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X11 No More: Fedora 41 Paves the Way for Wayland

Fedora 41 is paving the way for a more modern and efficient Wayland, leaving X11 behind.

In a move that is a long time coming, the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo) has given the green light (almost) to the removal of the gnome-session-xsession package, a pivotal component responsible for launching a GNOME session based on the aging X server. This was planned earlier in Fedora 40, but delayed. This major decision is slated for the upcoming release of Fedora 41, expected to hit the virtual shelves this fall.

The primary reason of this move is to streamline Fedora’s user experience by exclusively supporting Wayland sessions, marking a decisive step away from the X11 protocol. While users will still have the flexibility to install X11 session packages from repositories, the gnome-session-xsession package is officially labeled as deprecated. Furthermore, the GNOME developers have signaled their intent to discontinue X11 support in the future, aligning with the broader industry trend.

Fedora 39 Workstation Edition

Users will still have the flexibility to install X11 session packages from repositories

A notable aspect of the forthcoming Fedora 41 update is the planned segregation of the gnome-classic-session package. This package, responsible for infusing extensions and settings into the GNOME Shell to recreate the classic session reminiscent of GNOME 2, will retain its default installation status. However, the code for X11 support will now reside in a separate package, gnome-classic-session-x11, ensuring that the primary package remains focused on Wayland-based session support.

GNOME Classic Session Metacity in Ubuntu (22.04)

This move comes on the heels of a prior decision by FESCo to terminate support for the X11-based KDE session in Fedora 40. The transition to the KDE 6 branch saw a default offering of a Wayland protocol session, relegating X11 usage to an optional category. Xwayland continues to be provided to enable the execution of X11 applications in Wayland-based environments.

The catalyst for deprecating X11 session support in Fedora stems from the impending deprecation of the X.Org server in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 9. The decision to completely remove X.Org in the subsequent major release, RHEL 10, underscores the overarching industry shift toward Wayland. Key contributing factors include the incorporation of Wayland support in proprietary NVIDIA drivers and the replacement of fbdev drivers in Fedora 36 with the more efficient simpledrm driver, optimized for seamless integration with Wayland.

However, there are many issues and use cases which still need X11 session, since they are not functional in Wayland yet. Such as few issues with NVIDIA in Wayland, screen reader support in Wayland and so on. We hope all these resolves before Fedora 41 or at least with a workaround.

In conclusion, the decision to remove X11 support in Fedora 41 is a bold move towards a more modern and efficient display server. While it may be a significant change for users, it’s a necessary step towards a better future for Linux desktops.

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