The Fedora KDE Plasma spin will boldly move to go all-in on Wayland, dropping X11 when Plasma 6 comes out. Here’s why.
For years, one of the most hotly debated topics on the Linux desktop has been the replacement of the X11 protocol with Wayland. Moreover, despite popular belief that X11 is already too old and that Wayland is the way to go, X11 is generally still supported in all Linux distributions for various reasons.
However, the Fedora KDE Plasma spin developers have plans to take a significant move by dropping support for X11 entirely following the release of Plasma 6, which is currently in early development. Here are their main arguments behind this decision.
RHEL Deprecated the Usage of the Xorg Server
Fedora and its derivatives are closely linked to Red Hat and its enterprise distribution, RHEL. This means the distribution inherits and conforms to many of Red Hat’s decisions.
One of them is that the Xorg display server has been deprecated since the release of RHEL 9.0 in May 2022 and will most likely be removed in future major RHEL releases.
So it is unsurprising that the Fedora developers follow Red Hat’s recommendations. Ultimately, they are related projects, with Fedora being “upstream” of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Wayland Is Being Actively Developed Unlike X11
Let’s face it – X11 is old. I mean, really old. The X window system was first introduced in 1984, but computers have evolved significantly since the 1980s. So, the design of X11 is unsuitable for modern hardware or use cases.
Wayland emerged in 2008 to replace it. It operates entirely differently than X11; it is considerably simpler, and its architecture reflects modern hardware, ranging from embedded devices to desktop PCs.
In practice, in recent years, Xorg does not receive any development and is only kept alive with some patches. Furthermore, there aren’t enough developers willing to put in the time and effort. In other words, the question is not if but when the project will be declared discontinued.
At the same time, Wayland enjoys active development and successfully meets the needs of modern computer systems. So, Fedora KDE Plasma developers see the upcoming Plasma 6 release as a good starting point to say goodbye to the past with an eye to the future.
Wayland Is (Almost) Ready for Prime Time
Wayland hasn’t yet fully taken X11’s place, owing to its lack of stability when working with various applications and GPU drivers. However, many still rely on X11, so developers can’t replace a 40-year-old window system overnight.
However, this is losing strength as an argument, as nearly every modern application and GPU drivers already offer good Wayland compatibility. This is especially true with the KDE desktop environment.
The developers of Plasma strongly recommend that Wayland be adopted as the default session type in the upcoming 6.0 release of the desktop environment. Something that has been taken into account by the Fedora KDE spin team.
What’s Next for Fedora KDE?
First and foremost, it should be made clear that switching entirely to Wayland and removing support for X11 currently only affects the Fedora KDE Plasma spin and is at the proposal stage. Whether it will be accepted as final is yet to be seen, but initial expectations are that it will happen.
Meanwhile, the KDE Plasma desktop developers have not yet committed to any roadmap for the 6.0 release, simply stating that it is expected by the end of the year.
This means that even if the proposal is approved, it will not become a reality until the Fedora 40 KDE Plasma release, which will happen around late April 2024, along with the main Fedora 40 release.
Finally, transitioning to Wayland-only does not imply that X11 applications will no longer work in Plasma 6 in the Fedora KDE spin. Don’t forget about Xwayland – a compatibility layer that bridges the Wayland protocol and the legacy X11 applications.
In other words, by utilizing Xwayland, users can run their favorite X11 applications without needing to be rewritten or adapted for Wayland.
In any case, news about the discontinuation of X11 support in favor of Wayland from various Linux distributions will become more common over the next few years, which is quite normal given the evolution of Linux as a fully functional desktop operating system ready to cover the daily needs of an everyday computer user.
More information regarding the proposal to drop X11 support in the Fedora KDE spin can be found here.
Would be good if article mentioned some things that will not work under Wayland, at least today. I think that includes auto-type from password manager to browser, screen-sharing, screen-recording ? I might be wrong about some of these.
I was thinking the same thing.
My own personal concern is the ability to export the x11 display over ssh.
Screensharing and screenrecording has been working for quite a while now 🙂
Yes, I can share the screen for 5 minutes before the system freeze and I have to start again. I’ve been trying Wayland for over 6 years and they keep saying it’s working but after a couple of weeks I have to switch to Xorg because of issues like this
VNC / remote desktop sharing is DOA under Wayland which makes it a no go here.
I have to agree with other comments. Wayland is a show stopper in itself. Without support for remote desktop access, and password auto-type. No. Just no. Fedora will be unusable in a situation where needs remote desktop access.
I don’t know where you got the idea from that remote desktop is not supported. There’s a RemoteDesktop portal (see https://flatpak.github.io/xdg-desktop-portal/#gdbus-org.freedesktop.portal.RemoteDesktop) which is implemented by most compositors AFAIK 🙂
I know most people don’t care to use them anymore but I love my screensavers. I don’t let them run constantly. I let them kick in after five minutes and run for a half hour before my system goes to sleep. I get up periodically and go do something and come back to the computer. I like to watch the screensavers now and then. Xscreensaver doesn’t in Wayland of course. I wonder if they would run using Xwayland..
I’ve tried Wayland on Fedora. Several times. There have always been problems with the display. Every time I have gone back to X11. It just works better.
And the Fedora/Nvidia driver/Wayland experience. The screen flickers completely randomly and it draws a 1cm thick trail behind the mouse cursor. This is not really how I imagine desktop 2023. Xorg stable with no problems
Let’s not forget the notable amount of improvements Wayland has received in the last few months and the fact that the compulsory transition won’t happen for another 11 months or so.
Why switch to something that is broken / undone?
That’s what I’ll never understand! That’s why I can’t understand in the middle of !2023! the joy that night lighting will also work on Nvidia and much more. I don’t like the direction of Linux on the desktop at all!
Is it OK to use Wayland with Nvidia driver now? I tried to use wayland for a while in last month then I gave up. The wayland-native apps work fine, but Xwayland apps are teribble due to blinking and freezing. My DE is gnome44 with nvidia driver 525
Stracy: I haven’t tried Gnome. With KDE it is as you write
the problem is lack desktop remote support:
anydesk, teamviewer , rustdesk? no run
with xorg i can put desktop linux everywhere until now.
With waylan is non possible
This is very sad – like watching a train wreck in slo mo
Many dual GPU desktop systems with three or more monitors don’t work at all under gnome wayland, X11 is not much better with unworkable slow and jittery response across the three monitors. Most HP and Dell SFF desktops simply fail when using the onboard Intel GPU+ Nvidia NVS PCI ( dual DVI or more) at the same time.
Why is this not fixed? Another example of more unnecessary obsolescence and e-waste of 100,000’s of perfectly good PC’s thrown in the bin because it is just too hard for even a savvy user to take on Linux Desktop for a multi screen workstation.