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Preview of Ubuntu's Unity Interface 382

itwbennett writes "In late October we learned that starting with the next release (11.04), Ubuntu would use Unity instead of GNOME as its default desktop interface. Now we know a bit more about what that will (and won't) mean for users. The move to Unity doesn't mean that Ubuntu is abandoning GNOME. It also doesn't mean that users will be forced to use Unity; they'll still be able to revert to the old GNOME interface. What it does mean, mainly, is that users will be presented with a simple interface — probably too simple for nuts and bolts types. The more 'radical shift' will be switching Ubuntu's base graphics system from the X Window System to Wayland. There users can expect that it will take some time before things are in working order. 'In other words,' says Steven Vaughan-Nichols who reviewed Unity for ITworld, 'Wayland will be an option, and one that only people who don't mind having their desktops blow up on a regular basis should fool with, in Ubuntu 11.04. By Ubuntu 11.10, it will be workable, and come the spring release two years from now, Ubuntu 12.04, we should, if all goes well, see a stable Wayland-based Unity desktop.'"
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Preview of Ubuntu's Unity Interface

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  • by abigor ( 540274 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @01:48PM (#34419894)

    If "weird" includes Ubuntu's adoption of Wayland, I have bad news: Fedora is also dumping X for Wayland (eventually).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, 2010 @01:50PM (#34419934)

  • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:15PM (#34420368) Journal

    There's not a whole lot of "tweaking" involved in right clicking a bar, unlocking it, and dragging it to the bottom of the screen. You also don't have to do it every time you reboot, so it's a one time "fix."

    Heck, I drag my Windows taskbar at work up to the top... (that's less mousing around from file menus to window titles. I never understood having the task bar on the bottom of the screen in Windows or Linux. I usually remove the bar at the bottom of Ubuntu and put the Window manager in the top bar.) It's also a lot easier to edit layouts in Linux than making edits to some of the other Windows 7 interface choices that require digging into the registry (like removing the search, "command bar," and tweaking window borders.)

  • by Ynot_82 ( 1023749 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:24PM (#34420504)

    From the Wayland FAQ []

    Is Wayland network transparent / does it support remote rendering?

    No, that is outside the scope of Wayland. To support remote rendering you need to define a rendering API, which is something I've been very careful to avoid doing. The reason Wayland is so simple and feasible at all is that I'm sidestepping this big task and pushing it to the clients. It's an interesting challenge, a very big task and it's hard to get right, but essentially orthogonal to what Wayland tries to acheive. This doesn't mean that remote rendering won't be possible with Wayland, it just means that you will have to put a remote rendering server on top of Wayland. One such server could be the server, but other options include an RDP server, a VNC server or somebody could even invent their own new remote rendering model. Which is a feature when you think about it; layering on top of Wayland has very little overhead, but the other types of remote rendering servers no longer requires, and experimenting with new protocols is easier.

  • Re:You what? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:27PM (#34420566)

    Apparently you have never tried any other Linux distribution. Ubuntu is by far the least buggy one there is. It's still extremely buggy, but no more so than Windows or OS X.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:44PM (#34420834)

    Apps usually don't talk directly to X11. The GUI toolkit does. If Ubuntu can get QT and GTK+ ported to Wayland (which has already been underway for a while) then most apps are merely a recompile (plus some minor tweaking) away from being native Wayland apps. Kinda like how many GTK+ or QT apps have fully functional windows versions because those toolkits were ported to Windows.

  • by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:45PM (#34420848)
    Not implementing any sort of remote rendering would be suicide. Thankfully, it sounds like something they are going to work on. From the Wikipedia article on Wayland:

    Wayland developers include several lead developers,[9] who feel that a cleaner new design and protocol is more maintainable for the future.[14] One of them has envisaged providing remote access to a Wayland application by either 'pixel-scraping' (as in VNC and SPICE) or getting it to send a "rendering command stream" across the network (like RDP).[15] It is anticipated that X11 applications will be supported by an X server running as an application on Wayland.

    Hopefully they go the RDP-like route, which im my opinion is vastly superior over the way X11 does it.

  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:52PM (#34420950) Homepage

    Are there any Wayland native apps yet?

    There doesn't need to be. Just provide an X server on top of the Wayland graphics engine, and continue to use your old X apps. This allows for an easy transition to Wayland for those apps that would benefit from it.

