuration, of any linux variant. UI isn't just about the shade of purple you choose.

Furthermore, from the default configuration you can turn it to the the most usable desktop of any OS by doing this:

    Settings -> Appearances -> Behavior -> Enable workspaces

Yes it does. It looks much better now anyway, something like this: http://i.imgur.com/DdY4b5O.png

I really don't see much difference.

I don't think either screenshot looks particularly nice. However, this is mostly due the ugly default background and color scheme (its an ubuntu insider joke and its the first thing people change).

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 )

honestly I agree there, but I'm an i3 fanatic, gnome is much better, KDE plasma has a beautiful interface, but being able to do everything via hotkeys, and tile windows is just an amazing thing once you do it for a bit.

they like the absence of all of gnome's chrome and the smooth animations and transitions.

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 people who asked for less NIH in Ubuntu in the recent thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14002821 but I didn't think they would take it this far. Jokes aside, it's sad that Unity won't be developed further.

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.

For what it's worth, there's a _lot_ of diversity out there in the linux "desktop" space, and most of the alternatives to Gnome and KDE are faster and less memory hungry.

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.

> 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.

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.

I think you are taking that out of context. He's rejecting the strawman set up in the previous email. The camera breaking due to a new module has nothing to do with "choice", it had to do with a bug. You can perhaps argue that the module was pushed too soon (as he says in the last paragraph), but throw "choice" out there every time something changes is not productive.

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've never used Fedora. As an aside, I find ArchLinux to be a much more stable bleeding-edge distro, and Ubuntu LTS to be a better stable distro.

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.

I think we do agree about the gist, but the quibble is about semantics. My point is that there is no "philosophical opposition". Choice means users have a right to fork. It does not mean that every project must bend to a user's will or risk being accused of not caring about choice.

> I would argue that Gnome's pursuit of a novel interface is very much about choice.

As long as you don't try to choose e.g. vertical panels instead of the forced top panel.

Arguing a piece of software doesn't do what you want it to do has nothing to do with choice in the Linux world. I could just as easily complain that vim doesn't include a lisp scripting environment, ergo vim is not about choice.

> consider Mate, the forked continuation of Gnome 2.

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.

I there with you. I actually liked Unity and by 7 it was very nice to work with.

Gnome 2 and KDE 3 were pretty good. Then both shells lost their way. Why do they try to be a bad clone of macOS rather than keep being a Win98 on steriods (KDE 3) or a more simple shell for normal users (Gnome 2).

I dislike that people speak in such absolutes on this. You're expressing a personal opinion.

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.

For the most part I've become comfortable with the UI in Gnome 3, but I mostly avoid it. They've done a lot to fix the initial problems that the interface had, and I think they've got to a good place for the most part.

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.

Yeah, the UI latency/smoothness is my one main issue with gnome 3. If it wasn't for that I'd be the biggest gnome 3 fanboy around.

I think the shell being written in javascript was a double-edged sword. The extensibility is really cool, but the performance is borderline unacceptable.

I agree, that's why I use the Impatience extension [1]!

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.

[1]: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/277/impatience/

I'm not sure what you were referring to with GTK2, but MATE uses GTK3 and preserves the Gnome 2 look.

Didn't know they migrated already, good on them!

Nice. I'll give that a shot.

You don't think the dconf database is more or less the same amount of black magic as editing config files?

I get that this is meant as some sort of snarky reply, but you honestly made have to look up what dconf is. Vaguely recall using it a few years ago. No, I don't consider it more or less the same as editing config files as I don't need it to configure things.

I think KDE Plasma 5 is really quite good. I switched to it from Unity when I switched to Arch last year. I don't ask for much from a desktop system, but I like how easy it is to customize KDE. I don't think it tries to be OS X at all - seems like a slightly more tasteful Win 7 to me; though I see that in Gnome.

Yeah, to be honest I think Ubuntu should've picked KDE. It's a more direct competitor to Windows 10 which is in my view the best desktop OS. Gnome 3 is nice, just had it installed a couple of days ago. But some things are unpolished, some don't make sense. GTK open dialogs don't even have proper image previews which has been a feature requests for a lot of years (something KDE does have).

Coming from a heavy KDE user (on 3 different laptops, a Dell Latitude, a Thinkpad X220 and an MSI): the number of little bugs and glitches in that DE is wayy too high for it to be adopted by the leading desktop distribution.

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.

Yeah, I think KDE would need a 10,000 papercuts project before it would be ready as a default desktop that OEMs etc... would be comfortable shipping.

