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More From Canonical Employee On: "Why Mir?" 337

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-invented-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Canonical Desktop and Mobile Engineer Christopher Halse Rogers explains in more detail the decision for Mir as apposed to Wayland. Although Halse Rogers 'was not involved in the original decision to create Mir,' he's had 'discussions with those who were.' 'We want something like Wayland, but different in almost all the details.' 'The upsides of doing our own thing — we can do exactly and only what we want, we can build an easily-testable codebase, we can use our own infrastructure, we don't have an additional layer of upstream review.' In a separate post Halse Rogers answer the question: Does this fragment the Linux graphics driver space?"
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More From Canonical Employee On: "Why Mir?"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @12:20AM (#43145849)

    "Does this fragment the Linux graphics driver space?"

    No. That's the point of DRM and KMS. X11, Wayland, DirectFB, Mir, Xynth, whatever all share the same kernel drivers and userspace display and graphics libraries.

  • "apposed?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by logjon (1411219) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @12:25AM (#43145873)
    Really? Are we not even going to try to pretend to give a shit anymore?
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @12:33AM (#43145903)

    This just proves what everyone was saying last week. This decision was entirely based on NIH (Not in House) Syndrome. Ubuntu is convinced that they have to spend all their development resources on reinventing the wheel because Wayland isn't an internal project (but it could be).

    It wasn't 6 months ago that Shuttleworth was complaining that Ubuntu needed to start making money, and here he is wasting development resources on reinventing things. Between Mir, Upstart, Harmony, and all the others he's going to have forked everything but the kernel (hey maybe that's next!, I hear forking the FreeBSD Kernel is common) and his costs only go up while he spends all his time fixing bugs all by himself. The result will be Ubuntu advancement will slow down, or it will become a buggy POS with no long term security.

    Either way I think they suffer from NIH disease and maybe they should consider a fork of the FreeBSD kernel. I imagine it won't be long before Mint/Arch or whatever fully replaces all the popularity Ubuntu managed to create. I already see Mint recommended more often than Ubuntu.

    • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @12:39AM (#43145933) Homepage

      ...This decision was entirely based on NIH (Not in House) Syndrome...

      NIH = Not Invented Here

    • Yup. Here is what I consider to be the key quote of the article:

      the upsides of doing our own thing - we can do exactly and only what we want, we can build an easily-testable codebase, we can use our own infrastructure, we don't have an additional layer of upstream review - look like they'll outweigh the costs of having to duplicate effort.

      They are doing it because they want to do it. So if you are someone who relies on backwards compatibility, cross-compatibility, or some feature in X that they don't care about, then you should realize that this is basically the guys at Canonical giving you the middle finger.

      Also, it should be mentioned that one of the primary features of a good API is that it communicates its purpose well to those who want to use it. This is a communication i

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ndogg (158021)

      Sure, that could be part of it, but I think a careful reading would show that there were a number of things missing from Wayland that they wanted, and there were a number of things that would have required some heavy patching to get what they wanted, which probably wouldn't have been any better than starting anew anyway. This way they also don't have to worry about whether or not their patches get accepted upstream.

      I guess they could have forked Wayland, but if they're not going to use most of that code any

      • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @03:08AM (#43146473)

        And the misinformation is already being quoted as fact. Per the discussion on G+ where the Wayland developers responded to the FUD from Canonical, AFAIK none of the claimed missing feature of Wayland are even missing. In fact from what I was reading tonight touch input has already been implemented in Wayland and the work on virtual keyboards and such is being worked on (Canonical hasn't even started this part of MIR).

        Given the Canonical didn't even talk to the Wayland project it's not surprising but what Canonical claimed is nothing but FUD. They are trying to back justify their decision, but they didn't even bother to learn about Wayland before creating a bunch of false assumptions and FUD. Unfortunately that FUD is so far out there now that people are even quoting it as fact.

        Go to G+ and google MIR, you'll find a number of threads where the Wayland developers point out that Canonical outright lied about what Wayland could/couldn't do. The linked post basically points this out, they didn't talk to Wayland, they didn't find out about wayland, they just wanted something they had total control over.

        In the end they'll end up with a monster that eats coder time to no actual benefit where had they devoted those developers to Wayland they could have had more input into Wayland AND helped it get here quicker. It's a sad story of Shuttleworth desire for total control, even if what he ends up with is unmaintainable crap that's dropped after 2 versions and fragments the community in the interim. All because he wants a tablet/phone OS in a very crowded space.

        It's ironic, if he wanted Android so bad, why didn't he just fork Android. The reality is he doesn't have the resources to do what Google did. Instead he's going to create a Frankenstein blend of (half-assed) Wayland, X and SurfaceFlinger that will likely have all the worst of each and none of the benefits.

    • by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @01:37AM (#43146177) Journal
      I'm almost inclined to cut Canonical some slack here. Almost. I don't think NIH is such a horrible thing if the project in question still isn't anywhere near usable. In a situation like this, it's entirely possible that a team of paid, full time, competent programmers could start over from scratch and quickly surpass the original project. Given equal talent and effort, the Cathedral is always more efficient better than the Bazaar.

      However, I haven't seen evidence that Ubuntu possesses the talent or the manpower. Time and again, I've either read about or experienced firsthand halfassed, quite unnecessary 'improvements' while watching them neglect the fundamentals.

      So, like most every other thing they've done for the past five years, this decision may be fine in theory (I'm not super familiar with the issues surrounding Wayland, so I can't say for sure), but in practice will quickly become a category five disaster.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 21mhz (443080)

        I'm almost inclined to cut Canonical some slack here. Almost. I don't think NIH is such a horrible thing if the project in question still isn't anywhere near usable. In a situation like this, it's entirely possible that a team of paid, full time, competent programmers could start over from scratch and quickly surpass the original project. Given equal talent and effort, the Cathedral is always more efficient better than the Bazaar.

        This is showcased nicely by the previous projects near-single-handedly developed by Canonical: Bazaar (heh; there were actually two iterations of it, both ultimately crap) and Upstart. Interestingly, neither of those was clearly NIH-motivated, they just were not satisfactory from the engineering standpoint as later, better projects have demonstrated.

    • Since Wayland hasn't got very far yet there is little to lose by starting a different project that does some of the same things instead of extending Wayland.
    • by eennaarbrak (1089393) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:36AM (#43146995)

      Ubuntu is convinced that they have to spend all their development resources on reinventing the wheel because Wayland isn't an internal project (but it could be).

      You simply invoke "NIH-syndrome" without clarifying why Canonical is making the wrong decision in this specific case. You are implying that it is *never* a good decision to do things in-house when an existing solution (however imperfect) is already available. But looking around at technology companies that are successful (Apple, Google, Amazon), it is obvious that your reasoning is flawed, as all these companies have, on occasion, done things in-house when existing solutions were already available.

      Clearly, the decision to do something in-house or not is more complex than following a stupid rule of thumb.

    • by prefec2 (875483)

      You miss the point. Ubuntu wanted to use Wayland. They said it is a great idea when the project started. But then the project got somewhat stuck. The public available documentation is weak, which makes it very complicated to add to the project. Furthermore, Ubuntu proposed to use a "test-driven" development method. While such a decision is debatable, the Wayland project does not talk about its development method.

      Hopefully, the both sides do a lot of talking (which is already taking place) and in the end the

    • I mean, NIH is one thing, but this kind of thing goes way past that. Ubuntu is in the full-throttle grip of CADT [jwz.org].

  • Good for Ubuntu (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stalyn (662) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @12:41AM (#43145943) Homepage Journal

    We could have had a modern display server years ago with XGL/Xegl. But it was killed off because Red Hat and nVidia didn't like. Mainly because it wasn't their idea. Now it seems all the pissing and moaning is coming from the Red Hat camp. Well karma's a bitch ain't it.

  • Wrong spelling (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @12:46AM (#43145977)
    "Myrrh was used by the ancient Egyptians, along with natron, for the embalming of mummies."
  • "doing our own thing — we can do exactly and only what we want, we can build an easily-testable codebase, we can use our own infrastructure, we don't have an additional layer of upstream review."

    IOW, Fuck GPL and collaboration.

    Canonical better find an attitude. This is why they are disliked by the Debian team and others.

    This is also why I dislike Shuttleworth and Canonical - the lack of helpful upstream collaboration.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @01:13AM (#43146103) Homepage

    We know what a disaster it was when Canonical tried to adopt PulseAudio in Ubuntu. Basically they broke audio for no good reason. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PulseAudio#Problems_during_adoption_phase [wikipedia.org] for more info.)

    Mir would seem to be an order of magnitude more difficult to pull off, since it's to be developed in-house by Canonical, and video is *much* more complex than audio.

    Over all, it seems extremely unlikely to me that Canonical is competent to succeed in this.

    They also don't seem to have learned their lesson from the PulseAudio experience in terms of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

  • Wha? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @01:28AM (#43146133)

    'We want something like Wayland, but different in almost all the details.'

    If you change all the details then won't it be very unlike Wayland?

  • by Stiletto (12066) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @01:32AM (#43146141)

    The great thing about Linux is... You can simply choose to not use Ubuntu. BAM! Problem solved.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed! I do like that they explore things though. The X.org folks need a kick in the rear. They seem to think graphics has been solved. Not that it has gotten noticeably better since the X.org fork-off, but it is still pretty bad.

      • by gweihir (88907)

        Wups, that should read "Not that it has not gotten noticeably better".

      • Have you paid any attention to Linux graphics in, I don't know, the past year or so? Missed the whole Wayland thing, did you? Missed the part of this where all the X/Wayland devs are basically yelling "Why did start reimplementing Wayland late, with slight variations?"

        • by gweihir (88907)

          I follow it, but apparently I did understand what was going on, in contrast to you.

    • by GauteL (29207) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:02AM (#43146869)

      The great thing about Linux is... You can simply choose to not use Ubuntu. BAM! Problem solved.

      Not quite. Linux users do rely on a large amount of other users making it viable and interesting to make applications, drivers, etc. for the platform. The more Ubuntu succeeds in gathering Linux users to their Ubuntu OS, the smaller the rest of the Linux market becomes.

      Canonical wants to go their own way in order to distinguish themselves from other distributions in order to gather more Linux market share (larger slice), rather than attempt to cooperate with others to grow the market (larger cake). Canonical does not have the resources to compete with Apple, Google or Microsoft on their own, so their fragmentation of the Linux base will only result in a net loss for Linux and free software.

      • So your saying that as long as Ubuntu satisfies the needs of their growing user base, they will succeed in becoming a dominate player in the Linux distribution market.

        I see absolutely nothing wrong with this. Competition is good and it is not like Ubuntu is selling their distribution at a loss to put their competition out of business. Every distribution has a chance to grow in popularity, all they need to do is cater to their user's needs.

      • by Burz (138833)

        Not quite. Linux users do rely on a large amount of other users making it viable and interesting to make applications, drivers, etc. for the platform. The more Ubuntu succeeds in gathering Linux users to their Ubuntu OS, the smaller the rest of the Linux market becomes.

        Just. WOW.

        It's amazing that a zero-sum assessment of desktop Linux would be modded up like this. Ubuntu is trying to get past distro-itis or the Linux distro curse that has made the genre so repellent to most desktop users and app developers. If none of the distros are able to enlarge Linux' overall share of the desktop, its because none of them have quite figured out personal computing.

        In any case, it should be becoming clear by now that 'Linux' is not an operating system by any means that a typical deskto

  • Why not X? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Damouze (766305)

    Why not continue using and developing on and for X? It is and remains -the- standard way for UNIX applications to get a graphical user interface. X is also largely platform independent. If I want to run my X server on system A and the applications on system B, it is the X protocol that separates my desktop from my applications. My display is not necessarily directly connected to the computer I run my applications on.

    • Ignorance on display (Score:5, Informative)

      by FranTaylor (164577) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @02:35AM (#43146365)

      You're just betraying your ignorance of Wayland. Wayland does NOT replace X windows. In fact Wayland was designed from scratch so that an X server can run in wayland WITH NO PERFORMANCE PENALTY.

      So with Wayland you can STILL run your old legacy X11 apps and get decent performance too!

      Win win all around! What is the downside?

      • by overbom (461949)

        It wasn't invented at canonical from what i can tell from TFA.

  • by FranTaylor (164577) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @02:56AM (#43146429)

    Everybody says "ooh noooo don't kill remote X windows! it's the best!"

    except for one thing: IT SUCKS.

    Have you ever tried to actually USE remote X? It's just beyond horrible.

    The failure is that X was designed for low-latency between the display and the application, and that use case is just not very useful.

    In reality the display and the application are connected over a high-latency link and X is UNUSABLE in this context.

    VNC does not assume a low-latency link and so it remains responsive and pleasant even over a crappy ADSL connection.

    Go ahead and TRY to use Firefox remotely over your ISP connection. It's just a pathetic joke and you will kill it out of frustration before even a single page loads.

    Try the exact same thing with a VNC connection and it works just fine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mvdwege (243851)

      I have done all you say is impossible, with little to no issues. So now we have competing anecdotes, how about next time you provide some actual data to go with your FUD?

    • by EzInKy (115248)

      No problems here with Intel and rare problems with AMD chips. Maybe you are tied to a company that doesn't like openness?

    • by EzInKy (115248)

      I've never had a problem with X on open source hardware. Only closed sourced shit causes problems.

  • Canonical lately (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Britz (170620) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @06:41AM (#43147203) Homepage

    Canonical is behaving very "weird" lately.

    This is an interview with Jonathan Riddell, the lead on Kubuntu [1].

    Quotes:

    "I only had contact with the Linux Mint developer recently when Canonical claimed that they needed a licence to use the compiled packages from Ubuntu. This is a dangerous misunderstanding of copyright licencing from a company which should understand it. I advised Linux Mint to say some rude things to Canonical but I think they're too polite for that."

    "Canonical has the trademark of Kubuntu so they had to get a trademark licence from Canonical which took many months of long and slow negotiations. It was very frustracting to have Canonical be the blocker for part of the Ubuntu community since Canonical should be an enabler for the Ubuntu community (at least when we don't compete directly). So we did look at changing the name of Kubuntu but were told by Mark we'd be kicked out the project if we did that which would be a worst case scenario for everyone."

    "Since then Canonical has started asking for donations when downloading Ubuntu and one option is to give "Better support for flavours like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu Slider thumb". Kubuntu has never received any of these funds or seen any better support, so this is a disappointing case of fraud."

    [1] http://www.muktware.com/5369/how-will-changes-ubuntu-affect-kubuntu-exclusive-interview-jonathan-riddell [muktware.com]

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