Purism Might Develop An X11-Free Wayland Compositor Aligned With GNOME

Written by Michael Larabel in Wayland on 2 February 2018 at 12:07 PM EST. 31 Comments
Yesterday we heard of Purism's plans to support desktop diversity but by default for their Librem 5 smartphone they will likely be using GNOME in order to maintain a unified experience across their devices. The latest now is they might develop a new Wayland compositor in line with GNOME.

Purism's mobile development lead, Nicole Faerber, posted a new blog entry today about their latest progress... It mostly comes down to saying the Cortex-A53 CPU cores as used by the NXP i.MX8 SoC isn't affected by Spectre/Meltdown, they still are committed to the i.MX8 plan, they are trying to acquire i.MX6QuadPlus developer boards for early use until i.MX8 availability, they are engaging with both KDE and GNOME, and Qualcomm's possible acquisition of i.MX owner NXP isn't of concern at this point to Purism.

But what I find most interesting and worth writing about is this paragraph:
We also reviewed and evaluated compositing managers and desktop shells that we could use for a phone UI. We aim to use only Wayland, trying to get rid of as much X11 legacy as we possibly can, for performance issues and for better security. From our discussions with GNOME maintainers of existing compositors and shells, we may be better off igniting a new compositor (upstreamed and backed by GNOME) in order to avoid the X11 baggage.

They aren't firmly committing to writing a new compositor, but it's surprising and interesting that they are considering the creation of a new compositor that sounds like it would be Wayland-only without any focus on XWayland compatibility, etc.

GNOME's Mutter is arguably the most complete and full-featured Wayland compositor at this point, so it's a bit surprising Purism is thinking of adding to their growing TODO list the creation of a new "pure" Wayland compositor. Many other Wayland compositor initiatives have been in development for a long time and aren't nearly as complete, so seeing Purism turn around something in about one year or less to meet their 2019 shipping goal would be quite ambitious. Granted if focusing the compositor solely on their smartphone target/form-factor would lighten things up a bit and allow for more expedited deployment, but still they are hoping to pull off the convergence dream eventually and thus pulling in desktop dependencies/protocols/extras in the process.

We'll see what happens on the Wayland compositor front for the Librem 5 smartphone in the months ahead.
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