back to article Gtk 5 might drop X11 support, says GNOME dev

One of the GNOME developers has suggested that the next major release of Gtk could drop support for the X window system. Emmanuele Bassi opened a discussion last week on the GNOME project's Gitlab instance that asked whether the developers could drop X11 support in the next release of Gtk. At this point, it is only a …

  1. slimshady76

    Gnome being Gnome...

    Do we need any more evidence of the futileness of the Gnome project? Their main goal in life seems to be breaking compatibility. Thet can't even maintain a healthy extension ecosystem, and now they want to alienate themselves into Wayland. Good for us, if you ask me. Let them rot in their own walled garden.

    I for one welcome our Budgie Desktop overlords.

    Linus was right when he complained about Gnome being just a fancy waty to waste clock cycles.

    1. bofh1961

      Re: Gnome being Gnome...

      A decision to dump X for Wayland would be just Gnome's style, they'll ditch some of the essential functionality but still call it progress.

      Gnome puts people off desktop Linux.

      1. cyberdemon Silver badge

        In other news

        Linux users ditch Gnome, switch to KDE, and live a happy, productive life.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: In other news

          Except for the occasional GTK-based application that does odd things with scroll bars and just looks out of place in various ways.

          1. Spazturtle Silver badge

            Re: In other news

            QT apps look native on Linux, Windows and macOS.

            GTK apps look like Windows 98 programs on Windows and like Mac OS 9 apps on macOS (and somehow always have double window decorations, your scroll wheel never works and right click drop downs always appear in the wrong place) and take ages to start up. It's like GTK developers went out of their way to make things look bad on systems they haven't personally ordained.

      2. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Gnome being Gnome...

        Gnome puts people off desktop Linux.

        Not me. I love Gnome.

      3. chroot

        Re: Gnome being Gnome...

        I absolutely love Gnome 3. A massive improvement of Gnome 2. I'm glad Archlinux supported it from the start and that I didn't have to wait for some distro release.

        Waste clock cycles? I myself am happy to dedicate some clock cycles to be happier using a computer and get things done quicker.

        BTW: If you want to save *a lot* of energy, just don't buy Intel, but AMD.

        Down vote counter starts now.

        1. Youngone Silver badge

          Re: Gnome being Gnome...

          Bwahaha! Look at my downvotes and weep! The commentards hate my love of Gnome much more than they hate yours!

          (Hang, on. does that make sense? Yes. Yes it does).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gnome being Gnome...

      I use Ubuntu Budgie and think its great, but isn't it based on Gnome GTK? :-(

      1. slimshady76

        Re: Gnome being Gnome...

        Luckily, Budgie is doing away with its GTK base, the developers has enough with the Gnome team pushing libadwaita into everything.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gnome being Gnome...

      I agree completely. The Gnome team has completely lost touch with the needs and wants of its primary user communities while it chases some dream of turning Fedora into a windows look-alike. Its getting close - it already takes an interminable amount of time to install updates, and every time I've had to install updates has required a restart, just like Windows 3.11.

      1. realh

        Re: Gnome being Gnome...

        So the user community doesn't want or need hidpi support that works consistently? Or be able to use multi-finger gestures on their touchpad? Even Ubuntu didn't think those features were important on their phone?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gnome being Gnome...

      I thought the whole reason for Gnome existing was to force Linux distros to switch to systemd.

      Once systemd has taken over they will be able to shutdown all other opensource projects because systemd will have replaced.

  2. bombastic bob Silver badge

    Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

    I will not make ad hominem attacks about what they might be FEELING (not thinking), nor imply the use of illegal mind altering substances, nor suggest that their heads are NOT firmly upon their shoulders and capable of unrestricted breathing.

