Unity Desktop Environment is a graphical shell for the GNOME desktop environment designed and maintained by Canonical for Ubuntu operating systems. It was later abandoned by Canonical and taken over by other maintainers.
Over time, since its 17.10 release, Ubuntu has reverted to using GNOME as the default desktop environment. So the last official update from Canonical for Unity was the minor 7.4.5 version dated back in March 2019.
Fortunately, the maintenance of the desktop environment continued thanks to the voluntary work of a 12-year-old boy. And yes, you read that correctly; it’s not a typo. More on that at the end of the article.
These days came the news that soon Unity would get its first major update in 6 years in the upcoming release version 7.6. So let’s take a quick look at what’s new in this once popular desktop environment.
Unity Desktop Environment 7.6
As we noted, this is the first release of Unity in 6 years. Unity 7.6 has a redesigned look, with elements like the dash and HUD having a flatter UI while retaining the blur.
This is what the Unity 7.6 desktop environment looks like, installed on Ubuntu 22.04 Unity.
As you can see from the image above, Unity 7.6 retains the HUD and Global Menu, allowing you to enjoy the functionality of Unity 7 that you were used to on previous versions of Ubuntu before 17.10 ‘Artful Aardvark.’
Most of the issues in Unity 7.5 on newer versions of Ubuntu have been fixed, such as the trash icon not working when Nautilus is not installed or the program previews in the dash being broken.
Unity 7.6 has not yet been officially announced, but a fully functional public version is available for anyone interested in trying it out. Installing it on Ubuntu 22.04 Unity is entirely smooth and seamless.
To do so, follow the commands shown below:
sudo wget https://repo.unityx.org/unityx.key
sudo apt-key add unityx.key
echo 'deb https://repo.unityx.org/main testing main' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/unity-x.list
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y unity
You can refer to the official announcement for detailed information about all changes.
So, the restart of the active maintenance of the Unity 7 Desktop Environment is a fact. But let’s go back now to something I mentioned at the beginning. This whole thing is thanks to 12-year-old Rudra B. Saraswat, based near Bangalore, India.
I had used Ubuntu 17.04 back when I was 8 [years old], and I really loved Unity7, so when Unity7 was discontinued by Canonical, I wasn’t happy and wanted to bring it back. I created this project to give Unity7 a new life.
We clarify that Saraswat was ten years old in 2020 when he first released Ubuntu Unity. He has stated that his long-term goal is to have the distribution adopted as an official Ubuntu “flavor.”
So, we can’t help but be impressed by these facts, so all we can say is – fantastic job!