non-Unity flavours and Mir

Scott Kitterman ubuntu at
Fri Jun 14 15:04:49 UTC 2013

On Friday, June 14, 2013 03:54:32 PM Jonathan Riddell wrote:
> Here's a discussion I half started as part of vUDS.
> The switch to Mir in Ubuntu seems pretty risky for the existance of
> Kubuntu, I wonder if other flavours have the same probable problem.
> KWin dev has opinions on the subject
> From the
> architecture section on that blog post:
>  "Mir’s architecture is centered around Unity. It is difficult to really
>  understand the architecture of Mir as the specification is so full of
>  buzz-words that I don’t understand it [5]. From all I can see and
>  understand Unity Next is a combination of window manager and desktop
>  shell implemented on top of Mir. How exactly this is going to look
>  like I do not know. Anyway it does not fit our design of having
>  desktop shell and window manager separated and we do not know whether
>  Mir would support that. We also do not know whether Mir would allow
>  any other desktop shell except Unity Next, given that this is the main
>  target. Wayland on the other hand is designed to have more than one
>  compositor implementations. Using KWin as a session compositor is an
>  example in the spec."
> and on protocol
>  "But it gets worse, the protocol between Mir server and Mir clients
>  is defined as not being stable. In fact it’s promised that it will
>  break. That’s a huge problem, I would even call it a showstopper....
>  Given that the protocol may change any time and given that the whole
>  thing is developed for the needs of Unity we have to expect that the
>  server libraries are not binary compatible or that old version of the
>  server libraries cannot talk with the latest client libraries"
> Canonical was going to port LightDM to Wayland but now does not plan
> to so someone else would have to do this.  KDE might be interested
> but more likely will switch to SDDM.
> For Kubuntu the options are:
> - Use Mir - infeasable as upstream can't support it as described above
> - Use Wayland with packages from Debian and hope we can make those packages
>   live with Mir as best as possible
> - End of Kubuntu
> The second options is the one I'm expecting.  It's completely unknown
> how much it means Kubuntu and other flavours will need to maintain X
> and Wayland packages, hopefully not much (it's hardly our speciality)
> and hopefully Debian and Ubuntu Desktop will support it enough.
> I don't think there's a public timeline for Mir so we don't know when
> this will hit us, presumably in the next year.
> Other flavours I think are this:
> Mythbuntu: not evaluated, hope to do so once NVideo and AMD provide drivers
> Lubuntu: not evaluated, hope to use X and GTK
> ubuntustudio: I've heard both that they use xfce based on xubuntu and
> will follow them, and "aiming for users to choose whatever desktop
> environment they want"
> Any other flavours got an opinions?
> Are there any misconceptions I have in the above?

Given that mesa is going to be heavily patched to support Mir, I question the 
long term feasibility of supporting Wayland in Ubuntu.

Scott K

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