More than three years after X.Org Server 1.20, released in May 2018, X.Org Server 21.1 finally has been released.
The X.Org Server has a long history behind it. It’s the reference implementation of the X Window system first released in June 1984 by its author Robert W Scheifler at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
X.Org Server is an open source and freely distributed implementation of the X Window System, provided by the X.Org Foundation. It’s part of the X.Org software, the popular X Window System used in many POSIX operating systems, including almost all Linux distributions.
Due to a lack of interest from upstream developers in developing a new version, X.Org Server 21.1 has taken more than three years to emerge. The reason for this is because most Linux desktops are switching to Wayland-based desktops by default, therefore XWayland is all that matters.
In other words, the future of the software, in terms of significant new releases, was definitely in doubt. However, as of today we have the brand new X.Org Server 21.1 version, so let’s take a quick look at what’s new.
X.Org 21.1 Highlights
Above all it’s important to note that since 21.1 series XWayland is released separately and thus this release does not include it.
This X.Org Server 21.1 has better Meson build system support, and the older autotools support will be dropped in future releases.
Moreover Glamor, which is 2D acceleration driver for the X Server, now has added support for Xvfb. In addition, there is variable refresh rate support with the integrated xf86-video-modesetting DDX, and modifier support is enabled by default.
On top of that X.Org Server 21 lands X Input 2.4 touchpad gestures. So even you usually use Wayland, sometimes you have to switch to X because Nvidia and PRIME doesn’t work on Wayland, for example. In a situation like this it’s a good to have touchpad gestures there as well.
Let’s not miss that X.Org Server now correctly reports display DPI in more cases. This may affect rendering of client applications that have their own workarounds for hi-DPI screens.
Last but not least, X.Org Server 21.1 brings a large number of small features and various bug fixes.
In conclusion let me mention that Wayland use is increasing and it’s the default in popular distributions including Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Debian. Ubuntu switched to Wayland as the default in version 21.04. The same applies to distributions such as Linux Mint, based on Ubuntu.
The good news for the X.Org Server is even where Wayland is the default, some users prefer to run X for compatibility or performance reasons.
The credit for the emergence of X.Org Server 21.1 goes almost entirely to developer Povilas Kanapickas for stepping up and making this release possible.
For more information about all changes in the new version, you can refer to the official announcement.