In a shock move, Mark Shuttleworth, the former CEO of Canonical announced that as of Ubuntu 18.04 the operating system would come with GNOME by default. Ubuntu moved to its own Unity desktop environment back in 2011 and was due to release Unity8 which would bring convergence across all form factors.
In his announcement, Shuttleworth wrote:
“As we head into the new fiscal year, it’s appropriate to reassess each of our initiatives. I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.”
Canonical will instead focus on the areas of its business that make more financial sense, including the cloud and the Internet of Things. The key focuses will be Ubuntu for desktops, servers, and VMs, its cloud products such as OpenStack, Kubernetes, MAAS, LXD, Juju, and BootStack, and its IoT products including snaps and Ubuntu Core.
When Canonical launched Unity on Ubuntu it received huge criticism and didn't win back users for a while until the desktop environment was more mature. With Ubuntu now switching to GNOME 3, yet another controversial environment, we are sure to see yet more backlash from Ubuntu users.