Monday, 17 June 2013

Re: non-Unity flavours and Mir

Hi Matthias,

On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM, Matthias Klumpp <> wrote:
2013/6/18 Jono Bacon <>:
> I see this as a trade-off.
Fair point. But you can not expect KDE or GNOME to suddenly jump on
the Mir train. Supporting a new display server is pretty damn hard, it
took a lot of time to
clean up all the code to abstract X dependencies and make the switch
to a non-X displayserver possible. But after that is done, maintaining
a new display server backend is still not easy. And KDE and GNOME have
already put lots of work into Wayland porting, so why should everyone
now switch to Mir, a newly created project without stable API/ABI and
no obvious benefits except for Ubuntu support?
So, investing time into writing code for Mir makes no sense at all
from this point of view. There is still the option that Canonical
contributes code for Mir to e.g. KWin. Adding Mir support to KWin in
addition to Wayland would still be tricky, and doing it right be a lot
of work. Also, it would make code maintenance more complicated, so it
is understandable that upstream would reject the patches (similar
policy is applied for systemd to keep the codebase clean), as well as
I don't see Canonical writing patches for KWin/KDE - it just doesn't
make sense for the company to invest money into something which isn't
their primary product.
So I am afraid that this situation cannot be easily solved, and that
"you don't contribute to my project" accusations from any side will
not help solving it too.

I completely understand Jonathan and Scott's perspective - if Wayland has already been decided as the primary display server for those projects and work has already been invested, I entirely understand why there would be less interest in Mir. I also appreciate that maintaining a Mir backend is a lot of work.

My primary point was in response to "Canonical declines to work with the rest of the free software community"; I think this is an example of us being very eager and open to engage with upstream. I think we are doing the best we can, but entirely understand if upstream are uninterested in investing their time in Mir.

> Jonathan raised a valid point about KDE's needs and made it clear that the
> Kubuntu team would prefer not to have to maintain Wayland as a foundational
> piece in order to deliver Kubuntu. Obviously this work can be performed by
> the Kubuntu team (or anyone else) if they wish to do so; the archive
> welcomes components that don't serve Canonical's needs.
> Canonical will of course be maintaining Mir as a core piece of
> infrastructure in the archive, and arguably encouraging Mir support in
> upstream KDE will help to alleviate this issue, but given that the Mir team
> are very open to supporting this outcome but both yourself and Jonathan are
> resistant to this, I am not sure what other options there are.
It is not about people being resistant. It is simple technical reasons
which make it difficult to resolve this situation.
In future, GNOME and KDE will share Wayland as display server, and
Ubuntu/Unity will have Mir, effectively breaking the infrastructure
unity we had between desktops apart.
From the current Mir specs, I also fear that replacing mir will be
easily possible (it is started at early boot and many things are
planned to connect to it as soon as possible - and Canonical would
have to think about a non-Mir situation when designing that
infrastructure - not sure if that will be done) But that's a different

I understand the perspective that Mir can be seen as fragmenting the eco-system, but people make the same arguments at KDE and GNOME (and of course Unity), which are also infrastructure pieces. Sometimes a little choice can be a good thing; I am sure that Mir has already triggered some even more fervent Wayland development. :-)

Jono Bacon
Ubuntu Community Manager /