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Why Wayland is the Future of Ubuntu’s GUI

Ubuntu 17

Ubuntu, the popular open-source operating system, has been using X11 as its default display server for years. However, with the advent of Wayland, the future of Ubuntu’s graphical user interface (GUI) is set to change. In this article, we will explore why Wayland is the future of Ubuntu’s GUI.

Quick Answer

Wayland is the future of Ubuntu’s GUI because it offers a simplified and efficient graphics stack, direct rendering capabilities, and improved input device configuration. However, it may not be suitable for network-dependent use cases and may have limited driver support.

Understanding Wayland

Wayland is a protocol that specifies the communication between a display server and its clients. It’s a modern replacement for the X Window System (X11), which has been the standard display server for most Unix-like operating systems for over three decades. Wayland is designed to offer a more streamlined, efficient, and user-friendly experience than X11.

Simplified Graphics Stack

One of the primary advantages of Wayland is its simplified graphics stack. Unlike X11, Wayland manages compositing itself and forces everything through a standard GEM/DRM stack straight into the kernel. This means that the display server, compositor, and window manager are all the same entity, resulting in a more efficient and streamlined graphics system.

Direct Rendering Capabilities

Wayland also focuses on direct rendering. In Wayland, clients receive a DRM buffer handle, which allows them to draw directly to the buffer without going through the server. This eliminates the need for drawing APIs and results in improved performance.

Wayland and Ubuntu

Ubuntu has been gradually shifting towards Wayland for several years. The Ubuntu 17.10 release marked the first time Ubuntu used Wayland as the default display server, although it switched back to X11 in Ubuntu 18.04 due to compatibility issues.

With the release of Ubuntu 21.04, Wayland is once again the default display server. This indicates a clear shift towards Wayland as the future of Ubuntu’s GUI.

Wayland’s Advantages for Ubuntu Users

Wayland offers several benefits for Ubuntu users. Firstly, it makes sandboxing applications easier, which can significantly enhance security. Secondly, it provides more options for configuring touchpads, including persistent tap-to-click settings.

Potential Drawbacks

Despite its advantages, Wayland is not without its drawbacks. It is not as network-aware as X11, which means it lacks the ability to send windows to other computers or have multiple screens with remote logins. Additionally, closed-source drivers have been slow to support the technologies that Wayland relies on, which can result in poor 3D performance with current open drivers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Wayland offers a simplified and efficient graphics stack, direct rendering capabilities, and improved input device configuration. However, it may not be suitable for network-dependent use cases and may have limited driver support. Despite these potential drawbacks, the shift towards Wayland is clear, and it’s set to be the future of Ubuntu’s GUI. As Ubuntu continues to evolve and improve, it’s essential to stay updated with these changes to make the most of this powerful operating system.

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