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Growing Ubuntu for Cloud and IoT, Rather Than Phone and Convergence (ubuntu.com)
756 points by popey 292 days ago | hide | past | web | 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.

Wow. This is a real shock, it wouldn't be out of place for April 1st.

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.

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

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.

Flatpak seems more limited in scope as documents say:

> 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 know - however these things are seldom demarcated on merit and more on ideology.

I wish the next generation of linux has a single package manager :(

> 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 [1][2] 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.

[1] http://nixos.org/nix/ [2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10714102

i have the greatest of respect for nix and 0install - however its an inexorable fact that I would like a mainstream, fully supported OS on my desktop - which is either Fedora or Ubuntu.

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 run Ubuntu primarily, and forgo apt-get in favor of nix. I've never run NixOS before (some day..).

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.

I think in case of Snap, it is part of money making server business. So it is less likely Canonical is going to give up on that.

(Disclaimer: I don't work for Canonical, I just use Ubuntu for my work.) I think it will end up like so:

* 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.

But then you're competing with Docker images. Not that Docker is that amazing, but I just don't see why anyone would want to use Snap instead of Docker?

I am not sure e.g. how docker image is better for openoffice or eclipse/intellij idea and so on for desktop. I think Snap fits usecase much better. May be multiple snaps combined to create a service/image for a server.

Containers are for a completely different use case than system packages.

CoreOS and RancherOS have shown how everything can either be built into the base OS image or running in Docker, with no system packages needed.

I think this had been shown somewhat before the time of these whippersnapper distros (Slackware, LFS etc), indeed before the days of RPM, make && make install directly on production servers were how things were done.. and it was not good.

Also; in the case of CoreOS, the base image is still built using a package manager (portage). Not sure about that other guy.

Heck, I'm not an old fuddy-duddy per se, but I rejected Fedora after 10 minutes with GNOME 3. Went back to Unity. Guess I need to have some more patience.

This is awesome. When that "What do you want to see in Ubuntu 17.10?" post https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14002821 was up recently, I wanted to say "Get rid of the abomination that is Unity" but figured it'd just be flamebait. Little did I know how close my dreams were to coming true!

Gnome (for major versions > 2) is even worse than Unity though. They should've chosen an actually usable DM like Cinnamon.

100% disagree. Used Mint(& Cinnamon) for years. Recently switched to Fedora 24/25 (+ Gnome).

I will never go back. Gnome is way more polished and enjoyable to use.

Actually enjoyable.

Will give it a try given time but I don't have high hopes for anything that messes with menus (was enthusiastic when I got a Mac at a previous job, positively interested in Ribbon but it turns out that for me traditional menus still wins comfortably.)

I'm an happy GNOME3/Wayland user, with a few extensions GNOME3 is very good.

Respectfully, I disagree. I've been using GNOME since at least 1.2 or 1.4. I've also used Unity in recent years simply because that was the easiest thing to use when using Ubuntu on one of the systems I have it on. However, it took very little effort for me to start using GNOME 3 in its latest incarnation as it is fairly similar to the Unity interface Ubuntu ships in many respects.

I do not agree. I've been using ubuntu gnome for over a year now, and with a few extensions (dash to dock), which are officially supported, I find it extremely usable and stable.

It takes courage to reflect on previous decisions and re-consider your product strategy. I am quite impressed by Mark Shuttleworth decision to move away from Unity and the desktop/phone convergence that has been slowing down innovation for Ubuntu, and allowed other distributions to catch up.

Every Linux users should benefit from this decision; I am excited to see the improvements they will make to the Gnome environment.

I'm entirely convinced that Shuttleworth's vision of convergence will happen. It looks like an inevitability, as mobile computing power continues to grow faster than typical consumer workloads (the same forces already made it possible for $400 laptops to be good enough for most mainstream users).

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).

Just my opinion: It will be Chromebook+Android or more the mixture of both. Google is playing well by saying: "The time and technology is not yet ready for this to happen." But I'm also convinced it will happen sooner or later. And I'm sure Apple has some experiments in this direction... iOS and macOS are technically more the same than Android vs. ChromeOS.

