Mixed Reactions On Mir, Upstream Developers Not Happy With It

A few hours after Canonical announced Mir, a new display server that is not derived from X or Wayland, we saw mixed reactions from developers and users. While it seems that some upstream Wayland and X developers are not at all happy with Canonical taking such a decision, some users are excited and expect a faster and snappier desktop out of box, tightly integrated with Unity.

The main cause of developers getting upset is because Mir will be mostly developed by Canonical developers behind the closed doors with little or no community participation. Also, this will lead to further fragmentation of the Linux desktop and make it hard for everyone to support their apps on every hardware, something which Linux can boast of. A display server is dependent on hardware drivers (which have always been a hiccup for Linux), and it means more work for folks working at AMD, Intel and NVIDIA. Till date, the development of all this drivers have been made keeping the X and Wayland in mind, and a new display server from scratch means a lot of rework to be done to support it on hardware.

Canonical’s main reason for dumping Wayland is because it suffers from multiple problems like:

  • The input event handling partly recreates the X semantics and is thus likely to expose similar problems to the ones we described in the introductory section.
  • The shell integration parts of the protocol are considered privileged from our perspective and we’d rather avoid having any sort of shell behavior defined in the protocol.

However, Daniel Stone, lead X.Org developer has a opinion that Canonical’s observations are wrong:

The best part is that the input bit of the rationale is totally wrong: there’s no way for clients to get another client’s input, short of mapping a full-screen transparent window and convincing the compositor to not decorate it.

David Airlie, X.Org contributor further added:

they barely have anyone competent enough to write a display server, the fact that they are actually quite ignorant of how wayland works makes it even more apparent.”

Red Hat developer Lennart Poettering said:

I am sure ‘Mir’ is going to be a project with a fantastic future, just like bazaar, or Upstart, or Project Harmony before it. Isn’t Mir this thing that burnt and crashed into the South Pacific Ocean near Fiji on 23rd March, 2001, after some dudes in Russia flipped a switch after they gave it up? This must be metaphor for something, haven’t figured out for what yet, though, must be something deeper than ‘This software includes a space toilet and Canonical will give it up one day, when it will burn and crash and then we’ll be in a south pacific paradise setting.’

Though this may seem surprising to some, it can be noted that its nothing new.