    That being said, they have CLEARLY lost their way and need some "gentle nudging" back to the world of REALITY.

    a) Adwaita-only of GTK 4 is ALREADY SO RIDICULOUS, breaking the ONE thing that GTK 3 still had going for it, the ability to have a theme like "TradictionalOk" and *NOT* *FORCE* *ALL* *OF* *OUR* *DESKTOPS* *TO* *LOOK* *LIKE* *WIN-10-NIC* *NOR* *CHROME* *BROWSER* (both of which I *HATE*). [2D FLATTY FLATSO AND UN-GRABBABLE SCROLLBARS *JUST* *PLAIN* *SUCK*, that's why and I hacked out a nice way to get TraditionalOk to work in Firefox so I can have REAL SCROLL BARS again)

    b) Eliminating the ONE thing that makes Linux and other OSs like FreeBSD *SO* *POWERFUL* *AND* *USEFUL* *FOR* *EMBEDDED* *DEVELOPMENT* (and other things) is *CLUELESS* when it comes to "who the CUSTOMERS are". You NEED X11 protocol across the network, or even on the same machine via localhost, to be able to do certain VERY cool things!

    FOSS is NOT a reason to go off and morph a project into something that YOU WANT OTHERS TO HAVE TO USE. You are missing the ENTIRE point if you think this is a GOOD thing. Instead, an update to X11 that addresses whatever perceived shortcomings there are would be MORE appropriate.

    I cite once again Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" (for those who are unfamiliar, it should still be available online and is a short read)

    1. slimshady76
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

      The're probably frustrated by Wayland just being there, rotting alone in the dark, and want to corner some of their own development community into advancing it.

    2. LionelB Silver badge

      Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

      "... I hacked out a nice way to get TraditionalOk to work in Firefox so I can have REAL SCROLL BARS again"

      Nice - would you consider sharing that?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        fixing firefox to use TraditionalOk

        Absolutely! Here ya go:

        a) install TraditionalOk theme, usually available with packages like 'mate-themes' which are generally GTK2 based with GTK3 support

        b) from the command line:

        gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences theme 'TraditionalOk'

        (this makes GTK3's default theme 'TraditionalOk')

        c) open up 'about:config' in firefox, and add/edit these:

        widget.content.gtk-theme.override = TraditionalOk

        widget.non-native.theme.enabled = false

        That should pretty much do it, and you may have to restart firefox for the scrollbars to change (YMMV on that, refresh usually does it for me)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

      Superiority link:

      1. Zolko Silver badge

        Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

        Pretty bad general if you ask me: to blame the scientist who did(*) produce superior weapons, while the army didn't know how to use them, is a loosers excuse. "It's a poor workman who blames his tools "

        (*) well, did in the future. Is going to be having done ?

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

          "is going to be having done"

          This isn't even future tense. It's fiction, so you need a tense that works sideways.

    4. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

      Aha, but the modern way to do applications over the network is a webserver and about 5TB of Javascript Frameworks.

      And I don't think 5TB is too much of an exaggeration given the amount of [poop emoji] that abomination known as npm pulls down anytime I try to use it.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

        the snark is STRONG with this one...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

        Just a slight exaggeration of reality. I work on a mature web-stack application that has "acquired" a variety of functionality over the years through enhancements and integrations, except the project owner insists on downloading all the source code for all packages in case a project ever "disappears" from the internet so we can't use it in pom builds any more.

        The whole project tree including application and third party source is only 1GB. Given what the resulting application does, I think it is actually rather lean compared to the code bases I worked with in the past for C and C++ with truly large international teams of up to 300 developers and analysts.

      3. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

        By exaggeration you mean how under the mark you were, right?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

          10 gigs extracted.

    5. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

      Upvote, though I disagree that "FOSS is NOT a reason to go off and morph a project into something that YOU WANT OTHERS TO HAVE TO USE."

      FOSS is a reason to go on whatever trip you want as long as you let anybody join in. Unbelievably stupid and arrogant headtrips included. Just don't expect too many to join the band.

    6. Doug 3

      Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

      I think this is being brought up so that Linux fits better inside of a Microsoft Windows subsystem for Linux.

      Cripple the Linux desktop and then it'll work just as good in Windows as directly on the metal.

      Gnome constantly does what makes Linux suck instead of doing what makes Linux great. It's as if it's run by Microsoft fanbois or something.

    7. chroot

      Re: Gnome devs who drank the Wayland coolaid...

      Gnome looks like WIndows 10?? They're nothing alike!

