Wayland as Alternative to X.org - Usable? Yes (surprisingly)


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PGHammer

Linux distributions are where the leading edge is often the bleeding edge, and Wayland is the most well-known of the many bleeding-edge options for such distgributions.  This alternative to the much-better-known X.org graphical server has been pushed (in both directions) since it got drawn up (especially within the Canonical/Ubuntu subcommunity).  My interest is more in terms of "how usable is it"?  The first major candidate to ping the radar is the "RebeccaBlackOS".  (The "radar settings" are as follows - it must be s liver image, it must support US English, and it must support Wayland as a default graphical server.)  This OS meets all three conditions, and is actually no LESS usable as a live OS of a traditonal X.org distribution.  I am, in fact, posting this from the live image copied to a UNetbootin-prepared USB stick; the stick itself is running on "Big Pavilion", the oldest (and most problematical under Windows 10 currently) of my two notebooks. "Big Pavilion" - unlike the newer "Baby Pavilion" - is a bit of a "Frankenbook" - AMD CPU, older GeForge (nVidia) GPU and chipset, and Phoenix (now Intel) hybrid BIOS - likely why it has teething issues with Windows 10.  Yet Wayland runs pretty darn nicely off the stick.  Followups will also be posted from the stick running on the opther notebook and the desktop in the coming days.

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Nick H.

Can we get some formatting, please? I managed to read through the post, but it was disjointed with all those brackets. ;)

Personally I look forward to hearing your feedback, I'm always looking out for Linux distributions as are others. Perhaps a little background information might be in order for those that don't know what the distribution is meant for (desktop, server?)

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PGHammer

Followup  -I've moved the stick to "Baby Pavlilion" the newer of the two notebooks - it runs a little better graphically compared to "Big Pavilion; however, THAT is likely due to the HD4200 graphics in play here.  My next followup will be from my desktop (with nVidia GTX550Ti graphics).


Can we get some formatting, please? I managed to read through the post, but it was disjointed with all those brackets. ;)

Personally I look forward to hearing your feedback, I'm always looking out for Linux distributions as are others. Perhaps a little background information might be in order for those that don't know what the distribution is meant for (desktop, server?)

 

That is due to the default browser (otter).  This is a strictly desktop-aimed distribution - in fact, it only exists in i386 (though it will run on amd64 hardware quite happily).

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PGHammer

Desktop side posting.  More modern GPUs are no problem for Wayland, either (more than I can say about X.org)  Wayland may fit better in the live-image space (at least) than X.org for now.

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spy beef

X.org works fine for me. Why do I want to switch?

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count0nz

Desktop side posting.  More modern GPUs are no problem for Wayland, either (more than I can say about X.org)  Wayland may fit better in the live-image space (at least) than X.org for now.

 

Thanks for Sharing my Laptop runs Linux quite well.. with a Intel HD2000 Chipset.

Looking forward to more Posts.

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James7

I too am interesting in knowing of people's experiences with Wayland. I know it's supposed to be a lot better and all.

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Mindovermaster

Did I hear that the next build of Debian or Ubuntu will be wayland?

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Boo Berry

Did I hear that the next build of Debian or Ubuntu will be wayland?

Ubuntu is slated to use Mir.

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The_Decryptor

I too am interesting in knowing of people's experiences with Wayland. I know it's supposed to be a lot better and all.

For a user it'll be pretty transparent (barring bugs), but from a developer standpoint it's much nicer and more in-line with how Windows and OS X renders things (Where apps render everything to a bitmap and give that to the display server, which even happens under X as nobody cares about server-side rendering under X anymore).

I've been running with Wayland on my Mac Mini for a while (Open source Nvidia driver woo), and apart from some input bugs it's literally 100% the same as with X. Of course the only reason X even behaves similarly is because of layers upon layers of hacks.

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Mindovermaster

Ubuntu is slated to use Mir.

