The new Ubuntu desktop, Unity 8

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Ubuntu has turned the desktop inside out with Unity 8. However, Unity 8's new concepts do not always impress in their current state.

Unlike the Debian releases on which it is based, Ubuntu usually has six month release cycles. Since its latest announcement of new functions, Canonical is running further behind schedule than ever before. By way of example, a completely redesigned Unity 8 was already planned for Ubuntu 15.04. Moreover, the current release is still missing functions needed for every day use. However, you can install the advanced version, unity8-desktop-session , using the package manager.

The Unity's roots reach back to 2011 and version 11.04. Prior to the appearance of the current stable version, Unity 7, this Canonical desktop made do with the graphical X Window server that Linux has been using for ages. However this ancestor from the previous century gradually turned into an ever greater burden. Smartphones can all handle smooth 3D effects, but fade effects and scaling windows overtax a desktop. X Window runs as an independent process and window managers, like KWin in KDE or Mutter in Gnome, have to take several detours when it comes to animation.

In order to modernize the infrastructure, some developers launched Wayland as a display server. If used with appropriate the libraries and toolkits, Wayland simplifies the workings of the graphical interface. The Wayland protocol is much less complicated than the protocol for the X Window System, and it handles 3D acceleration right out of the box. Modern windows managers provide direct support for the new functions, thus making an individual process for the server obsolete. These improvements have been met with widespread approval for Wayland from the community. As a result, KDE, Gnome, and Enlightenment have based their windows managers on Wayland and are gradually heading down that road.


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