Tag Archives: Mir


KDE community refutes Canonical developer’s claim ‘the display server doesn’t matter’

Robert Ancell, a Canonical software engineer, wrote a blog titled ‘Why the display server doesn’t matter‘. He argued that “Display servers are the component in the display stack that seems to hog a lot of the limelight. I think this is a bit of a mistake, as it’s actually probably the least important component, at least to a user.”

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu and Canonical said, “Robert explains why the display server is a piece that matters most in its quality for the platform provider, and least to application developers. It was amazing to me that competitors would take potshots at the fantastic free software work of the Mir team, knowing it really doesn’t affect users at all.”

There has been a lot of discussion going on around the future display server for Linux. It was meant to be Wayland which was being developed as the successor of X, developed by the same experience team. However, despite initial commitment Canonical secretly worked on their own server for over 9 months and then announced it as MIR, which created quite a stir in the community as most community members felt betrayed. There was a heated discussion as Canonical developers posted a lot of wrong information about Wayland when announcing Mir, which further distanced them from the larger open source community which was putting its weight behind Wayland.

The blog post by Robert triggered another set of discussions as KDE developers, who do have long experience with Qt (something Canonical is moving towards for it’s mobile ambitions), have refuted Bob’s claims and said that display server does matter.

Martin Gräßlin, a leading KDE developer who maintains KWin, picks this quote from Robert:

The result of this is the display server doesn’t matter much to applications because we have pretty good toolkits that already hide all this information from us.

Martin says, “Now I don’t know how to put it, the best description is that I’m shocked that Canonical is still not seeing the problems they created by having multiple display servers. I do not know how much experience Robert has with making applications work with multiple display servers, but I at least have this experience as shown in my blog post on making KF5 not crash on Wayland. Granted in this blog post I write that “basically if your application compiles on frameworks it will run on Wayland out of the box”. But that is a strong simplification of the issues which can be present.

Martin wrote a long blog to show why he thinks Robert is wrong about Display server which you can read here.

Another lead KDE developer who leads the development of Plasma Desktop, Aaron Seigo, also refuted Robert’s claims and pointed out how it matters to almost every stock holder — from a user to a developer.

Aaron also raised the problem which the larger Free Software community is trying to fix – reduce duplication of work. He says, “We have been working to resolve unnecessary duplication in the Linux stack for years, and we have had great success in that direction. Sometimes it meant sacrificing things we had developed (anyone still remember aRts? :) but usually it just meant finding common ground and making sensible decisions together from there. The Linux desktop is more consistent and coherent today than it ever has been as a result, from icon themes to clipboards to compatibility between window managers to IPC to application notifications to application launching to multimedia to … we’ve been fixing divergence one piece at a time for over a decade, and every time we’ve done that we have benefited as users and freed up developer resources.”

Canonical showed wisdom recently by dropping its own Upstart and chose systemd which it initially criticized as NIH, invasive and ‘hardly justified’. The Free Software community is expecting that Canonical will show prudence and drop their MIR and adopt Wayland. Canonical has great ambitions with Ubuntu, their struggle is much bigger so it may be wise for them to use limited engineering talent to tackle the issues Ubuntu is facing in desktop and mobile space by using the technologies being develop by the larger Free Software community.

Chrome banner

Chromium ported to Mir display server

Chromium browser has been successfully ported to Mir display server. The chromium build is based on Ozone meta-platform. Apart from normal websites WebGL, Google Maps and Youtube are working in this build. Chromium running on Mir is the first step towards chromium running on Unity 8.

Ozone is an abstraction layer below the Aura window system for low level input and graphics. It allows chromium to be run on alternative display systems like Wayland and Mir. The Wayland Ozone build for chromium was released a while ago. In fact the Ozone Wayland is under works since quite a while. Here is a video showcasing the browser.

Mir is the next generation display server which will replace X display system. It will be available for desktop and mobile installations of Ubuntu. It’s purpose is to enable development of next generation Unity.

Source: Robert Carr


Canonical to show off Mir enabled Ubuntu Touch at MWC

The latest development of Ubuntu for phones and tablets is on show at this year’s Mobile World Congress – including the visually stunning “scopes”, a new mobile UI paradigm” reads a statement from Canonical.

With just a few days left for the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event at Barcelona, Canonical is pulling out all stops to show off Ubuntu Touch to the world.  MWC takes place every year in February and is the world’s largest exhibition and conference congregation for the mobile industry.

Canonical was able to make a good first impression last year when it showed off the Ubuntu Touch concept OS. The Ubuntu maker will be hoping make a similar impression with the device manufacturers and carriers this year. This will be a make or break event for Canonical.

All is not bad for Canonical though, as earlier this week, Canonical announced deals with two mobile device manufacturers who will be shipping Ubuntu Touch in their phones. The partners are Meizu of China and bq of Spain. Looking at the manufacturers, who are midsize players in their respective regions, Ubuntu Touch phones are expected first ship to these regions before it reaches the rest of the world. Starting with the Chinese market may be a good thing as Ubuntu is quite popular in China. With the convergence plan to kick in from October this year, users will easily be able to assiciate with the OS.

