Canonical, the company behind the open source Ubuntu Linux OS, set out earlier this year to create a radically new video display platform called Mir to help it steal a slice of the smartphone and tablet markets. Now, in a sign of just how serious the company is, it has announced a hiring push for developers to work on Mir and related projects.
Mir is a new display server that, if all goes as planned for Canonical, will replace (in Ubuntu, at least, and perhaps in other Linux platforms as well) the X.org system that has provided the graphical backend for virtually all open source operating systems over the last several decades. Mir, which promises to be more lightweight and better suited for mobile devices, is a crucial piece of Canonical's endeavor to bridge Ubuntu out from its established base on traditional PCs and desktops to run on smartphones, tablets and TVs as well.
On Wednesday, Canonical's director of Technology, Oliver Ries, described four new positions the company hopes to fill. They include one software engineer to work directly on the Mir server and three others who will dedicate themselves to particular aspects of Unity.
Canonical began developing Unity from scratch several years ago in what was, by all indications, an effort to reduce Ubuntu's dependence on third-party upstream projects, such as the competing open source GNOME and KDE desktop environments. Unity has been the default interface on all versions of Ubuntu (except the server and cloud editions, which don't have a graphical session running by default) since the release of Ubuntu 11.04 in April 2011.
But Canonical clearly hopes to do much more with Unity, whose future is now closely tied to Mir. The money it is investing in additional engineering talent for both projects signals a deep commitment to seeing Mir and next-generation Unity through to completion. It also suggests that the company, which remains private, continues to have cash available for new investment, even as many of the revenue streams it has introduced since its creation a decade ago remain in a state of development.