Ubuntu has always been focused on the GNOME platform - they started with the GNOME environment and Unity itself is an alternate shell for GNOME desktop. GNOME is going to be much more familiar to their developers and users - users will use the exact same applications they'd use in Unity and they will look good and make sense. KDE is really an alternate universe, and one I enjoy and prefer for now but I don't thing this would make sense for Ubuntu. If you want a KDE-focused distribution based on Ubuntu, KDE Neon looks awesome.

> Gnome 2 and KDE 3 were pretty good. Then both shells lost their way. Why do they try to be a bad clone of macOS rather than keep being a Win98 on steriods (KDE 3) or a more simple shell for normal users (Gnome 2).

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.

I get that they're moving away from convergence, but what does this ultimately mean for Ubuntu as a mobile OS? In the grand scheme of things, what does this mean for users who want a completely FOSS stack for their phone (let's ignore the baseband for now)?

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?

What I don't understand is Shuttleworth basically said "the market has spoken, and does not want an Ubuntu phone." But I checked their website a few times a year to see if I could buy an Ubuntu phone and always saw a message about "Coming soon" or "sold out". How was the market supposed to get their hands on Ubuntu phone?

I think he means that they were not able to sell the idea to device vendors sufficiently. The 'market' he refers to are the device vendors, not the end users.

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.

This is probably why they tried the Edge campaign 4 years ago. They weren't getting anywhere with vendors then, and weren't now, so they eventually had to give up.

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.

I agree that it sucks there is so little competition in the mobile OS space, but I don't think government involvement is enough to explain this situation.

Take Microsoft - it became a handset manufacturer and is still struggling to make Windows Phone a winner.

That is exactly why government involvement is such an issue. Microsoft could throw around insane sums of money with its mobile aspirations - and has - while at the same time most users of it say it was the best of the major offerings, they had no success.

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.

>I think he means that they were not able to sell the idea to device vendors sufficiently.

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.

Unfortunately, in this particular "market", Google has a complete, and uncontested monopoly. :/

I'm in the same boat. I backed the original Ubuntu Edge indiegogo campaign, but it never happened. And I would check the site periodically to see if there was a phone that shipped/worked in the States (and there never was) or if it was running on anything newer than a Nexus 5.

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.

The shotgun approach that both FirefoxOS and Ubuntu Phone took saddens me - I think they could have done very well had they focused on acquiring power/niche users instead of trying to be a mass-market consumer product from the get-go.

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 [1] 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.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Chasm-3rd-Disruptive-Mainstr...

Building something lasting takes resources. Canonical simply had no chance. Even Microsoft, despite their aquisition of Nokia, their marketing budget, their massive dev resources, is failing on mobile. They even have their own convergence feature and it's not enough to attrack customers.

Microsoft made a mobile OS that didn't offer a compelling enough alternative to either iOS or Android.

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.

Actually by 8.1 people that don't have the bugdet to buy iPhones and disliked Android where buying Windows Phones, up to the point they almost managed 10% world wide.

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.

Not just that but they did it multiple times - 6.5, 7, 8, 10 - all pretty much incompatible from both a handset and even a developer's perspective. Imagine Apple doing that and having their first four iOS iterations all going in different directions every time, they'd also br in Microsoft's position now. They seem to have learned now and I could still see them turn around.

If, "Canonical simply had no chance", then does that mean we're stuck with iOS and Android period? And no other mobile OS has a shot? If you believe that, then you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I feel like that's not the type of hacker mindset that moves the world forward.

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.

I heard the same thing about desktop Linux for years. 200 distros later, guess what, Windows is still king and Apple is still selling boatloads of pricey machines.

I agree that Linux on the desktop is not a mass market consumer product in 2017, but are you saying that we should just accept that and move on? What about innovative disruption and building the future we want?

I won't tell you what you should or shouldn't do. I will, however, tell you that Apple and Google won the mobile OS game and both of them are working on the next big thing: AI.

Blackberry "won" the mobile OS game in the early 2000's, but look what happened to them: Apple came along with a better product and now Blackberry is pretty much a joke looking for a punchline.

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).

Again, you're talking like the Linux fanboys I've been hearing for years: "Vista is total crap, it's only a matter of time before Linux takes over", "Windows 8 is a disaster, this is the year of Linux on the desktop!", "Windows 10 is a privacy nightmare! It's only a matter of time before people wake up and switch to Linux", "Steam on Linux? Game Over Microsoft! loll", etc...

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?

