back to article Penguins, prepare to get SPACED OUT: Ubuntu 13.10's Mir has docked

Looks can be deceiving, as proved by the first beta of the latest Ubuntu – version 13.10, or Saucy Salamander – which is available today. This beta doesn't look that different from the last release of Ubuntu earlier this year, but hidden beneath the surface is what might be the biggest change Ubuntu will be making for some …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Linux

    Am I alone?

    In thinking you can have too much of a good thing?

    I'm finding it hard to see in this list of new features anything I'd actually want, other than something to replace X. Perhaps the use case just doesn't include me.

    1. Miek
      Linux

      Re: Am I alone?

      "I'm finding it hard to see in this list of new features anything I'd actually want, other than something to replace X." -- I'm sort of in the same boat as you. The only thing that really looked useful was being able to configure monitors "on-the-fly" which up until now would basically require a reboot*. I'm sure we have all seen the slow progression with Ubuntu moving away from a staic Xorg.conf file to a dynamically generated one (at boot) that was fine unless you had to enter some very specific values for some aspect of your hardware.

      * the Nvidia tool would allow these kinds of changes without the need for a reboot.

      1. Matt 21

        Re: Am I alone?

        I must admit I haven't had to play with xorg.conf in many years. Perhaps I've just been lucky but none of the setups I've worked on, even with multiple monitors, has had any issues. I do let it use proprietary drivers though.

        I think I can see Mir working on multiple devices and perhaps it'll be better than the alternatives. I quite like Android, but I don't like the fact that I'm not really in charge unless I root it and it's a bit bereft of more serious apps. Windows doesn't seem to be able to make up its mind what it is at the moment and I don't want to get caught up with Apple.

        Time will tell......

        1. Miek
          Linux

          Re: Am I alone?

          To be honest, I also haven't had to fiddle with an Xorg.conf for any of my machines in years. It's all the friends converting to linux with slightly moody components that tend to cause some issues. As most people point out, editing Xorg.conf directly is a thing of the past and probably a good thing too.

      2. Snar

        Re: Am I alone?

        It would be nice if the Nvidia tool could make settings changes to Powermiser permanent. As it stands, I have to go into the tool every time I boot to get smooth scrolling. It seems to be a commonly reported bug..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Am I alone?

      If Canonical can figure out how to put my primary computer in my shirt pocket, then I will be duly impressed.

  2. Alan Bourke

    What's that you say?

    "no more Xorg.conf to spend long hours wrestling with."

    Allah be praised. Trying to get that bastard to recognise resolutions and refresh rates that weren't picked up by default was a pain in the swiss.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: What's that you say?

      I've not edited mine for the last 3 laptops, several years. As far as I know it's empty.

      Use a GUI (KDEs as choice) for setting up (multi-) monitor; works fine.

      1. Peter Mount
        Linux

        Re: What's that you say?

        Until recently I've not touched xorg.conf in years... & no it's not empty, it's not there at all.

        Last month I had to edit xorg.conf when I added a couple of USB monitors to my setup - so now I've got 4 monitors running.

        I wonder how these x alternatives will handle this sort of setup?

    2. M Gale

      Re: What's that you say?

      Yeah, pretty much. When was the last time the author cracked a Linux distro open and had a look?

      Haven't touched that file in years either.

    3. John Hughes

      Re: What's that you say?

      What's xorg.conf?

      1. M Gale

        Re: What's that you say?

        :What's xorg.conf?

        An anachronism.

    4. Charles Manning

      So what new file do you edit?

      The only time you have to edit Xorg.conf is when the desktop tools and built in smarts don't get it right - which is seldom. I have various PCs with various dual screen set-ups dating back to when granny was a girl and they all work fine with no xorg.conf twiddling.

      Mir surely has some sort of config files. When the Mir tools don't get it right, then you'll have to edit those. Instead of being the well known xorg.conf format they'll be some new bastard format in XML or some such.

