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Home » Promising Progress: Xfce’s Wayland Roadmap updates of 2024

Promising Progress: Xfce’s Wayland Roadmap updates of 2024

Explore the upcoming Xfce 4.20 release as it hints at an experimental Wayland session.

Since the release of Xfce 4.18, the Xfce development team has been diligently steering the desktop environment into the era of Wayland, the successor to the ageing X11 display server protocol.

On September 2023, I reported about a few updates about the Wayland work in Xfce. This week, the team has given us a few updates, which I will quickly touch upon here.

One of the pivotal decisions in the Xfce Wayland roadmap is the gradual departure from relying on XWayland for compatibility. Instead, the team has chosen to adopt wlroots over libmutter. This shift is aimed at enhancing the integration of Wayland within the Xfce desktop environment, promising a more native and seamless experience.

Recognizing the importance of ensuring the functionality of existing X11 applications and workflows, the Xfce team is engaged in critical discussions on how to achieve seamless backward compatibility during the transition. The goal is to strike a balance that allows users to enjoy the benefits of Wayland while still supporting legacy applications.

This delicate balancing act is crucial to preserving the user experience that Xfce users appreciate, ensuring a smooth and gradual shift towards Wayland without sacrificing functionality.

Xfce 4.20: A Glimpse into the Future with an Experimental Wayland Session

Excitingly, the Xfce team has expressed optimism about featuring an experimental Wayland session in the upcoming Xfce 4.20 release. While there is no concrete timeline for when Xfce with Wayland will reach stable status, the continual progress is promising. While the Wayland porting is in progress, the X11 will not be dropped anytime soon.

For Xfce 4.20, the plan is, to add preliminary support to Wayland to core components without losing X11 support. This doesn’t mean that by the next major release an Xfce session on Wayland will offer all existing features, but we hope it will be minimally usable. We also intend to continue refining our applications to work acceptably on Wayland (those that already work or can be made to work with low effort).

Xfce team

The Xfce desktop is built using small pieces of components such as window managers, panels, apps, plugins etc. As of the development update, most of the components have been ported to Wayland.

Here’s a list from the official roadmap:

Xfce core components

ComponentWayland Support
exoyes
libxfce4uiyes
libxfce4utilyes
thunaryes
xfce4-appfinderyes
xfce4-panelyes
xfce4-sessionno
xfce4-settingsyes
xfconfyes
xfdesktopyes
xfwm4no
xfce4-power-manageryes
tumbleryes
garconyes
thunar-volmanyes
xfce4-dev-toolsyes

Applications

ComponentWayland Support
xfce4-terminalyes
mousepadyes
xfce4-notifydyes
xfdashboardno
xfce4-taskmanageryes
xfce4-mixeryes
ristrettoyes
catfishyes
xfburnyes
paroleyes
xfce4-screenshooterno
xfce4-screensaverno
xfmpcyes
xfce4-volumed-pulseno
xfce4-dictyes
gigoloyes
xfce4-panel-profilesyes

Thunar plugin

ComponentWayland Support
thunar-archive-pluginyes
thunar-media-tags-pluginyes
thunar-shares-pluginyes
thunar-vcs-pluginyes

Panel plugins

ComponentWayland Support
xfce4-battery-pluginyes
xfce4-calculator-pluginyes
xfce4-clipman-pluginyes
xfce4-cpufreq-pluginyes
xfce4-cpugraph-pluginyes
xfce4-datetime-pluginyes
xfce4-diskperf-pluginyes
xfce4-docklike-pluginno
xfce4-embed-pluginno
xfce4-eyes-pluginyes
xfce4-fsguard-pluginyes
xfce4-generic-slideryes
xfce4-genmon-pluginyes
xfce4-indicator-pluginyes
xfce4-mailwatch-pluginyes
xfce4-mount-pluginyes
xfce4-mpc-pluginyes
xfce4-netload-pluginyes
xfce4-notes-pluginyes
xfce4-places-pluginyes
xfce4-pulseaudio-pluginyes
xfce4-sample-pluginyes
xfce4-sensors-pluginyes
xfce4-smartbookmark-pluginyes
xfce4-statusnotifier-pluginno
xfce4-stopwatch-pluginyes
xfce4-systemload-pluginyes
xfce4-time-out-pluginyes
xfce4-timer-pluginyes
xfce4-verve-pluginyes
xfce4-wavelan-pluginyes
xfce4-weather-pluginyes
xfce4-whiskermenu-pluginyes
xfce4-windowck-pluginno
xfce4-xkb-pluginno

As you can see, the majority of the components are ported already.

But, the important one, i.e. Xfce window manager (xfwm4) is still being worked on. Without xfwm4, the desktop overall won’t work.

Undoubtedly, a considerable amount of work lies ahead for the Xfce team to fully implement Wayland support. The challenges extend beyond the desktop environment itself, as Wayland’s broader adoption requires collaboration with hardware manufacturers and driver developers. However, the Xfce team remains committed to navigating these challenges and delivering a Wayland experience that meets the high standards set by the Xfce legacy.

If you want to give it a try and test, you need to manually install Weston and compile components separately. Then launch them in Wayland session.

A detailed testing guide is available on this page.

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