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Graphics Ubuntu Linux

Canonical Announces Mir: A New Display Server Not On X11 Or Wayland 354

Posted by samzenpus
from the rolling-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On the Ubuntu Wiki is now the Mir specification, which is a next-generation display server not based on X11/X.Org or Wayland. Canonical is rolling their own display server for future releases of Ubuntu for form factors from mobile phones to the desktop. Mir is still in development but is said to support Android graphics drivers, open-source Linux graphics drivers, and they're pressuring hardware vendors with commercial closed-source drivers to support it too. They also said X11 apps will be compatible along with GTK3 and Qt/QML programs. Canonical isn't using X11 or Wayland with their future Unity desktop as they see many shortcomings from these existing and commonly used components."
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Canonical Announces Mir: A New Display Server Not On X11 Or Wayland

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  • Seriously? Can't leave it well enough alone? Can't even focus your energy on one replacement, you want to work on another too?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      If you find something doesn't suit what you would like to do then you should ditch it.
    • by countach (534280) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:14PM (#43073217)

      A lot of times in software someone starts some grand plan project which takes forever to get anywhere. Then some lone programmer comes along with something small, well focused and just plain well thought out, which causes the grand project to be abandoned. There are so many examples of this one can't count. The Linux kernel itself compared to Hurd is just one example. Let Canonical have a shot at this. They've got some good ideas, if they can pull it off, the result will stand on its own merits.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:22PM (#43073325)

        I think you had it the other way around. Wayland was started by a lone programmer in his spare time. Mir, on the other hand, is the grand plan project in this case.

      • by Pecisk (688001) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:43PM (#43073591)

        Problem is quite simple - Wayland started very small and simple, but of course were held back by legacy support requests (and then there's those closed binary video drivers) and Ubuntu planned to do next LTS with it. However, Canonical suddenly changed their direction 2 years ago, and tried to push into mobile market. Wayland (and Xorg too) can be used for mobile platform, it just needs more work. Problem is Canonical's time is running out. They can't wait. They also don't want to be in same position as others. They want to be first. They don't want to waste all their money only be beaten by some guy who will put GNOME 3 with GNOME Shell together, make it sexy and make all phone/tablet wannabies run for their money. So they retreat more and more in NIH land.

        I don't mean them ill. But it's serious fragmentation and trying to destroying de facto Linux desktop ecosystem - to become ultimate winner instead. I'm not sure I can support that in any way anymore.

        • by spire3661 (1038968) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:47PM (#43073639) Journal
          In case you havent figured it out yet, the future is going to be very fragmented. Start learning to glue stuff together or get left behind.
          • I think we're seeing a natural cycle in the software world. During the 80s there were dozens of architectures, operating systems, languages, etc. and the best (for some definition of best) became dominate and during the 90s consolidated. Now we're in the midst of another explosion in new technology (languages, display servers, processor architectures, perhaps even operating systems) that will eventually lead to reconciliation and consolidation in another five to ten years.

            Things like Wayland have to appear, and even fail: their existence allows new ideas to be tested giving us a better idea of where to go from here.

        • by countach (534280) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:09PM (#43074325)

          It's kinda the whole problem with Linux is that any "standard" is just defacto and ever shifting. Yeah for sure, it is something that holds Linux back compared to the stability of proprietary platforms. But also, it is the thing that allows it to move forward. Canonical will give this a shot, and if its great, perhaps it will be the new standard. If its rubbish, it won't be. Let's just see what they come up with. If Wayland were perfect, I'm sure Canonical would not want to throw money at a problem that is already solved.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You are a dinosaur, sir.

      It is not good enough to "leave it well enough alone". That results in stagnation and obsolescence and toleration of mediocrity. This is the reason why consumer PCs were saddled with a piece of shit operating system that did not even have full 32-bit protected memory, for the better part of 2 decades after the i386 was released. This is the reason why most of the big RISC and UNIX vendors have stagnated and fallen.

      New things should continually be explored and improved, new ideas test

  • No, not again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:42PM (#43072779)

    Seems like Unity lesson didn't teach Canonical anything. This will end badly too.

    • Re:No, not again (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:49PM (#43072897)

      I'm guessing that they're running an elaborate experiment to see just what one has to do to ruin a distro thoroughly and completely. Otherwise, none of this makes any sense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)

        I'm guessing that they're running an elaborate experiment to see just what one has to do to ruin a distro thoroughly and completely. Otherwise, none of this makes any sense.