  3. Turtle

    How much does it cost?

    How much does Shuttleworse have to spend to insure that there's someone on the payroll to generate this seemingly interminable procession of stupid release names?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: How much does it cost?

      And when he gets to "Tutting Turtle" ?

      1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

        Re: How much does it cost?

        Hopefully it will be Touche Turtle.

        1. Anonymous C0ward

          Re: How much does it cost?

          W*nking Wallaby?

        2. Turtle

          @ Captain Hogwash, @hplasm

          It would be "Truculent Turtle". Obviously.

          And this release could have been called "Savage Salamander". A wasted opportunity, clearly.

          Say, maybe he should hire me!

      2. Gagol
        Joke

        Re: How much does it cost?

        Cant wait for the zooming zizi (zizi is a bird, an actual one, not just your's or your hubby's)

    2. Roger Greenwood

      Re: How much does it cost?

      Yes they should have used food and chocolate bars like proper geeks. Twinkie? Crunchie?

    3. Greg J Preece

      Re: How much does it cost?

      Once again, allow me to point out Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, Whistler, Project Natal, etc...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How much does it cost?

        I see your Mountain Lion and raise you an Ice Cream Sandwich.

        I haven't had to touch my xorg.conf so I don't know if I even have one. But I've been using the same laptop for over 5 years and it's not getting replaced soon.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How much does it cost?

          Mmmm, and let's not forget Chicago, Whistler, Blue…

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much does it cost?

      @Turtle - "How much does it cost? How much does Shuttleworse have to spend to insure that there's someone on the payroll to generate this seemingly interminable procession of stupid release names?"

      Yeah - funny that he didn't ask for your opinion on what to name the releases. I mean, how could he pass up on such wit that could come up with "Shuttleworse". Must have taken you hours of brainstorming.

  4. codejunky Silver badge

    ???

    replace FF with chrome? Why? Nothing particularly against chrome but FF is still better (in my opinion) and standard to the main linux desktop offerings.

    I am interested in the "device convergence". It is a good idea.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ooo Look

    It's Windows 8...without the decent touch screen support...

    1. hewbass

      Re: Ooo Look

      It's exactly the opposite of Windows 8: which is actually a family of completely different operating systems, but that all have exactly the same user interface which is therefore not optimised particularly well for any use case.

      Ubuntu is a single operating system that presents a different optimised user interface for each use case.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ooo Look

      Yeah, Windows 8 alright… but:

      - with an app store that actually carries a decent number of useful apps

      - an OS that lets you add repositories and packages from any source you choose, including ones you manage yourself

      - a UI that can be completely ripped out and replaced with another if you don't like it: but still lets you run the same applications

      Unity isn't my cup of tea either… I'm a <a href="http://www.fvwm.org>FVWM</a> luddite from way back having decided KDE was getting a bit to bloaty for my liking. The difference here, is that in Linux you are in no way shape or form restricted to that UI. You are in control, you can change it. On Ubuntu and Linux in general, this is an easier proposition than many realise due to the way the desktop environment, X11 and applications are decoupled..

  7. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Entire article is full of FUD bullshit

    no more Xorg.conf to spend long hours wrestling with.

    Awesome! Except, no-one has needed an xorg.conf for five years now, unless they have peculiar needs. And if they do have peculiar needs, they will still need to register those needs in some configuration file in this new world order. Except now it is not xorg.conf, the configuration will be a different file with a different syntax.

    Mir is a huge change. It enables all the various flavours of Ubuntu to run unmodified on a single graphics stack. That means the same code running across phones, tablets, desktops, TVs, cars, toasters and so on.

