Category Archives: mir

Mir To Ship As Default Display Server in Ubuntu 13.10

ubuntu20for20android20video20capture20-100012626-mediumMir is to ship as the default display server in Ubuntu 13.10, Ubuntu have today announced.

Canonical’s XServer replacement will be used to help power the Unity 7 desktop on devices with open-source graphics card drivers.

Unity 7 will run atop of XMir, an implementation of X that provides a compatibility layer that allows software, desktop environments, peripherals and multi-monitor setups designed for X to continue to work as expected.

But while Mir and XMir will be shipping in October’s release by default, not everyone will be able to use it.

Those with proprietary graphics card drivers installed (NVidia, ATi, etc) will instead be served with the traditional XServer windowing system as a fallback.

This fallback is necessary because, at present, GPU vendors don’t provide support for Mir/XMir in their binary drivers – a situation expected to be resolved by the release of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS next year.

Xmir is already able to run most desktop environments competently, including LXDE and KDE, as the following video shows:

‘Why Now?’

So why now? Why as default in Ubuntu 13.10?

‘Putting Mir front and centre on the Ubuntu desktop so soon is a risky move – but it’s also an unavoidable one…’

To meet the goal of shipping Mir as the only default in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, and powering whatever Ubuntu handsets OEMs are looking to ship in the meantime, Mir (and XMir) need to be production ready as soon as possible.

So while putting Mir front and centre on the Ubuntu desktop so soon is a risky move it’s also an unavoidable one if it’s to succeed. Real-world usage will give developers stronger feedback to help in shaping, optimising and honing the feature.

As Canonical’s Olli Ries explained to me earlier today:

“Mir has reached a level of maturity in terms of quality and performance which allows us to make it a core component for Ubuntu 13.10. With its current design, we enable all dependent derivatives to run unmodified on top of this new stack.

Integrating Mir today gives Ubuntu one additional cycle to enhance performance and further integrate it in in order to have another first class Ubuntu LTS by 14.04.”

Mir was created to aid in Canonical’s convergent goal for Ubuntu – to have the same code running across smartphones, tablets and TVs. As form-factors scale so too must the display technology driving them; a lighter and more flexible solution was needed that that provided by existing projects.

XMir, which runs on top of Mir, and will front the Unity 7 desktop in 13.10, is used to provide backwards compatibility for applications and services that rely on X.

What This Means To You

Enthusiasm about the technology in this change aside, this change will actually mean little by way of visible changes.

Whether you end up using a Mir-powered desktop, or one using XServer, the actual desktop experience in Ubuntu 13.10 should be the same.

And, for most of us, that’s all that matters.

If you’re running Ubuntu 13.10 already and would like to get a head-start on trying Mir you’ll find all you need to know in this blog post.

The post Mir To Ship As Default Display Server in Ubuntu 13.10 appeared first on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Unity 8, Mir Preview To Be Available in Ubuntu 13.10

Both Unity 8 and Ubuntu’s new display server Mir will be available to try in Ubuntu 13.10. 

At least, that’s the aim, anyway.

The details of precisely how both items will be available to try is currently being hammered out by developers at this weeks Ubuntu Developer Summit. But while neither Mir or Unity 8 will be installed by default, or ship as a session on the Saucy .iso, developers are extremely keen to make them as easy to install in 13.10 either through the Ubuntu Software Center or a dedicated PPA.

Unity 7 and the traditional display server will continue form the default desktop experience in Saucy, which is due in October.

‘Preview’ Means ‘Preview’

Regardless of how Unity 8 and Mir is made available to Ubuntu 13.10 users the most important thing for anyone to remember is that it’ll be a preview. Unity 8 – the desktop version of Ubuntu Touch – is unlikely to be in a finished, polished state by October.

There’s also a question of what applications will run under the Mir session. Whilst the final release of Mir will support running “traditional” apps reliant on and GTK, it’s not a given that these will run on the preview version being planned at present. A set of Ubuntu Touch apps will be installed alongside the Unity8/Mir session by default to make up for this.

But the preview will have its uses. It’ll give designers, developers and dutiful testers the chance to play with a functional, if limited, version of the next-gen Ubuntu desktop. Stress it; test it; help shape it.

Around the same time as Ubuntu 13.10 is released more complete version of Ubuntu Touch for Phones is expected to be released. 

Unity 8, Mir Preview To Be Available in Ubuntu 13.10 OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

Unity 8 Gets Demoed on Mir, Looks Impressive Already

Unity 8 – the next major version of the Unity desktop – has been demoed running atop of Mir, Ubuntu’s custom display server. 

Both Unity 8 and Mir are still in active development, so to see them running as well as they are in the video below, taken by Michael Zanetti, is exciting stuff.

Unity 8, formerly known as ‘Unity Next’ is expected to arrive as the default desktop in Ubuntu 14.04. The version of Unity 8 demoed above is not the finished article; so expect something more desktop-like when it arrives.

Ubuntu 13.10, due October this year, is likely to include an option to try both Unity 8 and Mir, though neither will be default.