  3. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

    Just to be clear, the concern some people had about Qt back when KDE started was that while it was available as source code, you couldn't distribute modifications. This meant that if Trolltech decided to close the source at some point, then KDE was stuck with a massive dependency that couldn't be improved. That prompted the GNOME project based on the Gimp's GTK+ library. Since then Qt has been progressively relicensed under more permissive licenses.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      It is LGPL now, same as GTK.

      The problem is that the long-term support version is no longer available under that licence.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      You don't have to be an open-source zealot to think the licensing of Qt has been problematic through its entire life.

  4. Lars Silver badge

    Regarding Qt and its history and present try the Wiki on it.

  5. GWGill

    Wayland is missing one critical feature needed by content creators

    It's not in mainstream awareness, but Wayland is missing at least one critical feature needed by visual content creators like photographers, artists and publishers, and that is Color Management. It's been standard on existing operating systems and desktop graphics systems like MSWindows, OS X and X11 for decades, but Wayland's architecture makes adding this quite difficult, as it appears to cut across many of Waylands founding assumptions about information hiding and security.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wayland is missing one critical feature needed by content creators

      "it appears to cut across many of Waylands founding assumptions about information hiding and security"

      Assumptions; never a good thing. Make an early design decision to do something specific and you find you've exluded the possibility of doing several other things.

  6. Blackjack Silver badge

    Hi, it looks like you want people to keep using an old version of your app, do you want help with that?

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Although the X window system is nearly 40, it still works"

    So don't break it, which is the opposite of the Gnome developers.

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      There is a reason why I use Mate and or Cinnamon instead.

  8. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "this could significantly accelerate the move to the Wayland display server and the end of X.11."

    Nope. It'll result in GTK 5 being ignored.

    One of the advantages of X11 is the network transparency. I can ssh into my headless Raspberry Pi and have xosview or whatever on my local display.

    From what I can tell, Wayland doesn't even plan to implement anything like this.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: (The title is too long) ... the end of X.11

      One great thing about FOSS is you can create new software, but you can't forcibly EOL the old software.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "this could significantly accelerate the move to the Wayland display server...

      "From what I can tell, Wayland doesn't even plan to implement anything like this."

      They have specifically said they will not do this for...$reasons they never seem to state. I doubt it would even be possible to add the feature now since it's quite a low level function that would impact on the entirety of the Wayland codebase.

      NB, Subject line trimmed as the prepended Re: made it too long for the forum s/w to cope.

    3. Steve Graham

      Re: "this could significantly accelerate the move to ...

      From what I can tell, Wayland doesn't even plan to implement anything like this.

      I seem to remember a "Summer of Code" project or similar where they tried to add networking to Wayland but failed because it was "too hard".

    4. realh

      Haven't you heard of Waypipe?

      GNOME/GTK can use Wayland over a network via Waypipe. Is that not possible with Qt/KDE?

  9. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    The Gnome team seem to have given up all pretence of writing useful and useable software and are now openly trying to annoy as many people as they can. Are they based in a hollowed out volcano?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      I may have found at least SOME insight here...

      Perhaps THIS explains things...

      Embrace. Extend. *EXTINGUISH* (and now Linux must be JUST LIKE Windows II!!!

      One OS to rule them all

      One OS to find them

      One OS to bring them all

      and in the darkness of WAYLAND, *BIND* *THEM*

      (You STILL using X11? No graphics support for you! No DRM support for YOU!)


  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    I can't remember a time when I had a problem with X11

    I can't remember a time when I didn't have a problem with Gnome

    1. englishr
      Thumb Up

      Re: Opposites

      I'm on board with the sentiment, but the bad old days of entering CRT resolution timings into the X.conf file (I think that's what it was called way back when...) prior to EDID being a thing, was fraught with problems.

      The modern versions that just detect everything at run time look like magic to me :-)

      1. ssokolow

        Re: Opposites

        I think the word you're looking for is "ModeLines".

        (Source: I had to do it within the recent past to get 1080p working on an HDTV with broken EDID tables and I'm pretty sure the syntax was the same as it was when I first got into Linux in the 2000s. I still vaguely remember the two different iterations of "make me an XFree86 config" tool that we went through before finally getting autoconfiguration with Xorg and X11R7.)

    2. RAMChYLD

      Re: Opposites

      I can remember tho.

      20 years ago, Gnome 2.

      Nothing has been the same since Gnome 3.

    3. oxwrongagain

      Re: Opposites


      I had a problem with X11 back in either 1992 or 1993. It was X11 as implemented by ATT/Novell in their unixware product (which few people ever used). I don't actually remember what the problems was ....

      I replaced the default X with XFree86, problem solved!

  11. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    Agreed with bombastic bob but with less all caps.

    Wayland is STILL not feature-complete -- it's an ongoing issue of "What about x, y, an z?" "Oh, why would you want to do that?" I recall years back Wayland didn't suport multiple monitors, reporting fresh rate, or syncing stuff to refresh rate... and yes, there was even the response "Multiple monitors? Why would you want that?" (Personally, I don't have enough problem with tearing to care about sync to refresh but those that do care do care.) Current day, there's a battle between security (you don't want some random app to be able to take screen grabs and take over keyboard and mouse) and functionality (you want a remote desktop app to do exactly that.... so last I heard, the response was "Why would you want to do that?" and a bunch of twiddling thumbs). And sure, you may not want to run programs over the network, but from time to time I do, it would be great if they could at least come up with a "use compisiting to draw into an off-screen window and send differences from one 'frame' to the next over the network" type of solution for this, but the answer is generally "Well, why would you want to do that?" In addition, benchmark-wise (last I saw one), Wayland was not running any faster than X11 and in some cases was slower.

    That said -- I do kind of view Wayland as a solution looking for a problem; but, Wayland has slowly gained features (as they realize "Oh why would you want to do that?" will not fly and even if reluctantly implement the missing functionality.) I expect eventually Wayland will be feature-complete (it's much closer now than it was years ago), I have no reason to not use it at that point, and I do appreciate that Wayland is cleaner from an aesthetic standpoint and jettisons numerous amounts of X11 functionality that were already irrelevant in a modern system 20 years ago yet alone now.

    As for GTK5 dropping X11 support -- well, I was going to argue that's unlikely based on the large number of backends gtk has, but I guess that was gtk2 or gtk3 -- actually GTK4 is down to Wayland, X11, Win32, Mac, and Broadway (which I've never heard of but essentially uses HTML5 and web sockets to allow a GTK app to display in a browser, although I'm not sure what the details are on this at all.)

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Agreed

      see icon

    2. cuthbertgraak

      Re: Broadway

      "BROADWAY was originally the code name for an initiative from the X Consortium which was aimed at delivering Web capability to X." (

      Implemented in X11 R6.3, "Broadway" introduced "Low bandwidth X" for slow serial line connections, and a way for web pages to access X11 client applications via a web browser plugin.

      The "Broadway" X-over-http and and low-bandwidth-X features were disabled by default in X11 R7.1 and removed in X11 R7.2

    3. Adair Silver badge

      Re: Agreed

      Wayland appears to be following the same development mantra as nuclear fusion: it'll be ready in <current year> plus <n> years.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Agreed

      "I do appreciate that Wayland is cleaner from an aesthetic standpoint and jettisons numerous amounts of X11 functionality that were already irrelevant in a modern system 20 years ago yet alone now."

      It would still make far more sense to have a coordinated effort to cleanup X than to continue trying to bang the square peg of remote windowing into the Wayland triangular hole

      I've tried very hard to like Wayland, but it just breaks too much stuff and the "we know better than you" attitude from the people behind it means it won't ever be sorted out

      If you're dealing with Germans it's got a name - "The Teutonic blind spot" - you can explain why you want cupholders until you are blue in the face, but they simply will NEVER understand why you want cupholders, as it is forbidden to drink liquids in a vehicle, so there is simply no requirement for them to ever be there"

      This also explains the computing equivalent of Volkswagon putting ECUs in car footwells where water can pool if windows are left down or broken, on the basis that "users are told not to do this, therefore we don't need to worry about it happening" (vs most Japanese engineers taking the point of view "Users WILL do it, we MUST ensure the hardware can handle it")

      It's even worse when you deal with "certain germanic companies" who respond to poor reviews by threatening legal action (yes really) unless the reviews are removed....

