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Re: SurfaceFlinger

Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Feb 23, 2013 0:34 UTC (Sat) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639)
In reply to: SurfaceFlinger by rsidd
Parent article: Ubuntu for phone/tablet available

My reading of the available information including these items:

leads me to believe the Canonical doesn't have a Xserver to SurfaceFlinger bridge in place yet. For gui applications to work they will need to be written with qt5, which has support for both Xserver and SurfaceFlinger. Hence why the new SDK that was also made public as part of the U. Touch/Tablet unveil is qt5/qml. I doubt xterm from the repositories will run as expected in this chrooted Ubuntu environment running on top of the android plumbing, but I could be wrong.

The video with Shuttleworth laying out how the phone,tablet and desktop are all going to work seemlessly so you can run phone and desktop apps side by side should be taken as the ultimate end goal, not as a current deliverable. A bit of hopeful salesmanship and visioneering to generate interest in the platform development journey.

I think a big piece of the engineering yet to be made public is Canonical's replacement for both SurfaceFlinger and Xserver. I believe Canonical employees have already made public the fact that they are working on something that is not Wayland to fill that space in their stack. A forked SurfaceFlinger perhaps? No idea. It'll be fun finding out.

All I know for sure is I look forward to watching Canonical chase Google's dominance in the mobility space by forking the crap out of Google's technology and then sending it back into the marketplace as a competitor. Popcorn at the ready. At least they aren't wasting any time, this time around. trying to claim this is just a different interpretation of the Android OS, and pretending to be working in collaboration with Google. Its nice to see them taking ownership of the differentiation story early.

Though I wish they'd stress the Unity brand more and let the Ubuntu brand slide out of product strategy usage and let it exist as a community brand. The Ubuntu brand has some baggage due to the expansive nature of the Ubuntu project and the repositories. Canonical is clearly positioning the Unity interface as the cross-formfactor hotness. But for a lot of people Ubuntu is not just Unity, its the larger project space. Community members can self-identify, and will communicate with others, as using Ubuntu even though they do not use the Unity interface. This is brand confusion that will weaken the story Canonical wants to tell to new users.

The phone and the tablet products are strictly Unity interfaces. None of the traditional linux stack UI interfaces, not even KDE active afaik, works on top of SurfaceFlinger in the way that the new qt5 based UI Canonical has put together does. Please someone correct me if I am wrong about that. But if I have my information correct, that has some very significant ramification with regard to confusion that using the Ubuntu brand is going to cause when trying to win the cross-formfactor strategy. People who think of _Ubuntu_ as the larger repository that includes alternative interfaces other than Unity are going to be confused, and are going to cause confusion in others.

Canonical would get much more mileage out of the Unity brand, as a narrowly definable brand that was associated very specifically to the common UI experience they are pushing.


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Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Feb 23, 2013 17:37 UTC (Sat) by rsidd (subscriber, #2582) [Link]

Hm, that's a bit... disappointing. First, Ubuntu for Android claims that it "is a complete desktop with a full range of desktop applications including office, web browsing, email, media and messaging" and "enables high-end Android handsets to run Ubuntu, the world’s favourite free PC desktop operating system". Naturally, then, I took the desktop apps to mean LibreOffice, Firefox, and the rest. Unless Ubuntu have ported all of these to be running on qt5, it is highly misleading. And even if they have, I still want a usable terminal, emacs (the gui version preferably), and so on.

I'm typing this in firefox inside a Debian-based chroot in an android tablet (with a bluetooth keyboard case). It is displayed via VNC, so I can't watch movies and so on, but I have android for those. For actual work, this is in fact good enough for me. I take it when travelling, it weighs almost nothing and its battery lasts all day, and I have used it to prepare presentations (latex beamer), edit documents (latex, libreoffice) and spreadsheets (libreoffice), and even program (python). I have kindle, a nice pdf reader, etc on the android side -- so if I'm only reading, I take it out of the keyboard case and use it as a regular tablet. I also have Firefox on android, but the linux firefox works better for me. And the battery lasts all day. And this tablet is nearly two years old. There is genuine utility in this space.

If Ubuntu would push a co-existence of Android and "normal" Linux, it would be a winner. If it were a full-blown (Xorg-based) Linux, for me it would still be a winner. But from what you say, it is a thing that runs on top of Android (CM10.1) but omits most of the useful stuff in Android, and also omits the useful stuff from Ubuntu. So, frankly, I don't see the point. But I realise it is a work in progress.

Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Feb 23, 2013 18:24 UTC (Sat) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639) [Link]

I think the point is, Canonical needs OEM partners who are willing to pay for engineering services to offset the costs to get to the final deliverable product. And a lot of what we see right now is visioneering of the final concept using Android as a shortcut to get something into the hands of prospective partners, partners who will put money into bringing the final vision forward.

I wouldn't get too bogged down in the technical details of the preview.

It's already been reported that Jono has commented on the particular issue of a custom display server. Canonical is working on a custom display server specifically to meet their needs. Not X, Not Wayland. I fully expect Canonical to talk about their plans in the display server space soon and give more detail. Especially now that its obvious to everyone they are rebasing on Android to launch their mobile. They really do have to explain how they plan to bridge the Android/traditional X server space. It could be they plan to run an Xserver on top of Android for _legacy_ desktop applications. It's not impossible to imagine.

-jef"In an alternative universe there is a version of Canonical using kickstarter to crowdsource funding for new concepts. The actor Jerry O'Connell has taken me there, and its an eerie sort of place, with Ubuntu branded electronics everywhere."spaleta

Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Feb 28, 2013 9:40 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

I wouldn't get too bogged down in the technical details of the preview.

I would. Remember: it's 2013 on the calendar. Last year world have seen almost 700 million smartphones sold and year before that the number was 500 million — that's about 40% year-to-year growth but, more importantly, it's growth to about 40% of all mobile phones sold (1.75 billion in last year — and this number is actually 1.7% smaller then 2011th number). With any luck we'll have a magic point where half all phones sold will be smartphones this year.

What does it mean? Well, it's easy: platforms with ≳5-7% will go on to fight for the smartphone, platforms with ≲5-7% will go on to fight for the nice Wikipedia article. Because it's much, much, MUCH easier to grab "fresh" user who had no prior experience rather then pull the existing smartphone user with tons of games, books, videos and other things bought for the particular type of smartphone. Not "easy" by any means (just ask Microsoft), but much, much, MUCH easier.

And frankly, Ubuntu does not impress me. State of preview is abysmal. If we'll have something usable by Christmas — it'll be a miracle. And clock is ticking.

Now, Canonical may pull a miracle similar to Firefox OS one and suddenly become contender, not pretender, but right now it all looks extremely weak.

Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Feb 28, 2013 18:08 UTC (Thu) by krakensden (subscriber, #72039) [Link]

A custom display server. Sounds easy, lets bang one out in a couple of weekends.

Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Feb 23, 2013 19:29 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

remember that this is an extremely early release, they are aiming for a general release with ubuntu 13.10, so they have time to do some major changes to things along the way.

Don't assume that just because they use some component now they are going to stick with it going forward.

Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Mar 3, 2013 3:37 UTC (Sun) by achiang (guest, #47297) [Link]

Ubuntu for Android and Ubuntu Touch are at present, two different products.

UfA can indeed run any existing app without requiring a Qt5 port (assuming it is already ported to ARM).

Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Feb 24, 2013 19:58 UTC (Sun) by heijo (guest, #88363) [Link]

How does SurfaceFlinger compare to Wayland?

Anyway, wouldn't it be possible to add a SurfaceFlinger backend to GTK 2, GTK 3 and Qt4 too, and maybe write an XSurfaceFlinger like XWayland?

Re: SurfaceFlinger

Posted Feb 24, 2013 20:00 UTC (Sun) by heijo (guest, #88363) [Link]

Or actually maybe Xegl would work, possibly with minor changes? (assuming SurfaceFlinger works fine with EGL)

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