The Xfce developers have refreshed their roadmap to incorporate Wayland protocol support. The plan now includes initial support for Wayland in the core components of the forthcoming major release of Xfce 4.20 while continuing to support X11.
Previously, the issue of maintaining backward compatibility with X11 was discussed, but no consensus was reached. But it has now been decided that X11 support will not be discontinued in the foreseeable future.
The Wayland session in Xfce 4.20 will cover a minimally necessary set of features, with the intention of gradually adding missing functionality in preparation for subsequent releases. Efforts will continue to refine the performance of already ported user applications in the Wayland-based environment.
The note also mentions that the project needs more resources to maintain its own composite manager for Wayland but rejects relying on XWayland for operation. At the same time, the decision to use the wlroots library instead of libmutter in the Wayland environment remains unchanged.
Xfce 4.20’s Progress with Wayland
The xfdesktop workspace and xfce4-panel have been ported to Wayland, taking advantage of wlroots, and will continue to evolve as separately launched components. The operation of xfce4-panel has been verified with composite servers Labwc and Wayfire.
On top of that, the libxfce4windowing library is utilized to abstract operations across Wayland and X11, offering a layer for abstracting from the graphical subsystem in which window management components are implemented, not tied to a specific window system. Ported to Wayland components also include:
Wayland support is currently absent in the session manager xfce4-session and the window manager xfwm4, but an unofficial port of xfwm4 exists for operating with Wayland.
Applications that have added Wayland support include: xfce4-terminal, mousepad, xfce4-notifyd, xfce4-taskmanager, xfce4-mixer, ristretto, catfish, xfburn, parole, xfmpc, xfce4-dict, gigolo, and xfce4-panel-profiles. Applications not yet functioning with Wayland are: xfdashboard, xfce4-screenshooter, xfce4-screensaver, and xfce4-volumed-pulse.
Finally, you might be curious about when Xfce 4.20 will be released. Currently, the developers haven’t provided a specific roadmap on the subject. If we’re optimistic, we could look forward to the new desktop environment by the end of 2024.
However, a more realistic expectation might be sometime in 2025. In the meantime, we’ll continue enjoying the current version, 4.18, which is fantastic in its own right.