Not really sure how to respond to your first paragraph, but I'll take a stab at it. All I'm saying is I think there _was_ a viable way for Canonical to bring Ubuntu Touch to market, they didn't follow that path, Ubuntu Touch failed as a result, and I wish that things had turned out differently. Had they followed the approach outlined in Crossing the Chasm, I think they had a decent shot at upsetting the status quo.

^^ 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.

Basically torn between two streams - the one that paid for everything with AWS and ubuntu server doing well, driving juju and b2b stuff west coast, meanwhile open hostility and slow adoption of the marmite of DMs Unity, Ubuntu nOne (~dropbox) by the 'ingrates' and not helped by on-by-default Amazon (!) ads, BDFL RMS rants and various other missteps. It was unbelievably ambitious. I noted recently some Redmond 'embracing' going on (and we know what happens after 'embrace') wondering would 'Microsoft Linux' finally arrive - some partnership/deal. Ultimately the resource wasn't there for all of it, they aren't Google, and they are overtaken on all fronts now. I guess Mark wants to focus on what is bringing home the Bacon (if that pun is not too painful).

Agreed. Additionally, the phone is far from production ready. It's a great start, but clearly still in the beta phase. I find it insincere to put a couple of beta phones out, then complain that nobody is buying them.

This is my worry. The technical challenge of maintaining a usable mobile OS seems too high for companies like Canonical and Mozilla to have a chance, since getting hardware produced, marketed and into people's hands is a gargantuan task, and supporting Android handset installs is fighting a losing battle.

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.

Jep, I don't understand it. It is completely understandable to drop a product that is not working on the market. It is less understandable to drop a product that never really was on the market, after the big initial investment is already done. Same for FF, same for WebOS: How can you draw the conclusion that something is not working on the market if you never tried making it available to customers, on regular hardware?

Only makes sense if there is no money left.

> you never tried making it available to customers, on regular hardware?

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'm pretty sure they tried very hard indeed. They just didn't succeed.

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.

Canonical made no handsets, we worked with the companies that wanted to ship Ubuntu phones, but we didn't get to dictate when, where or how many.

The customers were device manufacturers, and they didn't want it.

> what does this mean for users who want a completely FOSS stack for their phone (let's ignore the baseband for now)?

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, ...)"

A smartphone with a [1 GHz single-core CPU and 1 GB RAM](http://neo900.org/specs) for [1000+ EUR](http://neo900.org/estimate.html)?

No, thanks.

It's for those who know the difference between the Nokia N900 and a "smartphone".

I'd suggest the best remaining option for a FOSS-driven phone (now that Canonical have dropped the ball) is Tizen. It's got the backing of a large phone manufacturer (Samsung) and the Linux Foundation, and seems to be actively developed. It'll probably end up being used on low-end devices at first, but is likely to be more open than the two leading platforms, so hopefully they get some traction amongst tech community.

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, too, want competition in this space. Unfortunately, Tizen got some bad press this week: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/04/samsungs-tizen-is-ri.... The past year has not been good for Samsung on so many fronts.

If code quality is an issue, at least people who want an open-source phone OS can work on fixes:


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.

Doesn't really help that there's a source website if there's not a sane process for actually submitting PRs and merging patches, and apparently there isn't one.

>"and apparently there isn't one."


"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)
For more information about the whole work process, please refer to Tizen Development Working Mechanism."

Tizen is a joke, they already rebooted the SDK multiple times.

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?

>"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?

There are no alternatives.

This ideology of open-source mobile OS goes back to Openmoko.

None of them managed to sell enough devices to keep a profitable business.

>"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.

If you were fine with "open source" on those Nokia devices, you should be happy with "open source" on Android.

Also as a former employee I can tell they didn't sell that much units, specially when compared with Symbian devices.

What he said. On top of it, maybe next failed attempt can try building on one of these for a stronger foundation:



Tizen is an alternative, whether you like it or not is another matter.

Oh, you make it sound so simple. A platform is an alternative to dominating ecosystems if it exists at all. It having apps, locking you into Microsfot, or even existing 5+ years down the road doesn't matter? If that's true, there should be all kinds of people on all kinds of smartphone platforms right now instead of most of them on two.

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.

KDE's Plasma Mobile? Like Ubuntu Phone/Unity 8 it's also using Qt QML to build flexible layout apps that support touch and keyboard+mouse.


That's even worse than the already-terrible market for FOSS phones. You get something that will have Linux or some standard API but probably disappear eventually. Then add the aggravation of having to change your stack constantly. Yeah, I'd pass on it unless it stabilizes into a standard stack. Preferably not dependent on Microsoft or Oracle tech either to reduce patent/copyright risk a bit.

Oracle aside, .NET core is open source and I don't see today's Microsoft pulling the same crap as Oracle did with Google.

