Canonical tips new Mir display server for use in next-gen Ubuntu Unity shell

Ubuntu development team shuns X, Wayland and Weston to continue work on in-house display manager

The next version of Ubuntu's Unity shell will be based on an all-new window and display management framework called Mir, rather than the older X and Weston systems, parent company Canonical announced today.

According to an official blog post from Thomas Voss, Canonical client technical architect, the decision to start work on a new display server was reached when the team realized that existing frameworks would limit their ability to make one version of Unity work across a wide variety of different platforms.

[ MORE UBUNTU: Canonical raises curtain on Ubuntu for smartphones ]

"In particular, X and its driver model [are] way too complicated and feature-laden, resulting in a less efficient system and a driver model that is unlikely to be widely supported on mobile platforms. In the case of Weston, the lack of a clearly defined driver model as well as the lack of a rigorous development process in terms of testing driven by a set of well-defined requirements gave us doubts whether it would help us to reach the 'moon,'" he wrote.

According to Voss, flexibility and performance are the key concerns for Mir, in order to allow the system to run well on as many platforms as possible - hence, he said, the protocol-agnostic nature of Mir's core features.

No exact release date for the first Mir-enabled version of Unity was given, but Voss said that mobile versions would be out in the "not-too-distant future." A desktop variation, however, requires the use of an X compatibility layer, as well as a graphics processor that supports the free display driver stack.

Mobility has been a focus of Canonical's announcements surrounding Ubuntu in recent months, with new tablet and smartphone versions hitting the headlines. No specific timetable for general availability of Ubuntu phones and tablets has been given, though the company is apparently aiming for releases in late 2013.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold - also, follow him on Google+ here.

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