Xfce 4.20 Desktop Environment Will Finally 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.

“For Xfce 4.20, the plan is, to add preliminary support to Wayland to core components without losing X11 support.”

Work on Xfce 4.20 kicked off last year with the release of libxfce4windowing, a new dependency for the Xfce desktop environment that provides 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 working 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.

By now, most of the components have been ported to Wayland, but you can track the progress on the official Xfce Wayland Development Roadmap wiki page. One thing to note here is that the Xfce team won’t develop their own Wayland compositor due to a lack of resources, so they’ll use the popular wlroots.

As usual, I will keep a close eye on the development cycle of the Xfce 4.20 desktop environment and I’ll let you know how things evolve and when you’ll be able to take the upcoming release for a test drive on top of Wayland.

Update 09/02/24: The Xfce team has updated their official “Xfce Wayland Development Roadmap” documentation stating that they are now targeting preliminary Wayland support in Xfce 4.20 for all core components without losing X11 support.

Last updated 3 weeks ago

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