    The same code means faster development, which is a huge win on its own,

    It also means that software has to be explicitly written for Mir, a stack that runs on a single distribution of Linux, and software written for Mir will not work on any other Linux distro, nor any UNIX, BSD or Mac, all of which software written for X will do so easily. Fuck Ubuntu and it's "embrace, extend, extinguish" approach to development of FOSS.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Entire article is full of FUD bullshit

      "It also means that software has to be explicitly written for Mir, a stack that runs on a single distribution of Linux, and software written for Mir will not work on any other Linux distro, nor any UNIX, BSD or Mac, all of which software written for X will do so easily. Fuck Ubuntu and it's "embrace, extend, extinguish" approach to development of FOSS."

      Most apps are written over toolkits like QT and GTK. Port the toolkit and the apps come for free. Supporting Mir or Wayland could involve as little more than a recompile for most apps. It could even happen at runtime depending on how QT and GTK load their backends.

      So no, for most apps it doesn't a minimal number of changes. Some apps such as Firefox might require more work to make the the transition (since it hosts X plugins) but even Firefox has a fairly well defined abstraction layer which means most of the changes are isolated and discrete.

      1. Bill the Sys Admin

        Re: Entire article is full of FUD bullshit

        Correct me if im wrong but its going to cause problems for drivers. Proprietary graphics drivers are going to be designed for this window manager and not Wayland. Leaving everyone else that doesn’t want to use Mir with drivers like we have just now. aka sh*t.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Entire article is full of FUD bullshit

        Such acrimony. Let them try I say. If it works, great, it's a win for Linux across the board. If not, a few people will have lost a lot of hours on a dead end project - won't be the first time that's happened.

        Regardless of whether you think it's a good idea, hats off to Shuttleworth for being brave enough to try something new on his entire userbase at once - this has been done before successfully (OS X) and otherwise (Windows 8), but from someone using Linux daily since kernel 1.2.11 I've concluded that overall, Shuttleworth is a disruptive force for good. So lets see how it plays out.

        Incidentally this is the first time I've read an article here that doesn't have much to say and read that as a good thing. If it's a transparent change, so much the better.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Entire article is full of FUD bullshit

        @DrXym:

        Video players and games don't use QT or GTK (except for the menus and such) to do their thing. They talk to the display server directly, so it's not a case of "just port QT and GTK and all apps will work".

        AFAIK, neither QT nor GTK work with Mir right now. They talk to Xmir ( a "middleman" that translates X talk to Mir talk).

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Entire article is full of FUD bullshit

          "Video players and games don't use QT or GTK (except for the menus and such) to do their thing. They talk to the display server directly, so it's not a case of "just port QT and GTK and all apps will work".

          Most games would use SDL and Mesa's EGL/GLU impls which abstract away the details. They wouldn't care how the screen was set up or where the mouse input originated from.

          Video players would be using an extension like Xv to cut a hole in X (basically bypassing it) or they'd render into an OpenGL surface. Popular video players like vlc, xmbc support a variety of video outs already. If they have any dependency on X it would be primarily to get past it.

          1. Fibbles

            Re: Entire article is full of FUD bullshit

            All of this is moot because AFAIK both Mir and Wayland can run a subordinate X server for backwards compatibility.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Entire article is full of FUD bullshit

      @Tom 38 - "It also means that software has to be explicitly written for Mir, a stack that runs on a single distribution of Linux, and software written for Mir will not work on any other Linux distro, nor any UNIX, BSD or Mac, all of which software written for X will do so easily."

      Funny that your FUD rant is full of FUD. Very few things will have to be "re-written" to work with Mir. Tools are already being developed to help with the porting process. And don't act like Mir is such an alien concept - Mir is borrowing a great deal from the Android graphics stack.

  8. Gerhard den Hollander

    No 3rdparty driver support for Mir ?

    So your nvidia card (or your AMD card) will not work with Mir ?

    (or at least not work accelerated)

    That's a minor disappointment.

    And what about things like mplayer (and friends) who use the acceleration in those proprietary X drivers for nice smooth video playback ?

    Also, editing xorg.conf ?

    Havent needed to do so by hand in years ... nvidia-settings does it all (including hot plugging monitors, triple monitor support , laptop support ).

