Ubuntu moving towards Wayland

Adam Jackson ajax at redhat.com
Tue Nov 9 18:43:06 UTC 2010

On Tue, 2010-11-09 at 17:40 +0000, Andrew Haley wrote:

> I'm wondering of I'm reading this correctly.  The downsides that have
> been described are quite severe in contrast to the possible benefits.
> It is, of course, possible that a mistake has been made, and the acute
> loss of functionality is just scaremongering.  It's also possible that
> I've misunderstood something.

The downsides that have been described include:

- We lose network transparency!  Well, sure, the protocol doesn't have
that directly.  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.  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.)

- We lose support for older hardware!  Yep.  Here's a nickel.  We have
sufficient kernel support for this for the big three hardware vendors,
and we're probably going to see more ports to the marginal hardware in
the next year or two.  Losing <1% of the hardware support isn't keeping
me up at night.  (But, we can't switch yet, because there's not a good
fallback design to classic X on that kind of hardware, and it includes
things enterprisey people run on; so we're not switching yet.)

- All my X apps have to be ported!  Yes, if they want to be native
wayland clients, they do.  If they don't, you can run a nested X server
like on OSX.  They'll still work as well as they ever did, and you even
get to keep ssh forwarding of them.  You can run a wayland server that
does nothing but run a nested X server and you wouldn't ever know the
difference.  Except of course that your shell and your screensaver can
be wayland apps, which means your screen locker will still work even if
an app has a menu open, and you can actually do secure password input,
and and and.  (But, we really don't have _any_ good native wayland apps
yet, thus the benefit of native apps are at the moment theoretical; so
we're not switching yet.)

Anything I'm missing?

- ajax
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