Back in April 2017, Canonical decided to refocus Ubuntu development for the Cloud and IoT, dropping their mobile/desktop convergence efforts. So Unity8 environment was dropped in favor of GNOME desktop environment, which to this date is still used in recent versions of Ubuntu Desktop operating system.
As a reminder, Unity8 was both suitable for desktop PCs, as well as smartphones and tablets through Ubuntu Touch. But at the time, it was working fairly well, even found in devices such as BQ Aquaris M10 tablets. Since the code was open source, UBPorts developer community was formed and a few months later they released their first image for supported phones such as OnePlus One, FairPhone 2, or Optimus L90.
The community is still active, and until recently kept using Unity8 name, but there were some drawbacks Unity8 will now become Lomiri pronounced “Low-mee-ree”.
So why did they change exactly? A few reasons:
- There’s a famous 3D game engine called Unity, and they received support requests about the later, for example, to import 3D models… This also avoids potential trademark litigations in the future
- Developers want to package Unity8 Lomiri into other distributions such as Debian and Fedora, but many of the package names start with Ubuntu, so they had to find a new name, as Debian packagers could not allow package names with Ubuntu into their repositories. For instance, ubuntu-ui-toolkit will become lomiri-ui-toolkit, and ubuntu-download-manager will change to lomiri-download-manager.
- “Unity8” is a bit difficult to pronounce and repeat in conversation
It will take a while to rename everything, so the effort is still in progress. Lomiri will just be the same as Unity8, so the name is the only thing that really changes. There are some components whose name won’t change including “Ubuntu Touch” operating system, and the OpenStore.