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MIR Display Server Announced for Ubuntu

More fear and loathing for Ubuntu users recently, as the development team has announced that preparations for a new display server called MIR have begun. This change comes in light of the fact that mobile interfaces are becoming more prevalent, but unfortunately the current software architecture will not meet future needs. The Mir display server may be coming in Ubuntu 13.10, if I am not mistaken.

Ubuntu 13.04 Default Desktop Screenshot

MIR Display Server Details

But what are the reasons behind the change? Do we really need more diversity and duplication of effort in the Linux world?

The Reasons Behind the Change

MIR is being created to alleviate some of the current problems that developers are facing, though as a user, I am not entirely convinced. Unity, Compiz, and X11 have never played well together, but with MIR that problem may be resolved.

Oh Really?

The available options were either to port Wayland, or move in a different direction completely. In the end, they decided to move away from Wayland and create MIR. Ubuntu developers claim that this is only way to ensure that current and future quality expectations will be met. After further research, I caught a glimpse of developers suggesting that this change will simply save time and money.

Some Further Benefits

The Mir display server should provide improved performance and even better power consumption for mobile devices. Obviously Ubuntu’s MIR will still be supporting old applications built for X.

Supported Devices

MIR is very flexible and will work on a wide range of devices. This includes desktops, servers, laptops, TV’s, the cloud, even mobile devices like phones and tables.

Improved Security

All of these changes should also result in improved security for Ubuntu users. The tighter integration should provide fewer holes for malicious intruders to exploit.

Ubuntu MIR Technical Details

I tried to dig up some technical information about MIR for everyone who actually knows what a display server is. Of course this is just a brief introduction, so there will be more coming soon.

Looking for Solutions

The Ubuntu touch team was previously using SurfaceFlinger which was created by Google. This tool meets many of the expectations set forth by developers. Rather than creating a whole new project, they decided to use SurfaceFlinger as the outline for MIR. With the Ubuntu Touch team already having experience, this should make the transition a bit smoother.

Basic Ubuntu MIR Components

MIR will use a traditional client and server model, and a new Unity system compositor will be introduced as well. Users are already familiar with the Unity Shell and Unity Greeter, these components will remain.

Unity QT/QML

The Unity Shell will also be switched to a QML code base as previously demonstrated in Ubuntu 12.04 using Unity 2D. After further testing and investigation QT/QML appears to be the better option.

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