What about tomorrow's? Copyright's, patents, and software last a long time. Better to know you aren't dependent on a malicious party who can turn against you any time.

In today's market, I think Microsoft would rather give a competitor a royalty free permanent license to all their patents than let Google continue to just own the industry. Mobile is only one of the many markets they compete in, but Google is using their mobile dominance to help lead and push their expansion elsewhere. Microsoft needs a new mobile OS option out there, even if it isn't theirs.

Microsoft makes several hundred million to billion on Android royalties alone. They did that with either actual lawsuits or the threat of them. I don't remember what it was in the start but do know they suck a fortune out of Android vendors (esp Samsung) while they did everything they could to put it out of business with Windows Phone. Nothing contributed, but billions taken via patent claims.


How is Tizen different then Android from a privacy/OS perspective?

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)

Last two weeks I've estimating Tizen, Ubuntu or Sailfish worth port an app. Like sample apps, build scripts debugging, etc. Although Tizen has large corp support, Ubuntu and Sailfish look more developer friendly. CMake, QT , C++.

C# look like a dead end, though much better than first WinPhone with "SilverLight." If you have written c/ or c++ engine, you need just a good bridge to OS UI language. Well, also platform + tools that work well on each Unix/Linux.

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.

>"C# look like a dead end"


> "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):


Tizen is not free software, and it's not a real platform. It's a toy Samsung uses to threaten Google with.

>"Tizen is not free software"

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.

Wait, the SDK is not open source??

> 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.

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.

Ubuntu Mobile was never really a viable alternative mobile os though.

As an UM user: I completely disagree. I think it's got a solid foundation, but they should have never marked it as production ready. If they had baked it a bit more, it could have been.

I disagree. I think if it was marketed as heavily as google markets android it could compete in certain markets like power-users and professionals.

It could carve out a niche, but it would never compete. They don't have the money Google has by a vast longshot.

What about Plasma/Mobile for KDE on your phone?

LineageOS + F-Droid

Exactly. There absolutely is an open source Android experience (at the level of the applications and API -- drivers are a different story) for those who want it. It really doesn't suck, and it's a clean migration from the commercial environments (which is to say, you don't really need F-Droid as almost all this stuff is in the Play Store already).

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.

The Play Store is closed source though.

I know. The point was that if you are an Android user and want to try out "open source app X", there's no need to install an open ROM or F-Droid. Just grab the app from the existing app store. The path between "normal users" and "pure free software" ones is smooth and easy. It's not like the desktop where you need to convince people to install Ubunto or Arch instead of Windows or macOS.

There are some open source alternatives:

- Replicant (http://www.replicant.us)

- Plasma Mobile (https://plasma-mobile.org)

- Tizen (https://www.tizen.org)

Disclaimer: I don't use Gnome or Unity, I'm an i3 guy.

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.

I'm not entirely convinced this is right. Many people worked on Gnome, I'd bet even more did so than did for Unity and Mir. It's not that having more than one project completely divided the FOSS community's resources up.

True, Gnome has had huge development carried out over the last few years. Red Hat / Fedora have been great in terms of contributing to the FOSS community.

I think it's more about the way effort is split. i3 would be an example of good competition, it does something the others don't. Unity on the other hand, does it do anything that couldn't have been done by changing the default gnome configuration? Competition is good but replication is a waste.

I like that quote: competition is good, but replication is a waste. One of the comments below says that Unity was a necessary experiment, and it could have resulted in something amazing. That's very true, and the world has some amazing inventions because somebody wasn't afraid to experiment.

Switched to GNOME means GNOME will have more developers working on it, and developer matters. Compare to tons of full-paid developers in MacOS, Android and Windows.

At the moment, linux still needs more and more High-Quality Desktop Applications.

I kind of agree, sorta.

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.

Well said, they need to do things smarter. But I guess that's what they are doing with this decision. They've determined that Unity has failed as a commercial endeavour, and now they're moving to something different. It just so happens (in my opinion) that moving to Gnome will not only be better for Canonical, but also for the broader community.

More important I guess than code contributions to gnome they stopped distributing gnome.

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'm sure they lost a lot of fans with Unity. They lost even more with the Amazon search debacle. But it's almost certain that they won just as many with both of those changes. I don't really like or dislike Unity. I've used it in the past and been happy enough. Ubuntu did lose a lot of my trust with the Amazon search feature though. My grandmother used to say "trust is hard won, and easily lost".