        Microsoft is trying to be a copycat of Apple, Ubuntu is trying to be a copycat of Google. Google scrapped everything but the kernel and wrote all new code - you can tell by the Apache 2.0 license, no GPL userspace code, Ubuntu is now trying to do the same wanting to go head to head with Android not realizing a house cat can't hunt the same way and the same pray a lion does. But then they're used to being a 1% company in a 99% Win/Mac world, maybe they'll manage being a 1% company in an Android/iOS world too

        • by dmbasso (1052166)

          [...] not realizing a house cat can't hunt the same way and the same pray a lion does.

          A hunter cat. [gunandgame.com] Your argument is invalid[U+2e2e]

          • by Carewolf (581105)

            Scaring deers doesn't count, I have seen deers get scared of bunnies (then again I have seen bunnies mean enough to attack cats).

      • Re:No, not again (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ami Ganguli (921) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:16PM (#43073225) Homepage

        I think Shuttleworth has just decided (probably correctly) that he can't make any money on the desktop, but mobile is still a possibility. The Unity interface and now this are an attempt to compete with Android.

        I abandoned Ubuntu for my desktop when Unity came, but I think I might actually like it on a tablet or phone. Anyway, I'll try to keep an open mind when the devices actually come out. I hope one of non-Android Linux phone efforts finds a niche, whether it's Ubuntu, Jolla, Tizen, or Firefox OS. If Shuttleworth can pull it off, then more power to him.

        • Re:No, not again (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:24PM (#43073999)

          I think Shuttleworth has just decided (probably correctly) that he can't make any money on the desktop, but mobile is still a possibility.

          It is highly doubtful that he can make any money in the mobile sphere, that is pretty well decided now, too. He probably stood a better chance with the desktop, particularly after Windows 8.

          The Unity interface and now this are an attempt to compete with Android.

          If the goal was to compete with android, they should have gone KDE. KDE active is a much more attractive development environment and much further along than Ubuntu's mobile offerings, which don't even use the standard Unity interface.

          I abandoned Ubuntu for my desktop when Unity came, but I think I might actually like it on a tablet or phone. Anyway, I'll try to keep an open mind when the devices actually come out. I hope one of non-Android Linux phone efforts finds a niche, whether it's Ubuntu, Jolla, Tizen, or Firefox OS. If Shuttleworth can pull it off, then more power to him.

          Study after study shows that Unity does not work well on a tablet/touch device. It only looks like it should work, but all of the apps are mouse centric. The problem for Canonical going mobile is that most of the apps in their repositories, which is a large selling point (even if free), won't work on mobile. So from the very start, they will be competing with Apple and Android who have a huge head start and even Microsoft who while a very distant third is lightyears ahead of Canonical.

          As I said earlier, they should have gone Plasma Active. If all of the resources that they dumped into Unity and now their mobile offerings had been used to further that project, they would have been to market earlier and had apps ready to deploy. Instead they chose to go their own way, which is their right, but not necessarily the wisest business decision as even Microsoft is late to the game.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually it makes quite a bit of sense -- if you're not making a Linux distro.

        This appears to be the fundamental fact that Shuttleworth and Canonical have seemed to forgotten -- or rather, they want you to forget. Canonical is trying to position itself not just as a Linux distribution, but as a platform ala Android, where the only role Linux serves is to get around the licensing costs of using something like QNX instead...the work's already done, the community -are- the testers. They get an OS for embedded

      • There's something quixotic about all the recent changes in Ubuntu, isn't there? In the real world they are a Linux distro preferred by 2% of users for its good driver support and its ease of use. But in Shuttleworth's mind, they are a smartphone/tablet/TV operating system that is about to go mainstream and take over the world. Maybe if his desktop market share was a tad higher than 2% it would be realistic, but it just seems to me that they are overreaching and mostly daydreaming of grandeur where they shou

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        I'm guessing that they're running an elaborate experiment to see just what one has to do to ruin a distro thoroughly and completely. Otherwise, none of this makes any sense.

        No, they just think they are the next Apple and people will accept whatever they come out with. Unfortunately for them, Mark isn't Steve.

