If the recent news that Canonical is killing its Unity 8 desktop/phone interface and Mir display server caught you off guard, it’s only because you haven’t been paying attention to the ups and down of the Linux world.
Unity 8 and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth’s vision of convergence did not find a market in time for it to come to fruition.
Since the news that Unity 8 was being abandoned and staff reshuffled or cut Canonical did happen rather abruptly it is worth asking: What now?
If you’ve been around the Linux world for long you probably have a pretty good idea.
Red Hat has been down this road before, as has SUSE. If you’re new to this and stricken by a Doomsday like panic, relax. Canonical is probably going to be just fine. It’s highly likely it will more or less abandon its desktop product to the community, but the core of Ubuntu isn’t going anywhere.
The difference between Canonical of the past and the Canonical that appears to be going forward is that now the bottom line matters. Which is to say that the parts of Ubuntu not making money are probably on the way out.
In the Linux world that typically means the focus is going to be on the enterprise market. If the enterprise market wants an Ubuntu desktop then that will be a focus. But, spoiler alert, there’s no money in desktop Linux.
It makes little sense for Canonical to waste its suddenly smaller development staff on the desktop when containerization and Ubuntu on the server is where the money is. Desktop users will have Ubuntu GNOME, which has already taken over as the main distro, and there are plenty of other community-driven ‘buntus to pick up the slack there.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht