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Ubuntu Dumps X For Unity On Wayland 640

An anonymous reader writes "Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Ubuntu will move away from the traditional display environment to Wayland — a more modern alternative. The move means there is now little reason for GNOME developers to recommend Ubuntu as an operating system. Shuttleworth said, 'We're confident we’ll be able to retain the ability to run X applications in a compatibility mode, so this is not a transition that needs to reset the world of desktop free software. Nor is it a transition everyone needs to make at the same time: for the same reason we'll keep investing in the 2D experience on Ubuntu despite also believing that Unity, with all its GL dependencies, is the best interface for the desktop. We'll help GNOME and KDE with the transition, there's no reason for them not to be there on day one either.'"
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Ubuntu Dumps X For Unity On Wayland

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  • Wayland... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaPhil ( 811162 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:17AM (#34135550)
    For anyone else wondering what Wayland is: "Wayland is a lightweight display server for the GNU/Linux desktop. Started by Kristian Høgsberg [...] the software's stated goal is "every frame is perfect, by which I mean that applications will be able to control the rendering enough that we'll never see tearing, lag, redrawing or flicker"" (Wikipedia)

    Here is the website [] and the wikipedia entry [].

  • Summary's BOGUS... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:18AM (#34135562)

    Uh... Guys... Wayland doesn't preclude X11. Think of X11 as a two part system. One's the rendering and compositing layer and the other is the network transport layer that makes it network transparent. Wayland's the driver backend guts. They've shown MULTIPLE X11 desktops being ran on top of Wayland.

    This isn't the thing that many make it out to be. SERIOUSLY.

  • by Scyth3 ( 988321 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:18AM (#34135566)
    They're slowing transitioning away from X to Wayland. They're not straight up "dumping" X. It'll be there for quite a few releases. []
  • Breathe Deep... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gti_guy ( 875684 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:23AM (#34135640)
    Calm down people. This isn't any different than Mac OS X using Cocoa for the desktop display and still having X11 available to run as another app. And yes (if you've never tried it), X tunneled through ssh works just fine on Mac OS X. It will be the same thing with the next release of Ubuntu. The sky is NOT falling.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:32AM (#34135746)
    1. Linux is not Unix

    2. X is neither part of Unix nor required for it.

    Anything else you'd like to add to this discussion?

  • Correction (Score:4, Informative)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew@ g m a i l . com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:34AM (#34135764) Homepage Journal

    Ubuntu will still ship X. Unity will run on X. No definitive decisions have been made. Shuttleworth is considering a transition to Wayland, which he estimates will be 4 years down the road. He assumes at that time that KDE and Gnome apps should be able to run natively on Wayland at that time, but you can run a rootless X server alongside Wayland either way.

    But it really is more fun to make non-sensical statements, such as suggesting that Gnome and X are intrinsically tied, and that wanting to replace X four years in the future is some massive insult to Gnome.

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:35AM (#34135782)

    I'm getting sick of this crap "journalism". if you want to make a comment, add a comment. Don't add your opinion to the summary. Just report the facts. If you really have to, blog about your opinion and add a link to that blog, stating that it's your opinion.

    You must be new here. The summary of an article is nearly always the *opinion* of whoever submitted it. The "news" part is in the original source to which the link(s) in the summary point (assuming the original source isn't itself just an opinion or troll). The summary IS the "blog" part, and it acts as the root of the entire discussion thread. That's the way it has always worked on this site, and it's not very hard to figure out.

  • by Joehonkie ( 665142 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:39AM (#34135862) Homepage
    Linux is NOT Unix. That's been pretty important since day 1. And Unix doesn't need X, since OSX is Unix (real Unix, not Linux) and only runs X under it's main (non-X) window manager as needed (just as Shuttleworth is talking about doing with Wayland). As a matter of a fact, you can have a Unix or Linux box without any windowing system on it at all! It's amazing, I know, but totally possible.
  • Like Mac OS X (Score:4, Informative)

    by Balthisar ( 649688 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:40AM (#34135868) Homepage

    So, it'll be kind of like running X on my Mac OS X machines. A modern display server, with the ability to run a non-root X on top of it.

  • by Java Pimp ( 98454 ) <> on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:40AM (#34135874) Homepage

    That opinion WAS in TFA... if you had read it...

  • Wayland can host X (Score:5, Informative)

    by sd.fhasldff ( 833645 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:41AM (#34135894)

    Then it's a good thing Wayland can host X. It would require some (reportedly) minor adjustments to X, but it would be transparent to individual applications.

  • by Tharsman ( 1364603 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:46AM (#34135956)

    Although I generally agree with this feeling, if you read TFA, you would find this quote:

    There’s now little reason for these GNOME developers to recommend Ubuntu as an operating system.

    So as you can see, it's not something the summary writter made up, he just pasted something that was already in TFA, with just one word changed by a short phrace to better fit the short summary context: "There's" with "The move means there is"

    If you want to insult the article itself, go for it, but at least in this one case, your insult of the summary is horrendously out of place.

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:46AM (#34135964) Homepage Journal

    You mean like the fact that I need to use the same Cadence you're talking about as part of my day job, as well as a whole host of other X-based VLSI CAD applications. Every now and then I need to work from home, and X lets me do that. To be sure, sometimes I use VNC, but sometimes I run the X tools native on my home system, too. Different tasks call for different approaches.

    Leaving work out of it, sometimes I just like to run some GUI tools on my server, with the display exported back to my desktop. My server doesn't even have an X server installed.

    I strongly suspect that the people who pooh-pooh the networking capabilities of X never got used to using them.

  • by jemtallon ( 1125407 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:47AM (#34135968) Journal
    From the article: "There’s now little reason for these GNOME developers to recommend Ubuntu as an operating system."

    So... slashdot did a good job?
  • by Urban Garlic ( 447282 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:52AM (#34136046)

    I am all in favor of a new and better graphical system, but for the love of God, PLEASE keep network transparency. I want to forward my graphical session to other hosts, and have windows from remote systems show up on (and be managed by) my local display. This is *essential* for some sysadmin tasks I have to do, on a remote system that *has* *no* *graphical* *console*, but for which some of the tools *require* a GUI. At the moment, the saving grace of this system is system is that I can ssh in, forward my X connection, and run GUI software remotely.

    On a related note, I wish to inform the community at large and Ubuntu in particular that not everyone is using a personally-administered workstation with a local file system. Some of us NFS-mount our home directories from a central server, and some of us install software on application servers which are also NFS-mounted. Please take care that "new improved" installers and desktop systems do not break in this environment.

    Thank you.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:54AM (#34136072) Homepage Journal

    OSX isn't Unix. "UNIX certified" is not UNIX.

    UNIX is a registered trademark, and under United States law, the owner of the trademark gets the first crack at establishing a definition. How were you defining UNIX? Derivative work of the Bell Labs source code?

  • by AaxelB ( 1034884 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:04AM (#34136194)

    1. Linux is not Unix
    2. X is neither part of Unix nor required for it.

    Anything else you'd like to add to this discussion?

    Nice troll! You managed to choose a topic that is probably as complex and volatile as Kirk vs. Picard, but yet is not as familiar.

    Nah, it's pretty well known and accepted that Linux is not Unix. Linux is certainly and undeniably Unix-like [], but it's not Unix.

    Not really complex. Not really volatile. Not a troll.

  • Toolkits that wrap X (Score:5, Informative)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:06AM (#34136222) Homepage Journal

    I see plenty of people who depend on X being X, and plenty of people who are being advised to depend on X being X. A move to Wayland will create all kind of confusion for those people

    Applications are typically not coded directly to X11; they're coded to toolkits that wrap X11. GTK+, Qt, and GNUstep could easily be ported to wrap Wayland, just as GTK+ and Qt have been ported to wrap GDI on Windows. In addition, X11 can run on top of Wayland, as one of the articles points out, much like X11 on Mac OS X runs on top of Quartz.

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:07AM (#34136252) Homepage Journal

    Having had a look at the Wayland site, I'd say you could do the same thing with the Wayland architecture if you really wanted to. These days considering even mobile phones can run full featured web browsers, I don't think it's much of a selling point though. It is nice from a security standpoint, but soon enough it will probably be feasible to run browsers in a virtual machine on your phone if you really want that level of security! :p

  • Re:X11 (Score:4, Informative)

    by 3.1415926535 ( 243140 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:09AM (#34136278) *is* X11. I think you meant XFree86 (which is also X11, by the way). That issue was political squabbling and an argument over whether or not forks are bad for open source projects. This is something entirely different.

  • by Zo0ok ( 209803 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:12AM (#34136320) Homepage

    Exactly... writing a simple application for X was arcane when I did it almost 10 years ago. Nobody really writes applications for X anymore - they write them for GTK, KDE.

  • by Narishma ( 822073 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:19AM (#34136426)

    Not to mention that the title is incorrect. They are not replacing X with Unity but with Wayland. Unity is just another desktop like Gnome and KDE.

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:20AM (#34136438)

    For anyone who is interested, here is what Mark Shuttleworth actually said: [] . In his post he gives his reasoning and alternatives they looked at. Seems pretty well thought out. Ubuntu always gets slapped about not giving back to the community. Well, here they are announcing they are giving back and they still get slapped. It seems as if they are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

  • by abigor ( 540274 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:25AM (#34136516)

    Sun shipped with NeWS. NeXT shipped with Display Postscript. SGI shipped with MEX and later 4Sight. I guess none of these were "proper" Unixes in your godlike eyes - someone better alert The Open Group.

    Wayland reuses X's drivers. It can also host X with a negligible performance loss.

    All in all, this is a great thing for desktop Linux, which needs all the help it can get. With commercial vendors rallying around Qt, which already has good Wayland support, the future looks hopeful.

    Are you some kind of junior sysadmin? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  • by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:43AM (#34136796) Journal

    I don't know a single person, not one, who makes his OS choice based on what "gnome developers" recommend. Why was this bit even added to the summary?

    Because it was in the article and summaries have become nothing more than cut and paste jobs. There isn't any actual summarizing any more.

  • by jelle ( 14827 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:46AM (#34136870) Homepage
    It doesn't have to be limited to only local use. It's an api, which means somebody can make an implementation that forwards the api calls into some kind of rpc calls (or work on a higher level with all sorts of roundtrip and bandwidth optimization), allowing networked use. Even the drm api can be implemented as a virtual graphics device with a network backend, but that's probably not even necessary because from the architecture pictures I don't see a reason why the compositor wouldn't be able to support a network environment. It would need a local compositor and a remote compositor that know how to talk to each other (and with each some significant code to 'hide' the network), but it would be transparent to the local application. As long as the wayland protocol allows multiple wayland compositors to operate concurrently on a system (where the client apps run), and if it lets a wayland client choose the compositor to use (with some type of access protection in there), it should be possible to implement transparent networked displaying.

    Maybe it will make the networked displaying more complex than a tcp connection from the X client library to the X server, but it's certainly not impossible. The X protocol isn't ideal for all networked use (anymore) either, because it's so sensitive to network latency and it doesn't help in any significant way to be bandwidth efficient, especially with the increasing amount of client-side rendering and 3d stuff that is happening these days (and not all X protocol features work on a remote connection (for example (and afaik): xrandr, dri, etc). Perhaps a good networked remote display protocol that optimizes and compresses all that when/where necessary will work equally as well (with as much complexity) in the wayland framework as it will in the xorg framework.

    So perhaps in order to support modern displays and diverse networks, remote display has to get a little more complex than a simple remote X display anyway. I don't wayland is going to make that much different.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:00PM (#34137136)

    Hope they have a good time reinventing all the network transparency and other features

    They won't. Wayland is intimately tied to the Linux DRI model and makes no attempt at cross-platform compatibility or other X features.

    The idea behind Wayland, for as far as I have understood, is to offer a framebuffer-style (OpenGL) surface for applications to draw on. That's it. There are no intermediate layers, and no abstraction: the application (toolkit) must have an OpenGL backend or it won't work. I believe clutter and Cairo already have an OpenGL backend, not sure about GTK/Qt.

    Backwards compatibility is achieved by (optionally) running X(server) as a sub-process of Wayland. I'm actually quite positive about this development: it's not an X replacement, but an encapsulation. It will be interesting to see how it develops. Personally, I think this will remain limited to a handful of applications (WM, decorator, configuration), at least that's how I'd like it to be. As long as there's no inherent slowdown for X apps, I fail to see the downside.

  • by epo001 ( 558061 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:01PM (#34137146)

    I don't know a single person, not one, who makes his OS choice based on what "gnome developers" recommend. Why was this bit even added to the summary?

    It wasn't "added" it is a direct quote from TFA, the correct question would be why was this quoted?

  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:23PM (#34138612) Homepage

    Holistically speaking, Citrix et al completely eclipsed X in terms of network-retargetable display a long time ago and for those times when you want to run an app remotely but don't want to lose the app if your connection dies (which is pretty much all the time) you end up running X over VNC anyway.

    Well, smart people run X over NX, which provides wicked performance far eclipsing VNC, integrated encryption (it uses SSH, but it's part of the standard tool), detachable sessions, etc, etc. And that performance is specifically a consequence of NX proxying the X protocol. You'd never be able to achieve that kind of performance using a simple framebuffer-based remote display technology.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:30PM (#34138730) Journal

    Okay, so not a perfect analogy, but you get the point. VNC/RDP can't forward just a remote application, they have to bring the whole desktop.

    RDP can perfectly well forward individual windows, which, from user's perspective, is the same thing. That's how RemoteApp and XP Mode desktop integration work in Windows 7.

    They can't integrate cut and paste as seamlessly as forwarded X.

    Why not? Cut-n-paste works just fine for me in RDP in Windows. Heck, it actually lets me copy a file in a file manager in the guest, and paste it in the host - and it gets copied.

    They don't allow your local window manager to choose where things are placed, how they're moved, etc.

    That one is true, but is it really a major feature that can justify the flaws that come with X approach to remoting?

  • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:06PM (#34140190) Homepage

    GTK is using Cairo.

  • Re:Wayland... (Score:4, Informative)

    by maugle ( 1369813 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:31PM (#34140556)
    "Interesting", thinks Shuttleworth,
    "Will devote resources to the project, hopefully shift to using it in a year, but will focus on maintaining compatibility with X applications", says Shuttleworth on his blog,
    "OMG, UBUNTU DUMPS X!!!", reports Slashdot.
  • by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:11PM (#34141158) Homepage Journal

    Is "Wayland" a replacement for X Windows?

    Basically, yes. The X Window System is a very old architecture by computing standards. It has served us well and I am not entirely comfortable with dismissing it... but the basic difference in approach here is that "Wayland" is strictly a local-display implementation, where X is built from the ground up to be network-transparent, with local-display enhancements added via extensions. The idea behind ditching network-transparency is to optimize graphics performance, making applications running on the local machine perform and behave better (i.e. giving video players the control they need to be able to synchronize video frames with the monitor's vertical blanking).

    If so, does that also make it a replacement for the KDE and GNOME or do those two things sit on top of X windows?

    The latter. Both KDE and GNOME can work directly on Wayland, I believe, if compiled for that.

    What is Unity and how does it relate to GNOME or the KDE?

    As I understand it, Unity is a window manager/desktop environment on which other applications can run. So it's like GNOME or KDE in that regard, but the GNOME and KDE projects themselves include a bunch of applications which could be run within the Unity environment... So they're not mutually exclusive things.

    Is Ubuntu moving to these technologies because they use less resources are faster and will allow Ubuntu to work better on devices other than PCs?

    Well, I think "less resources and faster" is basically what they're after with Wayland. A lot of what's included in X just isn't necessary or useful for modern applications. A lot of the things people are doing with slick GUI transitions and the like really aren't compatible with X's network transparency anyway.

    With Unity I guess they're just trying to build a better GUI. Among other things it's supposed to be good for use on touchscreens (meaning, for instance, items on-screen have to be big enough to tap accurately with a finger...)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:13PM (#34143552)

    You may want to try ssh -Y these days.

The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad