Hello Linux Geeksters. As you may know, Ubuntu 14.10 Unity, scheduled for release on the 23rd of October 2014, will be the first Ubuntu system to be released in two Unity-flavors: an Ubuntu 14.10 flavor using Unity 7 running over X.org and an Ubuntu 14.10 flavor using Unity 8 and Mir.
Canonical is working in parallel at both the desktop and the mobile versions of Ubuntu, Ubuntu Touch already using Unity 8 and Mir as default, since the development branch was based on Ubuntu 13.10.
The first Unity 7 version was used on Ubuntu 13.10, Ubuntu 14.04 has been released with Unity 7.2 and Ubuntu 14.10 will be available with both Unity 7.3, which has been already added to the default repositories and Ubuntu 14.10, which will be running over Mir.
Despite the fact that the first Ubuntu Touch powered devices have not been released yet, Canonical has kept updating both Unity 8 and Mir.
After the latest Unity 8 update, the Qt compositor is going through reviews and approvals, the scopes have been made more customizable, the locking greeter has received enhancements so that it no longer confligs with Qtcomp, the scope overview integration with backend has been finished and bug-fixes around snap decisions for the shutdown dialog have been fixed.
Also, Mir 0.5 has been recently released, coming with a unity-system-compositor refactor and nested life cycle events, while the touch spot visualizer will be added soon. Also worth mentioning, the client fencing optimization has received new features and page flipping via the qxl driver should work well soon.
For those who don’t know, Canonical wanted to customize the system compositor to run properly on mobile devices and considered Wayland, a system compositor developed by Red Hat and Intel as an X.org alternative, until they decided to create their own compositor, named Mir.
For now, only the open source graphics drivers have support for Mir, but Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Canonical is working with both NVIDIA and AMD to create GPU drivers to work over Mir.
The plans are to use Mir as default starting with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and if I were to guess, I would say that all the releases between Ubuntu 14.10 and Ubuntu 16.04 (Ubuntu 15.04 and Ubuntu 15.10) will be available in two Unity flavors, one using X.org and the other one with Mir.
If you want, you can install and test Mir on Ubuntu 14.04 or Ubuntu 14.10, by installing the unity8-desktop-session-mir package on an up-to-date system:
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install unity8-desktop-session-mir
Also, a daily image of the Ubuntu 14.10 + Unity 8 flavor, called “Ubuntu Desktop Next”, can be downloaded from here. If you want to test the Ubuntu Desktop Next images, the default username is ubuntu-desktop-next and the user does not have a password.
For those who don’t know, Mark Shuttleworth’s target is to achieve a full desktop-mobile convergence somewhere between the releases of Ubuntu 14.10 and Ubuntu 15.04. And to make Ubuntu the first converged system.
The idea of convergence is to create an unique system, capable of running on both a desktop and mobile device. Ubuntu’s convergence has been demoed by Jono Bacon, Ubuntu’s Ex. Community Manager, via the Weather App and the Karma Machine.
For now, Ubuntu Touch is officially available only for the Google Nexus 4 smartphone and the Google Nexus 7 2013 tablet, but the first Ubuntu Touch powered phones are scheduled for release this year, in Europe by BQ and on the Chinese market by Meizu, one Asia’s leading smartphone manufacturers.