[compiz] "Which version should I use?"

Kristian LyngstĂžl kristian at bohemians.org
Wed Nov 12 11:28:47 PST 2014

This is a somewhat controversial subject which I only reluctantly bring up.
I honestly believe that open discussion is the only way to run a project,
and I apologize in advance if I offend anyone.

I got what should have been an easy question on #compiz a few days ago. A
user came in and asked "What version do you recommend I use?".

I honestly didn't know what to say.

>From a user-perspective, I can not see any reason why I should recommend
Compiz to anyone. It has been maintained actively for several
years, but the problem is that I suspect that a large part of the bug fixes
and whatnot that has gone into it are simply not present in 0.8.
Stability-wise, I would assume that 0.9 and 0.8 are, at best, equal. And
that's after you get them built.

Feature-wise, Compiz actually has fewer features as I understand
it. With the move to OpenGL ES, several plugins got dropped. I understand
some of that has been remedied, but 0.9 still does not come out ahead if my
understanding is correct. I have asked around and this is what I've been
told, and it matches what I see. As far as I am concerned, OpenGL ES is not
a priority.

So to sum up: Equal stability, fewer features, but actively maintained.

In the end I told the user in question that is the latest stable
version, but 0.8.9 has more features and is as stable.

This obviously leads to the question of what happens next. I was one of the
people who created the plan which gave us Compiz 0.9 and the C++ port [1].
I want to underline that, so nobody takes this mail as criticism of their
work. Our plan was to stabilize 0.9 and get 1.0 out the door. I can only
conclude that we failed. Most developers left, and the C++ port was only
PART of the reason.

My problem is that I look at my own plugins and I can hardly even figure
out how things work. We have a code base now that is half C++ and half C.
Plugins are originally written with a C-mentality and C-approach, but then
shoe-horned into the world of C++. Getting the code-base into a decent
state would require going over every single plugin and re-doing all the
C-isms, which I do not believe is realistic.

We also know that Wayland will essentially make Compiz irrelevant sooner or
later. Starting a big project tied to X now is somewhat wasteful. But
Wayland will not replace most desktops tomorrow, and I want to keep running
Compiz. I also appreciate that Ubuntu is dependent on Compiz 0.9 for Unity
for the time being, but I can not let that be the deciding factor of what
happens with Compiz itself.

I have not made up my mind. Part of me want to pick up Compiz 0.8 and see
where it takes me. If it means a Compiz 0.8.10 and that's it, then that's
fine. An other part of me wants to fix 0.9. But to be honest, it feels like
my main motivation for working on 0.9 is to avoid stepping on toes, and not
because it is the superior choice.

But I remember that there were good and valid reasons for ditching the 0.8
code-base. It is not exactly perfect.

With that in mind, I am not making any suggestions, I am asking for
feedback. Either on-list or off. But I discussing this behind closed doors
seems like the worst possible approach.

[1] http://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/compiz/2009-February/003284.html

- Kristian
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