A new lightweight desktop environment based on Wayland is in development for the Raspberry Pi — but will be available on other Linux distributions, too.
The stated aim of the project is to offer a ‘functional, light and pretty’ desktop — three of my favourite words for any DE, lightweight or otherwise.
While designed primarily for use with the single-board Raspberry Pi computer, the modern-looking Maynard GUI uses Weston and GTK so will run fine on most modern Linux distributions.
Leveraging Power of Wayland
But why does the Raspberry Pi need its own custom desktop environment? At present the Raspberry Pi runs the Debian-based Raspbian OS and uses the LXDE desktop by default. While LXDE runs well on the limited hardware it doesn’t support Wayland.
Wayland support will allow the Raspberry Pi team to leverage the full power of the ‘hardware video scaler’ (HVS) at the heart of the device using Wayland/Weston compositor APIs.
To hasten the transition the Raspberry Pi foundation has been working in collaboration with the open-source consulting company Collabora — famed for their work on GStreamer and Telepathy — to create the new lightweight Maynard desktop.
“While it’s some distance from being ready for the prime time, we though we’d share a preview so you can see where we’re going.”
The Maynard desktop features a small dock on the lefthand side, similar to the one found in the GNOME Shell Activities Overlay. The dock is home to a quick launcher, volume control, and a hidden app drawer.
Maynard is still in active development and misses a few key features. But, of the functionality that has been implemented thus far, the result is pretty promising, as the video below shows.
Install Maynard Desktop on Ubuntu
Although Maynard is being developed for the Raspberry Pi there is nothing to stop anyone form running it on another distribution, such as Ubuntu. You just need to know your way around the command line and be familiar with compiling software from source.
A full walkthrough of that process can be found on the Maynard Wiki at the link below.
If you happen to own a Raspberry Pi then you can play with the progress so far using simplified install instructions on the Collabora website.