SDL3 Will Keep Wayland Default At Least For The Time Being

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 27 March 2024 at 12:13 PM EDT. 115 Comments
Following several days of discussions from both sides of the table over whether SDL 3.0 should revert its Wayland over X11 preference in light of some aspects of the Wayland ecosystem support not being in good shape, for now at least SDL 3.0 is sticking to the Wayland support by default. It may be revisited though closer to release to see how the upstream support is for users of this hardware/software abstraction library widely used by cross-platform games.

Joshua Ashton of Valve's Linux graphics team sought to revert the Wayland over X11 preference for SDL 3.0 due to some known performance corner-cases and some of the protocols around addressing issues pertinent to gamers still settling down upstream and awaiting adoption by Wayland compositors. That merge request saw a flurry of activity the past few days while now SDL maintainer Sam Lantinga, also with Valve, has commented on the matter.

Wayland with Steam Linux gaming

Lantinga commented a few minutes ago on the matter:
"Thanks for the feedback everyone!

It sounds like the Wayland folks are aware of the issues and are making progress towards addressing them. I'll leave Wayland default for now while they are doing that, so it's easier for people to test and provide them feedback. We will re-evaluate this as we get closer to full release.

@Joshua-Ashton, can you create individual issues that impact this and create a task list in the original merge request report, for tracking?

I'm going to lock this conversation for now so we can focus on development."

So we'll see closer to the SDL 3.0 stable release whether the Wayland support at large for the Linux desktop is in good enough shape or if this next Simple DirectMedia Layer release will continue preferring the X11 (XWayland) route instead. SDL 3.0 is a significant update in general with many new APIs for game developers and other users of this abstraction layer.
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