Well, what do we have here? It turns out that Ubuntu isn’t the only Linux distribution who took a left turn off the X.org highway, now driving on a road that will eventually lead to replacing X.org with Wayland. Fedora’s ‘graphics cabal’, as they call themselves, have explained themselves on Fedora’s devel mailing list. They also explain how network transparency can be added to Wayland in a number of different ways, making the mailing list thread intriguing reading material. Also, everybody happy with the headline? No panties in twists this time around…?
Fedora’s ‘graphics cabal’, consisting of Adam Jackson, Kevin Martin, and Dave
Airlie, discussed the whole Wayland thing at last week’s Plumbers conference, and they came to the conclusion that while Wayland is obviously anything but ready for prime time, the eventual advantages of moving to it are so great a switch is pretty much inevitable. Jackson added explicit permission to everyone to quote him, so here we go.
“Wayland’s not a usable default yet,” Jackson stated, “It’ll probably be packaged in F15 as something you can play with. We don’t even have a complete list of transition criteria yet, let alone a timeframe for switching the default. But it’s likely to happen eventually because it’s a serious win for a lot of things, and the downsides are pretty negligible despite the fear from the peanut gallery.”
In a later post, Jackson also handled some of these downsides in more detail, most notably X’ network transparency which is an extremely useful feature for server administrators (and for some desktop users as well, of course). While the protocol doesn’t have network transparency directly, there are options.
“You can still do vnc-like things trivially and with a modest amount of additional wayland protocol (or just inter-client conventions) you can do spice-like things,” he says, “This is good, not bad, because efficient remoting protocols do not look like X. Now we get to design a good one, and in the meantime vnc-style remoting sure does go a long way towards being good enough. (But, we can’t switch yet, because we don’t even have vnc-style remoting yet; so we’re not switching yet.)”
This message from Jackson is mandatory reading, though, as it explains what he means by ‘vnc-like’ and ‘rdp-like’. Since Wayland’s “fundamental object of composition is a whole window”, you could just scrape the pixels out of the buffer and shove them across the network to get per-application remoting. Rdp-like remoting is a bit more involved, but is potentially more useful.
“When I say ‘rdp-like’ I mean ‘install enough awareness of the possibility of remoting in the rendering system that remoting can send a rendering command stream instead of raw pixels if that seems to be a win’. Wordy, I admit,” Jackson details, “And, obviously, much more work than just vnc-like scraping. But it’s a serious win for WAN links, and is the only viable way to remote 3D, etc.”
I’m very happy Fedora is looking to eventually move to Wayland as well, since it’s about time the Linux world looks and moves beyond X to something that has been designed from the ground up to be modern, instead of something that consists of layer upon layer upon layer.
With both Ubuntu and Fedora now on the road to replacing X with Wayland, interest in Wayland will rise. NVIDIA may not have any plans to support it right now, but I’m pretty sure they eventually won’t have much of a choice.