Last week, I commented on how many Linux users are turned off by Canonical's seemingly unilateral decisions with regard to the development Ubuntu, the latest (at that time) example of which has been the decision to ship the Unity DE as the default even in the desktop edition, even though it's clear that even the standard netbook version of Unity needs a lot of work. Well, a lot of news outlets have reported that Canonical is going even further with this and that it wants to completely ditch the X/11 Windowing System.
Wow. That's a pretty bold move. Then again, it really does explain the decision to ship Unity, as Canonical probably wants to use that as a testbed for a totally new desktop environment built on the relatively new Wayland system.
So what do I think about this? Well, now I don't oppose the move to Unity as much because now I know it's just part of a bigger plan. That said, I'm not an expert by any means on windowing systems or X/11, but I'm inclined to believe the numerous statements that the reason for this switch is because X/11, dating from the 1980s, isn't getting any more streamlined and it's just getting more bloated with newer versions of desktop environments. Given that, I totally understand and do agree with the switch to Wayland, especially if it is going to be a long-term shift with support for legacy X/11 applications for a while as well. At the same time, I hope that Canonical really means it when they say that the transition to Wayland will be a much longer-term process.
Given all this, I wonder what will happen to Linux Mint and other derivatives of Ubuntu after this. In fact, now that we know that Canonical's future plan is to ship Unity or an evolution of it based on Wayland as the default environment in Ubuntu, what will happen to the official derivatives, like Kubuntu and Xubuntu? Will Canonical actually put effort into helping migrate KDE and Xfce onto Wayland from X/11, or will they just be left out to rot? I'm anxious to see what comes of all this in the coming years.
(UPDATE: The lead developer of Linux Mint has said that Linux Mint will neither adopt Unity nor Wayland in the foreseeable future, though it will remain compatible with Ubuntu. That said, it is also not likely to adopt GNOME Shell; therefore, it will remain essentially in its current state.)