Wayland Support On The BSDs Continuing To Improve

Written by Michael Larabel in BSD on 21 January 2019 at 06:45 AM EST. 8 Comments
While Wayland was designed on and for Linux systems, the BSD support for Wayland and the various compositors has continued improving particularly over the past year or so but it's still a lengthy journey.

In a little more than one year, the FreeBSD Wayland support has been on a steady rise. It's looking like this year could even mark the KDE Wayland session for FreeBSD potentially getting squared away. Besides KDE, the GNOME Wayland work for FreeBSD has advanced a bit and is available in some FreeBSD Ports but there has been some complications around libinput and its Linux'isms. Details on the current state of Wayland-related components in FreeBSD is drafted at the FreeBSD Wiki.

Going back a few years there has also been (X)Wayland experiments on DragonFlyBSD but we hear much less about Wayland support for that BSD than on FreeBSD. However, this weekend DragonFlyBSD support patches for Wayland were sent out to the Wayland mailing list for review. Those patches are from the Ravenports packaging system for DragonFlyBSD users.

Another new push forward is getting the Wayland client get credentials support working on BSDs, which with the current interface isn't portable due to depending on getsockopt's SO_PEERCRED not being supported there. For compatibility reasons, there might need to be a new Wayland API for working on both Linux and BSDs.

On the OpenBSD front for that security-focused crowd, in the past there's been Wayland interest at least due to Wayland being more secure than the aging X11 code-base, but no recent work to report on.

As with the Wayland Linux state, running Wayland on BSDs obviously require graphics drivers that are up to par. While NVIDIA provides the best BSD graphics driver support, they don't support GBM and the "new Unix device memory allocator" project has yet to materialize so there isn't Wayland support there besides the current Mutter EGLStreams support for NVIDIA. The KDE KWin EGLStreams back-end has yet to be merged and there hasn't been much effort on getting NVIDIA EGLStreams support in the other Wayland compositors. With the Intel and Radeon open-source graphics support that generally work the best for Wayland Linux systems, they work on BSDs too, but there it's the perpetual game of continuing to port the upstream Linux driver code over to the BSD kernels and also ensuring Mesa continues jiving with their operating systems. DragonFlyBSD and FreeBSD at least are relatively close to the upstream Linux kernel state but they do lag behind in providing new GPU support, etc. There also isn't much in the Nouveau space on BSDs or the other smaller DRM and Mesa drivers.

Long story short, we're at least seeing more Wayland activity around the BSDs but there is still more work ahead.
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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 20,000 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, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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