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Canonical Founder Talks About Ubuntu Desktop Switching From Unity To GNOME, And Focus On Cloud (google.com) 80

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth on Friday talked about the move to switch Ubuntu's desktop user interface from Unity to GNOME, and putting a stop to development of Ubuntu software for phones and tablet: I would like to thank all of you for your spirit and intellect and energy in the Unity8 adventure. [...] Many elements of the code in the Ubuntu Phone project continue -- snaps grew out of our desire to ship apps reliably and efficiently and securely, the unity8 code itself will continue to be useful for UBports and other projects. And the ideas that we have pushed for are now spreading too. Finally, I should celebrate that Ubuntu consists of so many overlapping visions of personal computing, that we have the ability to move quickly to support the Ubuntu GNOME community with all the resources of Canonical to focus on stability, upgrades, integration and experience. That's only possible because of the diversity of shells in the Ubuntu family, and I am proud of all of our work across that full range.
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Canonical Founder Talks About Ubuntu Desktop Switching From Unity To GNOME, And Focus On Cloud

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  • Is like washing shit off with piss.

  • I am definitely not a novice Linux user. But I'm just that a user not a Linux developer. I develop applications that happen to run on Linux and other machines.

    I've never formally understood what the difference between Unity and Gnome and KDE really is. decades ago I used KDE and loved it's crisp germanic feel. I installed Unity a couple of times by mistake and always found myself puzzled how to get a terminal up or lauch applications or really do anything. Randomly clicking stuff sometimes produced res

    • Re:Please explain (Score:4, Informative)

      by Seven Spirals ( 4924941 ) on Friday April 07, 2017 @06:26PM (#54195169)
      The main difference between Gnome and KDE is the underlying GDI & widget toolkits. KDE uses QT from Trolltech and GNOME uses GTK which is developed as a sub-project of GNOME. Of course their custom browsers and mail clients are different and have different names. The desktop file management paradigm is different and so is the menu/toolbar location. Politically, they are run by very different types of people without much cross-pollination.

      The package management is a difference at the system/OS level, not the desktop, but you knew that. Neither "lost out", in my opinion because they were never much worth using in the first place. Unix variants are all about the CLI. If you want a consistent GUI with a benevolent tyrant running things and keeping it all standard, go buy a mac or run RISC-OS. Linux has been failing at that for more than 20 years now, despite the "takeover the world" mantra.
    • complaining about how radically different Gnome 2 and Gnome 3 are it was a Python-level community split and I say that as someone who basically doesn't care. So the people who hate Gnome 3 are mostly KDE people or Gnome 2 people.

      I personally hated Unity mostly because of it's corporate bullshit which Canonical I'm sure is still pursuing (ads on your desktop anyone? Sound familiar?) in some form.

      The first Linux desktop I saw which actually impressed me was a customized one in the 90's that a friend made from

      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        I hated unity because at the least early version was terrible with common sense mistakes.

        The biggest was that a maximized window had the close button on the top left corner of the screen.

        The launcher button was top left but 20 or so px down.

        A slight overshoot lead to closing the window you were working on.

        It is common sense to not put those things so close.

        It's also common sense to put the launcher in a corner

        Third, if using a unified interface, it's common sense for the launcher to be on the bottom edge.


    • by e r ( 2847683 )

      1) Unity . baffling desktop
      2) .Debian: you get apt-get
      3) . Redhat: RPM
      Kde used to be good but lost out.

      WTF am I reading???? Talk about apples and oranges-- you're comparing desktop environments to entire Linux distributions!

      • Thats called an abstraction, pretty common way yo compare stuff. Certainly if those are the inportant things fir their yse cases.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        I think they are referring to the decision making process, which is easier overall, which comes default with the most comfortable environment. I swapped from Kubuntu to Ubuntu and then Unity came out and I switched back to Kubuntu because trying to force unity back to gnome, was harder than just installing Kubuntu instead, yeah seriously, just that touch more thinking and effort was enough to swap because the choice was there and I simply made the easiest one at the time. Might swap back to Ubuntu with Unit

    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      The main reason who Unity (and Gnome 3) are hated so much by experienced users is they both mis-interpreted the Mac OS X launch bar interface. With the later, the user always had a definite list of apps (in the Applications folder) to fall back on. But Unity and Gnome sought to force you to use search and force you to pin regularly-used apps to their launchers. In a typical Gnome setup, this means you have to type some very odd words to find what you want.

      Search-and-pin makes a nice supplement to a heirarch

  • Linux users want a new distro every time the wallpaper changes. Meanwhile the handful of grown-ups who remember what Unix is don't spend their time focused on the desktop widgets, they focus on the CLI and on C programming - where the action is at for geeks of merit. So, anyhow, sorry grandma, you'll have to change your desktop again.

    I'm surprised they got around to it. Don't they still have some more broken python scripts to write and isn't there a text-based log for them to convert to binary somewhere
    • Meanwhile the handful of grown-ups who remember what Unix is don't spend their time focused on the desktop widgets, they focus on the CLI and on C programming - where the action is at for geeks of merit.

      Yeah, sure - because being a 'grown-up' and a 'geek of merit' is the exclusive province of programmers and CLI gurus, right? Asshat...

      Save your "but everyone is using Linux & Ubuntu these days, nobody cares about you BSD greybeards" comment. I'd point out that it's both Argumentum ad numerum and Argumentum ad populum, but then I'd have to explain logic and translate the Latin.

      Oh my! You've supplied TWO argumenta - THREE if you count the implied argumentum ad hominem of which your entire comment reeks! Elitist, much? I hope you don't suffer from faintness or nosebleeds as a result of the rarefied stratum in which you (imagine) you live!

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Friday April 07, 2017 @06:20PM (#54195119)
    I have had the opportunity to use Gnome on an x86 tablet, and it is already there. It's funny, typically I do not like Gnome. But put it on a tablet and it is awesome. Granted, I am speaking as a nerd not a general consumer. Still, if you get the chance you will see what I mean.
    • by ogdenk ( 712300 )

      And how many low cost x86 tablets are "already there" when it comes to driver support in an X11-based Linux distro? Most of the ones I've seen have Win8 and maybe Win10 driver support before the rug was pulled out from under them. MANY MANY of them used 32-bit EFI which is a nightmare when it comes to getting any mainstream Linux distros or BSD running.

      Hell, how many laptops with impressive sales figures have full Linux or BSD support these days where EVERY FEATURE of the machine is actually supported? I

      • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
        There is one on Amazon for less than $200. Nice old fashioned BIOS and all. Out of the box it dual boots Android and Win 10, but booting to a Linux installer is trivial. All features work.
  • Sorry but there is nothing in the linked Post about the "Cloud."

    In fact for a distribution aimed at people PC's, focusing on the "Cloud," or as we used to call them "other peoples servers" would be really strange indeed

  • by mTor ( 18585 ) on Friday April 07, 2017 @06:42PM (#54195261)

    I can't stand hamburger UI, giant title bars and that annoying menu/title bar at the top so I never "upgraded" to GNOME. It seems to me that GNOME team took a bunch of macOS features and stitched together a DE. However, while macOS is quite logical and there's a reason why things are on that OS, much of how GNOME works makes little sense from usability point of view.

    This is why I stuck with Xfce, Unity and Cinnamon. I run all three of these DEs on my various computers and laptops.

    But now that Ubuntu is moving to GNOME, what's the point of using Ubuntu over Fedora? RedHat has all the GNOME devs and they have the best GNOME + Wayland implementation. And that implementation actually works without Xorg. Other distros that run GNOME still can't get Wayland working right. Can Canonical/Ubuntu team make a better version of GNOME than RedHat? Given the history, I'm willing to bet money against that.

    I'm also quite sick of apt-get and inflexible PPAs and managing them has been an absolute hell. Things just break, packages end up conflicting and untangling the mess can take you hours. I find Fedora's DNF and Copr a lot more sane (almost as sane as pacman and AUR on Arch but probably not as good).

    So in conclusion, I really don't see a point in using Ubuntu anymore. If you want APT, just use Debian instead. If you care about GNOME, use Fedora. I'll be replacing Ubuntu with Fedora on one of my laptops later this year... and not with next version of Ubuntu+GNOME.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Except how macOS actually gets some sort of utility out of that top bar. Gnome pretty much wastes the space by going very far out of their way to keep anything remotely possibly useful off of it (no window title list, no tray icons, not *really* any menus) and so it sits there as this ugly black waste of space with a few things on it. Minimalism might have been ok, but instead of striving to be minimalist to make way for utilitarian use of screen space, it is minimalist *and* wastes the screen space.

      On Fe

    • by Ramze ( 640788 )

      I'm not sure why you assume the point of running Ubuntu for everyone is to run Unity, and thus with its switch to Gnome, we all clearly would rather switch to Debian or Fedora.

      I run Ubuntu -- with Cinnamon on multiple machines. Linux Mint (Mate and Cinnamon) is a highly popular distro which is based on Ubuntu. This change won't affect me or Linux Mint users other than perhaps accelerate Wayland use with Mir out of the picture.

      Ubuntu has a large user base, vast repositories, and darn near every project ha

    • I never used GNOME. In a way, I can't forgive them for fragmenting the desktop Linux back in the 1990s (yes, it was because of the license, but that was fixed soon after in KDE, and became a non-issue, yet, GNOME marched on). If we had one good desktop, it would have been more conducive to adoption. And no, this is not an area where 'users can pick from alternatives'. So called choice in the desktop environment was bad fragmentation that Linux desktop never recovered from. That was compounded by GNOME 3, an

  • Cinnamon is what Gnome 3 should have been.
  • by Chris Katko ( 2923353 ) on Friday April 07, 2017 @07:11PM (#54195433)

    ...that liked Unity. And I'm NO casual. But it made excellent use of space on a Netbook. I dislike how they basically use every possible meta key combination, but in exchange for that, I get super fast virtual-desktop commands, moving windows inside a desktop, and moving windows across desktops. My little 2 GB RAM Chromebook with ~10 inch screen converted to Ubuntu is the workhorse of my day. I use it for clients, for RDP, I use it at home for fun and programming hobby games.

    I honestly don't know what I'm going to switch to now. I hate that you can't customize everything in Unity, but what you could customize with a few tools, worked well for me.

    I combine Unity with Guake. Guake is a top-down multi-tab terminal like the Quake drop-down console. So I've got virtual desktops for each task, one for personal internet, one for business internet, one for taking notes, and one for running Audacity while recording conferences. Meanwhile, I use Guake and quake pops down with F5, and goes back up with F5. And, Guake doesn't change when you change virtual desktops. So I can have four tasks running, and tasks inbetween them can be in Guake. (Of course, Guake also has multi-tabs.)

    So between the two, I'm very fast and efficient with my keypresses. People will watch me work and be amazed. And I go, "This is Linux, and it's awesome."

    But Unity is a big chunk of that efficiency for me. People say it's slow and fat, but my 2 GB RAM laptop seems to be just fine with it. It almost never crashes. I've got some plugins for it that work well for monitoring stats. Meanwhile, I open a single Google Doc in Chrome on my system and it takes almost half of my entire machine's memory and CPU usage. And even sites that aren't as notoriously fat as Google Docs, still fill up my RAM fast. So my entire supposedly "fat slow" system is dwarfed by most websites.

    So, yeah, this kind of sucks. Just when these dumb twats at Canonical get people to change (while telling us the whole time "this is the BEST way to do Linux!") they change their minds and go back. So whatever high ground they had before, they just lost by going right back to GNOME3. Who the hell is running that company? A couple of monkey's humping a random number generator? I can't wait to find the next "modern feature" they shoved down our throats, only to change their minds on.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday April 07, 2017 @07:54PM (#54195633) Homepage Journal

      I didn't like Unity, but I respected it, and found it to be usable - something GNOME Shell just isn't, not without a lot of work and a massive change in workflow and expectations anyway. Unity was a serious attempt to build a better desktop, but Canonical married itself to concepts before testing them in the real world, and I honestly think if they'd done more user testing, the dock wouldn't have been left in (not in that form anyway), and the "search for everything" model would have been dumped.

      I wish they'd been successful, and in a contest between GNOME Shell and Unity, I wish they'd had have prevailed.

      Alas Shuttleworth's comments suggest that, while they'll contribute to GNOME, it's unlikely they'll ship any improvements without the GNOME team's blessing. So this is a wholesale surrender to a failed, deeply unpopular, desktop, by a better alternative. It's very sad.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Linux desktops all have things wrong with them, but Unity was fairly tolerable and if you learned to accept the limitations and work within them --- is quite functional.

      KDE to me is far better than Gnome. I've used Cinnamon too. I was hoping maybe they could eventually make Unity nicer.

      Don't know why none of Linux desktops can't be in the Windows XP category of usability, but they aren't. Windows 8 is terrible compared to other versions of Windows and Windows 10 isn't "yours" and is half spyware --- and

    • For me, canonical have decided to spend less on development and hope their revenue is now more than their outgoings. I like unity too. Maybe it will remain as an optional shell for gnome.

    • +1 guake
  • I all but gave up on Linux being a viable operating system when Ubuntu switched from Gnome to Unity. So happy that I can start running it again and that I'll finally see the year of the Linux desktop.
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      What weird planet do you live on, that you couldn't always just install any desktop environment you want by installing packages?

      • by RDW ( 41497 )

        A planet where we have short memories? Today, you can easily switch between Unity, the Gnome 3 shell, the Gnome 3 Classic interface and MATE on Ubuntu, or move to Mint and use Cinnamon or MATE. Back in 2011-12 everything was a mess - Ubuntu was dropping Gnome 2 and switching to Unity with Gnome 3 as the main alternative. Anyone who wanted something like Gnome 2 either had to put up with Gnome 3's rudimentary fallback mode, or learn the necessary incantations to install an early version of MATE from the deve

      • My humble apologies. Apparently I needed to include the </sarcasm> tag.&#194;&#160; A:&#194;&#160; Linux is somewhat irrelevant as a desktop anymore (I have a few dozen blades running a mix of Red Hat and SUSE in one of my server rooms)&#194;&#160;&#194;&#160;&#194;&#160; B: The year of any desktop was supplanted by Android and Ios.&#194;&#160;&#194;&#160; I'm writing this on my phone now.
  • I was recently trying to settle down with Unity on Ubuntu 16.04, and it is generally ok. But then I run into a problem when I wanted to do the simple task of reducing the scrolling sensitivity. I searched, and asked on forums, and it seems impossible to do. Why would such basic controls, that once existed, be removed from Mouse & Touchpad system settings?

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard