My view on Wayland replacing X in Linux
November 26, 2010
So, Wayland means that I can look forward to throwing away a highly customized, highly tuned environment that I've been building up for a very long time; this environment is not the only reason I use Unix and Linux, but it's a good part of it. I don't like either the Gnome or the KDE environments, either their interfaces, the design choices that they've been making, or by and large their programs. And with Wayland, one of those two is likely to be my choice.
(My grumpy side says 'if I'm going to have to throw away my entire environment and start over from scratch in some 'modern' environment, why don't I just get a Mac and be done with the hassle?')
The other reason that Wayland makes me unhappy is that today we have a bunch of LTSPs and we're mandated to provide some sort of 'graphical computing on people's desks' solution. LTSPs are already chancy today and Wayland is likely to shoot them in the head as a practical solution even if it theoretically supports remote windows on the initial release, because I can confidently predict that all of the Wayland desktop environments will of course assume fast local graphics.
(Gnome and KDE almost do today; they are increasingly barely useful on LTSPs. Something built from the ground up to assume good support for various modern graphics-intensive operations is almost certainly going to be worse.)
PS: the Wayland FAQ makes Wayland out as a rather different and currently much modest project than the 'replacing X with Wayland' writeups that have been going around. In fact, the more I actually look at what Wayland is today, the less I understand people talking about replacing X with Wayland any time soon.
(Possibly this means I should remember something I once wrote.)
Sidebar: why I give these odds
In general, I won't be surprised if we wind up with some Wayland window managers that look like current X window managers; however, I expect Wayland window management to be up sufficiently different from current X window management that you'd be implementing a new window manager based on ideas from current X ones instead of porting an X window manager.
(Given just how complex X window management has gotten to be over the years, I certainly hope that Wayland window management is drastically different and significantly better.)
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