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Wayland is a display server protocol. It is aimed to become the successor of the X Window System. You can find a comparison between Wayland and Xorg on Wikipedia.

Display servers using the Wayland protocol are called compositors because they also act as compositing window managers. Below you can find a list of Wayland compositors.

For backwards compatibility to seamlessly run legacy X11 applications, XWayland can be used, which provides an X Server in Wayland.


Most Wayland compositors only work on systems using Kernel mode setting. Wayland by itself does not provide a graphical environment; for this you also need a compositor (see the following section), or a desktop environment that includes a compositor (e.g. GNOME or KDE).

For the GPU driver and Wayland compositor 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, KDE, Weston (with a third-party patch)


See Window manager#Types for the difference between Tiling and Stacking.


https://github.com/project-repo/cagebreak || cagebreakAUR cagebreak-binAUR
  • Cardboard — Scrolling compositor, inspired by PaperWM, based on wlroots.
https://gitlab.com/cardboardwm/cardboard || cardboard-gitAUR
  • dwldwm-like Wayland compositor based on wlroots.
https://github.com/djpohly/dwl || dwlAUR
  • japokwm — Dynamic Wayland tiling compositor based around creating layouts, based on wlroots.
https://github.com/werererer/japokwm || japokwm-gitAUR
  • river — Dynamic tiling Wayland compositor inspired by dwm and bspwm.
https://github.com/ifreund/river || river-gitAUR
  • Swayi3-compatible Wayland compositor based on wlroots.
https://github.com/swaywm/sway || sway
  • Velox — Simple window manager based on swc, inspired by dwm and xmonad.
https://github.com/michaelforney/velox || velox-gitAUR
  • waymonad — Wayland compositor inspired by xmonad written in Haskell.
https://github.com/waymonad/waymonad || not packaged? search in AUR


https://www.enlightenment.org/ || enlightenment
  • Greenfield — Runs in a web browser and can display remote applications.
https://greenfield.app/ || not packaged? search in AUR
  • Grefsen — Qt/Wayland compositor providing a minimal desktop environment.
https://github.com/ec1oud/grefsen || not packaged? search in AUR
  • hikari — wlroots-based compositor inspired by cwm which is actively developed on FreeBSD but also supports Linux.
https://hikari.acmelabs.space/ || hikariAUR
https://userbase.kde.org/KWin || kwin
  • Liri Shell — Part of Liri, built using QtQuick and QtCompositor as a compositor for Wayland.
https://github.com/lirios/shell || liri-shell-gitAUR
  • labwc — wlroots-based compositor inspired by Openbox.
https://github.com/johanmalm/labwc || labwc-gitAUR
https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/mutter || mutter
  • wayfire — 3D compositor inspired by Compiz and based on wlroots.
https://wayfire.org/ || wayfireAUR
  • Weston — reference implementation of a Wayland compositor.
https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/wayland/weston || weston
  • wio — wlroots-based compositor that aims to replicate the look and feel of Plan 9's Rio desktop.
https://wio-project.org/ || not packaged? search in AUR


  • Cage — Displays a single fullscreen application like a kiosk.
https://www.hjdskes.nl/projects/cage/ || cage
  • Maze Compositor — Renders windows in a 3D maze using Qt.
https://github.com/imbavirus/mazecompositor || not packaged? search in AUR
  • Motorcar — Wayland compositor to explore 3D windowing using virtual reality.
https://github.com/evil0sheep/motorcar || not packaged? search in AUR

Some of the above may support display managers. Check /usr/share/wayland-sessions/compositor.desktop to see how they are started.

Display managers

Display managers listed below support launching Wayland compositors. The "Type" column indicates whether the display manager supports running itself on Wayland or not.

Name Type Description
GDM Runs on Wayland GNOME display manager.
greetd Login daemon Minimal and flexible login daemon.
LightDM Runs on X11 Cross-desktop display manager.
Ly Runs in console TUI display manager written in C
SDDM Runs on X11 QML-based display manager.
tbsm Runs in console Simple CLI session launcher written in pure bash.

GUI libraries

See details on the official website.


The gtk3 and gtk4 packages have the Wayland backend enabled. GTK will default to the Wayland backend, but it is possible to override it to Xwayland by modifying an environment variable: GDK_BACKEND=x11.


To enable Wayland support in Qt 5 or 6, install the qt5-wayland or qt6-wayland package, respectively.

To run a Qt application with the Wayland plugin [3], use -platform wayland or QT_QPA_PLATFORM=wayland environment variable. To force the usage of X11 on a Wayland session, use QT_QPA_PLATFORM=xcb. This might be necessary for some proprietary applications that do not use the system's implementation of Qt, such as zoomAUR.

On some compositors, for example sway, Qt applications running natively might have missing functionality. For example, KeepassXC will be unable to minimize to tray. This can be solved by installing qt5ct and setting QT_QPA_PLATFORMTHEME=qt5ct before running the application.


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

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


To run a SDL2 application on Wayland, set SDL_VIDEODRIVER=wayland.

Note: Many proprietary games come bundled with old versions of SDL, which do not support Wayland and might break entirely if you set SDL_VIDEODRIVER=wayland. To force the application to run with XWayland, set SDL_VIDEODRIVER=x11.


To use GLFW with the Wayland backend, install the glfw-wayland package (instead of glfw-x11).


The glew-waylandAUR package currently still does not work with a lot of GLEW-based applications, so the only option is to use glew with Xwayland. See FS#62713.


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


Winit is a window handling library in Rust. It will default to the Wayland backend, but it is possible to override it to Xwayland by modifying an environment variable: WINIT_UNIX_BACKEND=x11.


XWayland is an X Server that runs under Wayland. It provides backwards compatibility for legacy X11 applications.

In order to use it, install the xorg-xwayland package.

XWayland is started via a compositor, so you should check for XWayland compatibility and instructions on how to start XWayland, with the compositor of your choice.

  • Regarding Security: XWayland is an X Server, so it does not have the security features of Wayland!
  • For now the Nvidia proprietary driver does not support GPU acceleration for XWayland. See this pull request for the status of XWayland support.


Color correction

See Backlight#Color correction.

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.

Cannot open display: :0 with Electron-based applications

Make sure you have not set GDK_BACKEND=wayland. Setting it globally will break Electron apps.

Remote display

  • (20200206) wlroots (used by sway) offers a VNC backend via wayvnc since version 0.10. RDP backend has been removed. [4].
  • (20180401) mutter has now remote desktop enabled at compile time, see [5] and gnome-remote-desktop for details.
  • There was a merge of FreeRDP into Weston in 2013, enabled via a compile flag. The weston package has it enabled since version 6.0.0.
  • waypipe-gitAUR is a transparent proxy for Wayland applications, with a wrapper command to run over SSH

Input grabbing in games, remote desktop and VM windows

In contrast to Xorg, Wayland does not allow exclusive input device grabbing, also known as active or explicit grab (e.g. keyboard, mouse), instead, it depends on the Wayland compositor to pass keyboard shortcuts 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 will not 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 solves this by adding protocol extensions for Wayland and XWayland. Support for these extensions is needed to be added to the Wayland compositors. In the case of native Wayland clients, the used widget toolkits (e.g GTK, Qt) needs to support these extensions or the applications themselves if no widget toolkit is being used. In the case of Xorg applications, no changes in the applications or widget toolkits are needed as the XWayland support is enough.

These extensions are already included in wayland-protocols, and supported by xorg-xwayland.

The related extensions are:

Supporting Wayland compositors:

Supporting widget toolkits:

  • GTK since release 3.22.18.

See also