Unity 8 Gets Demoed on Mir, Looks Impressive Already OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

Ubuntu Building Own Display Server, Unity To Switch to Qt/QML

Canonical has today publicly confirmed that they are working on a new cross-platform displayer server for Ubuntu.

Called ‘Mir‘, the X Window Server replacement is tasked with ’enabling development of the next generation Unity’. Which, in yet another about-turn, is to be rebuilt in Qt/QML.

The news isn’t much of as surprise. Earlier this year Canonical’s Jono Bacon made several remarks in a Q&A session that hinted at the possibility of an alternative display manager.

’’…The simple reality is that X doesn’t meet those needs, Wayland doesn’t meet those needs.’

From looking at the commit log for Mir this opinion has been held since June last year, which is when work on Mir appears to have begun.

Why Mir?

When Mark Shuttleworth set out his grand goal of Ubuntu being ‘convergent’ – running across mobiles, tablets, desktops and TVs – he also threw down a series of technical hurdles that would first have to be overcome. One of the steppest to clear was always going to be the choice of display server – the the part of the system that draws the UI, and user interaction with it, on screen.

Currently Ubuntu uses X.

X is efficient at doing what it does but it has a problem: it is built upon code that’s almost 30 years old. A mature code-base brings with it legacy support for features and functions that are no longer needed on modern desktops, much less phones and tablets.

Intending to address this is Wayland – a relatively new display protocol that integrates features (like compositing) directly into the display server rather than adding them on as an afterthought.

The choice facing Canonical was to adapt one of these existing display server technologies/protocols to work across form factors, but compromise on vision, or create their own one from scratch.

Canonical chose the latter., with Mir built specifically to meet the aims and goals of Unity.

Task Ahead

The big task for Canonical going forward will be to persuade GPU vendors to invest in and support Mir.

Canonical say that they are ‘in contact with [and] working closely’ with graphics chips makers to support Mir and, perhaps more interestingly, ‘…distill a reusable and unified EGL-centric driver model that further eases display server development in general and keeps cross-platform use-cases in mind.”

But for now Mir is only able to run atop of free graphics drivers.

When Will It Arrive?

From the Mir Spec on the Ubuntu WIki, Mir is intended to replace SurfaceFlinger, the Android display server used in the Ubuntu Touch images, at some point in the near future. with the desktop targeted after that.

There is a Staging PPA for Mir is also available.

Around May this year we should see the first useable demonstration of Mir with Unity Next (the ‘new’ Qt/Qml version of Unity) on Ubuntu Touch.

By April 2014, the date of the next LTS release, Canonical hope to achieved full convergence, with Mir and Unity Next running across all platforms.

For more information on Mir head to the Ubuntu Wiki.

Mir Specification

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Ubuntu Announce Unity Next, Will Be Written in Qt/QML

With the announcement of the new Mir display server, Canonical have begun the next major, multi-device shift for the Unity project: Unity Next.

Unity Next seeks to create a “converged Unity implementation” across desktop, TV, tablet, and phone by focusing on two main development features:


The Unity implementations as we know it are currently split between the Nux-based shell on the desktop and a Qt/QML implementation for all other form factors. After positive results from the use of Qt and QML on Ubuntu Touch and advances in OpenGL features in Qt5, it is no longer necessary to maintain Unity shells powered by different toolkits across the multiple form factors.


The developers have three primary goals in mind:

  • Scaling and adaptability across multiple form factors
  • Consistent user experience
  • Convergence

With these in mind, resource usage, UI responsiveness, and a unified codebase are among the technical requirements that need to be addressed. Resource constraints will be especially important for low-end devices, but equally important for laptop and high-end enterprise tablet users needing an efficient desktop with a fluid UI experience.

What’s on the way?

The unified codebase will also see the inclusion of several Ubuntu Touch features into the core Unity Next project. Fullscreen preferences will make it possible for applications to tell Unity whether to make the menubar stay visible or autohide whilst running in fullscreen mode. Stage hints will also offer applications a way to change capabilities when running in different “stages” in the Unity shell.

But aside from the integration of Ubuntu Touch components, the Unity shell as we know it will still function as it always has, with scopes and indicators still forming the core of extensibility.


The Unity Next project is aiming for the first stages of integration with Mir in May of this year. Integrating “convergence items” is scheduled for July and a integrated Mir/Unity Next codebase is targeted for phone devices by October. Finally, Unity Next will be amongst the other projects that form the total convergence vision for 14.04.

More information on the Unity Next project is on the Ubuntu Wiki.

Unity Next Specification

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Ubuntu’s New Display Server ‘Mir’ Gets Demoed [Video]

A day after its reveal the first video demos of Mir in action have been shown off by one of its developers, Thomas Voß.

In the first Voß demonstrates Mir runnong on Ubuntu Touch, replacing the ‘SurfaceFlinger’ compositor currently used.

It’s described as a ‘preview’, and is running solely on GLES:

In another video Unity is shown running using an ‘…in-session rootless X server that is integrated with Mir’ using the free driver stack.

It’s early days for Mir, and these videos are interesting to see (in as much as you can see it). Certainly a nice respite from the swamp of negativity currently bubbling up around the project… But more on that later.

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