KDE’s Nate Graham talks about Wayland, and sums up both its history, current status, and the future.
Wayland. It comes up a lot: “Bug X fixed in the Plasma Wayland session.” “The Plasma Wayland session has now gained support for feature Y.” And it’s in the news quite a bit lately with the announcement that Fedora KDE is proposing to drop the Plasma X11 session for version 40 and only ship the Plasma Wayland session. I’ve read a lot of nervousness and fear about it lately.
So today, let’s talk about it!
Wayland is a needlessly divisive topic, mostly because the people who want to stick to X.org are not the same people with the skills required to actually maintain, let alone improve, X.org. Wayland should not be a divisive topic because there’s really nowhere else to go – it’s the current and future of the Linux desktop, and as time goes on, the cracks in X.org will start to grow wider and longer.
In essence, Xorg became too large, too complicated, and too fragile to touch without risking breaking the entire Linux ecosystem. It’s stable today because it’s been essentially frozen for years. But that stability has come hand-in-hand with stagnation. As we all know in the tech world, projects that can’t adapt die. Projects that depend on them then die as well.
My biggest – and basically only – issue with Wayland is that it’s very Linux-focused for now, leaving especially the various BSDs in a bit of a rough situation. There’s work being done on Wayland for BSD, but I fear it’s going to take them quite a bit of time to catch up, and in the meantime, they might suffer from a lack of development and big fixing in their graphics stack.