    • by horza (87255)

      Unity started to turn out quite nicely until they turned it into Amazon spyware. It was completely unnecessarily made unusable but the underpinnings were there. Coming up with a new display server, I am sure they have some hotshot OS programmer sell them on a demo of something that seems pretty spectacular. However, the fact X has hung around for a decade past its due by date shows it's not easy to replace. There is a horrible amount of legacy to be supported in terms of standards and hardware. I agree ther

    • by silviuc (676999)

      And what might that lesson be? In 12.10 Unity is quite good. I used to run an alternate LXDE environment for my gaming needs but then I got unredirected fullscreen in Unity. There's is no speed diff now when running fullscreen games be those native or using wine. Using the HUD is a godsend in applications that I use rarely, just search for a certain function in the hood instead of looking through all the drop-down menus.

      And yeah, I know the state Unity was released in. Know what I did? I used Gnome while I

  • by Carewolf (581105) on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:42PM (#43072789) Homepage

    You are going to need it.

    * and should you succede against all odds, we would all benefit.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:48PM (#43072889) Homepage Journal

      * and should you succede against all odds, we would all benefit.

      It's possible they have a small team who has overcome all the corner cases discovered by the Xorg, XBC, and Wayland folks over the past couple decades by fundamentally re-factoring the problem into a more correct solution and have achieved excellent performance by doing so.

      It's also possible that space aliens gave them this technology, but that's only slightly more likely.

      • by rahvin112 (446269)

        Mark Shuttleworth while proclaiming publicly and often that he won't support the company forever and that it needs to be profitable decides in his infinite wisdom to not only fork a major toolchain piece (upstart) but to fork the GUI as well. Rather than putting his limited resourced into the community projects.

        I think he has as much chance succeeding at this as he does of the aliens giving him the technology.

      • by Carewolf (581105)

        It's possible they have a small team who has overcome all the corner cases discovered by the Xorg, XBC, and Wayland folks over the past couple decades

        To be fair, Wayland wasn't even trying. They were just delegating all hard decisions to the compositor and saying that wasn't their problem.

        • by Pecisk (688001)

          And they had good reason for that - to keep Wayland maintainable and supportable as much as possible.

          Wow, yeah, graphics are hard. You really can't solve them designing another display server. I think we had some 5 of them 8 - 10 years ago.

      • by Eskarel (565631)

        The fundamental issue with a replacement of Xorg is redefining the problem domain. Xorg(and X11) before it runs on a client server model, which is dead set sexy and really really useful if you're operating in a client server environment. The problem is that it's a horribly inefficient kludge if you happen to be running the client and the server on the same machine. This is more important if you're trying to run in a limited resource environment like a Tablet while still having all the new shiny. Yes you can

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:42PM (#43072793)

    Unless they can convince the wider Linux community to adopt some of their technologies, Canonical is basically going to end up forking the platform. If that happens, it will be a fairly major step backwards for Linux on the desktop since developers will be on the hook to adjust to supporting not just multiple packaging systems and multiple library versions, but also multiple incompatible core system API's. Essentially Ubuntu will no longer be "Linux" in any way that matters to developers and all the support for Linux out there now will either die or just switch over to being Ubuntu specific and I don't see how that benefits anyone in the community.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:51PM (#43072931) Homepage Journal

      I've heard that Debian is re-organizing its release cycle to meet some of the objections that have kept people on Ubuntu.

      I've seen most of my Ubuntu friends switching to Fedora or Mint, not Debian, though.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        I keep trying things like Fedora, Mint, etc. But when it all comes down to it, I end up with Debian again.

        Different people have different needs.

        • by McGuirk (1189283)

          I've always been a Debian guy. It's just clean, simple, does what it's told, and leaves me alone when it can. I always love it and sing its praises when testing is fresh yet stable. But as time passes and I'm still using stone-age software near testing's transition to stable, I always start looking elsewhere.

          Maybe I need to give Arch another try.

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            We should give the Mint Debian Edition [linuxmint.com] a try?

            I've been meaning to.

          • by MrHanky (141717)

            Same here. Debian Sid is great when Testing isn't frozen, but then it stops being fun for far too long. If I wanted to run Stable, I'd run Stable, and if I want to run a rolling distro, I'd rather not run some slow-moving, semi-stable slush. So after Squeeze was frozen, I moved to Arch for some time, but quickly jumped back again when Sid got moving again. Repeat for Wheezy, but this time I'm so happy with Arch that I'm not sure I'll be moving back. Things work, and I've got all the packages I want.

