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Wayland is a protocol for a compositor to talk to its clients, as well as a library implementing this protocol. All major Linux desktop systems like Gnome, KDE do support Wayland, and there is also a reference implementation for a compositor called "Weston". XWayland implements a compatibility layer to seamlessly run legacy X11 applications on Wayland.


Wayland only works on systems using KMS. As Wayland is only a library, it is useless on its own: to replace the X Server you need a compositor such as #Weston.

Buffer API support

For the GPU driver and Wayland composer to be compatible they must support the same buffer API. There are two main APIs: GBM and EGLStreams.

Buffer API GPU driver support Wayland compositor support
GBM All except NVIDIA All
EGLStreams NVIDIA GNOME, Sway (from 0.13)


Weston is the reference implementation of a Wayland compositor.


Install the weston package.


Keyboard Shortcuts (super = windows key - can be changed, see weston.ini) Ctrl-b
Cmd Action
Ctrl+Alt+Backspace Quit Weston
Super+Scroll (or PageUp/PageDown) Zoom in/out of desktop
Super+Tab Switch windows
Super+LMB Move Window
Super+MMB Rotate Window !
Super+RMB Resize Window
Super+Alt+Scroll Change window opacity
Super+K Force Kill Active Window
Super+KeyUp/KeyDown Switch Prev/Next Workspace
Super+Shift+KeyUp/KeyDown Grab Current Window and Switch Workspace
Super+Fn Switch to Workspace n
Super+S Take a screenshot
Super+R Record a screencast.

Now that Wayland and its requirements are installed you should be ready to test it out.

It is possible to run Weston inside a running X session:

$ weston

Alternatively, to try to launch Weston natively, switch to a terminal and run:

$ weston-launch

Then at a TTY within Weston, you can run the demos. To launch a terminal emulator:

$ weston-terminal

To move flowers around the screen:

$ weston-flower 

To display images:

$ weston-image image1.jpg image2.jpg...


Example configuration file for keyboard layout, module selection and UI modifications. See weston.ini(5) for full details. The Weston outputs differ slightly from xorg.conf's Monitors:

$ ls /sys/class/drm

card0 is the unused built-in video adapter. The add-on adapter card1 is cabled to one HDMI and one DVI monitor, so the output names are HDMI-A-1 and DVI-I-1.

# xwayland support


### for cursor themes install xcursor-themes pkg from Extra. ###

### tablet options ###

###  for Laptop displays  ###

# The following sets the mode with a modeline, you can get modelines for your preffered resolutions using the cvt utility
#mode=173.00 1920 2048 2248 2576 1080 1083 1088 1120 -hsync +vsync



### keymap_options from /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/base.lst ###






# Uncomment path to disable screensaver

Minimal weston.ini :







Install the xorg-server-xwayland package.

When you want to run an X application from within Weston, it spins up Xwayland to service the request. The following configuration is shown above:


Screencast recording

Weston has build-in screencast recording which can be started and stopped by pressing the Super+r key combination. Screencasts are saved to the file capture.wcap in the current working directory of Weston.

The WCAP format is a lossless video format specific to Weston, which only records the difference in frames. To be able to play the recorded screencast, the WCAP file will need to be converted to a format which a media player can understand. First, convert the capture to the YUV pixel format:

$ wcap-decode capture.wcap --yuv4mpeg2 > capture.y4m

The YUV file can then be transcoded to other formats using FFmpeg.

High DPI displays

For Retina or HiDPI displays, use:


Shell font

Weston uses the default sans-serif font for window title bars, clocks, etc. See Font configuration#Replace or set default fonts for instructions on how to change this font.

GUI libraries

See details on the official website.

GTK+ 3

The gtk3 package has the Wayland backend enabled. GTK+ will default to the X11 backend, but this can be overridden by modifying an environment variable: GDK_BACKEND=wayland.

Qt 5

The qt5 package from the repositories has the Wayland support if qt5-wayland is installed. To run a Qt 5 app with the Wayland plugin, set the QT_QPA_PLATFORM=wayland-egl environment variable. For Arch, most QT applications do not work because of QTBUG-58423, will be fixed with qt-5.9: https://codereview.qt-project.org/#/c/184278/ .


The Clutter toolkit has a Wayland backend that allows it to run as a Wayland client. The backend is enabled in the official package in extra.

To run a Clutter app on Wayland, set CLUTTER_BACKEND=wayland.


Experimental wayland support is now in SDL 2.0.2 and enabled by default on Arch Linux.

To run a SDL application on Wayland, set SDL_VIDEODRIVER=wayland.


Experimental wayland support is now in GLFW 3.1 and can be enabled with the -DGLFW_USE_WAYLAND=ON CMake option at compile time. You can also install the package glfw-wayland-gitAUR from the AUR.


EFL has complete Wayland support. To run a EFL application on Wayland, see Wayland project page.

