What Are Your Thoughts on Wayland?

On the latest episode of This Week in Linux (93), I ask the question of this thread. I am curious what the experience has been for everyone who has tried it. I haven’t tried it very much so my experience is quite limited.

  • What are your thoughts on Wayland in general?
  • Have you used it, if so, how was the experience?
  • What distro did you use Wayland on?
  • Which DE did you use to try out Wayland?

Note: for other comments on TWinL93 not related to Wayland, use this thread.

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For anyone who doesn’t know if they’re on X11 or Wayland this worked for me:

loginctl show-session 2 -p Type

I’ve never tried Wayland and know almost nothing about it though I am worried about losing things like X11 Forwarding which I never use.

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I tried Wayland with Gnome on Debian Buster. It worked but it had its problems. As always not every application can be used under Wayland and it felt ‘normal’ but at times it was also sluggish when browsing the web e.g. with Firefox. I had glitches and graphical artifacts on an Intel integrated graphics card. When I switched to X11 I was surprised how smooth it actually was again and that after weeks of trying with Wayland.

Worst thing on Wayland was losing all my work when something crashed.
Best thing was the tear free experience watching videos in a browser, regardless the glitches, compared to X11 on Gnome.

But in the end I am back on X11.

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I’m grateful that big, weatly corporations like Redhat are willing to push Wayland forward, but I’ve got this fantastic talent for waiting as many decades as is required before I will adopt it, Wayland having attained to a level of stability so mature (and this includes actually getting distributed in Distros that I already use) that nobody even talks about it anymore (on podcasts, etc.)

For most of my use cases it has worked fine but your mileage may vary depending on your hardware.

I’ve used it on Fedora and Arch with Gnome and Sway.

  • For the most part my performance has been fine. (light gaming, watching movies, browsing etc)
  • Sometimes I’ve had to force an application to run on X-Wayland for everything to work correctly. Mumble push to talk comes to mind here, https://github.com/mumble-voip/mumble/issues/3243.
  • I’ve seen some instances where interoperability between Wayland and X-Wayland applications hasn’t worked. Opening URL’s and cutting and pasting between applications have been the primary offenders. To be fair this could also be a DE/WM issue and most of my issues have resolved over time. Currently the only application I have issues like this with is the Fractal flatpak (gnome and sway) but I haven’t had a lot of time to look at it.

Overall my experience with it has been good and I look forward to things improving as more distributions and applications start to support it.

ABSOLUTELY not ready for prime time for me, at least on PopOS18.04 LTS (How is the 19.10 equivalent). I tried to run Dead Cells, one of those new pixellated games and it was awful. The primary use of my PC is gaming, multimedia and some light office works. It had a horrible frame rate on my nVidia GTX 970. I watched videos under VLC and it was also dropping frames from time to time.

I dont mind switching if they fix it for my use cases. Hopefully it can work for me in the coming 20.04 LTS. Having a leaner code should be better and easy to maintain. Hopefully nVidia will cooperate more and help develop it for their video cards.

  1. I think Wayland is much-needed. From what I recall of X at a time close to when it was originally being used, a lot of its underlying design features don’t make much sense for an individual desktop; also it’s probably insecure from some perspectives too, though I don’t know enough about this in detail.

  2. I’ve been using Wayland almost exclusively since Debian 10 Stable was released (July 2019). My experience with it has been virtually flawless. The only application I have any trouble with on it is the onscreen keyboard, florence, which will only work under X. Everything else I need works flawlessly under Wayland.

  3. I use Debian Stable almost exclusively. However on Debian 10 Stable, running Fedora 31 in a VM also defaults to Wayland (in the VM) and that’s flawless too.

  4. The only DE I’ve used Wayland with is Gnome 3; that goes for Debian 10 Stable and Fedora 31 on a VM guest with Gnome 3 on Debian 10 Stable as host.

You’ve not asked about the hardware: I use a Debian 10 / Gnome 3 / Wayland on number of machines ranging from about 3-10 years old; some with Intel / NVidia some with Radeon integrated graphics. It’s fine with either and for NVidia fine under either nouveau or proprietory drivers.

Edit: I might need to check on proprietory drivers for NVidia. Can’t remember if Gnome defaults to X in that case.

Gnome Maps and similar programs needing to use the mouse to move images around the screen don’t work under Wayland when I’m running Gnome on OpenSuse (Leap and Tumbleweed both). Fedora 31 on Gnome, on the other hand, works flawlessly.

I gather the experience is quite variable from machine to machine and desktop environment to desktop environment. I’m not a sysadmin type sophisticate on Linux, but I’ve been beating around Linux desktops full time since the early 2000’s. It seems to me Wayland is still a bit of a wobbly wheel, especially on Gnome.

