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Ubuntu GUI Graphics X Linux

Mir Won't Ship Even In Ubuntu 14.04 111

jones_supa writes "As can be recalled, Mir didn't make it to the Ubuntu 13.10 release to replace X.org as the display server. Back then it suffered of problems in multi-monitor support, along with other issues. Now it turns out that Canonical's product will not make it even into the next LTS version (14.04) of the Ubuntu desktop. Mir itself would be ready for showtime in the schedule, but there are problems with XMir, which is the X11 compatibility layer that ensures Mir can work with applications built for X. The comments came at the Ubuntu Developer Summit: in an online event Mark Shuttleworth stressed that the 14.04 desktop has to be rock-solid for customers with large-scale deployments, such as educational institutions. In the meantime, you can already try out Mir in your Ubuntu system."
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Mir Won't Ship Even In Ubuntu 14.04

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  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by ifiwereasculptor ( 1870574 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:08AM (#45472583)

    I think Mir might eventually replace X. It's already been replacing Hurd for quite some time.

    • Maybe on Ubuntu, but I don't know of any other distribution that is looking into replacing X with it. Most of them seam to be interested in Wayland instead.

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:14AM (#45472675) Homepage

      I honestly don't care what they use.

      The fact is, if I can program against the X libraries, and load up that have been programmed against the X libraries, and distribute programs that have been programmed against the X libraries, it needs to all "just work". And it needs to work as good as, or better than, X itself.

      When you have that, it pretty much doesn't matter what faddy crap is underneath.

      It's like if they replace ext2 with ext3, or ext3 with ext4. I don't care so long as I have tools to read the data, it works as a filesystem, and it has no downsides compared to the previous version. What my filesystem actually *is* is irrelevant so long as it works. What my display manager actually is is irrelevant so long as it works. And in the case of an X-compatible display manager, it has to work like X in all cases without me needing to make changes to my software.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I'm actually beginning to wonder if Canonical isn't noticing a trend of users switching from Unity to other desktops, and if this is a way of combating that. If Unity is the only major desktop using Mir as opposed to X or Wayland, than it's probably going to be more of a pain to switch desktops, and that software written for Ubuntu might not be as portable across different Linux desktop environments.
        • They'd have to find a way to lock the toolkits to Mir, which is unlikely. Both GTK and Qt already have Wayland backends, which mean that anything using them should be able to function on Wayland or Mir seamlessly- assuming Mir doesn't require application-level awareness to operate. Hell anything using X11 as its graphical backend should still function.

          • GTK won't accept a Mir back-end.
            • Right, and I suspect that Qt won't either. Thus the increased burden on Canonical to keep all of it going, and why I don't believe it's likely that Mir could be used as a point for lock-in.

      • The point is really more that they're so NIH that they want to provide their own solution, wasting time instead of contributing to Wayland or X.org. Programmer time is a limited resource, and the two things open source projects generally lack the most is project management and programmer time. They're so starved for programmer time that even highly mismanaged projects that waste their time would benefit more from 30 or 40 additional 10-20 hour per week programmers than from fixing their planning issues.

        • I'm just waiting for when Canonical announces their own kernel.
          • Unless they take up porting Linux features as Minix 3 services, I'll have the same answer: what the fuck is the point? We have FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Darwin, and Hurd; Minix 3 is the most ambitious and disruptive direction to go, providing a lot of potential. Porting kernel events for udev and systemd and such onto it, as well as the Linux file systems (ext2/3/4, btrfs, xfs, jfs) and disk layouts (GPT, MBR extended partitions) and some drivers onto it would be interesting.

            But yeah, it'll probably be "we wr

          • I'm just waiting for when Canonical announces their own kernel.

            They probably would not have enough resources to maintain an own kernel. Even currently Linux in Ubuntu is very close to mainline.

            IMO they would need to hire more devs and QA people just to make the current OS nice. Bugs are piling into Launchpad with many of them just receiving a snarky reply of "Have you tried if this problem has been fixed in the latest development version of Ubuntu?"

        • NIH ... wasting time instead of contributing to Wayland

          Hang on - you are complaining about "not invented here" and are saying they should be onboard with Wayland? Would Wayland even let them in? NIH is the entire point behind Wayland - instead of improving X they wanted their own thing (which is starting to get as bulky as the X they wanted to replace because it was bulky).

          • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )
            Considering a lot of the people working on Wayland are those that worked on X, I don't think NIH applies.
            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              Interesting myth but still a myth. Track it back and you'll find it has no substance other than Kieth Packard wishing them good luck and one guy that worked briefly on one module starting Wayland.
          • Wayland is "X is deficient, it's not good enough, and efforts to improve it have been clunky hacks. To actually improve, much of it must be rewritten. Let's just write a new one."

