How to Install Unity Mir and use it with XMir + Xorg

 

First things first, this is highly experimental!! So, unless you are willing to lose your Ubuntu Saucy Install [OR] using a VM, I suggest you not try this. ‘There, I said it, you been warned!’.

 

Now, if you are ready to take the red pill, do it.

Reference Screenshot Post Mir Install:

Unity Running on XMir

Unity Running on XMir

 

Prerequisites:

  1. Install SSH. Do this first no matter what. This is your back door if things go wrong. 
  2. Make sure proprietary drivers are not installed and open source FOSS drivers are being used.
    • In my case, I found that proprietary drivers were not present to begin with. To verify:
      • In Synaptic, search for ‘nvidia’. Make sure none of the listed packages are installed
      • In Synaptic, search for ‘fglrx’.  Make sure none of the listed packages are installed
  3. This tutorial assumes you are going to use pre-built Mir packages. I will cover manual build in a later post. As of now, I’m not able to run Mir natively with strange errors.

Procedure:

Step 1:

Open a terminal and run the following command :
 
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mir-team/system-compositor-testing
PPA repository addition

PPA repository addition

Update your package list:

$ sudo apt-get update

Step 2:

Add the following apt preference to pick the packages from.
Package: *   
Pin: origin "private-ppa.launchpad.net"   
Pin-Priority: 1001   

Package: *   
Pin: release o=LP-PPA-mir-team-system-compositor-testing   
Pin-Priority: 1002
apt preference to pick Mir packages

apt preference to pick Mir packages

Step 3:

Install ‘mir-demos’ package followed by dist-upgrade
$ sudo apt-get install mir-demos   
$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

 

Mir Demo packages

Mir Demo packages

 

Packages to dist-upgrade

Packages to dist-upgrade

Step 4:

Verify your installation using the following commands:

Mir Install Verification

Mir Install Verification

Verdict:

1. For a piece of software in its infancy, the installation of Mir went surprisingly smooth. The only glitch I found in the installation was the ‘double-cursor’ issue (refer first screenshot). It has become so famous that for a couple of days now, the appearance of two cursors is considered to be the successful installation and running of XMir (note that this is not the native Mir Display server that will come by default in the final roll out. This is the layer running on top of X. As I mentioned, so far, I was not able to get the native Mir display server up and running).

2. There is also another issue symptom, wherein typing inside a terminal  becomes awfully slow. I hit this maybe one out of five times I loaded Unity on top of Mir.

If this installation is any indication of things to come, I think Ubuntu might have a winning way in terms of a new display ecosystem, albeit an upstart. I only hope Ubuntu won’t become another Mac OS X by going proprietary with a glossy display. How it’s going to compete with the Wayland project which is supposed to replace the legendary X display server, is an interesting thing to wait and watch. I’ll be playing around some with Mir and hopefully run it native. Until such a time, I think I’ll stick to X. Nothing against Mir, just that I don’t see anything charming me to dance to Mir’s tunes :-)

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