Wayland heading for default status as Mint devs mix it into Cinnamon 6 bun

The creators of Linux Mint and the Cinnamon desktop are experimenting with the Wayland protocol – and so is the original developer of Xfce.

Linux Mint’s October update reveals that Cinnamon, one of the last significant X11-only Linux desktops, is starting to change: Mint developer Clément Lefebvre is experimenting with a Wayland version.

Normally, the project’s experimental repository, codenamed “Romeo,” is private, and code is only opened to the public once it reaches beta test stage. We often look at Mint betas at the FOSS desk, and from Mint 21 beta, through various of its point releases up to the LMDE 6 beta, we can aver that by that stage they are normally very solid and barely distinguishable from the final versions.

Lefevbre says that Mint 21.3 should be out before Christmas, and it will have a new option in the Software Sources to enable the experimental Romeo repository, containing in-development, pre-beta versions of Mint components:

This will allow alpha-testers to run unstable versions of Cinnamon, Xapp, Mint tools etc… without having to compile anything. It will also replace our unstable PPA.

One of the more visible changes will be seen in the forthcoming Cinnamon 6, with preliminary Wayland support. Cinnamon 6.0, planned for Mint 21.3 this year, will feature experimental Wayland support, but he warns folks not to expect too much at this early stage:

We don’t expect it to replace Xorg as default any time soon, not in 21.3, not in 22.x, but we want to be ready all the same.

The Wayland session won’t be as stable as the default one and it will lack some features and with have limitations. We won’t recommend it but you’ll be able to give it a shot if you want to, and it’ll be there for interested people if they want to give us feedback. The forums are always open.

Linux Mint 22 is the future release based on next April’s version of Ubuntu, 24.04. This is the next Long Term Support release of Ubuntu, and its codename will be Noble Numbat.

The Ubuntu project is approaching its 20th anniversary, and is going round the alphabet a second time. Those with long memories may recall the last “N” release, 11.04 Natty Narwhal. It was the first release that defaulted to the then-new Unity desktop, and at the time, the Reg didn’t rate it very highly.

Monsieur Lefebvre is not the only person experimenting with Wayland recently. As his new blog reveals, so is Red Hat developer Olivier Fourdan, who has been working on a rootful mode for XWayland.

Xwayland is the tool that allows traditional X11 applications to run in a Wayland-based environment, and usually it will run “rootless”, which means that rather than taking over the entire screen, it merely provides window that are managed by the Wayland compositor. A “compositor” is Wayland’s term for what was called a “window manager” in the X window system, although using Wayland, it’s also the whole display server.

For now, this functionality won’t be very useful for most people, although it could be handy for developers. What is possibly more interesting is that Monsieur Fourdan has a previous claim to fame: he is the original author of the Xfce desktop, which he started building way back in 1996, as he mentions in this 2009 interview.

Google Groups still has one of his first posts about it from February 1997 – rather earlier than even the first beta of KDE. So although KDE turned 27 earlier this month, it’s still not the oldest Linux desktop still being developed. ®


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