 

Must be some other distro *shrugs*

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The_Decryptor

Fedora 22 has Wayland as an option, aim with 23 is to use it by default (Only a couple of issues remaining)

Ubuntu is the only distro that's looking at using Mir (Because Canonical control it), every other distro is either looking at Wayland, or planning on sticking with X for whatever reason (e.g. Xfce uses GTK2, you really need GTK3 for Wayland, etc.)

Edit: One of the "issues" Canonical raised about Wayland was that it didn't have an input stack. Fedora 22 uses the Wayland input stack for both Wayland apps, and X11 apps (By use of a X11 driver. As crap as X11 is, it sure is extensible. Can also render directly to Wayland surfaces if you give it a fake output driver)

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Unobscured Vision

XFCE is being ported over to GTK3+ as we speak. This work has been in-progress for the past year (or better) in preparation for Wayland.

 

Canonical's "issue" about Wayland not having an Input Stack is, frankly, nonsense. It's already present and working fine. Mir's whole existence is not required, and Canonical should have spent the time helping the Wayland people make it better instead of needlessly holding up the show. Wayland should have been out of the gate (and had bugfix releases) by now.

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The_Decryptor

Yeah, it's a manpower issue with XFCE. Even KDE is taking a while to get Wayland support (Although just recently I think they got Kwin to run in a native session, even if it still only supports xwayland as the sole client)

Edit: Protocol wise Wayland is "done", it's more an issue of how applications talk to the DEs (Wayland only really covers rendering), and even then due to the Wayland design there's no single server, every DE needs to re-implement rendering (Although using Weston with a shell plugin is certainly possible, and some distros are going that route)

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WinMacLin Guy

About a little more than a year ago I tried Wayland (with Weston as the compositor) for the first time on different systems using open source drivers (both my systems had AMD gpus, though they were different GPUs). I was unable to get anything to work properly; Weston seemed to load fine but I could not interact with the screen using the mouse or keyboard, and later I found that it was because Wayland crashed while loading. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed and discouraged with the project's outlook (especially since what I tried was a stable release), though I did later become more sympathetic since it was still under very heavy development at that point.

 

This year in March I decided to test it out with the then-latest Gnome 3.16 live preview. This time everything worked nearly flawlessly (a few minor animation problems were present, but everything else worked properly and I did not encounter a single crash). This really took me by surprise because I went to not being able to run a simple Wayland session a year back to running a full complex window manager and desktop environment just a year later. It goes to show that this project is alive and maturing at a quick pace.

 

 

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simplezz

but from a developer standpoint it's much nicer and more in-line with how Windows and OS X renders things.

Almost every desktop uses a composition manager of some sort these days. Xorg is merely the backend. It's not intended to be a modern compositor. The fact that Wayland ships with a compositor doesn't make it necessarily better than xorg.

There's really no killer feature that's driving adoption of Wayland. That's why most people are still using Xorg. And of course the fact that Xorg is very mature, stable, and everything works with it already.

The only difference between Windows/OS X and GNU/Linux distro setups is that the basic Windowing subsystem (Xorg) and compositors are distinct components. This separation of concerns is visible to the user unlike in Windows/OS X.

Where apps render everything to a bitmap and give that to the display server

Not to be a pedant, but an application's view of this process is far more abstract/high level than you're making it out to be. Everything is wrapped into primitive drawing instructions. Or in the case of GUI toolkits, an app rarely even sees them, let alone directly accessing a surface bitmap.
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The_Decryptor

And why do you think we need a composition manager with X? Because X is basically incapable of acting as a modern display server, so all the composition work has been abstracted out to a separate application (Something Wayland fixes by making the compositor the sole display server)

Most people still use X because it's still the default for most distros, that's going to change very soon now (Fedora 22 uses Wayland for the login UI, and 23 will use it for the desktop by default), since everybody involved wants to deprecate X11 to a fallback path.

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n_K

I tried Wayland a few years ago with the console moving 3D demo thing, ran pretty fast.

Might have to give it a try with arch sometime soon and see how it's running now.

 

One great reason for wayland over X11 that I remember was crashing, if an X11 server crashes you lose all your open programs and work, whereas apparently wayland was being designed so that if it crashed you could go back to your previous session was it not? Also streaming X11 over a network is really, really bad and painfully slow, a goal in wayland was to improve that speed.

 

And don't get me started on mir and what a complete waste of time it is. I hope it fails miserably, just canoical being bitching for the sake of being bitchy because they couldn't get their own way, I find them to be a mostly irrelevent company.

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  • 4 months later...
PGHammer

X.org works fine for me. Why do I want to switch?

It depends on your GPU - more modern GPUs (especially of the desktop sort) are better behaved with Wayland as opposed to X.org (surprisingly by modern, I mean nVidia Fermi - Maxwell and Kepler are even better behaved with Wayland as opposed to X.org).

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Radium

X.org works fine for me. Why do I want to switch?

First hardware accelerated graphics came to computer games and then X also got hardware acceleration. Did you ask yourself why you would want such things? The CPU already draws all that graphics. You're asking exactly the same kind of question with a different context and far from farfeteched. Wayland will make the code needed between the software and the actualy hardware drawing the GUI; smaller. Wayland can run smooth as butter on the cheapest software out there and it has shown to be more effective at doing exactly what we ask of X. In the end, less code doing more work. Wayland is exactly what we need. X is way too ###### for what it's used for. Wayland is developed by people who have been developing for Xorg for several years. I think they do this because it's very much needed. I think they are more qualified to tell us why Wayland is needed than someone who has no idea why it's being done.

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ichi

Is there any sane way to forward X11 on Wayland yet? I know the protocol kinda sucks but I have to use it, there's currently no way around that.

I haven't been following Wayland's development closely, last I heard was something like "we aren't bothering with that, X11 forwarding can be implemented somewhere else as it's own separate server or whatever".

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The_Decryptor

Forwarding as in over the network, or to Wayland?

X11 forwarding is pretty broken as it stands (Doesn't really work well with apps that use client side rendering, like GTK or Qt apps), and Wayland isn't trying to copy that, so you'll have to use RDP or VNC for Wayland connections (Which honestly just works better anyway). For older X11 apps with a Wayland display server you'll be running "xwayland" in the background so X11 apps see a normal X11 server, but xwayland renders everything to Wayland buffers and lets the Wayland compositor render things to the screen.

xwayland doesn't fix any of the (security) issues with X11, but it does provide a nice transitional path to a full Wayland desktop.

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ichi

Forwarding as in over the network, or to Wayland?

X11 forwarding is pretty broken as it stands (Doesn't really work well with apps that use client side rendering, like GTK or Qt apps), and Wayland isn't trying to copy that, so you'll have to use RDP or VNC for Wayland connections (Which honestly just works better anyway). For older X11 apps with a Wayland display server you'll be running "xwayland" in the background so X11 apps see a normal X11 server, but xwayland renders everything to Wayland buffers and lets the Wayland compositor render things to the screen.

xwayland doesn't fix any of the (security) issues with X11, but it does provide a nice transitional path to a full Wayland desktop.

 

I don't need fancy stuff like forwarding gtk3 apps with client side rendering, just being able to run an app on a headless unix server and getting that app to be forwarded to my display.

As long as that works seamlessly (ie. it just works without extra messing as it currently does) I don't really care about how that's actually implemented.

I mean, I don't care about the famous "network transparency", just about specific use cases not becoming a pain in the ass.

Edited by ichi
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Radium

 

I don't need fancy stuff like forwarding gtk3 apps with client side rendering, just being able to run an app on a headless unix server and getting that app to be forwarded to my display.

As long as that works seamlessly (ie. it just works without extra messing as it currently does) I don't really care about how that's actually implemented.

I mean, I don't care about the famous "network transparency", just about specific use cases not becoming a pain in the ass.

That's the only thing that Wayland lacks that X can do. The rest shows great progress. Networking is very uncommon so it's low (very low) priority. It will be availible some time in the future. So no need for you to consider using Wayland in the environment describe any time soon.

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