System76 builds new Linux desktop in Rust • The Register
System76, maker of Linux PCs and laptops running Pop! _OS, has spoken of plans to create a new desktop written in Rust as an evolution of its current GNOME-based product.
System76 software engineer Michael Murphy, who is a maintainer of Pop! _OS and also a contributor to the Redox OS project, a new Unix-like operating system implemented in Rust, posted in a Reddit thread on an ongoing New Desktop. for Pop! _OS. The current GNOME-based desktop is called COSMIC.
Murphy said the new desktop is not a GNOME fork but “is its own thing written in Rust”. Its general appearance will conform to the current “COSMIC / pop-shell”, according to its posts.
Why a new office? Some Reddit users have expressed concern over diluted efforts to improve the Linux desktop experience, like this one who said, “Yet another Linux desktop? Yet another Linux divider! Divide Linux and be won over. Congratulation !
Murphy replied, “Choice is the best part of open source. None of us would be here today if people weren’t brave enough to take the next step with a new solution to an existing problem… if a person has to contribute something that already exists or create something new. new depends on whether their goals align with the goals of something that already exists. There are things we would like to do that we simply cannot achieve with extensions in GNOME. Extensions in general look like a hack. And what we want to do with our desktop is different from GNOME, so it’s not as if the option to merge pop-shell and COSMIC in GNOME Shell would be welcome.
“We have a desktop environment which is a collection of GNOME Shell extensions that break every version of GNOME Shell. desktop environment equal to GNOME Shell. “
An obvious question is whether System76 will continue to use GTK (GNOME Toolkit), from which many existing POP! _OS applications and utilities are built. “We already use gtk-rs for all of our stuff,” said Murphy, where gtk_rs is a set of Rust language bindings for libraries and GTK components. “My guess is that there are likely to be components in GTK for the foreseeable future,” added Murphy. “The shell itself is, however, a lower level than a traditional desktop GUI toolkit. It will use the primitives of the window manager it relies on. If a mature Rust GUI appears, it could of course be used in the future. “
Linux is the dominant operating system for server applications, but a niche on the desktop, although it forms the basis of Chrome OS and Google’s Android. Other than that, the two most used desktops are GNOME, the default in Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and KDE, which uses Qt libraries. Desktops are the subject of much debate in the Linux community, users finding many reviews in both GNOME and KDE. In the world of FreeBSD, developer Simon Peter has had some impact with helloSystem, a new desktop inspired by the original guidelines of the Macintosh human interface. ElementaryOS, based on Ubuntu, is another project that has been supported.
“Qt is not viable for us because our team has experience with Rust and doesn’t want to switch to C ++. Future technology is in Rust’s GUI space, and that appears to be the where the spirits go behind Qt, ”Murphy said. .
He also said the new desktop will use existing tools which will include “at least one” of mutter (Wayland display server and X11 window manager), KWin (window manager) and / or wlroots (Wayland composer library). , but “implement the surrounding shell in Rust from scratch.”
Wayland is a certainty for the new COSMIC, Murphy said, and likely X11 (based on the old X protocol) as well, because “X11 is a strict requirement at the moment due to the Nvidia drivers.”
While some worry about the dilution of effort, there is also interest in new approaches to the Linux desktop. In addition, the continuous improvement of browser-based apps, sometimes running as PWAs (Progressive Web Apps), means that the gap between apps compared to Windows and macOS is less and less pressing, making it easier the success of new office initiatives. System76 also stands out because it is a hardware vendor and can guarantee that the operating system will run properly on its own kit.
No date has been given and don’t hold your breath. “It is only in the early stages of experimentation and is currently not actively worked for the duration of obtaining [Pop!_OS] 21.10 released, ”Murphy told us. ®