Running Mir

The documentation for Mir is growing and we also have instructions out how to get Mir running on your computer, I wanted to briefly summarize the necessary steps to get Mir up and running and how to go back.

Please be warned that while I tried to carefully document all necessary steps you might end up with a system that doesn’t function as expected and which will require further intervention, a reinstall or might even suffer data loss (most likely during the OS reinstall;). Also, don’t use Mir on a production or public system, as there is at least one security related bug.


1. Upgrade to Saucy Salamander

If you aren’t already on the development version of Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander you need to upgrade to it:

$> sudo do-release-upgrade -d
$> sudo apt-get update
$> sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

this step should be pretty straightforward.

2. Uninstall binary drivers

[EDIT] This only applies if you have binary drivers for a Nvidia or ATI GPU installed. If you are on open drivers, happily skip to #3.

There are many ways to install these in the first place, and likewise there are many ways to uninstall them. Here is one way to do it, YMMV.


$> sudo apt-get remove --purge fglrx*

For NVidia GPUs:

$> sudo apt-get remove --purge nvidia*

3. Install Mir

Now we are getting serious, first add the PPA to the system:

$> sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mir-team/system-compositor-testing

Then update your package list

$> sudo apt-get update

We have to make sure updates in main don’t overwrite packages from the Mir PPA.
Please edit /etc/apt/preferences.d/50-pin-mir.pref with following content:

Package: *
Pin: origin ""
Pin-Priority: 1001

Package: *
Pin: release o=LP-PPA-mir-team-system-compositor-testing
Pin-Priority: 1002

Last but not least, install Mir and all relevant packages

$> sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

4. Enjoy

Mir and all required packages are now installed. You need to restart lightdm which will take you straight back to the login screen and proceed as if nothing has changed (so the theory).

$> sudo restart lightdm

Right now (due to a bug that is almost a feature;) you will recognize that Mir is running by having 2 mouse pointers (HW & SW mouse pointer). This will go away and we will provide you with another more obvious watermark to identify you are running on Mir.You can also simply check if the system compositor process is running:

$> ps afx | grep unity-system-compositor

5. Going Back

There are 2 possibilities to disable Mir on your system, you can either temporarily switch back to run good old X or you can remove all of Mir all together.

Turning Mir on & off temporarily

In order to switch Mir off/on temporarily, one simply needs to manually edit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/10-unity-system-compositor.conf


Simply comment the 2nd line out if you want to turn of Mir and go back to X instead


If you want to go back to Mir, well, you know what to do. Any change must be followed by a restart of lightdm from a console/VT in order to take effect.

$> sudo restart lightdm

Removing Mir from your system entirely

Please start with disabling Mir as described in the paragraph above. Then, we need to purge the Mir PPA, uninstall all packages from there and remove the PPA from your sources list. ppa-purge is the tool for that task:

$> sudo ppa-purge ppa:mir-team/system-compositor-testing

you might have to install ppa-purge first via

$> sudo apt-get install ppa-purge

Second, while not required, I do prefer to do another update & upgrade to make sure I am not missing on anything:

$> sudo apt-get update
$> sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

6. Known issues

There are many, but we keep fixing them as we find them, here a few highlights:

  • VT/console switching does not work – bugs 1193207 and 1192429, note that input is dumped onto the VT and you might reveal sensitive information such as passwords 1102756
  • Screen does not go to sleep – bug 1192429
  • MultiMonitor does not work yet – not a bug, but a missing feature. I am running Mir on my X220 in a dock in a Mirrored mode with an external display, this seems to work fine
  • asker

    nice, congratulations…when can we expect to run mir with nvidia?

  • OperEd

    Are there any ‘safe’ games that I can try running using Mir currently, please? Or is it too early. I can do a graphics card switcheroo also, if that means greater stability with one GPU company over the other.

    • olliries

      if it runs on X w/o accelerated drivers then it should run on Mir as well – obviously something I hadn’t tested myself. We do run however openarena as a benchmark 🙂

      • OperEd

        For a moment I thought OpenArena was a benchmark app, like Futuremark, but I realise now you mean the Q3A game. A game made way back in 1999 isn’t really a serious benchmark. A great game though, which I played far too much.

  • OperEd

    Thanks, I’ll give it a whirl. I’m a Linux noob but curious to see the potential of a stable graphics display server particularly for gaming.

  • anonymous

    Thanks for the straight forward instructions. In 13.10+XMir with a Qt Mir backend installed: Can a Qt application use Mir directly or will everything run through X?

    • olliries

      in the current configuration Qt apps still talk X

  • greymech


    Thanks for this. I have had a fresh install of Saucy waiting for this. I am there on it now. some of us on Ubuntu+1 have been trying to mess around with MIR on a PC for a few weeks. Not noticing any difference.

    • olliries

      glad to hear that feedback

  • James Lewis

    Thanks for these details… I tried on my Sandy Bridge Thinkpad, but it gets stuck trying to bring up the display server, and repeatedly puts out this message:-

    usbhid 2-1.6:1.0: can’t add hid device: -71

    Not really sure what’s going on because if I reboot it actually stops before the ssh daemon gets started so I can’t log in remotely to see what’s going on.

    Putting commenting out the line type=unity in 10-unity-system-compositor.conf gets it booting again, but I don’t seem to have any luck otherwise.

    Is there any log file that I could usefully pass on/look at?

  • mondie101

    testing with Ivy bridge, Gigabyte Z77M-D3H. Everything is ok, best ever!

  • Doug

    Quite likely that those choosing to remove (ppa-purge) will reboot into low graphics. Maybe you should mention they should remove /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/10-unity-system-compositor.conf or comment the entry inside before rebooting..

  • Thilo

    Hopefully MultiMonitor will work when you go official with Mir!

  • Jerry Amos

    Fresh 13.10.0-1 install on Acer Aspire 1 netbook, external monitor running mir dual cursors etc. Tried the unity8 ppa, nor sure it installed anything? Still has unity up on reboot.

    • FarsenFSD

      Go to the terminal and type “unity8” to start it , not sure how to do it to start on boot.

  • Hugo

    Hope it will be possible to switch the color deph with mir …
    It’s really not smart to force 16 million colors on all machines, (despite an human eye can “only” see 6 millions colors ^^) When i started with ubuntu on 2007 the Linux screen was slower than my Windows one !! Just because could not adjust the color depth …
    Is it so much work to insert 4 checkbox on the screen parameter window ? ?

    ☐ 262 000 ☐ 3 000 000 ☑ 8 000 000 ☐ 16 000 000
    …. Sometime i wonder if your guy’s don’t have a spécial taste to firegun the hule of the ship …

    Also a manual screen size is sometime usefull for unreconized device, it will allow many people to bypass systeme unexpected weakness …
    Something like that :
    “Input your customized screen size”
    H [______] X L [______]

    This could also be soooo usefull for smartphone, allowing almost everyone to adapt is ubuntu screen manualy, we can imagine 5 or 6 Ubuntu for Smartphone version that will feet ALL the Smartphones in the market !!!

    But maybe you don’t want Ubuntu to be used widely ? …

    • Are you from the past?

      • Hugo

        From earth, 22th century 🙂
        Do i need to be “from the past” to play games with not less than **!! 50% !!** more graphic ? This is DOUBLE more duty from just changing 16 to 8 (and 140% from 16 to 3 )… Come on, it’s a joke ? I have a A10 5600K with 8Gb ram, and i can’t play Tetris, or Candy Crush on facebook smoothly !!!!!!!!!!!
        Who’s from the past ? Really ? I’d say it’s Ubuntu in that case ^^ doing worth than Win 98 (?!!?!!!?!!!)

        • People stopped caring about color depth on their desktop between 1996 and 1999, running everything in 24bit. With current GPUs, color depth doesn’t affect performance *at all* (and by current, I mean build after 1996). If facebook games aren’t smooth on your computer then there’s obviously something wrong with your graphic drivers, fix them. (I play Serious Sam 3, Left4dead 2 or RAGE with no problem at all)

          • Hugo

            Typical reaction from a shell that don’t want to move from is rock … It’s a fact, only a fact : Giving less colors to work on give more place to calculate some other things to the GPU … If you give 50% less work to the GPU you free space for smoothing or other task, it’s just a fact …

            Maybe you could enjoy Left4dead with more fps rate ? Who know’s … ^^

            Secondly i don’t use drivers because they are all supposed to be include in the kernel since few years now ^^ You did know that ? Today Jockey take an unusefull place in the system …


          • Aditya Raj Bhatt

            You should install a binary graphics driver because it greatly increases performance in most cases.

  • Jerry Amos

    Updated saucy amd64 today, 12 July 2013, then put on mir ppa with Olli’s random thoughts. Sort of running, dual cursors and all. Got in internal error, Plymouth, on boot. Reported on launchpad.

    Keyboard response a little faster than the last time mir would run for me… Intel Corporation Atom Processor D4xx/D5xx/N4xx/N5xx Integrated Graphics Controller

    Had a lot of unstable logging in to ubuntu forums.

    Note this is an external monitor on an Acer Aspire 1 netbook, Intel Atom.

    Intel Corporation Atom Processor D4xx/D5xx/N4xx/N5xx Integrated Graphics Controller

    BTW, external monitor is a 15.5″ TV only resolution supported is the max of 1920×1080 hard to read vs. normal 1366×768.

    I also have a i386 3.3 gHz desktop and a amd64 notebook for testing ubuntu. Haven’t tried mir on them.

  • Just installed unity-system-compsitor and now I’m not able to lower the resolution. The dropdown lists only the highest option. I’m running a Macbook Pro Retina so 2560 x 1600 is not really an option for me.

    Any way to force the resolution down using some config file or something?