CANONICAL HAS thrown in the towel on Unity, and with it, its ambitions for a single Ubuntu product for desktops, laptops, tablets and phones.
The company has been tinkering with the Unity desktop environment for six years now, and after telling us it was "ninety-seven percent there" as far back as 2014, it seems that the last three percent was just unattainable.
The move also heralds the end for the development of Ubuntu phones and tablets, which launched to a muted welcome and never really caught the public imagination, as Android continues to dominate the Linux-based mobile world.
Desktop users will be transferred back to the GNOME environment in the forthcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, the next ‘long term support' edition in the cycle.
Ubuntu boss Mark Shuttleworth explained in a state-of-the-union blog post: "In the community, our efforts [on phone and tablet] were seen fragmentation, not innovation. And [the] industry has not rallied to the possibility, instead taking a 'better the devil you know' approach to those form factors, or investing in home-grown platforms. 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."
"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."
All of which is slightly sour grapes as, sadly, the Ubuntu phones that we tested were works in progress at best, compared to their more mature rivals.
Ubuntu fans have nothing to worry about, though. The desktop version will continue to flourish and Ubuntu's foothold in the enterprise market, as well as its IoT operating system, are still thriving.
Sadly, though, it appears that another very able outfit has had to throw in the towel on an all singing-all dancing operating system. Still in the race currently are Google, whose Android platform is currently being adapted for desktops by the likes of Remix OS with their Singularity project, and Windows with Continuum, which may finally see the light of day if they can get emulation between ARM and Intel processors working properly.
It's just not as easy as it sounds on paper, is it? µ
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