The Unity 8 Items Being Worked On For The Ubuntu Desktop
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 6 May 2015 at 10:49 AM EDT. 8 Comments
UBUNTU --
Discussed this morning during the second day of the Ubuntu Online Summit for Ubuntu 15.10 was "Unity 8 as the default desktop." Unity 7 will remain the default for Ubuntu 15.10, but a lot of progress is expected this Wily Werewolf cycle.

Some of the big ticket plans for Unity 8 on the desktop over the Ubuntu 15.10 cycle is implementing proper window management followed by multi-monitor support. These two should make Unity 8 on the desktop as right now the Unity 8 apps on the desktop remain full-screen with no working windowed mode at the moment.

Another big issue to be resolved is supporting legacy X11 apps within Unity 8 on Mir. Canonical's plans for supporting legacy X apps (like LibreOffice) on Unity-8/Mir is an LXD-based container system for installing Debian packages and then communicating with the XMir client. A best effort for Ubuntu 15.10 will be made for making a simple GUI to setup containers and manage/install X.Org apps. Right now though it's not clear if drag and drop and copy-and-paste will be working between legacy and Unity 8 apps for Ubuntu 15.10.

Another unknown for Unity 8 over the next six months is when the binary (AMD / NVIDIA driver) support will come, but Canonical continues to work with vendors to get the proprietary drivers supported by Mir.

In terms of running SDL2 games on Unity 8 with the Mir back-end, that should work too, but the games will need to make Snap packages. With the lack of Snap-packaged SDL2 games, there isn't much to test at the moment.

From the developers taking part in this morning's session, there aren't any Canonical developers running Unity 8 full-time at the moment aside from some doing "fringe development" with it; most of the developers are waiting for X legacy application support to run more applications on Unity 8 and separately with having support for windowed mode on Unity 8.

Unity 8 should be in much better shape for the desktop with Ubuntu 15.10, but many of these items will likely be stretched out for the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS development cycle. As Mark Shuttleworth expressed earlier this week, the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS cycle next April will likely feature separate spins of Unity 7 and Unity 8.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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