    Furthermore, if you implement said support down at the toolkit level (ie, Gtk and Qt), the apps needn't even realize they're running over Wayland.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:52PM (#34420952) Journal

    My laptop (Asus P50IJ-X2 w/ WD Scorpio 7200RPM HDD running Lucid 64bit) goes from POST completion to login screen in about 11 seconds, and then once I log in it takes about 4 seconds for a fully loaded desktop.

    When it was running Karmic it took close to 30 seconds to get to the login window.

    To compare to Win7's boot time: My gaming desktop (custom PC...12GB RAM @1Ghz, i7 940 @ 2.9Ghz, 2x 10krpm WD Velociraptors in RAID0 running Win7 Ultimate 64bit) goes from POST completion to login in about 10 seconds, and then takes about 3 seconds to get to a fully loaded desktop.

    So Lucid is not only fast, but if you consider the difference in specs, it looks like it boots faster than Win7.

  • by jekewa ( 751500 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:57PM (#34421002) Homepage Journal

    The desktop sits atop the OS. It's not a different OS, but a different GUI.

    Unlike Windows or Mac, you can actually have several different GUIs installed, and even switch between them at will.

  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @02:58PM (#34421004) Homepage

    Apps usually don't talk directly to X11. The GUI toolkit does. If Ubuntu can get QT and GTK+ ported to Wayland (which has already been underway for a while) then most apps are merely a recompile (plus some minor tweaking) away from being native Wayland apps.

    You don't even need to recompile. Those apps are dynamically linked to their respective toolkit libraries. So long as the libraries maintain ABI compatibility, they can implement a new rendering subsystem, and the apps would never know.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Em Ellel ( 523581 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @03:13PM (#34421224)

    Confusing? X is the server, and handles connections to it telling it what to display. Like httpd (apache) is a server and handles a Web client telling it what Web page to send down the pipe. People weren't confused running the Tetrinet server, seeing the clients connect to them and output images to the screen; but they're confused running the X server, seeing the clients connect?

    It is confusing because while it makes sense from point of view of the X protocol, from the point of view of the user, the "server" appears to be the client and the "client" appears to be the server. If I connect to server and request an image - in the http protocol, I connect to a server(apache), and it shows content on the client(browser). However if I am doing the same thing using X, it appears as if I connect to server(remote system), and request to show an image, and it shows content on client(my display or X-Server). What is actually happening is that the remote server's program is the client that requests to display things on the server - but that is not what the user sees. Thus the confusion of so many people, which is understandable as it is not the most logical thing unless you understand the X protocol.


  • by Bobakitoo ( 1814374 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @03:55PM (#34421756)
    You can run X on top of Wayland. See Wayland as cleaner division of what is in kernel, what is in local user space and what is remote. There is no need to glob all this into a single monolithic X binary. X will work just fine in wayland. It wont change anything except that you wont need to be root to start accepting x11 conection.

    Personaly, i hope remote display is worked inside the ui toolkit instead. I would like something like gtkssh that open a ssh link and pipe thru the widget building command. This will fix the clinet/server relation to what peoples expect. Make it easyer to acess remote apps from many hosts securly. With that, a gtklib with "pipe" backend could be installed on servers. Puling configuration tool gui, directly from the server would make personal home server more accesible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, 2010 @04:28PM (#34422378)

    Ubuntu LTS isn't really all that stable. They recently upgraded the kernel in their so-called LTS and it broke power management on my Mom's laptop. She had no power-off button in the GUI. When I booted the previous kernel, the power-off button reappeared. I didn't think LTS was supposed to get changes that broke things.

  • Re:Wake up (Score:2, Informative)

    by larppaxyz ( 1333319 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @05:07PM (#34422894)
    Actually those old Creative cards are great with linux. Hardware mixing, multichannel (digital and analog) audio and drivers in vanilla kernel all have been working for years. Everything started to fall apart after (K)ubuntu started to use PA. I suddenly had ALSA, PulseAudo and Phonon on my KDE desktop. Nothing was working anymore.
  • Re:No screenshots? (Score:4, Informative)

    by iceaxe ( 18903 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#34423118) Journal

    The image gallery [] is linked right after the first paragraph of the article.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham