Xfce 4.20 Desktop Environment to Hopefully Bring Wayland Support

Wayland support is possible thanks to a new libxfce4windowing library that's currently in heavy development.
Xfce 4.20 Wayland

Great news for users of the lightweight Xfce desktop environment as the next major release, Xfce 4.20, which is currently in early development, looks to finally bring the long-anticipated and highly requested Wayland support.

That’s right, work on Xfce 4.20 kicked off earlier this month with the release of libxfce4windowing, a new dependency for the Xfce desktop environment to provide support for the next-generation Wayland display protocol.

Shortly after the release of the libxfce4windowing library, Xfce’s desktop manager xfdesktop was ported to Wayland. At the moment of writing, only preliminary Wayland support is available since libxfce4windowing partially supports Wayland.

Also ported to Wayland was Xfce’s panel (xfce4-panel), which received a bunch of bug fixes and code cleanup to improve the tasklist, windowmenu, clock, and other of its components. Of course, xfce4-panel’s Wayland support also depends on the new libxfce4windowing library, though all X11/Wayland-specific dependencies are optional.

libxfce4windowing is a new library and it is still being developed. Still, I am hopeful that the final release of the Xfce 4.20 desktop environment, which will probably see the light of day at the end of 2024, will come with a full Wayland implementation.

The development of the Xfce 4.20 desktop environment takes place under the Xfce 4.19 umbrella and packages are already available for Arch Linux, so I took the liberty of compiling all of them on my Arch Linux machine.

Please note that what you read here are my assumptions on the Wayland transition for Xfce, not an official statement, though you can track the progress on the official Xfce Wayland Development Roadmap wiki page. One thing is for sure, the Xfce team won’t develop their own Wayland compositor due to lack of resources.

As expected, there’s nothing to see here yet, but, as usual, I will keep a close eye on the development cycle and I’ll let you know how things evolve and when you’ll be able to take the upcoming Xfce 4.20 desktop environment for a test drive on top of Wayland.

Update 05/02/23: The Xfce team has updated their official “Xfce Wayland Development Roadmap” documentation for those who want to track their progress on porting the Xfce desktop environment to Wayland. They also noted the fact that “it’s currently unknown which Xfce release will target a complete Wayland transition,” but considering we’re looking at a two-year development cycle, my bet is on Xfce 4.20.

Last updated 8 months ago

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