The source code of the preliminary version of the new graphical environment for operating systems based on the Linux kernel – Maui Shell has been posted on the Web. The novelty is distinguished by the fact that it can automatically adapt to the screen size and available input methods and, thus, is suitable for use on devices of any form factor – from a desktop PC to a smartphone – without “finalizing a file”. The release is scheduled for September 2022.
Submitted by Maui Shell
The developers of the Debian Linux-based distribution Nitrux have presented a new universal graphical shell for Linux, which can run both on personal computers and on mobile devices such as a tablet or smartphone.
Called the Maui Shell, like the popular GNOME, KDE Plasma and Xfce environments, it offers Linux users a complete graphical interface as well as a set of tools for managing it and system settings. It includes a desktop, an application launcher (launcher), a taskbar, a top bar (dock), and a notification and pop-up window for setting options.
The key feature of the shell is its adaptability to the characteristics of the equipment on which it is used. The same version of Maui Shell runs on devices of various form factors, be it a desktop computer with a large display and connected mouse and keyboard, or a miniature smartphone that is controlled almost exclusively by touching the screen.
New member added to the list of graphical environments for Linux
The novelty may appeal to manufacturers and simply lovers of smartphones running on “pure” Linux. Such a gadget, for example, was released by Pine64 in early December 2021. Its new PinePhone Pro supports over 20 Linux distributions, including both general purpose builds (Gentoo, Slackware, Fedora) and mobile-specific projects (Ubuntu Touch, Sailfish OS, PureOS). By default, the device runs Manjaro Linux with the KDE Plasma Mobile environment.
According to a post on the project’s blog, Maui Shell consists of two main components: a Cask container and a Zpace composite manager. Among other things, Cask is responsible for the top bar, taskbar or dock (Dock) and launcher (launcher).
The top bar, as its name suggests, is located at the top of the screen. Its left half is used to display notifications, and the right one contains switches for quick access to network settings, screen brightness, sound, etc.
The dock is located at the bottom of the screen and displays the launcher, icons of running applications, as well as programs pinned by the user.
Launcher displays a complete list of applications installed on the system and allows you to launch any of them.
When working on a laptop or desktop, the launcher window opens just above the dock. The top panel is mouse operated. When maximized to full screen, application windows never overlap the dock.
Maui Shell on desktop
When using a tablet, the launcher, panels and application windows open in full screen mode by default, without control buttons and clearly marked borders. If necessary, you can configure the simultaneous display of windows of two applications on the same screen: either side by side, or one above the other. Control is carried out by fingers or a mouse.
Adapted for the tablet computer Maui Shell
On a smartphone, all Cask elements and applications open in full screen mode, and at the same time, by default, only one window can be located on the screen. If the dock contains too many icons to fit on the screen, the user can scroll with his finger or mouse. The dock can also be overlapped by the application window.
Maui Shell on smartphone screen
The Zspace Composite Manager manages window placement and workspaces (virtual desktops). It uses the Wayland protocol, which is handled through the Qt Wayland Compositor API.
The project is at an early stage of development. So, according to the developers, now Maui Shell does not have a session manager, a settings control center, an XWayland extension for running X11 applications in a Wayland-based session, and it does not support working with multiple monitors.
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Now the authors of the project are working on the integration of Maui Shell with the Pulseaudio sound server; over the function of dragging items using the mouse or fingers (drag & drop) and the ability to interact with Bluetooth-devices via Bluedevil. Also, the close attention of developers is riveted to virtual desktops, launcher and panels.
According to the project roadmap, its alpha version (0.5.0) should see the light of day in March 2022, and beta (0.5.0) in June. The stable release of version 1.0.0 is expected to take place in September next year.
A preview of the Maui Shell will be included in the latest release of Nitrux 1.8.0 on December 26, 2021 as an alternative shell.
Maui Shell is developed in the C ++ and QML programming languages. The Maui Shell source code is published on the IT project hosting Github and is distributed under the terms of the GNU LGPL 3.0 free license. This, in particular, means that anyone can use the developments of the Maui Shell team, moreover, for free.