Ubuntu 17.10 codenamed Artful Aardvark (17.04 Zasty Zapus took us to the end of the alphabets so we are back to A) is expected to arrive on October 19, 2017. It was slated to bring minor improvements to the Ubuntu 17.04 but Canonical has sped things up and is bringing GNOME3 home quite early, Bye bye Unity. So how is the next iteration of Ubuntu fearing so far? Things are not finalized yet but let us see the direction is heading. Note that things might change (they won’t) in the final release.
Switch to GNOME 3 Desktop Environment
Ubuntu has finallyswitched from the Unity desktop environment to GNOME 3 in the current daily builds of Ubuntu 17.10. Initially, the plan was to use Unity in this iteration and switch to GNOME 3 in 18.04 but I bet Canonical themselves could not wait to make the change. Why put effort into something that is definitely going to be short lived as the expense of what is inevitably coming. So the switch has been made and I believe this is going to please the multitude of users who jumped ship 6 years ago when Canonical made the controversial decision to switch to Unity.
The daily builds currently run GNOME 3.24.2 but it is unclear which version of GNOME will ship with Ubuntu 17.10 in October. With Gnome 3.26 release date set for September 13, 2017. I am positive it is going to make the cut because the Ubuntu 17.10 User Interface freeze is set for September 14, 2017. Gnome 3.26 is expected to ship with the following major features -
Switch to Wayland
Another major casualty of Canonical canning is desktop-mobile convergence vision is the Mir display server. While the rest of the Linux world moved towards Wayland as a replacement for X.org, Canonical opted for and developed the Mir display server which in tandem with Unity 8 was the backbone of its convergence vision. Now that Convergence is no more, Ubuntu 17.10 is including a Wayland session along with X.org so users can choose between the two. It is expected that X.org will be dropped completely before Ubuntu 18.04 is released.
Switch to GDM
With the switch to GNOME shell, it only seemed right that Ubuntu adopts the GDM (GNOME Display Manager) which is a core part of the GNOME 3 ecosystem as the default, replacing LightDM.So with Ubuntu 17.10 and all future versions, GDM will be the default. The following reason has been given:
“We’ve attempted to get the GNOME Shell lock screen running with LightDM and using GNOME Shell as a LightDM Greeter. Which this still seems possible, it’s not easy to patch GNOME Shell as the GDM code is hard to decouple”
The Unity greeter has also been replaced with what comes with GDM.
Enable Connectivity Switch Feature
For Ubuntu 17.10, the developers are adding a package that will enable the ‘connectivity check’ feature available in Network Manager. This will allow the network manager to detect captive portals which will trigger GNOME shell to pop up a browser page when a browser page is detected. Ubuntu 17.10 will add a switch in the Gnome Control Center so users can turn the feature on or off.
Ubuntu 17.10 Release Schedule
Ubuntu 17.10 Support lifespan
Much like Ubuntu 17.04 and 16.10 before it, Ubuntu 17.10 will be supported for 9 months until July 2018. If you need Long Term Support, it is recommended you use Ubuntu 16.04 LTS instead.
Ubuntu 17.10 "Artful Aardvark" Daily Build
Unity 8 and the Mir display server are no more. In their place, we are getting GNOME3 and Wayland, the stuff most Linux users wanted in the first place. It took a struggle but it has ended. Most of these features are arriving early ahead of the 18.04 release schedule that was initially set for them and this is good news, allowing work to commence on what is important and what has a future. Ubuntu 17.10 was going to be a boring release with little to no features, some improvements and bug fixes, but now, it is offering so much to look forward to. It is offering a peek into the future on the Ubuntu desktop. Ubuntu 17.10 is the beginning of a whole new world.