I just hope I get a good usable *nix terminal with the laptop mode ;)

Yep , I thing OS will all go the convergation way. The main problem is that they couldn't gain more apps to that vision. Classic chiken and egg problem. And to be more ironic ,a few weeks ago, I was under the impression that Ubuntu Phone and SailfishOS have stated to getting traction.

Sometimes the market and/or the user base is not ready for a new piece of tech. I agree with you about the inevitability of convergence but perhaps it wasn't supposed to happen just now.

GNOME has been doing some really cool stuff as of late (http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2017/03/top-features-in-gnome-3-2...). I'm still using Cinnamon, because I still like the look a bit more, but it's getting harder to ignore all of the excellent features GNOME provides, including: - Drive support for file manager - Gmail/Outlook support for GNOME accounts and built-in calendars - Working Wayland implementation

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.

GNOME has been doing some really cool stuff as of late (http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2017/03/top-features-in-gnome-3-2...).

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".

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.

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.

Yeah, and redshift has been available on Linux for a long time. Now it's built in the OS.

Windows 10 doesn't have that. What's your point?

Windows 10 will have it next week in the Creators Update. Android has it in 7 "Nougat" but most Android users don't have that version yet. It seems to me like GNOME was right on time.

Win10 doesn't have it out of the box, but third-party software that implements it (like f.lux) has been available for a very long time.

(Also, FWIW, Win10 insider builds do have it out of the box.)

Third party software has been available on Linux distributions for a long time all the same.

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).

It looks like it needs to be hard-coded for compatibility with every app, which makes it not so friendly. Wouldn't work with the unofficial Google Music Desktop Player (https://www.googleplaymusicdesktopplayer.com/), for instance, which I use heavily.

EDIT: Nevermind, this ticket looks like it might: https://github.com/MarshallOfSound/Google-Play-Music-Desktop...

Ah that's pity. I'm using it for Rhythmbox and Spotify where it works fine.

> 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 had though it relied on MPRIS :(

If you can shell script you might be able to build that extension your self:


Unity has often been criticized because it was a Canonical thing and didn't leverage Wayland, but it's another world compared to Gnome shell. I couldn't like gnome shell no matter what.

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.

Why can't Ubuntu ship some extensions by default? After all, Red Hat Enterprise Linux ships GNOME Classic which is GNOME Shell with some extensions and a tweaked theme.

I just got the Ubuntu phone. It's the first smart-phone that I don't hate. I do agree that Ubuntu needs to stop with their NIH syndrome when it comes to desktop, but the phone market is just flat out terrible.

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 |:(

What about the Fairphone + AOSP + F-Droid?

Have you tried using that? Android without Google play is still an exercise in frustration. And Google is purposely designing it that way more and more as time goes on. I don't think the Ubuntu phone is a great phone, but if I have problems, I can usually fix them myself. Good luck doing that with any android that I've tried on.

> Have you tried using that?

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.

> 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.

> 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.

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!

With BB10 (Blackberry's OS) it was backwards compatible with most Android apps, but they didn't use the resources as well and slowed the phone down. If there was a native app, I always went with the native app.

> If you had the Play Store on Ubuntu Phone you would probably also go there a lot more often.

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

How would you hack a navigation app with shell scripts?

I'm not sure that I would. I guess I could set up some kind of "I'm on my pc, send this address to my phone" script, or "tell $contact when I arrive at $location".

Android is huge. Android works great without GooglePlay, and just raw Android. You just need another AppStore or just install apps manually.

Ask one of your Chinese friends, they have a driving eco system over there.

I've used raw android, and quickly gave up. I've used f-droid, and it is OK. Far from "great" though.

Wow this is impressive just after the Ask HN they did few days back. It's been few years users complaining and opposing Mir so it seems it just took that last feedback cry. It's great that they listen to their users and also that there's going some love given back to the desktop+server (+IoT).

Disclaimer: I am really happy using Ubuntu everyday.

I really wonder if they events are related though. I can't imagine Shuttlework saying "ok, those guys in HN called it", but on the other hand, the timing given motives match so perfectly.