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I have been Wayland-only for quite some time. My use case is pretty simple, I don’t play games or a dedicated GPU, nor do I do any graphics heavy work; instead, most of my time is spent knee deep in a terminal (Kitty, in case you’re wondering).

The only time I’ve ever run into the current limits of Wayland is when I need a colour picker :woman_shrugging:

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@MichaelTunnell I previously said I use Gnome 3 under Debian, runs flawlessly apart from onscreen keyboard app called Florence which is far better than the standard Gnome on-screen keyboard…

Since becoming a DL fan, I’ve started using Telegram and pretty-much got all my family and friends on it too. Today it crashed after an update - when I try to send a file attachment. A quick browse online suggests it’s a Wayland problem. Re-logging in uses X11 I find the problem vanishes. This is quite sad as I rely on Telegram a lot, and will have to use X11 sessions instead when using it now.

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When it works, I don’t have any thoughts on Wayland at all - and that’s a good thing. I have noticed that when using Wayland vs Xorg on Ubuntu-based distros I see a lot less screen tearing with Wayland. Currently I’m using it on Fedora 32 and I have no complaints.

Those experiences are tied to hardware though. I have Intel graphics at the moment but earlier in the year I had an Nvidia/Intel hybrid system that seemed to not like Wayland at all when I had the proprietary display drivers installed.

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I like threads like these, because all those unintiutive edge cases get brought to light. To me, it’s not a case of complaining, but rather taking stock of what is still yet to be done.

Myself, I’ll probably give Wayland a test at some point (a future Fedora release, like 33), installing/booting on an external SSD, but if it can’t do dual monitors really well (doing the right thing, when I boot the computer with the second monitor varyingly on or off, connected or not), then it’s going to be a non-starter.

I don’t expect to find myself liking Fedora, BTW; I see it more like a showcase, or preview of what will eventually wash up on the shores of Debian (or a Debian derivative, like MX Linux, or *buntu).

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I think with Nvidia it might default to Xorg straight-off when using their drivers. When using nouveau it’s all fine but there will be that performance hit, I guess.

I find Wayland almost flawless, as I said, but my hardware is also relatively old and I don’t really care much for games, so I don’t need proprietary drivers. Also it apparently runs into problems with screen-capture for video or streaming, which will be a no-no for producers like the DL team I suppose. When it does work I’d much rather use Wayland as I believe it’s more secure than X11.

I’m running a fresh install of Fedora 32 on an Optimus Laptop (halftop hooked to an external monitor), but since I’m not a gamer I haven’t installed the Nvidia drivers yet, just running off of the Intel GPU. Fedora Workstation defaults to Wayland, which I don’t even notice that I’m running it until I run QT apps. I get very strange graphical glitches in programs like Kmymoney. Certain text entry boxes will glitch out, and appear somewhere else on the screen when you try to enter text into them. I have filled bugs on all of the issues but I haven’t seen any action on those bugs other than being asked if I was running on X11 or Wayland when it happened. I have experienced this problem since Fedora 30. Perhaps this can be fixed by using X-Wayland but I’m not familiar with that process. Since I use Kmymoney regularly at home, I have just switched to X11 on that machine.

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On very rare occasions I use Okular or Dolphin on Gnome running using Wayland (on Debian 10 Stable) and thankfully, have experienced no problems. Nor have I with Falkon or Qt based applications like VLC media player.

What are your beliefs based on ?

As far as I recall X11 was designed to allow programs to interact with windows of other programs - so for example you could make a program to move another user’s windows around… so there are elements of modern security clearly absent from that. As far as I know, Wayland is designed with the opposite perspective - to isolate windows from windows of other applications.

What other users ? Wifey boots her own or can’t get in ?

Great from a technology standpoint, DEs/WMs implementing the Wayland protocol are not 100% yet, there are some missing features (ie: screen sharing/recording at this point still needs broad compatibility)

As of GNOME 3.38 the experience on Wayland has been great. I’m using it all the time and particularly for gaming it got even better than Xorg, with some minor exceptions for this or that game.

Arch (btw)

I wouldn’t say try out, as I’ve been playing around with Wayland on and off for a while now, but I’m currently on GNOME 3.38, and sometimes playing around with sway.


Also as a sidenote, I found that some apps (namely Zoom) have the tendency to make Wayland sessions crash from time to time. To work around this issue and other potential Wayland compatibility issues, I have found that using Xephyr you can start a full Xorg session inside a window, running its own DE/WM (I typically run openbox inside of it) and launching problematic apps from there.

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