Raspberry Pi's Eben Upton Demos Wayland Support on the Pi

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Raspberry Pi Foundation founder and executive director Eben Upton this week gave his promised demonstration of developer features coming soon to the Pi. Though they're still in the very early stages of testing, Upton displayed Weston running native Wayland apps on the Linux-based Pi during his keynote at LinuxCon and CloudOpen on Monday.

Eben Upton on stage at LinuxCon 2013Weston is a reference implementation of Wayland, the compositor that Upton has called "the future of Linux desktop graphics." Both Gnome and KDE are expected to be ported to Wayland.

In accidentally opening the first app three times on the single-board computer he joked on stage, "We're pushing our luck running three copies of that."

Upton has been working hard with partners, including Collabora, to implement Wayland support on the Raspberry Pi, and said Monday that he anticipates releasing a preview of RPi with Wayland support, with bug tracking on it, in the next few weeks. He aims to have the boards shipping with Wayland support by the end of the year.

Developing Wayland support is just one open source project the RPi Foundation has invested in with the income it earns from Pi sales. In less than two years the Raspberry Pi has sold more than 1 million units -- more than Upton could have ever imagined when they began the project in 2006 as a modest idea to provide a low-cost educational computer for students.

They're also contributing engineering time and money to SmallTalk projects to develop Squeak and Scratch on ARM, as well as LibreOffice and XBMC, Upton said in his keynote at LinuxCon. And the open source community has given a lot back in return, submitting "really high quality" patches to the RPi software, Upton said.

The Pi's popularity has skyrocketed among embedded developers and tinkerers, alike, and the board can be found in all sorts of gadgets from near-space cameras, to weather balloons, air quality monitors and motion sensors.

The community is growing and an ecosystem of businesses has sprung up around it. But this is just the beginning for low-cost Linux-based computers, which have seen an enormous interest from the developing world, Upton said.

"There's no question that Linux and Linux on ARM is going to dominate Africa."

See more coverage of Upton's keynote and other Monday keynotes in our live blog transcript. Or read Upton's pre-LinuxCon Q&A for more on their open source efforts.