Wayland and graphics card uncertainty

March 23, 2016

Yesterday I wrote about several points of general technology churn that make me reluctant to think about a new PC. But as it happens there's an additional Linux specific issue that I worry about, and that's Wayland. More exactly, it's what Wayland is likely to require from graphics cards.

I use a very old fashioned X based environment, which means that all I need is old fashioned basic X. I think I run some things that like to see OpenGL, but probably not very many of them, and there's basic OpenGL support in even basic X these days. This has left me relatively indifferent to graphics cards and graphics card support levels; even what was a low end card at the time was (and is) good enough for my desktop.

I would like to keep on using my basic X environment for the lifetime of my next machine, but the forces behind Wayland are marching on with sufficient force that I don't think I can assume that any more. People are really trying to ship Wayland based desktops within the next couple of years on major Linux distributions (in particular, on Fedora), and once that happens I suspect that my sort of X environment will only have a few more years of viable life before toolkits and major programs basically stop supporting it.

(Oh, they'll technically 'support' X. But probably no one will be actively maintaining the code and so steadily increasing numbers of pieces will break.)

At that point, switching to Wayland will be non-optional for me (even if it results in upending my environment and makes me unhappy). In turn that means I'll need a graphics system that can handle Wayland well. Wayland is a modern system, so as far as I know it really wants things like hardware composition, hardware alpha-blending, and so on. Using Wayland without OpenGL-level hardware acceleration may be possible, but it's not likely to be pleasant.

What sort of graphics card (or integrated graphics) does this call for? I have no real idea, and I'm not sure anyone knows yet what you'll want to have for a good Wayland experience. That uncertainty makes me want to postpone buying a graphics card until we know more, which will probably need some brave Linux distribution to enable Wayland by default so that a lot of people run it.

(Of course I may be overthinking this as part of mostly not wanting to replace my current machine.)

Written on 23 March 2016.
« Current PC technology churn that makes me reluctant to think about a new PC
How old our servers are (as of 2016) »

Page tools: View Source, Add Comment.
Login: Password:
Atom Syndication: Recent Comments.

Last modified: Wed Mar 23 00:36:59 2016
This dinky wiki is brought to you by the Insane Hackers Guild, Python sub-branch.