Compiz to be Rewritten for Ubuntu Wayland

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 07, 2010

A few days ago I theorized that Mark Shuttleworth's move to Unity on Wayland was an effort to focus his operating system more on mobile devices and, ultimately, cloud-based services. Unity's hardware compatibility is limited in range, at least for now, and Wayland is even moreso, again at least for now. But there's one part of the equation I failed to consider. What about the X11-dependent Compiz?

One of the more intriguing aspects of Wayland is that it does away with window managers. Instead it pushes all of the work of managing windows to the application. X11 and application developers have been resisting Ubuntu's push in that direction for a while. But with Wayland, it's built-in. This opens the door for one misbehaving application to bring down the whole graphical display - as seen in Windows.

Sam Spilsbury, the Compiz chief architect and developer, says Compiz will only have to be concerned with compositing in Wayland. In essence, all applications would become compositors. As Spilsbury says, "able to manage all of its own tabs, widgets etc all exposed as GEM buffers."

Wayland disadvantages aside, Spilsbury said one thing that will effect every distribution offering Compiz.

I am confident that with a lot of typing we can [in the same way that we split the opengl and composite plugins out of core] do the same with the remaining X11 bits in core - and split them out into an X11 plugin.

Since Spilsbury is now on Canonical's payroll, one has to wonder if X11 support will receive the same care and attention as in the past. His days are going to be quite full rewriting Compiz to work on Wayland as X11 simultaneously becomes the red-headed stepchild of the Linux world. Will users of Compiz on other distributions start to see diminished quality in their future?

Update: As an aside: Despite a flurry of activity over at the Wayland project, AaronP, NVIDIA developer, stated NVIDIA has no plans to support Wayland.