Pop!_OS Developer Reveals They’re Working On A Rust-Based Desktop Environment To Replace GNOME

Pop!_OS rust-based cosmic desktop environment is coming soon

Pop!_OS is a popular Ubuntu-based distribution that uses one of the most popular desktop environments, GNOME. However, System76 in Pop!_OS 21.04 release shipped COSMIC, a fork of GNOME. While this move in itself was enough for me to start speculating about the custom DE Pop!_OS might use in the future, and I let go of the same thinking the devs would probably want to stick with GNOME since creating a DE from scratch is tons of work.

It turns out System76 devs are indeed working on a new Rust-based desktop environment, which came as a surprise for many. So, what exactly should we expect from this upcoming project, and how will it look? Here’s everything you need to know about the same.

Pop!_OS COSMIC: A New Direction

We first got to know about this through a poll that was posted on Reddit. The user asked if Pop!_OS will ever get an official KDE flavor or will it forever be GNOME-only, to which System76 engineer Michael Murphy replied, “It will be its own desktop,” thereby confirming that they’re indeed working on a new desktop environment. He also said that it will not be a fork of GNOME and will follow free desktop specifications.

We already do our best to follow freedesktop specifications with our software. So there’s no reason to think we’d do otherwise.

When replying to a new name suggestion, Murphy said that they’re going to stick with COSMIC. When a user asked if the OS will be using gtk-rs bindings or the GUI Library built from scratch, Murphy replied:

We’re already using gtk-rs for all of our stuff. My assumption is that it’s likely to see some components in GTK for the foreseeable future. The shell itself though is lower level than a traditional desktop GUI toolkit. It’ll use primitives from the window manager it builds upon. If a mature Rust GUI turns up, then it could be used in the future of course. I’d generally like to use the best tools where possible.

When asked about the plans regarding the window manager, Murphy said:

The state is still the same as when it was first announced I think a month or two ago. We’re just experimenting, but focused on releasing 21.10 right now. We have a branch of COSMIC as a Rust mutter plugin if you want to play around with it. Who knows, maybe we could make something that supports multiple window managers.

And yes, you might already have this question; Why another Desktop Environment when others are already well established. Murphy said:

Choice is the best part about open source. None of us would be here today if people weren’t brave enough to take the next step with a new solution to an existing problem. You’re likely now using some software that was just recently developed as an alternative to something. Distributions and people will naturally gravitate towards the best solutions over time. And sometimes the best solution for an individual is not the most popular desktop environment.

How will the New COSMIC Look?

I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t end up resembling the current GNOME-based COSMIC in many ways. Of course, there will be lots of changes under the hood and even on the UI side, but it shouldn’t look too different from the current COSMIC DE.

When Will the New COSMIC be Released?

Sadly, we don’t have any info regarding this. However, considering how huge a task fabricating an entire desktop environment from scratch is, we don’t expect it to be ready anytime soon.

What are your thoughts about the new upcoming COSMIC? Let us know your views and opinions in the comments section below.

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