In a recent ARTICLE, I went over a number of potential changes that Canonical announced for future Ubuntu releases, some of which will apply as soon as 11.04 Natty Narwhal is released. As soon as I heard that news, I wondered how the many Ubuntu based distros would go about it, specially Linux Mint. If you also wondered yourself, here are some answers from none other than Linux Mint Founder Clement Lefebvre, extracted from a recent INTERVIEW published by free software oriented news site MUKTWARE.
"We're not planning to switch to Unity but to keep our desktop as similar as it is at the moment. So it's hard to say how we'll achieve this technically but we're aiming at using Gnome without Gnome Shell :)", said Lefebvre.
On the topic of using Wayland, he said: "... it's an interesting project. Ubuntu isn't going to switch to it this year and we'll see future releases keep X for now. The backing of canonical behind this project could bring it up to speed as a really interesting alternative and a good successor to X, just as it could make it something that only suits Ubuntu itself.. the future will tell. For now we're sticking with X with no plans to change, but we'll keep an eye on the development of Wayland and see where it's going in the near future."
This is interesting, not only as far as Mint 11 is concerned, but also because it sounds as if Clement had a bit of an insider view on the subject. Mark Shuttleworth suggested that Wayland could be part of Ubuntu 11.04 (although he did hint at the possibility that it could take longer than that), but Lefebvre clearly states that Wayland is not to be used any time soon. It will be interesting to see what happens eventually, but I have to say Clement's point of view sounds more realistic.
As a final comment, Lefebvre stated: "Anyway, it's too soon to talk about this. Mint 10 is about to be released, and Mint 11 will come with the same desktop and the same X server in about 6 months time."
It's interesting to see Mint deviating more and more from Ubuntu's path. On the one hand, it is great news because it should bring further diversity to the Linux user community. On the other hand, it brings some question marks around the feasibility of Canonical future plans for Ubuntu.
Will future changes play in favor or against Ubuntu and its user community? We will have to wait and see.