I have no idea but my guess is that it's not the reason, but it's the straw that broke the camel's back (that's the saying, right?)

I wouldn't know I'm not a native english speaker.

As an end user, I like this news. Unity was never for me (I run Gnome Shell on all my distros, including Ubuntu), I was not particularly enthused by Ubuntu phones, and Canonical getting on track with Gnome and therefore Wayland means we're making amazing progress to a more unified modern Linux desktop ecosystem.

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.

I can't tell you how happy I am to see convergence dying. My desktop is not just a big phone and people put out some atrocious user interfaces in the name of "convergence".

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.

> My desktop is not just a big phone and people put out some atrocious user interfaces in the name of "convergence".

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.

That's a realy old screenshot. GNOME 3 doesn't look like that anymore[1].


I am on GNOME 3.22 and the title bars are still crazy - look at the Night Light screenshot for example.

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.

Random nit: is it just me or is the font rendering pretty terrible in the "web" screenshot?

Font rendering is entirely up to how you configure it. Install GNOME Tweak Tool and go to Fonts. Keep in mind that different settings will look better on different monitors. But try setting Hinting to Slight and Antialiasing to RGBA. After a reboot the settings will take effect.

Blame the theme for that one. It a legitimate gripe since it's the default but themes like Arc and Numix greatly tone it down.

But it's not convergence. It's making the look and feel, and some APIs similar enough someone could target multiple machines.

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.

Let me say that the only thing I am sad about is Unity 8. I genuinely liked Unity and it's easy to use, not-too-resource-hungry interface. I definitely do not like GNOME as much. It lacks the cohesion that Unity has (I understand why, but that doesn't negate the point).

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.

> easy to use, not-too-resource-hungry interface.

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?

Unity 8 is a complete re-write based on Qt5 and Mir, it dropped dependency on X11/Compiz and the custom Nux toolkit.

Hope just that Canonical will apply their custom theme on GNOME. As a Arch Linux user, I think that the default GNOME theme is ugly, Unity by default have a much better look.

They should use Cinnamon, or just absorb Mint, that's the most popular distro right now anyway, and it is ubuntu-based.

By which metric? Distrowatch ranking? Their page has this to say

  "The DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistics are a light-hearted way of measuring the popularity of Linux distributions and other free operating systems among the visitors of this website. They correlate neither to usage nor to quality and should not be used to measure the market share of distributions. They simply show the number of times a distribution page on DistroWatch.com was accessed each day, nothing more." [0]
Wikimedia has completely different numbers. [1]

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.



Is mint really the most popular distro? According to distrowatch, yes. But my suspicion is that mint users just like to tell everyone they are mint users. The majority of Ubuntu users probably just install it and go on with their lives.

I think a big factor is that if you google for "Linux Mint" the distrowatch page is one of the top results, while if you google for "Ubuntu Linux" you get other results instead.

I cannot wait for Unity to die, and now it does.

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.

Makes sense. Eyes are closer to the top of a screen than the bottom. Side placement of taskbar makes better use of widescreen space.

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.

You could always use keyboard shortcuts to access the menu. Unity also let you search through the menu items with the Alt key - no manual navigation necessary.

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.

GNOME has solved in a radical way by simplifying menus, so you need neither search nor frequent mouse/keyboard navigation.

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).

https://vizzzion.org/blog/2016/10/plasmas-road-ahead/ Global Menu being implemented in KDE 5.9.

I don't mind the principles of it -- and I don't mind it in macOS. At least the menu is always there, the problem with unity is that it is hidden and will slowly appear when you hover the mouse on top. It's really hard to aim for what I want when I actually have to access a function on the menu.

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.

There is a setting for menu being always on.

That's great, but not all apps will be able to trim down their menu items. Being able to quickly search all the entries, like in macos / Unity, is a huge help for new users.

Super excited for this. I hate Unity's interface and was instead using Fedora solely for that reason. About 5 months ago I switched to Ubuntu GNOME and have been loving the stability of Ubuntu with the advanced interface of GNOME.

Dropping Unity means dropping Mir, which is a good thing. Now developers can avoid redundant efforts, and can focus on Wayland. And it's still a huge pile of work for many complex applications like Firefox, Wine and many others, including graphics drivers, GUI toolkits, libraries like SDL and etc.

Wow.. I see where Mr. Shuttleworth is coming from.

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.

Page isn't loading, but that's a pity if true :(

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.

Not really a Unity fan or a 'Convergence' fan, but just saddened by the fact so many developers and community enthusiasts get to know that their efforts were in vain.

Honest question: how is Canonical making money in the cloud with ubuntu?

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'?

Short answer: Enterprise bosses like support contracts, because it covers their asses. You can basically ask the same question about redhat.

I can imagine this now, but how did they get to this point? I mean RedHat was a small unknown company then probably no one would have bought a support contract from them or at least the prices of these contracts were tiny.

I pay for a RH support contract... and it's a ripoff, if you ask me. Unless you're a MASSIVE company spending MASSIVE dollars... response time is slow. The turnaround time for a simple issue was like one question and one answer every 24 hours. It took me almost a week to get a simple registration issue worked out.

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.

Does this mean that Ubuntu is moving away from Mir, to Wayland?

Ubuntu will use what upstream GNOME uses, which means Wayland for the compositor.

Hopefully now we can all agree on Wayland and start moving a little faster towards {application,driver,etc} support and capabilities.

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.

Excellent news! I personally think unity is terrible - and it's objectively lacking in several areas, multi-monitor support particularly.

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.

>" it's objectively lacking in several areas, multi-monitor support particularly."

Interesting, considering...


Are you basing your views of Unity on recent experience?

Wan't thinking about multi-resolution or HiDPI - or other technical 'support' - but actual ergonomic use of multiple-monitors. It's lack of customisability in the placement of things, as well as the anachronistic global menu bar, mean that using it with, say, 3 large monitors of pretty sub-par.

Unity has grown on me over the years but I guess I will adapt. I'm not interested in having strong opinions about my OS's UI anymore so I just hope they'll stick with whatever they switch to.

I knew this was happening. They invested on Unity8 in quite reverse way. They had opportunity to make unity8 excellent desktop environment (they had money and workforce) and after becoming most popular de in linux environment they could continue that to mobile space(they are most popular linux distro already). Putting money on phone portion instead of desktop portion of the unity8 was biggest mistake i cna imagine. I can't understand rational behind it. Just look at what Microsoft does, they prioritize desktop win10 over mobile win10.

The only thing I can guess is they thought that to succeed in convergence, they would have to win the phone market, and that was the harder market to design for and react to. So, they built for that and tried to win the hardware developers/companies.

I suspect they thought if they got that, they could converge things back on the desktop

That's exactly what Unity 8 in Ubuntu release N.NN was going to do. The converged apps, the latest version of Unity, the new Mir display server, all running on the desktop as well as the Ubuntu Phone builds. The problem was, N.NN kept shifting from 14.04 to 16.04 to 17.04, and now never.00

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...

I am quite happy to see this. Although I am saddened by the death of the Ubuntu phone, this means that GNOME will get a lot more development and will receive the love and care of Canonical's excellent design teams. Gnome 3 is already shaping up to be quite a marvel, I am very excited about what will come next.

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!

I like GNOME, but actually was quite comfortable with Unity.

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.

"Growing Ubuntu for Cloud and IoT, Rather Than Phone and Convergence"

Translation: "We don't really care that much about Linux on the desktop because it's not making us much $$$."

Dear Canonical,

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

I think you are conflating problems a bit too much.

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.

1. Agreed. However, it looks really bad for them as a company to behave this way toward their users, both back in 2010 when they moved away from Gnome and now in 2017 when they're moving back. Both moves have been done without regard for and without consulting with the community. For a FOSS company, that's bad business and I think it will hurt their bottom line in the long run.

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.

1. You say that Canonical's move from Gnome to Unity in 2010 caused a lot of strife. 2. Now they're undoing that step.

Shouldn't you be happy rather than disappointed?

Yeah, I can understand how that's confusing. I meant to convey two things:

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.

>"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."

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.

