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08 November 2010, 10:56

Ubuntu to abandon X11

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Ubuntu Logo On a post on his blog, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has said that, in the medium term, the Ubuntu project plans to switch to a new graphics system. In about a years time, Wayland, a lean, OpenGL-based graphics and window system, is to replace the X Server and the X Window system. According to Shuttleworth, X11 isn't set up to deliver the user experience the project intends to create by switching to the Unity desktop.

Zoom Wayland architecture.

Wayland implements a protocol that allows clients – applications – to communicate with a compositor which, in turn, addresses the hardware via the kernel. The compositor's task is to pass keyboard, mouse, touch screen or similar events, to the addressed clients. The clients update their own windows and only inform the compositor that a window area has changed. The compositor will then render the change on screen – and handle such transformations as the resizing or rotating of a window.

Wayland dispenses with many legacies of the X Window system, which is 25 years old – including the long disused X primitives for drawing lines and patterns, functions for handling fonts and colour tables, and network transparency. Current X Window toolkits can be ported to Wayland – a Qt port is already in development. X11 applications can be used with Wayland if the X Server acts as a Wayland client, uses the Wayland input devices and renders its root window or individual X11 windows via Wayland. Apparently, only relatively few changes are required to enable this functionality.

Wayland was started by Red Hat developer Kristian Høgsberg in 2008. Project development is now coordinated by


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