Lomiri: New Name, Same Great Unity8

27 February 2020

It is my pleasure to announce the new name of Unity8 and its related projects: Lomiri! (low-mee-ree)

Lomiri is the operating environment for everywhere: phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. It features a slick and easy-to-use interface based on the design of its predecessor, Canonical's Unity desktop environment.

Why rename?

Whenever we've approached the renaming discussion, we've received pushback from people who would prefer not to change anything. However, there are a number of technical and social reasons for this rename.

First, and most important, was the problem of name clashing. Most readers probably know "Unity" as a 2D/3D game and simulation platform. Many people who found "Unity8" made the same mistake. We were commonly fielding questions about how to import 3D models and meshes into our shell.

Additionally, efforts have begun to package Lomiri into Debian (read more on Sunweaver's blog) and Fedora. One sticking point for these efforts was the name "ubuntu" in many of Lomiri's dependencies. For example, "ubuntu-ui-toolkit", "ubuntu-download-manager", "qtubuntu", and so on. Packagers warned that packages containing the name "ubuntu" may not be accepted into their target distro.

Along with the clashing problem, the name "Unity8" was a bit difficult to say and repeat in conversation. Canonical was likely going to shorten it to "Unity" upon its release to the Ubuntu desktop, but that changed when it dropped the project in 2017. We feel that dropping the "8" ourselves would be a mistake, confusing users of Ubuntu Unity and Unity (the game engine).

To be clear, this name change was not triggered by any action from Canonical or the Ubuntu community, legal or otherwise.

What's being renamed?

Many of our projects and packages which include the "ubuntu" or "unity" name will be renamed, for example:

  • unity8, containing the shell, will become lomiri.
  • ubuntu-ui-toolkit -> lomiri-ui-toolkit
  • ubuntu-download-manager -> lomiri-download-manager

Additionally, the interface that developers use to call on these projects will change. For example, the Ubuntu.Components QML import will change to Lomiri.Components. For the foreseeable future, we will provide backwards compatibility in Ubuntu Touch images. Developers will only need to update to the new API when they'd like to package their apps for other distributions. QML's lack of namespacing is a blessing here: the only change to most QML applications will likely be the import statement (from import Ubuntu.Components 1.3 to import Lomiri.Components 1.3).

What is not being renamed?

Renaming things is time-consuming, so we're currently trying to rename as few projects as possible. Here are some things we do not expect to rename or modify in the short term:

  • Ubuntu Touch, our convergent operating system shipping Lomiri, the OpenStore, and confined applications, retains its name.
  • Components which don't use the "Unity" or "Ubuntu" name, such as qtmir, morph-browser, and others, do not need to be renamed.
  • Any components which are already used by other projects and accepted into other distributions. For example, gsettings-qt uses the com.canonical.gsettings D-Bus namespace. However, it has already been accepted by Debian for use by the Deepin desktop environment.

When is this change happening?

The change is already in progress for some components, like lomiri-download-manager. We are preparing these components for building on Debian testing or unstable, renaming them, then moving their upstream repositories to GitLab.

As a side note, this has provided a great chance for us to make our move to GitLab and get our release pipeline in order.

Why Lomiri?

We went through many different names before settling on Lomiri. All of them had problems with pronunciation, availability, or other related issues.

How will Ubuntu Touch change?

Most users of Ubuntu Touch will not notice any changes as we rename components. The old "Unity8" name is not used anywhere visibly within the OS. Power users or developers creating unconfined applications may notice small changes, such as Upstart job names changing or internal API shifting. However, we will strive to maintain backwards compatibility within Ubuntu Touch for the foreseeable future.

We'd like to thank everyone for their continued support of Ubuntu Touch and Lomiri. If you have questions on the effects of this change, please let us know in Unity8 is now Lomiri on the UBports Forum. If we see the same question asked multiple times, we'll edit this post to add the answer.