> So in general if someone recognises they've made a mistake, they should continue on making that same mistake regardless?

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.

Why not both?

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.

For their embedded device support I'd like to see them go even smaller than what they list on their Core (IoT) devices page. Sure, Raspberry Pi is nice and all, but I wouldn't build an embedded system around it.

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).

The problem is that all these routers and a lot of the embedded stuff don't get updates due to shitty vendor drivers for a lot of components. Most of the work on LEDE/OpenWRT is from volunteers that just want to make it work. Usally these devices/boards ship with an SDK from the manufacturer that is often based on OpenWRT but has some hard dependency on an ancient kernel, non-GPL sources or messy GPL drivers that need a lot of work until they can be upstreamed to the kernel.

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.

Ditching Unity for Gnome - good news. Dropping Ubuntu Phone - not. First Firefox OS, now Ubuntu Phone. I suppose it shouldn't be that hard to create a fully open source mobile OS, with possible "convergence" functionality (running desktop apps when device is connected to big screen)? Especially now, when all apps are going to web a. k. a. Progressive Web Apps.

It might not be that hard to create the OS. But it is pretty hard to find operators willing to preinstall it on phones, which is what you need to have any sort of marketshare for it.

Monetization was Canonical and Mozilla's first mistake. A grass-roots movement would stand a better chance through embracing the custom ROM community.

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.

This looks like the same shift that has been happening in Microsoft for the past few years. They tried phone convergence (continuum, the one core across devices), but the real focus is now cloud and services. Also, the fact that Microsoft ships Ubuntu as the Linux on Windows subsystem definitely shows an alignment on the companies' plans.

Funny that it came after 24 hours of my article about those stuff in Ubuntu: https://fosspost.org/2017/04/03/ubuntu-needs-consider-remain...

3 of them are now true. Karma.

I like the pragmatism in this letter: "What the Unity8 team has delivered so far is beautiful, usable and solid, but I respect that markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear."

Ubuntu has done well in growing the Linux community. I hope they continue interesting work in the future.

Does that mean existing resources that Canonical is putting in Unity will be diverted to GNOME?

Hopefully. The folks on irc.gnome.org seem pretty excited by the news.

I've mostly been using the excellent Ubuntu MATE lately, but of the "modern" desktops I've always preferred GNOME to Unity, despite the latter having some good ideas. Ubuntu GNOME exists, but it'll be better with official support.

Hooray, Unity and Mir are dead!

Now the next step is to give people a good migration path to Fedora or Debian.

I think this is the right decision for Ubuntu.

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.

But atleast they made one product from ubuntu mobile: snap (ubunto core)

Damn. Just been forced to switch to Mate at work and find it like living in the past. Lots of defaults seem ugly or unusable (hunting through menus for programs etc.).

GNOME 3 and MATE don't have much in common though.

Apart from GTK3.

Only until recently.

The advanced menu responds to the windows key and you can start typing to search, if that's what you'd like.

I am simply hoping Apple is working on parts of Shuttleworths' vision where your iPhone becomes your daily driver. Just plug it in to your Display and have a fully fledged iOS/macOS hybrid version to work with.

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).

I actually knew Unity/mir was doomed over 2 years ago. I can also say aptitude is doomed. Nix or a derivative renders imperative system management obsolete.

As someone who bought an Ubuntu Tablet in good faith, and received OK hardware but an OS that was profoundly un-production-ready, I wonder where this leaves me. There's no explicit mention of what's going to happen to people running Ubuntu Tablet who paid for a device.

Maybe I'll get what I always wanted, which is a traditional desktop OS tweaked for tablet usability. Maybe I'll just get nothing.

Last Ubuntu I enjoyed was 10.04. They switched to Unity and I didn't use Ubuntu since, I liked old Gnome and switched mostly to CentOS. For me it was like Windows 8 — may be it's good, but it looks completely different so I don't want to deal with it. Now Microsoft returned good old windows with Windows 10, Ubuntu returning to Gnome and Apple's not abandoning macOS. Good times.

I wanted an Ubuntu phone but was waiting for some kind of official store to buy them from, and not flash a phone myself or buy a developer device.

