Wayland in Bookworm

We are getting towards the freeze for Debian/Bookworm so the current state of packages isn’t going to change much before the release. Bugs will get fixed but missing features will mostly be missing until the next release.

Anarcat wrote an excellent blog post about using Wayland with the Sway window manager [1]. It seems pretty good if you like Sway, but I like KDE and plan to continue using it. Several of the important utility programs referenced by Anarcat won’t run with KDE/Wayland and give errors such as “Compositor doesn’t support wlr-output-management-unstable-v1”. One noteworthy thing about Wayland is the the Window manager and the equivalent to the X server are the same program so KDE has different Wayland code than Sway and doesn’t support some features. The lack of these features limits my ability to manage multiple displays and therefore makes KDE/Wayland unsuitable for many laptop uses. My work laptop runs Ubuntu 22.04 with KDE and wouldn’t correctly display on the pair of monitors on a USB-C dock that’s the standard desktop configuration where I work.

In my previous post about Wayland [2] I wrote about converting 2 of my systems to Wayland. Since then I had changed them back to X because of problems with supporting strange monitor configurations on laptops and also due to the KDE window manager crashing occasionally which terminates the session in Wayland but merely requires restarting the window manager in X. More recently I had a problem with the GPU in my main workstation sometimes not being recognised by the system (reporting no PCIe device), when I got a new one I couldn’t get X to work with the error “Cannot run in framebuffer mode. Please specify busIDs for all framebuffer devices” so I tried Wayland again. Now in the later stage of the Bookworm development process it seems that the problem with the KDE window manager crashing has been solved or mitigates and there is a new problem of the plasmashell process crashing. As I can restart plasmashell without logging out that’s much less annoying. So now my main workstation is running on Wayland with a slower GPU than I previously had while also giving a faster user experience so Wayland is providing a definite performance benefit.

Maybe for Trixie (the next release of Debian after Bookworm) we should have a release goal of having full Wayland support in all the major GUI systems.

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