Window managers and desktop shells

Name Type Description
GNOME Stacking See GNOME#Starting GNOME.
sway Tiling Sway is an i3-compatible window manager for Wayland. Github
Enlightenment Stacking More Info
KDE Plasma Stacking See KDE#Starting Plasma
Orbment Tiling orbment (previously loliwm) is a tiling WM for Wayland.
Velox Tiling Velox is a simple window manager based on swc. It is inspired by dwm and xmonad.
Orbital Stacking Orbital is a Wayland compositor and shell, using Qt5 and Weston. The goal of the project is to build a simple yet flexible and good looking Wayland desktop. It is not a full fledged DE but rather the analogue of a WM in the X11 world, such as Awesome or Fluxbox.
Liri Shell Stacking Liri Shell is the desktop shell for Liri, built using QtQuick and QtCompositor as a compositor for Wayland.
Maynard (Unclear) Maynard is a desktop shell client for Weston based on GTK. It was based on weston-gtk-shell, a project by Tiago Vignatti.
Motorcar (Unclear) Motorcar is a wayland compositor to explore 3D windowing using Virtual Reality.
Way Cooler Tiling way-coolerAUR is a customizeable (lua config files) Wayland compositor written in Rust. Inspired by i3 and awesome.
Maze Compositor Floating 3D Maze Compositor is a 3D Qt based wayland compositor
Grefsen Floating Grefsen is a Qt/Wayland compositor providing a minimal desktop environment.

Some of installed wayland desktop clients might store information in /usr/share/wayland-sessions/*.desktop files about how to start them in wayland.


Running graphical applications as root

Trying to run a graphical application as root via su, sudo or pkexec in a Wayland session (e.g. GParted or Gedit), be it in a terminal emulator or from a graphical component, will fail with an error similar to this:

$ sudo gedit
No protocol specified
Unable to init server: Could not connect: Connection refused

(gedit:2349): Gtk-WARNING **: cannot open display: :0

Before Wayland, running GUI applications with elevated privileges could be properly implemented by creating a Polkit policy, or more dangerously done by running the command in a terminal by prepending the command with sudo; but under (X)Wayland this does not work anymore as the default has been made to only allow the user who started the X server to connect clients to it (see the bug report and the upstream commits it refers to).

The most straightforward workaround is to use xhost to temporarily allow the root user to access the local user's X session. To do so, execute the following command as the current (unprivileged) user[1]:

 xhost si:localuser:root

To remove this access after the application has been closed:

 xhost -si:localuser:root
Note: This GNOME bug report suggests two other workarounds, with one specific to editing text files.

Tango-edit-clear.pngThis article or section needs language, wiki syntax or style improvements.Tango-edit-clear.png

Reason: Many of these subsections should go into a "Known issues" section (i.e., there is no solution currently). Additionally prepending a date is not needed. (Discuss in Talk:Wayland#)

LLVM assertion failure

If you get an LLVM assertion failure, you need to rebuild mesa without Gallium LLVM until this problem is fixed.

This may imply disabling some drivers which require LLVM. You may also try exporting the following, if having problems with hardware drivers:

$ export EGL_DRIVER=/usr/lib/egl/egl_gallium.so

Slow motion, graphical glitches, and crashes

Gnome-shell users may experience display issues when they switch to Wayland from X. One of the root cause might be the CLUTTER_PAINT=disable-clipped-redraws:disable-culling set by yourself for Xorg-based gnome-shell. Just try to remove it from /etc/environment or other rc files to see if everything goes back to normal.


(20161229) prevent that the desktop is created <ref>nemo issue 1343</ref>

gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons false

X11 on tty1, wayland on tty2

(20161209) windows of gnome applications end up on tty2 no matter where started (gnome issue 774775)

gnome wayland on tty1, weston on tty2

(20170106) apps started on gnome with WAYLAND_DISPLAY set to westen make it not respond any more (wayland issue 99489)


(20161229) core dump when started on gnome


(20161229) core dump] on gnome and weston.

screen recording

(20161229) As of November 2016 there is an ongoing discussion how to implement screen recording. Currently the compositors implement at least basic functionality.

remote display

(20161229) there was a merge of FreeRDP into weston in 2013, enabled via compile time switch. The arch linux weston package currently has it not enabled.

Input grabbing in games, remote desktop and VM windows

In contrast to Xorg, Wayland does not allow exclusive input device grabbing (e.g. keyboard, mouse), instead, it depends on the Wayland compositor to pass keyboard shortcuts (extensions in development) and confine the pointer device to the application window.

This change in input grabbing breaks current applications' behavior, meaning:

  • Hotkey combinations and modifiers will be caught by the compositor and won't be sent to remote desktop and virtual machine windows.
  • The mouse pointer will not be restricted to the application's window which might cause a parallax effect where the location of the mouse pointer inside the window of the virtual machine or remote desktop is displaced from the host's mouse pointer.

Wayland protocol extensions for keyboard handling were proposed for both XWayland and native Wayland clients, there are already extensions for handling of pointer devices (relative pointer motion events and constraining pointer motions) and similar support already been added to XWayland.

Support for these extensions need to be added to the Wayland compositor, and in the case of native Wayland clients probably also to the widget toolkit (e.g. GTK, QT) and the application itself. Currently, there are no known compositors supporting all these extensions.

See also