I'm not a fan of Unity as a desktop environment, but it's sad to hear about phone - I hoped to have a phone with normal, familiar OS.

My translation: Ubuntu is running out of money, maybe already feeling the heat from the decision to provide Linux subsystem in W10, disincentivizing developers from switching to stand-alone Ubuntu, therefore they need to cut things not projecting bringing profit soon.

The problem was not the vision or community rejection as Mark suggests. It was a failure of mindshare with unpalatable Canonical licensing and suboptimal engagement. These issues are surmountable, but only if Mark / Canonical look within first.

The one thing I'd miss from unity is HUD. Too bad canonical didn't focus on it.

Gnome was getting better without Canonical exactly because nobody was trying to "converge" it - linux ecosystem gains from randomness and branching. Now new centralized efforts to "canonicalize" will dumb it down again.

All I need graphics for is the web.

Build a terminal-only window manager with firefox built in.

Does a tiling window manager like i3 not fit that use case?

i LOVE i3. Just gotta say best thing ever for my workflow.

fair point

Going all in on their strengths and moving away from fluff like 'convergence' is the right thing to do for any company. Happy that Canonical's focus is back on the server.

Let's keep Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) an individual company. One of the worst case scenarios is that a big company buys Canonical and f*cks with Ubuntu.

The problem was not the vision or community rejection as Mark suggests. It was a failure of mindshare with unpalatable Canonical licensing and suboptimal engagement.

Yes! Yes yes yes!

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.

Canonical ”raised" like 20 million USD to create a converged phone but the "community/market didn't want it"?

That was $12 million, and that was in 2013, and if I understand correctly how indiegogo works, they didn't get to claim any of that money because they didn't reach their goal of $30 million

If the cost to build a viable mobile OS is more like $100M, maybe the market didn't want it badly enough.

this was expected. Unity 8 has been getting pushed farther and farther and it seemed very unfinished in previews.

Firefox OS also (briefly) pivoted to IoT after their mobile efforts failed. Is this a natural pattern?

I am happy about this. I hated Unity

Looks like they saw that RH recently hit $2bn in subscription revenue and went...damn son :-)

Unfortunately, I guess Ubuntu Desktop won't last much, too. Can Canonical make money from that? Nope. They even made their product less appealing when they helped Microsoft run it inside their OS.

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.

> They even made their product less appealing when they helped Microsoft run it inside their OS

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.

Because those users count as Windows users, for the market share. That means companies don't bother about Ubuntu. They also won't use the rest of the software Canonical bundles, for browsing the internet, writing documents, etc. It's only Microsoft who gets a benefit from this.

The great advantage that Ubuntu have by being the most popular Desktop distro is not making money from desktop users. The advantage is that some of those desktop users are also developers, so when they need to deploy their system in Server/Cloud/IoT/whatever, they choose Ubuntu because this is the distro that they developed their application to begin with.

So yeah, desktop is a afterthought for Canonical, however it is still important.

Yes but, can Canonical make a business out of that? They get no (significant) money either from people using their system in embedded platforms or cloud servers.

There no need to use Ubuntu if you can use debian. Debian is almost same and very light. Ubuntu doesn't feels like this.

Am I the only one who doesn't like this news?

I shared the Shuttleworth's view on convergence.

Sorry for being Unity h8ter :/

I mean I appreciate what you all were doing, but ya, I like MATE.

This could mean a significant jump in the adoption of Debian, from Ubuntu users!

Could it be forked? Is there a community that would continue to develop Unity?

This is a fork of canonical's unity 8 repository as of April 5, 2017. Following Mark Shuttleworth's announcement to abandon unity 8 development, we are planning to continue working with the project.


Sure, this stalwart who works on putting Ubuntu Phone on other devices wants to keep Unity 8 alive: https://plus.google.com/110699558853693437587/posts/7RHujp9u...

What about snap? Are they going to switch to flatpak as well?

Today was a good day.

Do one thing (Desktop) and do it well.

any specific reason why desktop linux seems to be converging on gtk instead of qt ?

I think it's a combination of largely unrelated historical trends (dating to way back, when Qt was GPL-only, and even before that, when it had its own incompatible license).

