Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 5th Nov 2010 19:15 UTC, submitted by Debjit
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Finally. Finally the leader of a major distribution who has the guts to stand up and say what a lot of people have known for a long time, but didn't dare to say because it usually leads to a storm of criticism. Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Ubuntu will be moving away from X.org, opting to go with Wayland instead.
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sorpigal
Member since:
2005-11-02

Yes but you are not the use case Ubuntu is going for. What good would network transparency do on a desktop or a netbook?

Why is it people still keep bringing up network transparency as the defining difference (and deficiency) between X and anything else?

If network transparency were the only good thing about X vs. Wayland or any other up and coming replacement then we'd all just be lobbying for network transparency to be added to the new system. The people who hate X, irrationally I might add, always harp on network transparency as the obvious cause of all of X's flaws and issues, implying as self-evident that any system without it is better. This is the only reason why network transparency is such a cornerstone of X-replacement 'debate': the people who do not understand or like X keep bringing it up!

The real value of X is that it was designed carefully by a number of smart people to be as neutral as possible and as extensible as possible. There are certain fundamental flaws to X's architecture, which the designers themselves freely admit, but these problems almost never come up amidst the barrage of "We hate network transparency" bullshit. Thus, supports of X are forced to defend network transparency which, while useful, does not illustrate why it is that any system that is not X will not be as good as X.

How can X have lasted as long as it has with its protocol unchanged? It's not because the protocol is the best or all future problems were forseen! It's because it was designed well and made extensible. Is Wayland extensible? If it is not then it is fundamentally worse than X. Take a program written against X11 20 years ago and run it today against the latest X.org server. It will work. It may not be very pretty, because the old program doesn't talk any of the extended features, but it will work. Can Wayland promise that the same will be true in another 20 years?

There are a lot of good reasons to replace X with a better X but not a lot of good reasons to replace X with a system that is poorly conceived, poorly designed and solves a small subset of the problem-set that X solves.

I'll close out by bringing network transparency in to the debate again by means of this observation: If your display system is sufficiently good it will give you network transparency for free, regardless of your fundamental architecture. How does Wayland implement or plan to implement network transparency? If it just can't then it's inferior. If no plan exists then it's inferior and its developers are insufficiently foresightful to be building a display system.

It's easy to solve some of the problems some of the time. To replace the incumbent you must solve all of the same problems at least as well, or state explicitly why it is that you won't or don't need to, or explain why not solving them as well is still better than sticking with the incumbent. Perhaps the Wayland developers can describe all of these things about their system and perhaps they can't; it doesn't matter here. What matters here is that if you can't so describe then you shouldn't be running around declaring Wayland as the presumptive usurper to X's crown.

Reply Parent Score: 3

vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26

How does Wayland implement or plan to implement network transparency?


By running X server as a normal application within Wayland.

Reply Parent Score: 2

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Sorry, but that only gets you transparency for X apps, not for native apps. What happens when there are no more X apps?

Reply Parent Score: 2

renox Member since:
2005-07-06

How does Wayland implement or plan to implement network transparency?


I've read that Wayland's main developper think that network transparency should be handled by the toolkits on top of Wayland.

This can work: anyway the toolkits have to be able to 'speak X' for compatibility, so the toolkits would use their X's comptability mode for the network transparency..

Reply Parent Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

No, network transparency has to be done at the lowest level possible, beneath all the GUI tookits. Otherwise, you end up with each toolkit doing it a different way, and you have learn Z different ways to do things for Z different apps.

Are Windows apps written to be network-aware? No, because it happens at a lower layer.

Are MacOS X apps written to be network-aware? No, because it happens at a lower layer.

Are KDE apps written to be network-aware? No, because it happens at a lower layer.

And so on.

Network transparency has to occur near the bottom of the graphics stack. Otherwise, it's no longer transparent to the user, and basically useless.

Reply Parent Score: 2

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

This can work: anyway the toolkits have to be able to 'speak X' for compatibility, so the toolkits would use their X's comptability mode for the network transparency..

This is a recipe for disaster. Simple example: Developer writes app on top of GTK on top of Wayland. Performance is Good Enough(tm) and he releases it. Some user tries to run it on top of X and hits a corner case or a race condition which doesn't get exposed under App->GTK->Wayland and causes a crash or a showstopper performance issue. User reports this bug to the app author, who never did test his app under this configuration because he doesn't need it himself. Most authors at this point update the documentation to mark the X back end as buggy and unsupported and close the bug. Now imagine this effect multiplied by thousands of apps over ten years. Ten years after Wayland becomes the default you won't be able to run just any app on top of GTK->X.

In all probability it won't even get that far. Some smart GTK developer will wake up in 5 years and say "Hey, you know what? We have a pile of on-top-of-X code that no one really likes to maintain any more, because most GTK developers just care about Wayland, and it's getting crufty and accumulating blocker bugs and making evolving the toolkit really messy. How about we just remove support from that from the next release?" and without someone stepping up to clear the backlog this will happen, then poof! So much for network transparency.

The key word here is "transparency" as in "No one has to worry about this, it just happens."

Reply Parent Score: 2

boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

It's easy to solve some of the problems some of the time. To replace the incumbent you must solve all of the same problems at least as well, or state explicitly why it is that you won't or don't need to, or explain why not solving them as well is still better than sticking with the incumbent.


God bless you.

Edited 2010-11-09 00:17 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2