            Mir is "Oh, shit, they're writing a new X? Uh, it's ... not ours. We're going to do it too! We'll make OUR OWN NEW X, that we can ship with OUR system, and it'll be OURS because WE WROTE IT because WE DON'T WANT YOUR JUNK!"

            Wayland doesn't have a distribution. They're not RedHat or SuSE. The people writing it are just tr

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              After reading a bit of stuff from the Wayland guys I'd say the viewpoint isn't quite this:

              X is deficient, it's not good enough, and efforts to improve it have been clunky hacks

              But instead more like "X is made of lots of clunky little bits - let's make something monolithic instead". As the Wayland project has progressed it's become more functional but to do that it's become less monolithic and to actually work it has had to take on the characteristics that the loudest fanboys have dismissed as being flaws o

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Ah, the eternal war:
        User A: The old works for me and I don't care about your "faddy crap"
        User B: The new works much better for me and I don't care about your "legacy crap"

        Heck, I'm probably both A and B depending on whose side I want to be on. Kill IE6 with fire so we don't have to support that old shit, I don't care about your legacy enterprise intraweb crapware. Noooo don't take away my menus and replace it with a ribbon, I want it just the way it was. It really comes down to if you think the change is fo

        • Those two problems are quite distinct. Menu->Ribbon is a transition from power user focus to broader usability. If you're a power user who likes quick access to known items, a menu is faster and more powerful. If you're baffled by what everything means on this big, complicated piece of software, a ribbon lets you look around for the icon that "looks right"(but it takes up more screen real estate, frequently requires digging or modification for highly situational tools, and is visually cluttered).

          Not a

          • Not all usability improvements apply to all users, and being annoyed that a developer focuses some other class of users besides yourself is ok.

            If only there was some way that you could choose which style of interface you want, or even flip between them. That'd just be dreamy!

      • by Mashdar ( 876825 )

        Off topic, but that journaling feature sure helps a file system "just work" sometimes :)

        That said, I'm not sure I could figure out how to open a notepad in Ubuntu, let alone a whole journal! (Finding your tools without learning some crazy interface is not "just working" by most definitiions. Learning a novel interface takes way longer than googling a driver issue. And they will probably "innovate" some more soon.)

  • Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Taken on its own, it does make sense. LTS needs to be usable (technically, inb4 "unity") on the widest practical range of hardware and be supported for 3 years. If Mir needs to be delayed so X applications can run on 14.04, so be it.

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Michael Casavant ( 2876793 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:18AM (#45472707)
      Supported for 5 years, not 3. But your point is valid. Mir can be rolled out in 14.10 (the next non-LTS release) and have a year and half of testing before the next LTS.
    • by kick6 ( 1081615 )

      Taken on its own, it does make sense. LTS needs to be usable (technically, inb4 "unity") on the widest practical range of hardware and be supported for 3 years. If Mir needs to be delayed so X applications can run on 14.04, so be it.

      I see it this way too. It's not, necessarily, an indictment of Mir. It might just be that, unlike some major OS vendors, canonical is taking a more measured approach than to push features that don't work into software they're going to have to support long term.

    • Ubuntu LTS releases are now supported for five years [wikipedia.org] even on the desktop since 12.04
  • No kidding? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m2 ( 5408 ) <slashdot.org@spa m . k s u b.org> on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:35AM (#45472865) Homepage Journal

    You have the hubris to say that you are going to fix everything that is wrong with X11 / X.org AND also provide a compatibility layer on top of your new shiny solution to support running the programs that still use the thing you are claiming to fix ... and now you are surprised because getting said compatibility layer right turned out to be thornier than you had expected?

    Several years ago I wrote a transport mechanism on top of VNC that allowed you to access high end graphics services (read OpenGL) from devices without any hardware acceleration to speak of (back then it was an ipaq). I did the initial implementation in one evening, which worked for 80% of the use cases. Together with another developer, it took us probably a month to get it to 90%. A third party worked for half a year to get it to 95%. Several years later it was up to 98%... maybe.

    Whenever you try to pull this kind of stunt off, you are going to run into the same situation. Most of the stuff that you are interested in is easy. Then there's the stuff that makes "creative" uses of existing APIs. And then there's the stuff that works because of, not despite of, existing implementation bugs. And then you run into the really weird...

    • by malloc ( 30902 )

      Several years ago I wrote a transport mechanism on top of VNC that allowed you to access high end graphics services (read OpenGL) from devices without any hardware acceleration to speak of

      What was this project called? The functionality sounds very similar to VirtualGL, but the history sounds like a different project.

