Gnome on Wayland: impressions

I’ve been using Gnome for at least 2 years but I’ve always been using it on X, never Wayland. You all know what Wayland is, it’s intended to be the future of display server, the protocol that will put X on retirement after decades.

Well, I’ve always seen that item “Gnome on Wayland” when logging in into my system, but I’ve never selected it, I didn’t trust, because I’m not an expert on this technical things, I don’t know anything about coding and seeing all those websites asking whether Wayland was ready or not didn’t enhance my confidence in it.

On the other hand, I know for sure that is not Wayland to be ready, because Wayland IS ready; the problem, instead, is if the desktop environment are ready to support Wayland. Gnome happens to be the one that has the best Wayland implementation, so far. I gave it a chance, so these are my impressions after a week of Gnome on Wayland.

  1. It’s stable. So far, I’ve never experienced a single crash.
  2. The trackpad of my notebook is less precise than in X, maybe it’s just more sensitive. To make an example, sometimes I have to focus to hit the button to close a window, while on X I do it with eyes closed. On the other hand, the horizontal scrolling works, while I couldn’t make it work on X.
  3. Maybe this is subjective, but I feel that Wayland is less battery consuming than X
  4. Video player can’t inhibit the screen suspension, even though you set the option. But nothing to worry about: there’s caffeine shell extension.
  5. I regularly use the dash to dock extension. You have to do a little of fine tuning because if you just click on the icon of an open application the effect is to open another window of it, while in X it just recalls the window.
  6. Transmission and Rhythmbox tray icons don’t appear in the tray (in the bottom-left corner) but they continue to run as minimized, I don’t know why.
  7. At the moment, as far as I know, Wayland has not gamma correction, so redshift doesn’t work. That’s sad, my eyes loved it. I hope they will implement this feature soon.
  8. I had issues running X application as super user, for example Synaptic (I’m on Debian). I’ve tried what the arch guide suggests but it doesn’t work. At the end, it’s enough to add “xhost +” (without quotation marks) to your .bashrc. This make commands like “sudo gedit” or “sudo synaptic” works, but, so far, I couldn’t figure out how to make gksu commands work but nothing that makes the system unusable.

So, can you use Wayland for everyday work? From the point of view of a common user yes, Gnome on Wayland is usable and with some tuning you wouldn’t note any difference with respect to X. At least, if you don’t use Redshift, for that there’s nothing you can do now.


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