In a bit of news that should not come as a surprise (to anyone that has been following the rollercoaster that is Ubuntu Unity 8), Unity 8/Mir will not be the default desktop in Ubuntu 16.10 (named "Yakkety Yak"). Chances are, I don't even have to say why this is the case.
I will anyway.The official line, coming from Canonical, is that Unity 8 is still under heavy development. This means 16.10 will ship the long-in-the-tooth Unity 7...most likely with very little in the way of change. So again, Ubuntu's next release will come with next to no fanfare, little hooplah, and not much in the way of new features.
Now, before I really get into this, I want to say to Canonical:
That, and a round of thunderous applause, should be heard for this decision. Why? Why on Earth would I be cheering for the yet-again-delay of the next great iteration of Unity? Because Canonical is making the wise decision to mildly disappoint instead of categorically enrage. By yet again delaying the release, Canonical is disappointing the whole of the Ubuntu fandom. Should they release Unity 8 before it's truly ready, then a monsoon of rage would wash over their headquarters.
At the same time, Unity 7 works, and works especially well. And it is because of that, I offer up a couple of ideas for Canonical ideas that could save them face in the upcoming (nearly inevitable) delays for Unity 8.
It is becoming ever more clear that Canonical does not have the resources necessary to get Unity 8 released in any sort of timely fashion. And yet, Unity 8 is a critical component to that coveted convergent desktop. The other piece to this puzzle is how huge the mobile market is now. So large, in fact, that many users are turning their backs on the desktop and going mobile-only. With that said, it's clear that the convergent desktop should be considered a must have for Ubuntu. Because of that, it's time that Canonical does one of two things:
Migrate all of their desktop developers to Unity 8.
Delay the release of Ubuntu.
Let's talk about each idea.
Migrate all developers to Unity 8
As I mentioned, Unity 7 is already in fantastic shape. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it is one of the single most stable desktops available for Linux (or any platform). This rock solid state of Unity means it could remain untouched for the 16.10 release (and all improvements for Ubuntu come under the hood). That would free up Unity 7 developers to focus solely on getting Unity 8 ready for mass consumption.
Considering how Ubuntu fans across the globe have become accustomed to seeing little to no change in Unity (as has been the case for a very long time), no one will balk at one more boring release to escape the clutches of Canonical...if that were to mean a Unity 8 release could actually come to fruition.
Delay the release of Ubuntu
Before you turn away in disgust, here me out. Yes, the idea of holding back a release (say 16.10) would turn some people away, but consider if Canonical was able to take all of their resources (not just developers) and focus on getting Unity 8/Mir ready. They could nix the release of Yakkety Yak and do nothing but prime Unity 8 to be released with Zippy Zebra (or whatever it will be named). Considering the miniscule improvements that will come to Unity in 16.10, I doubt anyone would complain. Updates could still be released to the LTS, but Canonical would get nearly a full year to focus solely on Unity 8.
I realize we are a What have you done for me lately society, and anyone that develops software cringes at the idea of a delayed release. This is especially true for a company that hung its hat on a regular six month release cycle. Canonical has been wonderful with keeping that schedule. But I firmly believe, this time around, they deserve a pass. Why? Because I honestly believe Unity 8 (and the associated convergent experience) will be that good. If what I've witnessed on Ubuntu Touch is any indication of what is to come, it will very much be worth the extra wait. This is made doubly so, considering that Unity 8 would be Ubuntu Touch with the addition of all the standard Linux software added to the mix.
That will be a game-changing platform.
I understand the naysayers will continue to doubt what Ubuntu Touch has to offer, but I've been working with it for a while now and even though it is not truly ready for mass release, it is one of the most impressive platforms I've seen in awhile. Again, I say, Unity 8 will be worth the wait.
I say, delay, delay, delay!
What do you say?
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.