Friday, 14 June 2013

non-Unity flavours and Mir

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?


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