Feeds

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

Orbiting inside Shuttleworth's latest break with convention

Top three mobile application threats

Review 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 time, at least since Unity: the move to the homegrown Mir graphics stack.

Mir is Ubuntu's replacement for the X Window System, a necessary part of the company's move beyond the desktop into the world of Ubuntu Mobile, the operating system for Ubuntu Edge and the myriad other devices still just a twinkle in Mark Shuttleworth's eye.

It wouldn't be Ubuntu if there weren't some sort of controversy, (here, here and here), and Mir looks like being no exception.

At this point no one is going to defend X, but there are many who are disappointed Ubuntu will not be using the Wayland graphics stack. Several other distros have already started to use Wayland to replace their own X Window servers, but as with the desktop, Ubuntu has opted to go its own way. 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. Only time will really answer that question though – it's far too early to say.

Scopes to make Dash webbier make their delayed debut with Ubuntu 13.10 (click to enlarge)

So what does Mir in Ubuntu 13.10 mean? For most users, hopefully nothing.

Well, there is one thing – no more Xorg.conf to spend long hours wrestling with.

By the time 13.10 does officially arrive, Mir will help with some specific setups, like dual monitors or high-end laptops with the option to disable and enable discrete graphics depending on use – turning them on, for example, for 3D-intensive applications, and off to save power.

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, but it also helps Ubuntu to pull off some cool tricks – like plugging your Ubuntu phone into a monitor, turning it into a desktop-like device.

That scenario raises the question – what is it? Are you using a phone? Is it a desktop? What if the answer to both is yes? That's essentially the point of Mir – to eliminate the need to differentiate between devices. Ubuntu is Ubuntu wherever you find it.

That's the goal anyway.

The daily builds I tested still had Mir disabled by default, though activating it didn't wreak havoc on my system. In fact, everything hummed along just fine. If you'd like to try it on actual hardware (rather than the virtual machine that I'd recommend for testing beta releases) be sure to read through this list of graphics drivers and Mir issues.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Next page: Building to Unity 8

More from The Register

next story
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...
Why HELLO Amazon! You weren't here last time
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.