    The only time I needed to manually ahck the xorg.conf tree was when I wanted to have one of my monitors in portrait mode (though even that can now easily be done through the nvidia-settings dialog)

  9. Sir_bobbyuk

    I was thinking instead of having a actual docking station all you need is a wifi enabled monitor and keyboard that detects the device in question and cut out the long winded connecting. Truly wireless, with an OS that is adaptive, with the new mir bit, which i hope, the new version of Ubuntu 13.10 or 14.04/10 will have.

    1. Midnight

      "I was thinking instead of having a actual docking station all you need is a wifi enabled monitor and keyboard"

      And for that you would have to wait for 802.11ad to be available, as even a single-link DVI connector has three times the bandwidth of 802.11ac, the fastest wifi standard in use today.

      You could try compressing the video stream before transmitting it, which is what Apple did with their ill-fated Lightning to HDMI adapter ( http://arstechnica.com/apple/2013/03/apples-lightning-to-hdmi-cant-actually-output-at-1080p/ ), but you might not be pleased by the picture quality and anyone trying to use the same wifi network for anything else, such as connecting to their own monitor and keyboard, may want to throw things at you.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    device convergence, eh?

    I prefer software convergence. In my case - if I can't make it run slackware, I don't bother. Possibly not a strategy for everyone, though :-)

  11. Irongut

    Faster development? Actually no

    "The same code means faster development, which is a huge win on its own,"

    Except Ubuntu are the only ones using Mir so only their devs will be working on it. Most other distros are going with Wayland so there will be more devs working on it. So Mir actually means SLOWER development.

    How many pints did Shuttleworth buy the author?

  12. Jim 59

    Dinosaurs

    That means the same code running across phones, tablets, desktops, TVs,...

    Surprisingly, I want my desktop to run code optimized for desktop. You know why the dinosaurs dies out ? They didn't listen to their users.

    Canonical calls this "device convergence".

    Devices tend to diverge, not converge. Once we had only sharpened flints, now we have cutlery sets and cake stands, and even a special fork for spearing picked onions. Optimization.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Dinosaurs

      @ Jim 59

      "Devices tend to diverge, not converge."

      Not always:

      We have had dial phone and computer- now we have smart phone with SMS, email, web etc.

      We had phone and address book- now we have paperless address book integrated with the phone.

      We had mp3 players and phones- now the phone plays music and streams video.

      We had consoles and VHS players- now we have film and games on DVD where both can be played by console.

      We had running water and kettles- now we have adverts for a tap instantly providing boiling water.

      Divergence works when the old way holds back progress. But users dont want 6 controls for various devices when one will do it all. Instead of learning multiple interfaces the lazy gene kicks in where we dont want to waste our time learning to do the same thing but on a different device. As long as the unified interface is easy enough people will choose the one over the many. It is more practical.

    2. magnetik

      Re: Dinosaurs

      Devices tend to diverge, not converge. Once we had only sharpened flints, now we have cutlery sets and cake stands, and even a special fork for spearing picked onions. Optimization.

      Maybe but we also once had separate phones, cameras, video recorders, mp3 players, radios, handheld games consoles, GPS's etc. Now all of those have converged into a single smartphone.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Dinosaurs

        "Maybe but we also once had separate phones, cameras, video recorders, mp3 players, radios, handheld games consoles, GPS's etc. Now all of those have converged into a single smartphone."

        Yep, and it's a bugger to use it for two or more of those functions at the same time.

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Dinosaurs

        > Maybe but we also once had separate phones, cameras, video recorders, mp3 players,

        > radios, handheld games consoles, GPS's etc. Now all of those have converged into a

        > single smartphone.

        What, and you're saying that's a *GOOD* thing??? Single point of failure, and you won't be able to get *anything* done on it without selling yourself into indentured servitude to cellphone company data plans. No thanks, I'll stick with differentiated tools.

  13. nematoad Silver badge
    Joke

    Eh?

    "what is it? Are you using a phone? Is it a desktop? What if the answer to both is yes" then you are a better man than I am Gunga Din.

    What? 19" 'phone to heavy for you, you wimp.

    Oh, and don't tell me whre you keep your keyboard and mouse!

    1. John Hughes

      Re: Eh?

      My phone fits in my pocket.

      If I need a bigger screen I plu it in.

      Do I need to load special software for this?

  14. eszklar

    Convergence Works for Me

    I want to see this on devices like the ASUS PadFone myself. This and Ubuntu Touch next year will be interesting.

  15. Chewi
    Flame

    Mir vs Wayland

    "If the Mir versus Wayland debate goes the way of the Unity versus Gnome Shell, I'd say Ubuntu has once again made the right call."

    Apples and oranges, and shame on you for suggesting these debates are even remotely related. The GNOME developers alienated their user base and those users were likely to look elsewhere, regardless of what Canonical came up with. Wayland, however, has been developed by the people who have worked on X for decades and knew exactly what direction we needed to go in. This is one area where fragmentation is the last thing we need. Canonical's excuses for not going with Wayland simply don't hold up.

    In fact, their primary reason was that Wayland didn't support Android. In getting Mir to support Android, they took some existing Wayland code, played with it in secret for 9 months, said nothing to the original developer, and then passed the entire work off as their own. In the meantime, that original developer completed his Android support for Wayland, making it a totally moot point.

  16. keithpeter
    Windows

    Bug 739184 fixed yet?

    I like Unity, but need to use my computer to do actual work.

    Hoping this one gets sorted for 14.04. An LTS with mangled keyboard shortcuts in LibreOffice package isn't going to be easy to explain...

  17. JDX Gold badge

    eliminate the need to differentiate between devices

    It's proved popular for MS.

  18. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Whenever I see any mention ....

    .... of convergent devices I imagine it being the computer equivalent of the guy who used his motorhome as a normal vehicle. Yes it is just as capable as a car for commuting, but why the hell would you want to?

  19. fishman

    X window system

    I use the networking ability of the X Window System all day at work - I use a HPC hundreds of miles away, and I'm using programs like Tecplot, Ensight, editors, etc all day. It's easy to do it with X. So how would Mir change it?

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge

      Re: X window system

      Agreed ... The single most usefull feature of X11 is the ability to run a remote graphical front end.

      Some retarded installers are GUI only & when you are installing on a remote server you need to be able to forward the remote session. VNC/RDP are nice, but overkill for most things.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: X window system

        > Agreed ... The single most usefull feature of X11 is the ability to run a remote graphical front end.

        And it's the very point that the Wayland and Mir folks have repeatedly refused to address. I have NO desire to be running an entire remote desktop (with all the ssh tunneling hacks needed) just to run an application remotely. If I need to work with one application, I only want to see that one application. And unless Network Transparency is part of the *default* install, then you're going to start seeing a lot of systems you won't be able to manage remotely.

        Now, I could see making the X11 forwarding a part of the SSH meta-package, that way if you are enabling SSH access, then X11 would come along with it. But the blatant and continued refusal to even address the issue makes Wayland and Mir non-starters.

    2. A J Stiles

      Re: X window system

      And I use X to control more than one Raspberry Pi from the same laptop. But we're not most people. Most people just use a single motherboard and a single display, and the full network-aware stuff with applications running on one machine able to display transparently on another machine is overkill for that usage case.

      X isn't going anywhere -- except behind an "advanced options" tab -- anytime soon, and an X client which is also a Mir server (thus providing a compatibility layer) is practically a given.

