The Wayland Redux From This Week
Written by Michael Larabel in Wayland on 7 April 2012 at 12:35 PM EDT. 3 Comments
Here's a Wayland/Weston redux on the information that's been brought up in the past few days concerning this next-generation Linux display server, including a new Wayland video.

At this week's Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit (that link provides a complete overview) there were two sessions concerning the Wayland Display Server.

Those two sessions were summarized in:

X/Wayland Is Coming Along Nicely, But Work Is Left - Keith Packard talked about the XWayland work going on to provide support for X11-only applications within Wayland/Weston that aren't adapted to use Wayland directly. It's beginning to work for starting a root-less X.Org Server dynamically to run an application nested within Wayland when needed, but there's still areas left to be addressed as covered in that article.

An Experimental GNOME Shell Running On Wayland - Jesse Barnes provided a more general overview of Wayland and the reference Weston compositor. There wasn't anything too new to share here, besides mentioning Wayland is already running on TVs and that some developers have a very experimental Wayland implementation of the GNOME 3.x Shell desktop with Mutter running internally at this time. In that linked article is also a video I hastily recorded of Jesse's talk.

Uploaded now is the video I more properly recorded of Keith's 55-minute XWayland session. The HD video should be quite good and the video is also stable, thanks to having sufficient time to setup (if the video happens to appear flipped, refresh the page or try again in a few minutes, as the YouTube video when uploaded from the iPhone 4S was made vertical and is still re-processing).

To go along with the video, below are Keith's corresponding slides about X.Org Wayland integration. Again, my full notes for the nearly hour-long session are here for a concise summary.

This week's Wayland articles were highlighted on Slashdot, which resulted in the usual mixed comments concerning the Wayland plans as what's effectively a successor to the X11 Server. If you're looking for some colorful reading this weekend, check out the Slashdot comments.

Most Slashdot comments are about Wayland and the lack of network transparency support, at least compared to X11. As has been talked about by Jesse Barnes, Kristian Høgsberg, and others this issue has largely been blown out of proportion and become FUD. There was the remote Wayland project started last year, Jesse Barnes has some VNC library server code he's been playing with and will be mainlining soon (mentioned in his talk this week), and here's my summary of what Keith said during his talk: For Wayland proxy support, there's plans for a Wayland proxy that can take the images (buffers) from the local client, pack the data (potentially with compression), and deliver it. This proxy could talk directly to the Wayland server or to another Wayland proxy server. This yet-to-be-written feature could potentially provide acceleration with local GPUs, eliminate most round-trips compared to a proxied X, and use lossy compression. While this has been a debated topic about networked Wayland support, Keith believes this yet-to-come support could provide for better remote application performance with Wayland than X today and is "plausible and pretty usable."

In terms of Wayland being "Linux-only", yes, that's not a surprise. Wayland's Weston requires DRM/KMS interfaces for the common back-end, udev support is needed, systemd may be needed in the future, and there's other Linux-specific interfaces. Kristian Høgsberg, the founder of Wayland, did this for the optimal design. Read his comments regarding Wayland operating system support in Wayland Preparing For 1.0 Stable Release. He commented at length about designing Wayland to take best advantage of Linux. Meanwhile, BSD and Solaris users continue to be years behind with their graphics driver support, unless using the binary NVIDIA graphics driver.

Until the *BSDs, Solaris, and others can catch-up with the advancing open-source Linux graphics stack, there's still the X.Org Server. There's no immediate plans to abandon X.Org Server development nor will tool-kit developers and others likely be dropping their X11 back-ends in the foreseeable future.

If this information was helpful, please see the notes at the end of this article.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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