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Unity 8, the Ubuntu Phone Qml Shell, has landed in the Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander repositories.

For now, Unity 8 is in its early alpha stages and not ready for use, and in fact, there's a message on the wallpaper used by it that says just that:

Unity 8 shell

And indeed, while I was able to run it on my Saucy computer, most stuff didn't work: I wasn't able to access the launcher on the left using the mouse, the indicators didn't work and so on. Also, the phone applications that show up in Unity 8 are dummy apps so they don't actually work (and furthermore, clicking any of them freezes Unity 8 for now).

Unity 8 currently runs as an app and you can switch from the phone to the tablet mode by resizing its window:

Unity 8 shell

Unity 8 shell

According to the Unity8Desktop Ubuntu wiki entry, the following Unity 8 features should work for the final Ubuntu 13.10 release:
  • Keyboard input, including hotkeys similar to those in Unity7;
  • Mouse, touchscreen, scroll wheels, touchpads, and other existing input devices;
  • The HUD should be available;
  • Indicators should be available. Should include at a minimum the Networking indicator;
  • The Unity 8 Shell and its components adjusts to local screen size.
  • Content discovery should be working. At a minimum, the local content scopes should be available;
  • Minimal Window management, such as focus control and maybe window move and resize;
  • The following core applications should be installable and runnable from the Unity 8 Shell on the desktop: Browser App, Gallery App, Music Player App and the Video Player App.
  • Multi-monitor will not be supported.

The plan is to have a preview Unity 8 on Mir session (so users can select to log in to Unity 8 from the LightDM login screen) available for Ubuntu 13.10 for evaluation and testing - at least that's what the Unity8Desktop wiki entry mentions. 

On the other hand, Olli Ries, Head of Engineering for Canonical's Product Strategy team, says in a blog post that "[...] the integration of Unity 8 into Ubuntu Desktop is not scheduled to happen for 13.10 but will only be fully integrated for 14.10. The QML based Unity 8 is currently fully integrated on the Ubuntu Touch images only".

Install Unity 8 in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

If you want to test Unity 8 in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander, use the following command:
sudo apt-get install unity8

Then, type the following command in a terminal to launch it:
unity8 -mousetouch