  20. tempemeaty

    At this point I figure let Ubuntu explore

    On the plus side, this could lead to the commercial support from 3rd party consumer software venders by creating a single version of Linux they all feel safe with supporting thereby overcoming the excuses for not supporting Linux. On the minus end of things classic Linux users are likely to throw a fit or Mir development might paint itself into a code corner. I'm not sure which will it be. One thing's for sure, Linux users can relax due to the fact there are so damn many Linux versions. At this moment, Mints' Debian LMDE seems to be taking care of my needs and I remain comfortably and happily unaffected by anything happening with Ubuntu development. It's nice that I can safely observe the Ubuntu experiment.

  21. Someone Else Silver badge
    WTF?

    Pass the Kool-Aid, please

    Together with Mir, Unity 8 will help Ubuntu's cross device goals, taking into account device-specific constraints and features and optimizing to support them. In other words, scaling the screen down and optimizing for touch on tablets and phones, while continuing to work on desktops with the mouse.

    So Unity 8 is Shuttleworth's Win 8, then. OK...More Kool-Aid all around! Let's just hope he doesn't fuck it up nearly as badly as Sinofski et al did.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unity... Windows 8...

    The day will soon come, I'm sure, when I'll sit at a computer, look at the display, and simply not have a clue what to do next.

    But that's offtopic, because this is not about the desktop, it is about what displays it, which is perhaps why Mir doesn't look different to the author.

  23. A J Stiles

    Licence Worries

    Mir seems to be licenced similarly to the old OpenOffice.org model -- i.e., although there is a general-release GPL3 version, Canonical seem to want the right to release proprietary derivatives based on contributed code. That worries me a lot; as not only does it subvert the intent of GPL3 to the point of negation, but it potentially means Canonical could give themselves a monopoly by creating deliberate incompatibilities between Ubuntu-extended Mir and GPL Mir (the very situation Sun refused to let the reverse of happen with Java).

    Someone (maybe the Fedora community?) needs to step in and create a fork of GPL Mir, without signing over copyright on any of their extensions to Canonical. If that gets enough of a usage base, it should help to keep Mir open.

  24. mjones52

    Nice, if it works.

    I spend most time on the desktop, have a laptop that gets occasional use. For those with many devices I can see the attraction of having an interface that automagically configures itself to a given device.

    I'm not happy about no nVidia blob, possible license issues, fractioning of developer base. Lack of a good driver for my video card may cause me to switch to another distro after five years with Ubuntu.

    As an aside, after making a few adjustments I have no gripe with Unity; on my widescreens having a thin column where a click brings up often-used accessories and utilities is something I find very useful. What I do dislike is the general dumbing down of the controls readily available to the user. Oh, and I haven't had cause to even look at any .conf file in years, X or otherwise.

  25. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
  26. Vociferous

    Two words.

    Linux Mint.

  27. Number6

    Colour Scheme

    I know it's completely subjective, but the choice of the shit-brown background for the screenshots puts me off. If they'd do some with a blue or green background then my first impression would be much better. Of course, this has nothing to do with how usable it is, or how toasty the flamewar between Mir and Wayland is going to get.

  28. Steven Burn

    Thanks but no thanks

    I don't want an OS to try to be everything. It's the very reason I'm not going to Windows 8, and the reason I dropped Ubuntu when Unity came in.

    I'll stick with Windows XP, 7, Debian, Backtrack, DSL, Helix, Austrumi for now (couldn't get along with Mint, but still have hundreds of other distro's on CD/DVD to play with too).

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Urgh

    Well, I am using (the lovely) XCFE on top of Ubuntu now, as Unity cripples this fairly powerful Xeon+NVidia machine quite badly.

    Canonical's urge to roll their own seems to have exceeded their competence of late; even Unity was a bridge too far. I think I shall probably be switching back to real Debian again when the updates to this install start to feel unsatisfactory, rather than doing a dist-upgrade to Sexy Sloth.

  30. ecofeco Silver badge

    Don't like Unity?

    Then just select Gnome at the log in screen.

    It's still there, you know.

    How hard is that?

    I hate Unity. Love Ubuntu. Turned off Unity, problem solved.

    *sheesh* Geeks. :rolleyes:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019