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agreed

      You mean like the Gnome conversation

      Please can we have wireframe moves & resizes

      If your system can't do real time opaque move/resize that's a performance problem. My laptop does it fine so it isn't a problem and you should have a better laptop.

      But my laptop in on one side of the world and my server is on the other side of the planet, there is no way to reduce the latency.

      My laptop does not see this problem therefore it doesn't exist. You should get a faster light particles to reduce your latency.


      When your head is insert up "where the sun don't shine" it's hard to see the real world's problems.

    6. realh

      Re: Agreed

      Isn't Wayland's support for multi-monitors better than X's now, because Wayland supports displays with different dpi scaling? But Qt/KDE still can't do hdpi scaling consistently on one monitor, so I suspect we're about to hear not only, "Why would anyone want that?", but all about how hidpi is holding back the Linux desktop.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more xdmcp please

    I have a preference for functionality that is seemingly out of date... interest has increased in the past few years though it was stagnant for awhile... too many shiny new things for people to play with... to insecure in it's design... In reality it is simple, pleasant, and encapsulable. Wayland who?

  13. mevets

    Give me a function pointer or give me death....

    X11 is a communication protocol for picture-like things. Wayland can chase the MacOS everything on the terminal approach all it wants; but me, a clever X11 developer, can make a transport that lies under it. Depending on the integration, it can do it on an app-by-app basis, or a screen-by-screen. The latter is the crap presentation of rdp: based solutions. X11 will live on; linux can stick itself in its own ass, as it has so many times before.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Give me a function pointer or give me death....

      What sets X.11 apart (IMHO) is it was developed before PCs, Windows, MacOS and what-have-you. I'd guess that there are relatively few people about who know about life before PCs and how the desktop computer sent us all up an architectural blind alley despite -- because -- it was a very useful device. Where we went wrong is confusing 'popular' with 'advanced' -- we just lost sight of the idea that a PC is really a terminal, albeit a very capable one, and got further confused because we can bend a sufficiently powerful machine into anything we want it to be (even if the result is not very efficient).

      To me X.11, like 'ix' systems in general, represent distributed computing. The protocol and implementation might be a bit old but that's just code, its the idea of what its doing that's important.

  14. Doug 3

    who made this comment

    It sounds like something an MS-Gnome developer would say. It would be listed under the heading: What things can we do to make user experiences worst?

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: who made this comment

      Could be worse. If we’re not careful, they’ll build systemd support into GTK5.

      Or maybe vice-versa.

    2. Steve Graham

      Re: who made this comment

      I'm guessing it's from someone at Red Hat. My issue with Wayland is the architecture: it sits on top of the Red Hat stack, and If I moved to Wayland, I'd have to install other stuff which I don't currently use or need.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i agree, x11 needs to go. it's becoming bloated and antiquated nomenclature-wise cuz they're taken from characters name in luc besson's the fifth element: xorg (zorg) and lilo, and linux loader (lilo) was the first to go.

  16. Abominator

    Every fucking version of GTK breaks shit. It's not enough to simply break the API's. Now they are ripping the legs out.

    When they keep doing this, it means Win32 which is backward compatible for decades as a stable foundation that has been extended looks like a shining beacon of light.

    This is ultimately the problem with Linux desktop, fragmented and ever changing API's with broken API's + ABI's. Fuck off your existing users that they just give up.

  17. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    There are reasons

    One of the key differences is that Qt mainly targets C++ programmers, and KDE is built in C++.

    There are reasons for using C++ for GUIs and while GTK is an achievement in itself, it's also a good example of why C++ (with plain C where necessary) is better for this kind of thing.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    clipboard firewall

    The security feature I cannot find in X11 or Wayland is the ability to put a clipboard fire firewall between local windows and any browser.

    It's just too easy to accidentally paste into a browser, or risk a browser grabbing clipboard content.

    I imagine this could be implemented by grouping windows, and group has it's own clipboard, with the ability to pass between clipboards requiring an extra manual step (other than just a click).

    I once read, some years ago, some of the Wayland specs and this seemed to be something they were thinking of but it is not there on the Wayland over X11 hybrid Ubuntu system I am using now.

  19. oxwrongagain

    If true, this is the best news I've read in a very long time!

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