While I agree that there are, in fact, way too many distros and desktops in the Linux space, I disagree with the sense that Ubuntu did damage towards a goal of fewer choices. Just because Gnome is there doesn't mean it's ultimately the best software for the job and sure they likely could have driven a lot of improvements to it but sometimes there needs to be experimentation. If Unity was more popular and found its way to more distros then maybe we'd even seen it go the other way and Gnome would die thus still working towards the goal of fewer choices.

I think it's important for experimentation to occur. Don't contribute to the incumbents only because you want the fewest opinions available.

I agree completely that experimentation needs to occur. I definitely don't begrudge them for making the decision to implement Unity.

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."

As I see it, you are talking more about exposure than choice. I agree having GNOME on the spotlights will draw people to it and stuff will get fixed and possibly better. Never liked Unity but didn't use it ever either.

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.

All true. We're all free to install any DE environment we want. But defaults are definitely useful to the entry level Linux users. I would love to see the day when the first (and easiest) choice for Joe Dad and Mary Mum setting up a computer for themselves and their kids is Linux with an easy to use DE instead of Win10/MacOS, with defaults that include LibreOffice instead of Pages/Office365, Firefox instead of Safari/Edge, and more.

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.

Damn. From the horses mouth: https://insights.ubuntu.com/2017/04/05/growing-ubuntu-for-cl...

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.

Hopefully this means that Wayland is now the unified future for the Linux desktop.

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.

Wayland is the future is now the equivalent of the year of the Linux Desktop.

In a way, maybe the year of the Linux Desktop was more convincing. At least people knew why they wanted that.

Wayland is already the default in Fedora 25 and with Gnome on Ubuntu 18.04, it will most certainly be, too.

Same here. I love the keyboard friendliness out of the box, and especially how sparingly it uses vertical space.

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).

A blog post by Allan Day addresses the vertical space issue: https://blogs.gnome.org/aday/2014/08/27/gnome-design-saving-....

I'm hoping Canonical can cook up a custom suite of extensions to make the GNOME desktop more unity like and maybe even more usable in general.

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.

Well, Canonical was heavily involved with Mir because of Unity, right? So, with this change, I guess we can expect a Wayland related news in the following weeks/months.

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?

Going back to GNOME implies going with Wayland, as Wayland is built-in to GNOME. Wayland isn't like X11, you can't just run the desktop on a different display server.

Snap is explicitly mentioned as one of the things they want to focus more on.

Do they never learn?

Snaps have very real advantages for both users and developers. I'm in favour of them!

Can you name these advantages over Flatpak?

Flatpak is designed for desktop and relies on that environment, snap is designed for both server and desktop use.

For servers there's docker which works great already. We'll see.

What's wrong with Snaps? I'd say it's a good approach in many cases.

Upstream GNOME is working on Flatpak, so is Ubuntu going to ship GNOME or GNOME-with-Flatpak-stripped-out?

Okay, but from what I've seen Snaps are better (from the perspective of flexibility and simplicity) than Flatpak, isn't this a case where it'd be better for GNOME to adapt rather than vice versa?

We'll see, atm Flatpak has already been adapted pretty well: https://kamikazow.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/adoption-of-flatp...

Try the Firefox Nightly for example: https://firefox-flatpak.mojefedora.cz/

In distros yes, but in market snappy has been well received https://partners.ubuntu.com/programmes/iot . For me the next move of which package manager will be adopted is gonna be based on companies which are gonna develop on it and get support. Only when Red Hat enters the game, you'll see a big adoption of snaps. For now, Canonical is ahead in this game.

If they are going to integrate gnome with snaps and snaps having an actual market, I doubt flatpak can compete against them. BUT, it would be easier for Canonical if they do something with their CAL, that'd be the real game changer.

There is nothing to strip out. The GNOME Software app (an app store) has an optional Flatpak plugin but except for that, nothing in GNOME depends on Flatpak.

But they can change their minds, as they show in this post

Just for IoT or for desktop, too?

> I wonder what this means for Mir vs Wayland as well.

In my understanding, GNOME Shell doesn't support Mir, only X11 and Wayland, so.

TIL, thank you!

Gtk has a Mir backend, GNOME Shell does not.

Making GNOME look like Unity is simple. Getting it to work like Unity is a bit different. The main difference being the global menu bar.

Gnome has a global menu bar by default now, I think I had to use the tweak tool to turn it off.

Can you give reference about global menu in gnome shell? I can only find old reference to some attemp to implement it[0].

I have tried gnome shell in the past, but I still prever unity because of the global menu.

[0] https://github.com/GNOME/gnome-globalmenu

I was wrong sorry. It has a single global menu item for the current application which is distinct from the full app menu.

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