Using Wayland


The goal of this page is to relate experiences using Wayland working implementations, software replacement from the X11 world and so on.

Duck: please note I'm a former AwesomeWM user thus I'm not looking into major desktop implementations like GNOME or KDE but I'm trying to mix interesting pieces to fit my needs better. You can have a look at my configuration in my repository (Ansible rules).


There's many Wayland compositor projects around but a lot are very experimental and many even already abandoned.

Working or prospective compositors follows.


(updated for 1.4)

Status: very active project, created a wlroots framework to share with other compositors, version 1.1+ is usable with some glitches, seamless xwayland integration

Packaging: in Debian with wlroots and swaybg

Notable problems:

  • damage tracking issues with xwayland (ugly but not not annoying with most applications)
  • contextual windows in need of relative positioning are not displayed or not at the right location (tray contextual menu, IM selections)
  • games under Wine may not draw or grab input correctly if run fullscreen (but windowed using the full screen size is fine and anyway often better especially with older games when you switch back and forth between workspaces)
  • rendering issues (most glitches do not have any real impact)
  • dialogs hidden under their parent (annoying with specific applications relying on child windows but most don't and there is a workaround)


  • swaybar (display workspaces, current window title, tray, time, CPU infos…)
    • integrated with sway, can use various commands to display stuff (i3status works fine and is packaged in Debian)
    • Status: works fine but tray support is limited (icon may be missing, contextual menu not working, WIP)
  • Waybar (more fancy bar)
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: tested only a short time, tray working better than swaybar but contextual menu currently displayed in the middle of the screen (should be fixed if built with gtk-layer-shell but disabled in Debian for some reason and manual build failed with this option)
  • swaylock (lock screen)
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine
  • swayidle (run custom actions on idle and back from idle)
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine and handle various events
  • remote control (not network transparency)
    • integrated in sway
    • Status: finished, untested (RDP backend replaced, need to have a deeper look)

Way Cooler (spiritual successor of AwesomeWM)

Status: was being rewritten on top of wlroots but was unfortunately abandoned at the beginning of 2020. I need some time to cope with the sadness and remove this entry.


Display Manager

  • lightdm:
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine to run Wayland sessions but runs on X11 itself

Application Menu Runner

  • wofi:
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine
    • Usage: wofi --term=x-terminal-emulator
  • j4-dmenu-desktop + bemenu:
    • j4-dmenu-desktop only is packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine
    • Usage: j4-dmenu-desktop --dmenu='bemenu --list 10 --wrap --ignorecase --no-overlap --prompt "Run:" --fn "pango:DejaVu Sans Mono 12"' --term=x-terminal-emulator
  • dmenu:
    • packaged in Debian (suckless-tools)
    • Status: works fine but impossible to switch back to it if you loose focus (need to kill it in a term)
    • Usage: dmenu_path | dmenu -p "Run:" -l 10 | xargs swaymsg exec

Notifications / Screen Overlay

  • mako (notifications):
    • packaged in Debian (mako-notifier)
    • works fine
  • wob (progressbar)
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine
  • xfce4-notifyd (notifications):
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine but display in the middle of the screen thus not very practical

Input Method

  • fcitx4:
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: untouched config from X11 works but completion menu may not be displayed (it works on one machine and not another but I could not figure out why yet); running fcitx-autostart fixed it (you may need to ``killall fcitx`` first)
  • fcitx5:
    • has Wayland support
    • only the core is packaged in Debian
    • Status: i was not able to make it work and quit
  • ibus:
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: ibus-wayland is available and was switched to using a newer version of the wayland input protocol (see Debian#905001 and linked upstream BR) but Sway use an even newer version (and this one only); anyway these changes are mostly untested so I would not have too much hopes; without this plugin I was not able to make completion work at all, even when forcing the engine on the command-line

So here are the various protocols:


  • termite: (native Wayland support)
    • not packaged in Debian and requires a patched libvte
    • Status: works fine
  • xfce4-terminal:
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine
  • terminator:
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine (with Sway >=1.1)

Screen Capture

  • grim: (screenshot)
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine

Screen Brightness

  • light:
    • packaged in Debian
    • Status: works fine
  • brightnessctl:
    • packaged in Debian (brightness-udev is needed to be usable as non-root)
    • Status: works fine



  • netevent (Input-Event device cloning utility)
    • use case: if you wish to control several machines with the same keyboard and mouse, like with a KVM switch, then you can use devices from one to control others and switch machine using a special key
    • not packaged in Debian but materials provided upstream (needs this update though)
    • Status: works fine


GUI Frameworks

GTK uses GDK to draw and support for Wayland exists but a few things are missing thus it is not enabled by default. Other frameworks do not always enable Wayland by default depending on distro and version.

Currently this works fine (in ~/.xsessionrc):

# ensure GUI frameworks use Wayland
#export GDK_BACKEND=wayland   # breaks a few apps or behaviors (Firefox, Signal…)
export CLUTTER_BACKEND=wayland
export QT_QPA_PLATFORM=wayland-egl
export SDL_VIDEODRIVER=wayland

Java Applications

Set _JAVA_AWT_WM_NONREPARENTING=1 in your environment (in ~/.xsessionrc) to fix behavior with menus and always on top issues (and maybe others).