Wayland

From ArchWiki

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 compatibility with native X11 applications to run them seamlessly, XWayland can be used, which provides an X Server in Wayland.

Requirements

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 < 495* All
EGLStreams NVIDIA GNOME, Weston (with a third-party patch)
* NVIDIA ≥ 495 supports both EGLStreams and GBM.[1].

Since NVIDIA introduced GBM support, many compositors (including Mutter and KWin) started using it by default for NVIDIA ≥ 495. GBM is generally considered better with wider support, and EGLStreams only had support because NVIDIA did not provide any alternative way to use their GPUs under Wayland with their proprietary drivers. Furthermore, KWin dropped support for EGLStreams after GBM was introduced into NVIDIA.

If you use a popular desktop environment/compositor and a GPU still supported by NVIDIA, you are most likely already using GBM backend. To check, run journalctl -b 0 --grep "renderer for". To force GBM as a backend, set the following environment variables:

GBM_BACKEND=nvidia-drm
__GLX_VENDOR_LIBRARY_NAME=nvidia

Compositors

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

Tiling

https://github.com/project-repo/cagebreak || cagebreakAUR
  • 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
  • Hyprland — A dynamic tiling Wayland compositor that does not sacrifice on its looks.
https://github.com/vaxerski/Hyprland || hyprlandAUR
  • japokwm — Dynamic Wayland tiling compositor based around creating layouts, based on wlroots.
https://github.com/werererer/japokwm || japokwm-gitAUR
  • newm — Wayland compositor written with laptops and touchpads in mind.
https://github.com/jbuchermn/newm/ || newm-gitAUR
  • Qtile — A full-featured, hackable tiling window manager and Wayland compositor written and configured in Python.
https://github.com/qtile/qtile || qtile
  • river — Dynamic tiling Wayland compositor inspired by dwm and bspwm.
https://github.com/ifreund/river || riverAUR
  • 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
  • Vivarium — A dynamic tiling Wayland compositor using wlroots, with desktop semantics inspired by xmonad.
https://github.com/inclement/vivarium || vivarium-gitAUR
  • waymonad — Wayland compositor inspired by xmonad written in Haskell.
https://github.com/waymonad/waymonad || not packaged? search in AUR

Stacking

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/labwc/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/[dead link 2022-09-23 ⓘ] || wio-wlAUR

Other

  • 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
  • nwg-shell — A GTK-based shell for the sway Wayland compositor.
https://github.com/nwg-piotr/nwg-shell || nwg-shellAUR
  • kiwmi — A fully programmable Wayland Compositor.
https://github.com/buffet/kiwmi || kiwmi-gitAUR

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.

Name Runs itself on Wayland? Description
GDM Yes GNOME display manager.
greetd Wayland greeter available Minimal and flexible login daemon.
LightDM No Cross-desktop display manager.
Ly No TUI display manager written in C
SDDM Available in sddm-gitAUR, but at the moment broken QML-based display manager.
tbsm No Simple CLI session launcher written in pure bash.

GUI libraries

See details on the official website.

GTK

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.

Qt

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 [4], 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. QT_QPA_PLATFORM="wayland;xcb" allows Qt to use the xcb (X11) plugin instead if Wayland is not available.[5]

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.

Clutter

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.

SDL2

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.

GLFW

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

GLEW

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

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

winit

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.

Electron

Wayland support can be activated either using per-application command line flags or more globally using a configuration file.

Command line flags

To use electron-based applications natively under Wayland, the following flags need to be added to your application exec command line (for Electron 20): --ozone-platform-hint=auto.

Missing top bars can be solved by additionally using the following flag: --enable-features=WaylandWindowDecorations. This will typically be necessary under GNOME (supported since electron17).

You can do this for instance by modifying the .desktop file and adding the flags to the end of the Exec= line.

Note: Some packages, like visual-studio-code-binAUR (bug report), do not forward flags to Electron, and thus will need the application developer to implement a solution.

Configuration file

Create or edit the file ${XDG_CONFIG_HOME}/electron-flags.conf (defaults to .config/electron-flags.conf if ${XDG_CONFIG_HOME} is unset) and add the previously mentioned flags (one option per line, with no empty lines):

~/.config/electron-flags.conf
--enable-features=WaylandWindowDecorations
--ozone-platform-hint=auto
Note: These configuration files only work for the Electron packages in the official repositories and packages that use them. They do not work for packages that bundle their own build of Electron such as slack-desktopAUR. Sometimes alternatives exist such as slack-electronAUR.

Older Electron versions

electron-flags.conf applies only to the latest version of Electron. Older versions of Electron can be configured using their own electron<version>-flags.conf file. Versioned files can be soft-linked to ${XDG_CONFIG_HOME}/electron-flags.conf.

Older versions may also require different flags, depending on the corresponding Chromium version. For example, the following flags work on Electron 13:

~/.config/electron13-flags.conf
--enable-features=UseOzonePlatform
--ozone-platform=wayland

Java

The open source implementation of the Java platform OpenJDK, does not yet have native support for Wayland. Until Wakefield, which is the project that aims to implement Wayland in OpenJDK, XWayland can be used.

XWayland

XWayland is an X server that runs under Wayland and provides compatibility for native X11 applications that are yet to provide Wayland support. To use it, install the xorg-xwayland package.

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

Note:
  • Security: XWayland is an X server, so it does not have the security features of Wayland
  • Performance: XWayland has a nearly identical performance to that of X11. In some cases you might notice degraded performance, especially on NVIDIA cards.
  • Compatibility: XWayland isn't fully backward compatible with X11. Some applications may not work properly under XWayland.

Nvidia driver

Note: Nvidia drivers prior to version 470 (e.g. nvidia-390xx-dkmsAUR) do not support hardware accelerated XWayland, causing non-Wayland-native applications to suffer from poor performance in Wayland sessions.

Enabling DRM KMS is required. There may be additional information in the official documentation regarding your display manager (e.g. GDM).

Tips and tricks

Automation

Kwin Wayland debug console

If you use kwin, execute the following to see which windows use Xwayland or native Wayland, surfaces, input events, clipboard contents, and more.

$ qdbus org.kde.KWin /KWin org.kde.KWin.showDebugConsole

Detect Xwayland applications visually

To determine whether an application is running via Xwayland, you can run extramausAUR. Move your mouse pointer over the window of an application. If the red mouse moves, the application is running via Xwayland.

Alternatively, you can use xorg-xeyes and see if the eyes are moving, when moving the mouse pointer over an application window.

An other option is to run xwininfo (from xorg-xwininfo) in a terminal window : when hovering over an Xwayland window the mouse pointer will turn into a + sign. If you click the window it will display some information and end, but it will not do anything with native Wayland windows.You can use Ctrl+C to end it.

Remap keyboard or mouse keys

See Input remap utilities.

Troubleshooting

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.

Remote display

  • wlroots (used by sway) offers a VNC backend via wayvnc since version 0.10. RDP backend has been removed [6].
  • mutter has now remote desktop enabled at compile time, see [7] 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.
  • waypipeAUR (or 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.

GTK themes not working

See https://github.com/swaywm/sway/wiki/GTK-3-settings-on-Wayland.

Avoid loading NVIDIA modules

Add __EGL_VENDOR_LIBRARY_FILENAMES=/usr/share/glvnd/egl_vendor.d/50_mesa.json as environment variable before launching a Wayland compositor like sway.

See also