Canonical is set to merge desktop and GNOME for Ubuntu
Canonical announced that Ubuntu will be dropping Unity from their 18.04 release from next year. We covered that in the previous post. Now Canonical is set to merge Desktop and GNOME in Ubuntu soon. I wished something similar to happen last time, though I hoped to have Kubuntu and default Ubuntu to merge with KDE as their preferred Desktop environment. But that is not going to happen. This is good enough. Devoting developer resources to two separate and similar projects make no sense anyway.
What it means for you?
Nothing actually. If you are a user of Ubuntu GNOME, you are not likely to see any difference. The updates will reach you on time, just as before. The security features will stay in place. Only for the next release (LTS or regular) you need to download the image from the default Ubuntu website as the GNOME specific site is going to be defunct soon.
If you are an Unity user, you can install the GNOME desktop environment on your current installation anyway. But with Unity soon set to lose regular updates, it is recommended you upgrade to the next iteration of Ubuntu coming. This is true unless you are using the 16.04.x LTS edition.
Why changes are good
Ubuntu has kept its release cycles pretty consistent for years now. This has not changed. There has not been any major change to their lineup for years. Apart from saving development time and resources, this will also bring the Ubuntu user-base back to the mainstream GNOME ‘platform’. The user forums for Ubuntu for instance will be able to cater to a wider Linux audience and that is good. Ubuntu remains the post popular distribution. In fact, Canonical should merge Desktop and GNOME as early as possible. Preferably long before the next LTS release.
What about users with Ubuntu based distros?
There is no need for us to worry. Our desktop environments are going to be intact. There is no major change coming up this way. The most popular Linux Mint will continue with its MATE and Cinnamon shells/Desktop Interfaces. Kubuntu will continue to feature KDE. Since I am using KDE Neon, I will continue to enjoy Ubuntu LTS updates along with KDE Plasma updates from the KDE team. Except for the core Ubuntu default desktop and official Ubuntu GNOME users, the world is not going to get affected.
In case you wish to download a few images, for the sake of Unity nostalgia, I suggest you do that soon though. They are not going to stay much longer. And since Unity development was restricted to Canonical only, it will eventually die anyway.