To the average user, the announcement of Mir is simply news of something that’s going to ‘happen’. To the seasoned user, Mir raises a lot of questions. Those questions have been asked and speculated upon back & forth across the Internet for days now, and finally we’ve got some real meat from two KDE developers; Aaron Seigo of Plasma, and Martin Graesslin of Kwin. These two projects are closely related and are major components of KDE.
I reached out to Aaron on Google+ for his thoughts about how Mir might affect a project like Kubuntu. I asked for his thoughts about Kubuntu specifically because it is the most closely related to Ubuntu. He offered some excellent speculation and valuable thoughts. Here was his response.
You’d best ask the Kubuntu devs .. but here are my expectations:
Kubuntu is developed separately from Ubuntu these days. Canonical does not pay for development there anymore, and it becomes quite clear why.
I would honestly expect Kubuntu and other *buntu derivatives to continue using x.org and eventually move to Wayland. This is because they are more likely to work with their upstreams, who are either staying on X11 or working on Wayland migrations, rather than jump to the Mir Unity shell.
Where it will get uncomfortable is that these derivatives will likely end up having to maintain X.org, Wayland, etc on their platforms and will no longer be able to rely on Canonical for this. This is likely to push the derivatives closer to each other and further from Canonical. Perhaps we’ll even see some simply rebase on Debian itself.
We’re still at least one year from that becoming a concern, however, and I honestly expect Ubuntu to keep x.org around for far longer than that on the desktop for practical reasons.
This also assumes that Mir will work acceptably on the desktop at all; that too remains to be seen.
Definitely a fair and balanced response. The one thing that stands out above all else is the idea that projects like Xubuntu, Lubuntu & others might be tasked with having to maintain Xorg, a duty currently provided by Ubuntu since they rely on it in the same way as everyone else. Will these distributions be able to handle the task? Will they join forces and share ownership of the duties?
I’d say that having to maintain Xorg would be a little ways in the future, only because when Mir debuts in Ubuntu 14.04, there will still be several applications that users will need that won’t be compatible with it, so Xorg will still be required.
And then today, Martin Graesslin of Kwin offered up his thoughts on Mir and the effects it will have in a very frustrated post. His first point doesn’t really offer anything technical, but does shed the initial light on his overall annoyance with the topic. He writes:
Does Mir affect us? Yes, obviously. Because of Mir I have to write this blog post, Wayland developers have to get the FUD out of the Mir documentation, it’s creating tension and it harms the development. We will have to face again and again the question whether Wayland is better or not. So yes it affects us and I’m not happy about it.
In his second point, he demonstrates some of the same sensibilities as Aaron Seigo simply stating that there is too much that remains to be seen to make any real judgments. He then proceeds to explain the future of KWin and Mir and whether or not they will be compatible.
Will KWin support Mir? No! Mir is currently a one distribution only solution and any adjustments would be distro specific. We do not accept patches to support one downstream. If there are downstream specific patches they should be applied downstream. This means at the current time there is no way to add support and even if someone would implement support for KWin on Ubuntu I would veto the patches as we don’t accept distro-specific code. If Mir becomes available on more distributions one can consider the second question. Given the extreme success of Unity on non-Ubuntu distributions I’m positively optimistic that we will never have to do the evaluation of the second question.
What started as a hobby project in 2008 is now becoming something very real for Linux. But when will Wayland be finished incubating? And will Nvidia and ATI ever support it? With Mir on the horizon, and Nvidia & ATI still providing questionable support for their hardware in Linux, they might choose which side of the fence they want to be on and leave the other behind. But as Martin & Aaron have said many times already, much has yet to be seen.