taking Unity to the next level

Scott Kitterman ubuntu at kitterman.com
Mon Mar 4 20:35:21 UTC 2013

On Monday, March 04, 2013 11:45:57 AM Bryce Harrington wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 04, 2013 at 01:39:36PM -0500, Scott Kitterman wrote:
> > On Monday, March 04, 2013 05:46:54 PM Oliver Ries wrote:
> > > Hi,
> > > 
> > > I wanted to give you a quick heads up regarding Unity in preparation of
> > > this weeks UDS.
> > > 
> > > The traction that Ubuntu Touch is creating is great and the team is
> > > happy with where this is leading us. However, in order to implement the
> > > vision of converged devices, some changes to our Display Stack are
> > > necessary.
> > > 
> > > After thorough research, looking at existing options and weighing in
> > > costs & benefits we have decided to roll our own Display Server, Mir
> > > (rf. http://wiki.ubuntu.com/MirSpec).
> > > 
> > > None of the existing solutions would allow us to implement our vision
> > > without taking major compromises which would come at the cost of user
> > > experience and quality. We will be running sessions at UDS to discuss
> > > questions and take feedback.
> > > 
> > > Also, driven by Ubuntu Touch we are starting to move Unity over to a
> > > Qt/QML based implementation, embracing Qt as a community backed
> > > technology for our offerings. We are looking at tackling the transition
> > > from the Nux based implementation to a Qt/QML based implementation
> > > component by component and are striving to do that in a transparent way
> > > for the user. This topic is also up for discussion at UDS and we are
> > > providing a spec at http://wiki.ubuntu.com/UnityNextSpec.
> > > 
> > > I am providing more context about these topics at
> > > http://www.olli-ries.com/mir-unity-qml-unity-apis-unity .
> > > 
> > > Please feel free to reach out to us during UDS and later on to discuss
> > > any questions.
> > 
> > Does that mean that after next  April, the X stack and Wayland will no
> > longer be maintained by Canonical, so that flavors that are using a
> > standard display stack are on their own?
> Wayland is not maintained by Canonical currently.  We do package it, as
> it's required by mesa and some other projects, and that'll likely
> continue as is.  Ideally we just sync it from Debian.
> The X.org stack itself will probably be around for a good long while,
> since legacy apps will need it for their rootless X sessions, and for
> cases where Mir doesn't work right.  Our level of maintenance efforts
> there will probably taper off over time in favor of Mir, though, maybe
> to the point we're just syncing from Debian.  So yes for flavors staying
> on X.org bases may need to be more involved in tending to their
> foundation, but you'll likely always have the Debian base to build from
> which I expect should be solid for as long as X11 remains relevant.

Wayland was relevant because up until now, that had been the thing after X 
windows for Canonical.  It's an established FOSS project with broad interest.  
If Canonical had at some point switched it's primary focus to Wayland, then it 
would have been ~easy for other desktop environments where it was supported to 
switch (KDE upstream - specifically Kwin - is supporting this).

Now that this isn't the plan, we're kind of stuck as at best second class 
citizens in the long run.  Also, one of the advantages that being part of 
Ubuntu brings to other flavors like Kubuntu is the support of new hardware due 
to Canonical's hardware enablement work.  Sync'ing from Debian loses us that.

Projecting out a year or two, I'm personally starting to run short of reasons 
why a non-Unity desktop flavor of Ubuntu makes sense as a value proposition.  I 
can probably build a current KDE + Debian Wheezy derivative with less work 
than it'll take to continue to maintain anything similar withing Ubuntu.

Scott K

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