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It's Becoming Very Easy To Run Wayland

Michael Larabel

Published on 25 November 2010
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 1 - 14 Comments

When Wayland started out in 2008 it was very difficult to build and run this lightweight, next-generation display server. Wayland leverages the very latest Linux graphics technologies and at that time all of Wayland's dependencies had to be patched or built from branched sources and Wayland even had its own EGL implementation at the time (Eagle) rather than Mesa and overall it was just a high barrier to entry. Wayland at that time also worked with only the open-source Intel driver, while now it can work with most any KMS / GEM / Mesa driver. It was not until recently that it became possible to build Wayland from mainline components beginning to ship in new Linux distributions, thereby making it much easier to experiment with the open-source display server. Now it's to a point where you can just run a simple script and be up and running with a Wayland Display Server in just minutes.

The past few weeks have been very exciting for the Wayland project since it was announced Ubuntu would adopt the Wayland Display Server, eventually. There's been a flow of patches coming in from new developers, many new users trying it out (even John Carmack is interested in Wayland), discussions about new features, and new capabilities have come about (such as the ability to run it off a Linux frame-buffer). There is also now a Launchpad PPA (Personal Package Archive) containing Wayland packages for testing and a user has constructed a Wayland build script.

This build script installs the needed Ubuntu 10.10 packages dependencies, builds the latest libdrm and Mesa code from Git, builds the Git versions of xproto / kbproto / X11 macros / libX11 / libxkbcommon from Git, pulls in the latest Cairo Git code, and last but not least then builds Wayland from Git source. Following that, it then launches the Wayland compositor within the existing X.Org Server and proceeds to launch a few of the Wayland demo clients.

This script is also designed to work with the Nouveau driver when the DRI support is enabled on Ubuntu Maverick. We tested out this script, which can be found on the Wayland mailing list on a clean Ubuntu 10.10 install. After the clean Maverick Meerkat installation, we just had to install the libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental package and then modify the wayland_build.sh script to use apt-get rather than aptitude since it is no longer installed by default on Ubuntu. A few minutes later, Wayland was running locally on the system without messing up any system-wide packages.

Above is a video of Wayland running within X on Ubuntu 10.10 that we recorded with the latest Git code as of 22 November. This was done on a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 notebook with a NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M graphics processor controlled by the Nouveau open-source driver. Once the Wayland compositor was running, the demo clients (flower, gears, smoke, and terminal) were launched. The script made it very easy to get Wayland running under Linux and this was our first time running Wayland with the Nouveau driver, which worked out quite well.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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