The year of the Linux desktop is coming, and it looks like a piñata of micro-services. Let’s break it and see the candies inside.
- systemd core — the building block framework abstracting basic functionalities
- A universal package manager with a single reposotiry where anyone can push
- flatpak/appimage/snap — containarized applications
- polkit, desktop portal, and apparmor — granular security
- systemd-homed — movable home with an immutable base system
- wayland compositors — the graphical environment
- pipewire — media pipeline
If you’re bored you can leave now, that’s it. Otherwise, let me get more ideas out, but nothing surprising to anyone that has been following RedHat, the freedesktop.org, and systemd.
The key innovation of the picture I lay above is that every layer in the system is now isolated and communicate with one another through d-bus services. D-bus is fantastic in its own right and good at abstracting functionalities.
All of these pieces need one another. Wayland compositors need pipewire to be able to access media hardware, and pipewire needs a polkit-like mechanism (D-Bus services such as policy managers and desktop portals) to select who can do that. Similarly, containarized applications access the rest of the system through systemd services, polkit, portals, and pipewire.
What this leads to is a base system that is stable, a solid framework to build on. The home is transportable inside a systemd-homed, along with the containarized apps, proprietary or not.
The deep secret insider info I got tells me that this is a giant scheme
to get us all in a vendor lock-in. I can lie, this is the internet.
Or better (or worse?), this is a new Android ecosystem.
Who’s going to nag when this is all done in the open; when the open source movers are the implementers of the de-facto implementations; when they keep piling the standards until nobody can follow them.
I believe the direction the Linux desktop is going towards will bring more incentives for investments. Distributions uniqueness won’t matter anymore as they’ll be centralized around a “store” where devs will push directly. (see previous post about distros roles)
Leave a comment if you weren’t aware of this vision of how distros will look in the future.
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