How Important Is The Wayland Display Server?
Written by Michael Larabel in Wayland on 12 September 2009 at 01:16 PM EDT. 120 Comments
Last November we detailed the Wayland Display Server, which came about as a lightweight alternative to the X.Org Server and leveraged the latest Linux graphics technologies (primarily kernel mode-setting), and is designed elegantly with the rendering and compositing all being done by Wayland. Quite a bit of work was going on with this project early on to the point of running two X Servers within Wayland and then talk of a Clutter back-end for Wayland, but over the summer there has not been much to report. However, with the KMS page-flipping ioctl going into the Linux 2.6.32 kernel -- which is used by Wayland -- there should be some renewed activity with this project shortly.

Many have expressed interest in Wayland, including us, but this project largely remains a side-project by a lone developer (Kristian Høgsberg) and has yet to receive any traction within Linux distributions as this display server is still very young and has not had any stable or development releases to this point. Though on the Wayland mailing list there is a new thread created by Allen Lowe, the President of the Utah Free Software Users Group, about how important this project is for the Linux desktop.

Allen argues over the sad state of Linux audio, media support, general friendliness, and then the graphics support (X.Org). He believes the audio, media, and user-friendliness areas will improve -- and are improving -- but that X.Org is still a huge mess. Allen ends with, "WE JUST CAN'T LET THIS PROJECT DIE, IT'S TOO IMPORTANT! All the other issues with GNU/Linux are being resolved, and we just need to have patience, but with graphics, patience will kill us! I THINK THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CURRENT FOSS PROJECT AND IT'S GETTING THE LEAST ATTENTION."

This message caused others on the Wayland list to react and largely agreeing with Allen (along with PulseAudio / ALSA rants) and others sharing their own complaints about Linux graphics.

How important though do you think Wayland is? Will it succeed? What do you think of the X.Org stack? What do you think will happen to it in the coming years? Share with us your answers in the forums.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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