      • I dumped Ubuntu quite some time ago. The last Ubuntu install I had going, a web server, was shut down last fall. I've switched over to Debian, which has everything I liked about Ubuntu without any of the things I absolutely loathed about Ubuntu.

      • by Nimey (114278) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:23PM (#43074443) Homepage Journal

        On the desktop I've switched from Ubuntu to Mint, but on the server I've changed from Debian to Ubuntu LTS. For my use case having more up-to-date software is more important than utter stability and the outside chance of major-vendor support for programs that I'm not going to run anyway.

        In fact, my roll-my-own-distro choice is now Ubuntu Server, which is far less likely to spontaneously break than the current favorite riceboy distro, Arch.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:53PM (#43072977) Homepage

      If that happens, it will be a fairly major step backwards for Linux on the desktop since developers will be on the hook to adjust to supporting not just multiple packaging systems and multiple library versions, but also multiple incompatible core system API's.

      So you're saying nothing will change?

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Unless they can convince the wider Linux community to adopt some of their technologies, Canonical is basically going to end up forking the platform. If that happens, it will be a fairly major step backwards for Linux on the desktop since developers will be on the hook to adjust to supporting not just multiple packaging systems and multiple library versions, but also multiple incompatible core system API's. Essentially Ubuntu will no longer be "Linux" in any way that matters to developers and all the support for Linux out there now will either die or just switch over to being Ubuntu specific and I don't see how that benefits anyone in the community.

      Forking the platform, you mean like Apple did with BSD and Google did with Linux? I think Canonical isn't interested in having a linux distribution. Just like Apple has OS X and Google has Android, Canonical plan is to have Ubuntu as the operating system.

  • Not surprised. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lazere (2809091) on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:42PM (#43072795)
    I'm thinking Canonical should just stop beating around the bush and split. I wouldn't be surprised if they announced their own kernel soon.
    • You do realize all the vendors already have their own kernels, right? Have you looked at the huge patch list Fedora/RedHat maintain against the stock kernel in their RPM builds?

      Sigh ... reality check -- its no big deal.

      • by fnj (64210)

        You do realize all the vendors already have their own kernels, right? Have you looked at the huge patch list Fedora/RedHat maintain against the stock kernel in their RPM builds?

        You do know the difference between patching and bugfixing linux, and introducing a completely new kernel, right?

  • Ubuntu ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:42PM (#43072797)

    Ubuntu, We Want To Be Different.

    Sure, breaking tradition will cause a little more fragmentation in the Linux world, but is that so bad? We don't think our needs, or that of our users, are always met by sticking to the 'same old song and dance' so we're bucking the trend.

    There is good and bad in change.

    • by Pecisk (688001)

      You forgot "...so we can claim exclusivity of the Linux desktop platform to ourselves only and therefore getting....profit?!" part of that claim.

      Seriously, this is stupid. Breaking tradition isn't bad. First, wasting it's money on repairing one alternative, then trashing it and picking another one just because you suddenly feel lucky to be on mobile platform - it's bad, messy strategy. I fail to see how this will work on Canonical's advantage.

    • by Lennie (16154)

      So what do you call pulseaudio and systemd and everything else Lennart will come up with ?

      Let's just say Lennart doesn't work for Canonical.

  • by FrankDrebin (238464) on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:48PM (#43072887) Homepage
    But didn't Mir come crashing down in fiery chunks?
  • ... like I needed another reason to switch to CrunchBang...

  • by idontgno (624372) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:04PM (#43073097) Journal
  • by ssam (2723487)

    I understand the desire to replace X. Big chunks of X either aren't needed any more or have moved into other locations (mostly the kernel). but i find it hard to believe that the direction and goals of wayland are so different to what ubuntu want that its worth starting fresh.

    maybe now that a display server has so little to do, it something that a small team can knock up in a few months. in which case maybe every window manager will end up being a display server.

    • Re:why (Score:4, Interesting)

      by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:54PM (#43074231) Journal

      I understand the desire to replace X.

      It's the desire to trash everything and start again, but this time doint it *right*.

      Big chunks of X either aren't needed any more or have moved into other locations (mostly the kernel).

      Yes and no. Mostly no.

      For better or worse, quite a bit of the hardware side has moved into the kernel.

      The other bits (old-style graphics and font rendering) is no longer big. It was big in 1987, but by 2013 standards it's a few k, perhaps even a few M of memory. Utterly irrelevant.

      The other parts of X work really pretty well.

      Sure there are warts. But the better solution is not to nuke it from orbit, it's to come up with protocol fixes to give thigs like persistence and fewer round trips (e.g. like NX). The trouble with nuking things is that all the edge and corner and even marginally non mainsream cases just get thrown away too.

      X does a lot of things well, and large parts of the protocol have aged very gracefully. Did you know that copy/paste with advanced (non text) types and drag and drop is all implemented using mechanisms compatible with the original 1987 X protocol?

      Oh, and you can pry my server side decorations from my cold, dead hads :)

      Also what moron on the X team got rid of the keycombo to nuke server grabs for misbehaving applications? I think the reasoning was that it shouldn't be necessary because that's an application bug and should never happen. No shit it's a bug, sherlock! Now these monkeys are trying to give us the next great compositor.

      Basically they have no respect for the user.

  • by citizenr (871508) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:26PM (#43073381) Homepage

    This is clever - this way they automagically get full GFX support for closed source vendors (MALI400 drivers on cheap tablets for example).

  • It's a warning. Any minute from now Ubuntu may slide into a flaming descent of fragmentation [wikimedia.org].
  • by stenvar (2789879) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:42PM (#43073585)

    Canonical seems out of control: they create one new, half-baked technology after another. Shame, because for a while, Ubuntu was doing quite well.

  • by Peter H.S. (38077) on Monday March 04, 2013 @05:48PM (#43073647) Homepage

    I really don't have the technical knowledge to praise or damn the idea, but as I understand it, there are some clever moves in this;

    It appears that they rip out enough of Android that they can use the Android graphic drivers for Mir, so that every device with android drivers delivers "free" drivers for Mir too. That would give them a huge advantage in the Smartphone and Tablet arena.

    QtMir, QtUbuntu, Qt/QML; it looks like Ubuntu dumps Gnome/GTK in favour of Qt5 for core OS (GUI) development. As I see it they will clone KDE/Qt, substituting the KDE parts with QtUbuntu.

    Their time line seems very optimistic though.

    • by sl3xd (111641) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:24PM (#43074451) Journal

      Their time line seems very optimistic though.

      No, a "finished" and stable btrfs in 2009 was very optimistic... and four years later, it's still experimental, and lacks major features.

      This timeline, on the other hand, goes beyond mere optimism, flies past fantasy, and onto the sort of madness one expects of the North Korean Thermonuclear Fusion program.

      I wish Canonical well, but I've seen this song before enough times to be more than a little doubtful of their chances.
      * Fresco
      * DirectFB
      * Y Window System

  • From Ubuntu's point of view drivers are what matter. If Wayland is causing them problems on that front then they probably have to drop it.

    • Drivers aren't the issue - they would seem to sit a layer below the display server. On the desktop, they re-use all the acronyms wayland employs - GBM, KMS, DRM, OpenGL ES etc. Mir will run on the same infrastructure - e.g. using nouveau but none of the 'legacy' drivers tied to X11. On mobile, see Pekka Paalanen's efforts to port Wayland to Android, using the pre-existing underlying Android graphics APIs.

      Rather, they reject the Wayland 'protocol' - "The input event handling partly recreates the X semantics"

  • I wonder what will be the effect on Valve plans for Linux. Good thing is they have a lot of options, like going upstream with pure Debian, or downstream with Mint.

  • In which universe is Wayland commonly used?

    If Wayland sucks, OK. But otherwise there's no excuse for spinning up yet another foundation.

  • by decora (1710862) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:47PM (#43074155) Journal

    Just a few more tweaks and it will be ready to take over the market.

    I know some young people want this new fangled GGI stuff -- what do they know?

  • I would prefer a serial port and a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vt100 [wikipedia.org]

  • Kubuntu? (Score:3, Informative)

    by rockerito (2791051) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:28PM (#43075457)

    I've been a user of Kubuntu since 2007 and happy too. I don't get why people only talk about ubuntu, and when disappointed with it switch to other distributions, when kubuntu still gives you the classical desktop experience, and not something broken like unity.

    I hope that whatever they do with mir they don't end up breaking Kubuntu. At least it survived the unity madness, and doesn't send your keys to amazon.

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