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KDE GUI Graphics Programming Linux

KDE and Canonical Developers Disagree Over Display Server 202

sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Robert Ancell, a Canonical software engineer, wrote a blog titled 'Why the display server doesn't matter', arguing that: 'Display servers are the component in the display stack that seems to hog a lot of the limelight. I think this is a bit of a mistake, as it’s actually probably the least important component, at least to a user.' KDE developers, who do have long experience with Qt (something Canonical is moving towards for its mobile ambitions), have refuted Bob's claims and said that display server does matter."
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KDE and Canonical Developers Disagree Over Display Server

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  • logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:51PM (#46565545)

    If they don't matter, why mir?

  • Re:Personal blog (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sfcrazy ( 1542989 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:02PM (#46565677)
    He is a Canonical developer and its not a post about his family cat.
  • Bollocks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:10PM (#46565771) Homepage Journal

    The display server is hugely important. The fact that the user doesn't know they're using it is irrelevant, because they're using it at all times.

  • Shh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameMaster ( 148118 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:14PM (#46565807)

    You heard the man, it's not important. Now stop talking about it! That way Canonical can more easily save face when they cancel their failed cluster-fuck of a display server and switch back to Wayland...

  • Re:Personal blog (Score:1, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:21PM (#46565881)

    My stance: I don't trust KDE or Canonical to develop a useful UI, one is too stuck on supporting fringe uses at the cost of any possible performance and the other has shown a hostility toward any user customization. (Ok, for full disclosure, I installed KDE after accidentally upgrading to a 'Unity' Ubuntu build. The system went from ugly to crashing more than Windows ME. LXDEd it later and everything is back to useful.)

    I do not trust any "GUI UI Designer" to develop a useful UI. Why? Because their job depends on constant change, regardless of if it is better or not. Take cars, for example. Can you Imagen what the Unity team or KDE would do to you car? I can bet it would not have a wheel in the middle wipers on the right, turn signals on the left, ignition on the dash on the right, headlights on the dash on the left, and gear selector on the right in the center. (For left had drive) Nor would the peddles be clutch brake gas from left to right... Why? Because leaving something that works well alone does not validate your existence and contribution to the project.

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:24PM (#46565909)

    Just one question. If the display server is of such minimal importance in the big scheme of things, then why did Canonical develop their own?

  • Re:Shh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:32PM (#46566009) Homepage Journal

    X.org, not Wayland. Wayland is still under development. Wayland devs must be elated that Mir has made the debate "Wayland vs Mir" rather than "Tried, trusted, works, and feature complete X.org vs Wayland."

  • He's Right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:51PM (#46566239)
    The canonical developer said that users don't care which I think is pretty accurate. The majority of users won't care as long as applications run and are responsive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:59PM (#46566361)

    Not only that, but each example (NeXT/OSX and Android) are undeniable success stories.

    X11 has severe limitations, like a cramped network abstraction layer that can't share windows or desktops with multiple people. Supposedly the NX server gets around this, but the X11 people haven't shown any interest in adopting the NX features.

    People need displays that look like they computer is operating smoothly (instead of barfing text-mode logs here and there when transitioning between users, runlevels, etc).

    People need to share their windows (efficiently, not with VNC) for teleconferencing.

    Both OS X and Windows achieved these by focusing on the display server. So, as much as I respect Canonical's work, I think this blogger/dev is somewhat clueless.

  • Re:Shh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @03:12PM (#46566521)

    X.org, not Wayland. Wayland is still under development. Wayland devs must be elated that Mir has made the debate "Wayland vs Mir" rather than "Tried, trusted, works, and feature complete X.org vs Wayland."

    X.org is not "feature complete" in any meaningful sense. It is incapable of doing the kind of GPU-accelerated, alpha-blended compositing that is expected on a modern user interface. Sure, you can get around most of this by ignoring all the X11 primitives and using X.org to blit bitmaps for everything, with all the real work done by other toolkits. But in that case, it's those other toolkits doing the heavy lifting, and X.org is just a vestigal wart taking up system resources unnecessarily.

  • Re:oh good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @03:26PM (#46566671)

    Although better graphics would be nice calling them amateurish is rather silly.

    Why? The KDE desktop looks like the state-of-the-art from say 1993. If I wanted my desktop to look like Xaw3d, I'd just fall through a time warp and go back there. At least the music was better.

    I'm pretty happy with my KDE desktop, but I use it as a tool to get work done, not because it looks pretty.

    I bought a hammer from the hardware store that looks almost exactly like the 1920's era hammer my great grandfather used (though the handle is fiberglass instead of wood), but it works well and gets the job done. Just because a desktop "looks" old doesn't make it useless. I tried Unity and Windows Metro and found them to be much less usable for my developer/operations tasks.

  • Re:oh good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @03:27PM (#46566691)

    KDE 4 is great except for Akonadi, which killed Kmail.

  • Re:Shh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @04:31PM (#46567441)

    Today, X uses far less memory than Windows 8

    Nice, you just compared a single process on one OS to the entire OS and its subprocesses of another. Totally fair.

    How about you compare X to the Win32 Desktop Window Manager instead? Which is a lot closer, though still not exact since Windows has this mentality that GUI in the kernel is a good idea.

    My point however is that your comparison is not really a comparison.

  • by Golthur ( 754920 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @05:02PM (#46567887)

    My main issue with systemd is that it is monolithic; it violates the fundamental Unix philosophy in a most egregious way, and whenever anyone comments on this, we are (to quote the GP) "brusquely told that we shouldn't judge it we should just accept it and indeed ought to stop whining and complaining and be grateful someone is generously spending their free time on this problem, because we haven't invested the time to really learn it ourselves and don't know what we're talking about".

    We used to have separate, replaceable systems for each aspect of systemd - e.g. if you didn't like syslog, there was syslog-ng, or metalog, or rsyslog; each different and meant for a different purpose. Now, it's "all or nothing" - except that it's becoming progressively more difficult to opt for "nothing" because it's integrating itself into fundamental bits like the kernel and udev.

  • Re:logic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by batkiwi ( 137781 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @06:17PM (#46568903)

    They're saying that it doesn't matter to an app developer if you're using a middleware framework, as most developers do, because the eventual output on the display will be the same.

    The reasons for introducing mir are performance, ability to run on low footprint devices, and cross device compatability.

    So their point is that X11 vs wayland vs mir vs framebuffer vs blakjsrelhasifdj doesn't matter to a developer using the full QT stack. Their write their app to QT, and then developers on QT write the backend to talk to whatever the end user is using. It's more work for QT/other frameworks, but "should" be "no" more work for an app developer.

  • Re:oh good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teun ( 17872 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @07:04PM (#46569361) Homepage
    I can't really name any other desktop with a versatility and usefulness better than KDE.

    Sure a DE is an acquired taste but it does have to be functional without being ugly.
    Nor is there outside the commercial offerings any DE with such a well integrated package of applications.

    That doesn't mean I don't see the attractivity of something like Enlightenment but compared to KDE it is seriously limited, both in options and looks.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev