Canonical announced that Ubuntu 13.10 will ship with Mir, a replacement for the X Windows Systems graphics stack. In a blog post, Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth explains they decided to pass on Wayland, an alternative X-replacement project, to forge their own path. Mir is not a fixed protocol but an API, and it promises to run consistently and efficiently on a wide range of devices, including PCs, notebooks, smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. Ubuntu 13.10 "Saucy Salamander" is anticipated to be released in October.
"I believe Mir will be able to evolve faster than the competition, in part because of the key differences and choices made now," the multimillionaire and erstwhile astronaut wrote. "For example, rather than a rigid protocol that can only be extended, Mir provides an API. The implementation of that API can evolve over time for better performance, while it's difficult to do the same if you are speaking a fixed protocol."
Mir operates at a layer below X, Shuttleworth said, and that while applications can talk directly to Mir, existing X applications can also run via an X implementation that runs on top of the Mir server. In fact, he said, the patches required to allow today's X servers to run on Mir amount to fewer than 500 lines of code.
Shuttleworth said he has been running Mir on his own laptop, an "all-Intel" Dell XPS, for two weeks, and that barring a few minor glitches, the system feels smoother than it did before.