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.

KDE's Plasma shell uses Qt QML to make flexible layout apps that work with touch and keyboard+mouse, just like Ubuntu Phone/Unity 8. Plasma Mobile is KDE's attempt to leverage that into an open source phone OS. Canonical didn't seem interested in working with KDE despite the common tech base. I wonder if Canonical will continue development of any of its Ubuntu Phone/Unity 8 apps, the whole point of convergence was they would work on desktop as well.

> I think it's a combination of largely unrelated historical trends ...

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+.

How is LGPLv3 different from the usual binary only libraries the corporate buy??

Also, there is a paid Qt license if you don't like *GPL.

Time to switch back to Ubuntu

I am so happy

This is going to be interesting. The whole reason I moved away from Ubuntu, which was my goto linux distribution, around a decade ago was because they moved to Unity. I switched to Linuxmint and have been on it ever since.

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.

Now if they could just abandon systemd.

Gnome 3 and systemd are closely intertwined. Running Gnome without it would be a lot of work.

It only needs logind, IIRC. I run GNOME 3 without systemd.

The death of unix right there

UNIX was never very good, though. Even at its inception it was a stripped down OS for the PDP-11 because they could not run Multics. C was a stripped down version of BCPL that didn't even have floating point numbers. Looking to the "UNIX way" as the gold standard sets the bar very low.

Erm, just use a distro that doesn't come with systemd?

From where I am sitting, going from upstart to systemd just seemed like an exercise in inconvenience.

As a web dev/devops guy, most of my interaction with both is to set up service files. Switching was relatively easy and I found systemd servics files to be sensible and easy to write. And now I don't have to maintain separate Debian/Ubuntu variants.

So from my purely practical non-sysadmin perspective - a positive change.

There's a lot of good things in systemd, and service-files are definitely one of them.

But we could have a system that works like service-files without all the downsides of systemd.

Looking at the 20 years before systemd, we apparently couldn't. There were a lot of init systems that were better than sysvinit, but only systemd played the politics part of init system adoption correctly.

> but only systemd played the politics part

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.

Well, I agree if by "played the politics" you mean "were willing to force it on users". The other alternatives to the init system were rejected because, in general, init was good enough. Not perfect - but not worth the turmoil, fragmentation, and re-learning required to change it. Basically, those who control popular distributions are able to ignore the masses who use those distributions. Open source has gotten lost.

Now if people could only get used to it.

There's always the *bsd family.

systemd is the best. May it never die.

How much has another company paid, that Ubuntu dropped it?

Growing Ubuntu for [current buzzword] rather than [last year's buzzword].

Why not just build it for server and desktop because that's what Ubuntu is best at, and not chase the latest fads?

> Why not just build it for server

What do you think Cloud means?

Exactly. In this context, "cloud" is just the buzzword du jour that makes pointy-haired bosses throw money at IT infrastructure.

Not really news, saying "linux distro chases ideas to rewrite instead of sticking to one thing and fixing it and that's why linux desktop won't ever happen" is like saying "grass is green".

Does that mean they're going to make it easy not to have the taskbar on the side - or god forbid, even put it at the bottom by default? I remember that "convergence" with mobile was the primary reason why the Ubuntu UI was designed the way it was and why the taskbar was put on the side.

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.

Have you ever used Gnome? There is no taskbar :)

To me as a Firefox-and-terminals user, the main difference between the two is that Unity has a fugly taskbar always on the left of my screen where I don't want it, and windows have their menu somewhere unrelated to the window (at the top of the screen). If Gnome doesn't have either, great!

You can auto-hide the taskbar, and switch to "menus in the windows" in the settings (I mean the UI, not some obscure terminal thing).

My mother in law managed to find that option on her own, I'm sure you can as well :)

yep. Or you could get it with an extension, if you wish. :)

didn't gnome2 use to have one?

Sad to see this. But also glad to see a less fragmented Linux desktop. I've always stuck with Gnome but the video in Mark's announcement looks pretty good. I guess it's true what they say - A system is never a popular as the day it is decommissioned.

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.

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