Today Canonical announced that they’re going to merge the two editions of Ubuntu, Ubuntu Desktop Edition and Ubuntu Netbook Edition into one edition which will be known as Ubuntu.
This means that Ubuntu is changing back from the change they made in 2005, with the release of Ubuntu Server Edition, and making it more simple than it can be for new users of the operating system. According to Gerry Carr at Canonical, this is happening as they’ve reached the point where it doesn’t matter on what form factor you’re running Ubuntu on as the user interface will run just as well.
One of the reasons behind this is of course that from Ubuntu 11.04 (Oneric Ocelot), Unity will be the new default shell. Unity was originally developed for Ubuntu Netbook Edition, but apparently they feel that we’re at a point where it’ll work equally well on a netbook, laptop or a desktop computer.
The question will now stand whether or not this will mean that Gnome will, at some point, be removed entirely from Ubuntu or will continue to live on as an option (without installing it yourself). At least it might seem that with the focus on getting Unity up to scratch, Gnome might suffer on Ubuntu. Only time will tell.
I’m not really sure about this change from Gnome to Unity as the standard shell, as I’ve had nothing but trouble with Unity myself. No matter if I’ve been working with it in the Ubuntu Desktop Edition or when I was playing around with the Ubuntu Netbook Edition. For some reason it just didn’t seem right for me and it made me frustrated and I ended up switching back to comforts of Gnome. That said, I’ve never been very good at playing around with user interfaces (which my upcoming post about installing AWN as docks might show), so some people might not agree with me on this.
However, this doesn’t mean that Canonical have lost the fight about creating a good operating system for netbooks and according to Gerry Carr, the download figures for the Netbook Edition have been booming, but as mentioned earlier in the post there is no longer a need for several different editions.
Ubuntu Server Edition will live on as a separate edition of Ubuntu, but will also undergo a slight name change to make it all a little more simple, and will from now on be known as Ubuntu Server.
From my point of view it’ll be interesting if this change of names and reduction, or merge if you want, of editions will make more people willing to try the jump away from Windows and OSX and plunge into the wonderful world of Linux.