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Ubuntu Delays Wayland System Compositor

Michael Larabel

Published on 10 August 2012
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 2 - 5 Comments

Ubuntu 12.10 will not be shipping with a Wayland-based system compositor as was once hoped for, but the experimental system compositor can be enabled from a PPA in a very primitive state.

For the past few weeks there's been the Ubuntu Desktop System Compositor based upon Wayland and Weston that's been available via a PPA (Launchpad Personal Package Archive). The Ubuntu Blueprint for the desktop-q-system-compositor was marked as a high priority item for this next Ubuntu release due out in October, but it's not going to make the cut. Added to the blueprint's whiteboard this week was "seb128, 2012-08-06: descoping the compositor work from quantal, good progresses have been made but it doesn't seem realistic to enable it by default, we will revisit that next cycle." So the system compositor isn't happening for Ubuntu 12.10 and then presumably in Copenhagen it will be discussed whether this is a feasible goal for Ubuntu 13.04 in April.


The Wayland-Based Ubuntu System Compositor can be found in a PPA, but it won't be in Ubuntu 12.10.

The focus of this system compositor work was to have a compositor for Ubuntu 12.10 that controlled all video/outputs from boot to shutdown. This work would allow for smooth transitions from start-up to the greeter and back-again, provide a cleaner means of VT switching, offer a consistent monitor layout for all stages of the boot process, using the greeter as the lock screen and ensuring the user can never accidentally switch to a locked session, and for being able to show the greeter while the session loads. The Ubuntu System Compositor is being built atop Wayland with the reference Weston compositor. As recently as last month they were still hoping for the compositor and to have it in the forthcoming Ubuntu 12.10 Beta.

Going back to UDS Oakland when they came up with the ambitious Wayland plans, I saw this as being very unlikely for Ubuntu 12.10. "As someone that's been monitoring Wayland for the past five years and the first person to publicly write about Wayland when it was still a very young and experimental project by Kristian, I just don't see this system compositor goal coming close to fruition with Ubuntu 12.10. I've been saying for a while now that it will probably not be until Ubuntu 13.04 that Wayland takes on any really usable form...If a miracle happens and they hit this system compositor goal for Ubuntu 12.10, they will still maintain the current X.Org experience for those with unsupported hardware / drivers -- namely the proprietary AMD and NVIDIA graphics drivers. Canonical also hopes to convince NVIDIA and AMD to support Wayland by writing a special back-end for their drivers."

Their UDS plans also caused early controversy as originally they wanted to fork Wayland's Weston rather than implement the extended functionality they desired via plug-ins. But at least this Wayland upbringing within the Ubuntu world has led to some rare Wayland-related contributions by Canonical.

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