It would have been impossible to avoid hearing that Canonical has decided to shift their flagship product away from their in-house Unity desktop back to an old friend: GNOME. You may remember that desktop — the one that so many abandoned after the shift from 2.x to 3.x.
A few years later, GNOME 3 is now one of the most rock-solid desktops to be found, and one of the most user-friendly Linux desktop distributions is heading back to that particular future. As much as I enjoyed Unity, this was the right move for Canonical. GNOME is a mature desktop interface that is as reliable as it is user-friendly.
I won’t spend too much time speculating on why this happened (there are already plenty of pieces on this topic). There has also been plenty of speculation as to whether or not Canonical will deliver a GNOME-based Ubuntu that offers some of the features found in Unity. To that, Ken VanDine said to OMGUbuntu that the Ubuntu team “…may consider a few tweaks here and there to ease our users into the new experience.”
That’s not much. It also means, features like the HUD will not be anywhere to be found. Unfortunately, there aren’t any (current) GNOME extensions to replicate that feature. For some (like myself), losing the HUD is big (but not unforgivable). Why? I’d always found that particular menu interface to be one of the single most efficient on the market.
My guess is that GNOME, as shipped with Ubuntu 17.10, will be a fairly vanilla take on the desktop (with a bit of Ubuntu theme-branding in the mix). If the daily builds of 17.10 are any indication, that will be exactly the case (Figure 1).