    • This is exactly how and why Microsoft makes billions of dollars every year - providing some measure of progress combined with decade-long stability requires, literally, an army of thousands of people to pull off.

      But I don't understand your attitude about it. What they're trying to do is difficult, could potentially benefit everybody, and they are paying for it. If that is "hubris" then hubris is not always bad.

    • Thing is, 98% of users don't need 98% of X (made these numbers up obviously). All the Qt and GTK apps that don't use X toolkits directly, for example, could be made to work by making Qt or GTK work. That's the bulk of the software that users are actually using. Canonical is already working on doing this for Qt. Much of what X does is no longer even used. You don't have to do everything it does to satisfy most users.

      What I'll never get is how Windows is the only place I can get an X server completely separat

      • "Canonical is already working on doing this for Qt." -are you sure about this? i thought they ditched anything to do with QT
        • by Desler ( 1608317 )

          Qt is what they are using for mobile and "Unity Next".

        • "Canonical is already working on doing this for Qt." -are you sure about this? i thought they ditched anything to do with QT

          Unity is planned to be completely Qt-based in future.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        Much of what X does is no longer even used

        It's very much a perception problem. Much of what the Wayland people insist is no longer even used in X because it is too fucking hard for them to do themselves is the entire reason other people are using X.
        For example running applications remotely - that's just about the only reason you see linux or other *nix desktops in corporate offices. VNC being 1 to 1 instead of many to one is almost entirely useless in that situation as you see people running applications

        • Thing is, again, vnc covers most use cases. Also, there's no reason you couldn't have a single-window vnc-like tool. And the thing about X is that cruft maintenance has a cost. You're just pushing that maintenance cost off on the rest of us as an externality, sort of like burning fossil fuels — the legacy will be with us for years because cruft begets cruft.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            I'm sick of people that do not read before they reply (I addressed exactly why vnc doesn't cover any of those use cases) and then add stupid analogies on top. Please refer to my reply to another of your posts Drinkypoo on applied science about operating beyond your depth, although the waters are somewhat shallower here so you may be able to manage a dog paddle if you actually try to read other people's posts.
            • No, no you didn't address why vnc doesn't cover those use cases. You made some excuses, but it works fine in most of them, or is almost adequate. I've been running X remotely since before vnc existed. You have no idea whatsoever what I've done, and I have plenty of perspective on the way X remoting is used. Further, I read your shitty comment, and I thought it was stupid but I chose to ignore the parts I thought were stupid and simply write a simpler comment that explained precisely what the problem was. Bu

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                You ignored my example as if you did not read it. Thank you for addressing it now but I do not see your solution as viable, however I am glad that you have had the decency to at least consider it at this time. It's a very "clunky" idea that you are putting forward instead of the current application centred one, just the sort of "clunky" thing that X is being criticised for due to it's modular not monolithic structure.

                Anyway, my point is that there are things like the above which are the entire reason som
              • My point is that some stuff in X, most notably the remote stuff, is seen as utterly beneath Wayland's notice at this point with no plan to implement such features.
                Your suggestions of workarounds, viable or not, doesn't change that.
                Did I state that clearly enough this time without the complication of an example to argue over?
  • by Laxori666 ( 748529 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @01:04PM (#45473675) Homepage
    Why are people still struggling with this? I mean, why is it so technically challenging? It's a simple concept and it's been around for years...
  • I don't have an opinion about Mir and I don't want to express my opinions about last Canonical moves here. What I want to say is that it would be Canonical interest to delay LTS to not risk Mir to become marginal in the years to follow. There would be nothing bad about this move: people that like to stay cut-edge will enjoy a regular 14.04 release. People that need stability will just keep 12.04 another six months.
  • Well, guys. As Mir can now be relatively easily installed [ubuntu.com], I'd like to hear comments about your experience with it.
    • I installed it, ran the server (which gave me only 1024x768 on my 1680x1050 monitor) and the demos. My monitor doesn't return a valid EDID - no problem with X, I just create xorg.conf with an appropriate modeline, and I'm good to go. The demos, such as they are, appear to run properly without crashing, but I want to write my graphical apps in Python, rather than C++. Bottom line - I won't be switching to Mir in the immediate future.
    • It runs flawlessly on my pure i7 Quad Ubuntu 13.10 box (Intel grapics - all FOSS) single monitor. It runs flawlessly on my shitty Atom netbook (intel graphics) on the built-in screen, but I had to switch back to X to get it working properly with an external monitor.
  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:31PM (#45475645) Homepage

    This might pretty much kill Mir. By the time is released Wayland will likely have taken over and even if Mir is better it will be a case of "too little, too late".

  • What problem is solved by Mir, after all? I understand X11 is a bloated API, but it works, doesn't it?

VMS must die!