5 Developments After Ubuntu Unity Fiasco

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Canonical has shut down Ubuntu Phone project and is also stopping the development of Unity 8. It will go back to GNOME as its primary desktop. It also means that other developments around it, especially Ubuntu’s own Mir display server, will also be abandoned.

This news shocked the entire Linux world last week and we can still feel the aftereffects. Now in case you are wondering what’s next for Ubuntu now and where will it be headed, let me throw some lights on it.

There have been a few developments, some of them might change the direction of Ubuntu and its future. Let’s see what has happened after Canonical announced departure from its convergence plan.

CEO Jane Silber resigns as founder Mark Shuttleworth takes the helm again

Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth

Ubuntu’s founder, Mark Shuttleworth, returns as the CEO of Canonical. Present CEO Jane Silber has resigned.

Jane Silber took charge as CEO of Canonical in 2010 and was crucial in the growth of Canonical as Ubuntu collaborated with giants like Netflix, eBay, Walmart and Microsoft. Under her wings, Ubuntu became a dominant choice on cloud systems.

On the downside, the part of bringing Ubuntu to mobile OS didn’t go that well.

While it may not sound like but this change at the top of the company was done amicably. There were no bitter moments if you were hoping for that. At least not what it seems like from her farewell note.

Massive layoffs at Canonical

Layoff at Canonical

Canonical had put hefty resources on the development front of Unity, Mir and other projects around it.

As these projects are being discontinued, it clearly resulted in massive layoffs at Ubuntu. Though the numbers are not certain, it is estimated that of the 700 employees of Canonical, over 30% of the staff will be laid off.

People who could be accommodated in other projects were lucky but many people had to leave. This move was sudden as many employees were not expecting this at all.

Departing employees were compensated by sort of severance packages depending on the region they belonged to.

External investors as Canonical faces financial trouble

External investors at Ubuntu

The entire trouble actually started with the idea of external investors.

Shuttleworth decided to seek potential external investors and these investors determined that Canonical was overstaffed and some projects lacked focus, noted The Resgister.

That ‘some projects’ obviously meant everything around the Canonical dream of convergence: Unity8, Ubuntu Phone, Mir display etc. And that’s how the chain of events started. In Shuttleworth’s own words:

“We can’t go through that market process and ask for outside investor money when there’s something that big that doesn’t have a revenue story. That’s the pinch we got into.”

I wonder who are these external investors at Canonical. I hope it’s not Microsoft thought it could be possible considering the recent closeness between Canonical and Microsoft.

Unity 8 might be continued unofficially

ubports team
UBports team has forked Unity 8

The power of open source is that any project can be revived by anyone. Remember the GNOME 2 desktop environment? When it was discontinued, it was forked and successfully revived as MATE desktop environment.

Good news is that Unity 8 has been forked. UBports, the team that works on bringing Ubuntu Touch to various mobile devices, has forked the Unity 8 and renamed it to Yunit.

Considering that Canonical has pulled resources off this project, the road of development for these forked Unity versions won’t be easy. I wish them luck though and wish that they become another shining example of success like MATE.

Ubuntu GNOME to be merged with Ubuntu

Ubuntu GNOME concept
Ubuntu GNOME concept

When Canonical announced that it will use GNOME as its default desktop starting Ubuntu 17.04, it was only natural to raise questions about the future of Ubuntu GNOME.

Ubuntu GNOME is (was) an official flavor of Ubuntu and brought GNOME desktop to Ubuntu. Ubuntu GNOME announced in their blog post:

“…there will no longer be a separate GNOME flavor of Ubuntu. The development teams from both Ubuntu GNOME and Ubuntu Desktop will be merging resources and focusing on a single combined release, that provides the best of both GNOME and Ubuntu. We are currently liaising with the Canonical teams on how this will work out and more details will be announced in due course as we work out the specifics.”

What do you think of Ubuntu’s future?

I wonder if all of this was done for the sake of bringing external investors and was it really worth it? Shuttleworth did not go for IPO, perhaps that could have helped? But I am not an expert in these things and I believe that Mark Shuttleworth and other upper management people at Canonical have thought it through.

What is your feel about all this? Do you think Ubuntu is headed in the right direction? Or it should have tried to make Ubuntu Phone work a little longer?