Ubuntu in transition with the new 17.10 release

Artful Aardvark

© Lead Image © Dena Friesen

© Lead Image © Dena Friesen

Article from Issue 203/2017

Ubuntu restarts the alphabet on the Ubuntu 17.10 release, with one small step for Wayland and one giant leap backward from the controversial Unity desktop.

With Artful Aardvark (17.10), Ubuntu's release names move to the start of the alphabet. At the same time, Ubuntu's desktop environment switches from Unity to Gnome. That in itself is a major change, so don't expect more than a handful of visible changes when version 17.10 is released on October 17, 2017.

The switch marks a sudden reversal of direction. The Unity desktop was Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth's response to his own challenge for Linux developers to rival OS X, and Ubuntu's parent company Canonical spent six years developing it, bringing in a design team, arguing with the community, and linking it to convergence – the development of a common interface for everything from laptops to phones to workstations.

However, in April 2017, Shuttleworth abruptly announced that Ubuntu would be abandoning Unity and convergence and defaulting to Gnome for the first time in seven years [1]. Additionally, Wayland would be replacing Mir, Ubuntu's intended replacement for the X Window System, and an undisclosed number of Canonical employees were either laid off or assigned new duties. These changes, Shuttleworth explained, were intended to make Canonical profitable and to attract investors and perhaps an eventual public stock offering.


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