GNOME Shell 4 Proposal Published To Be More Wayland-Focused

Written by Michael Larabel in GNOME on 13 November 2017 at 01:51 PM EST. 44 Comments
Jonas Adahl of Red Hat has volleyed his initial proposals for how a "future" GNOME Shell could be architected on a page entitled GNOME Shell 4. This GNOME Shell 4 would potentially break compatibility with GNOME Shell 3 extensions while being more designed around Wayland rather than X11.

GNOME Shell 3 started out as an X11 compositing manager and has then been fitted for Wayland and other modern input/display features on Linux. With GNOME Shell 4, it would be more of a Wayland-first design and perhaps we could see it do away with X11/X.Org support entirely.

The new GNOME Shell would be better fitted for low-latency input forwarding, low-latency visual input event feedback (namely pointer cursors), low-latency/zero-copy client forwarding, input methods within the shell UI, and eliminating stalls on the main compositor thread during frame redraws.

One proposal laid out by Jonas would be to split GNOME Shell into a UI process and a compositor process to overcome the current shell/compositor challenges. There's also the possibility from the compositor to then have separate threads for KMS mode-setting, input, and Wayland that would be separate from the main compositing thread.

His second and less drastic approach would be to introduce a proxy display server for GNOME Shell and that is what the Wayland server clients would communicate with. This is less drastic but less ideal than the first proposal.

Those wanting to check out his GNOME Shell 4 proposal can find the details on the GNOME Wiki. It's important to keep in mind no code has been officially written yet and it's likely going to be some time still before seeing a GNOME Shell 4.0 release, but great to see them already planning greater re-architecting around Wayland now that their initial Wayland desktop support is mostly solid.
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