Ubuntu Touch has been under heavy development for the past year. Yet, the mobile OS is still unstable and not fit for regular consumption. There is time however, as the stable release is not out until third week of April when Ubuntu 14.04 is released. Ubuntu Touch will feature the much controversial Mir display server and Unity 8 which is specifically designed for the mobile and tablet interface. Canonical is promoting Ubuntu Touch for tablets as well and has gone on record saying that there are big improvements made to the tablet experience especially for the 7″ and 10″ form factors.

There is a hackathon session on writing and integrating HTML5 apps for Ubuntu during the MWC and a Nexus 7 (2013) will be up for grabs for the lucky ones. If you are vising MWC, you can find Ubuntu in the App Planet Hall 8.1, stand 8.1E49.

Source: Ubuntu


Chromium on Wayland

Chromium developers have started working on the alternatives of X11 window systems on Linux such as Wayland.

Tiago Vignatti sent a message to the free desktop mailing list, “Today we are launching publicly Ozone-Wayland, which is the implementation of Chromium’s Ozone for supporting Wayland graphics system. Different projects based on Chromium/Blink like the Chrome browser, ChromeOS, among others can be enabled now using Wayland.”

Google Chromium project pages explains what’s Ozone, “We have recently started adding the Ozone meta-platform to Chromium. Ozone is an abstraction beneath the Aura window system for low level input and graphics. Once complete, the abstraction will support underlying systems ranging from embedded SoC targets to new X11-alternative window systems on Linux such as Wayland or Mir to bring up Aura Chromium without needing additional platform code added to the Chromium source tree.”

Vignatti further wrote, “In particular, we have Chrome Browser and Content Shell enabled and running on Wayland. All the projects are under active development (therefore unstable) but we are hoping to cope with fixes together with the open source community.”


Ubuntu 13.10 will not use XMir by default

Ubuntu 13.10 was expected to use XMir as its display server by default but due to some “outstanding technical difficulties” XMir won’t be used as default in the upcoming release.

Canonical developer Olli Ries wrote on the mailing list:

As many of you will know, the Mir team had two core goals for the Ubuntu 13.10 cycle:

1. Deliver Mir + XMir + Unity 7 on the desktop for those cards that supported it, and fall back to X for those that don’t.
2. Deliver a native Mir + Unity 8 running on Ubuntu Touch images and devices.Unfortunately, due to some outstanding technical difficulties, we can only achieve the latter of these two goals.

While we are on track to successfully deliver Mir for Ubuntu on smartphones, we are unfortunately not going to be able to deliver Mir +
XMir + Unity 7 as the default experience on the desktop.

Mir has made tremendous progress and is currently available on the Ubuntu archive for use, but there are still some outstanding quality issues that we want to resolve before we feel comfortable turning it on by default.

Many of these issues live in the XMir part of the stack, which provides the integration between the X server and the underlying Mir system compositor.

More specifically, the multi-monitor support in XMir is working, but not to the extend we’d like to see it for all of our users. The core of Mir is working reliable, but with XMir being a key component for our 13.10 goals, we didn’t want to compromise overall Ubuntu quality by shipping it.

Mir & XMir are available from the archive as an optional configuration, but XMir won’t be part of the default configuration.

I know many of you have been curious about the progress of discussions with GPU manufacturers about Mir support, and while those conversations are under NDA, I can assure you they are progressing forward.

We have compiled a Q&A which can be found at


If you have any further queries, please feel free to reach out to me or my team, and feel free to discuss this in more detail either here or on
mir-devel (https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/mir-devel/).

This doesn’t mean that XMir project has failed. If you want to install XMir on your desktop then it is available on Ubuntu Archives. You can find install instructions here.

Intel, Red Hat working on enabling Wayland support in Gnome

Open Source is all about collaboration and contribution and two leading communities are working towards making Wayland a reality.

Intel and Red Hat developers are working togather to ‘merge and stabilize the patches to enable Wayland support in GNOME‘ as Christian Schaller writes on his blog. The teams are also looking into improving the stack futher. Weston won’t be used anymore so Gnome Shell will become the Wayland compositor.

Schaller explains that, “Porting to Wayland isn’t just about replacing X calls with Wayland calls, in many cases there is also functionality that was in X that will be done as a separate library for use with Wayland or settings that used to be handled by X that now needs to be stored elsewhere. The development work is starting to come together now and tarballs are being released with initial Wayland support or core modules such as Mutter.”

The teams are trying to get a tech preview ready for Fedora 20 which means if things go where there will be an option to enter the Wayland session from GDM.

There is still a lot of work to be done, even if there is a tech preview in the upcoming release of Fedora it won’t fully replace X. User may be able to run few supported applications but it won’t be stable enough. How mature with XWayland be by then is also unclear.

Schaller says that the goal for the tech preview is not to create something an end user is likely to find very useful, rather it is about lowering the barrier for developers and contributors to get involved and start preparing for the Wayland future.

The developers are aiming for a full featured and stable GNOME running on Wayland ready for Fedora 21.

It must be noted that Canonical earlier committed to support and embrase Wayland. Despite the promise to contribute to it the company silently stopped contribution and it was later learned that they were secretly working on their own display server Mir.

Intel’s management recently rejected patches for Mir leaving it to Canonical to maintain Mir.

Before Intel’s rejection, Gnome and KDE also refused to adopt Mir.

Intel not to support Ubuntu’s XMir

As a major set-back to Canonical’s plans for Mir, Intell has pulled the carpet from underneath Canonical by announcing that they won’t support XMir.

Intel’s Chris Wilson mentioned in a Git commit:

We do not condone or support Canonical in the course of action they have chosen, and will not carry XMir patches upstream.

-The Management

The way Canonical handled Mir was much criticized by the Free Software community. Considering that Intel and other hardware vendors have developers working on Wayland (there was a heated debate with Kristian Høgsberg, the Wayland found who works for Intel), it was naive for Canonical to attack the project and assume it will gain support from the same developers.

The way Intel management has pulled the support for Canonical’s XMir is a very strong message for the company. Canonical has been doing its ‘own’ thing lately, while Gnome may not have enough muscles to tell Canonical to do the right thing, Intel does have the muscle.

Either Canonical starts working with the free software communities, instead of forking things, or they will have to carry the burden on their own.

As Phoronix reports, “Canonical will now need to carry the XMir support out-of-tree from the xf86-video-intel driver. Canonical is also carrying patched versions of Mesa, xf86-video-ati, and xf86-video-nouveau for being able to support Mir/XMir in Ubuntu 13.10. The binary AMD and NVIDIA graphics drivers also remain incompatible with Mir.”

XMir now available for Ubuntu 13.10 ‘Saucy Salamander’

XMir, display server developed by Canonical for Linux is now available for Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy salamander. XMir will be the default display server for the Ubuntu 13.10, however X server will be provided as fallback session.

To install the XMir on Ubuntu 13.10 ‘Saucy Salamander’ run following commands.

sudo apt-get install unity-system-compositor
sudo reboot

Currently enabled featuers of the XMir display server, as explained by Kevin Gunn on ubuntu-devel, are:

  • Support for xserver-xorg-video-intel
  • Support for xserver-xorg-video-ati
  • Support for xserver-xorg-video-nouveau
  • Intel sna enabled
  • Unity 7 operation fully functional with no visible corruption
  • Important application operation functioning with no visible corruption (Firefox, Chrome, Thunderbird, etc)
  • Good performance (without bypass), approximate 10% addition of overhead,
  • in most cases normal operation results in 60fps
  • Fallback to stand alone X (for proprietary drivers)
  • Multi-monitor mirror mode works, but screen resolution changes not well handled
  • VT switching working
  • removed hardware cursor

However there are some bugs and features on which XMir development team is working, you can have a look at them here.

Xubuntu offers 13.10 ISO based on XMIR

While Ubuntu is switching to MIR from Xorg, ditching Wayland, other Ubuntu flavors have not yet decided whether they will follow the suite of not. Since KDE and Gnome communities have put their weight behind community developed Wayland, it’s quite obvious that Kubuntu or Gnome edition may not switch to XMIR yet. One flavor has however gone ahead and offers XMIR based images for users to try – it’s Xubuntu.

The goal of these images is to test how well MIR/XMIR work out for users running all kinds of machines.

Read: What’s XMIR, how different is it from Mir and Xorg.

Bruno Benitez writes on Xubuntu-devel mailing list, “It is of EXTREME importance that we do as many tests as possible as the technology evolves. We need to understand how our system will behave under XMir in order to make the decision later this month whether to move our standard ISO from X.Org to XMir.”

If you are an Xubuntu user and want to help the team in testing Xmir, grab the ISO form here.

Lubuntu, Kubuntu 13.10 May Not Use Mir As Their Display Server

With Canonical is developing Mir, a new display server and making it default in Ubuntu 13.10, other Ubuntu derivatives are faced with the difficulty to port their desktop environments to the new display server. As its a lot of work, and the first editions of Mir not that promising, Kubuntu and Lubuntu have decided to drop Mir as their display server in 13.10.

As posted in Lubuntu mailing list:

This is currently an issue for Lubuntu, because, if i understand
correctly, we are going to replace an X + openbox (without composite)
with a Mir + XMir + composite windows manager (?). Considering the
very bad performance on some of our target hardware running under a
composite manager, I’m quite worrying about the performance
difference. The difference between Unity + X and Unity + XMir + Mir
may not be so different, I can’t say the same for Lubuntu.

However, Steve Langasek confirmed on a previous mail that X will
remain for 14.04 for the time frame of the LTS, and I hope it will
still be the case with this change. We currently plan to ship X only
by default for 13.10 and 14.04 for Lubuntu, with eventually an option
to test XMir, to prepare the future.

Lubuntu is targeted for mostly old machines and switching to Mir will decrease its performance. As long as a highly optimized Mir is available, its unlikely that Lubuntu will use Mir by default.