back to article Asahi Linux developer warns the one true way is Wayland

Hector Martin, one of the lead developers of Asahi Linux, is warning that Wayland is the future of graphical desktops on Apple Silicon Macs. In a lengthy post on Mastodon, one of the lead developers of the Asahi Linux project to port Linux to Apple Silicon-powered Mac computers has asked users not to use, saying: "we …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sorry, but X11 works on pretty much everything (except, of course, Microsoft Windows, quelle surprise) whereas Wayland is still in its infancy.

    Come back to me when it has multiple decades of interoperability like X11 has (OK, I carry it over SSH tunnels but that's about it).

    1. Steve Graham

      Re: Nope

      Come back to me when I can run it across a network like I do with Xorg every day.

      1. Proton_badger

        Re: Nope

        You'll have to keep an eye on things yourself but Waypipe shows that it's possible for the SSH -X crowd. Personally I just use RDP because lazy.

      2. ianbetteridge

        Re: Nope

        Come back to me when this is what the vast majority of Linux users do. Or, for that matter, when you're actively contributing to X11 code to keep it maintained properly, which it just isn't at the moment.

    2. FIA Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      X11 is awful and needs to die. It's a networked GUI that's terrible at being a networked GUI.

      Running remote desktop over a 512KBit dsl connection via an SSH tunnel about 20 years ago was usable, the same SSH tunnel running an X app was unusable.

      One of these is a system designed for networking and remote display from the get go, on hardware that was much much much slower than that of the time, the other is RDP, which was Citrix's bolting on networking to windows GDI.

      RDP works well, X doesn't.

      However, it's worth pointing out there are multiple X servers for windows. If you don't mind pissing around the the vanilla XOrg one works (or used to), otherwise get something like mobaxterm for better integration.

      1. MacroRodent

        Re: Nope

        Yes, X11 remoting does not really work smoothly unless you are on the same LAN. Which was its original use case anyway. On the other hand, an X11-based desktop over TigerVNC works just fine over a VPN tunneled through residential DSL (sans any sound, but for my uses I don't even need it).

        I have so far steered clear of Wayland, but one of these days I will have to bite the bullet. Hope by that time it has some working remote feature.

        1. FIA Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          I must confess my hatred of X goes back a long way and may not be entirely rational. I just grew up with decent GUIs (Hi RISC OS) and using X always feels like using treacle for me, there seems to be a perceivable gap between any interaction and it's result, that I don't feel with other GUIs.

          Wayland feels lovely in comparison.

          Also, because X never actually had the decency to define a UI I can still experience the joys of Motif in 2023. I just discovered ddd the other day, lovely tool, but under wsl very 1970s motif'y.

          You have this juxtaposition of a really powerful piece of software that looks old. Sure this doesn't really matter from a function point of view, but it's a jarring experience usability wise.

          Had X had the decency to define (and render) the controls too then I suspect that the mishmash of horrible and still prevalent UIs would've been avoided.

          Hope by that time it has some working remote feature.

          Weston has RDP support. However waypipe looks interesting too.

          1. iron Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            > You have this juxtaposition of a really powerful piece of software that looks old. Sure this doesn't really matter from a function point of view, but it's a jarring experience usability wise.

            I don't get the cognitive dissonance here. New software from the likes of MS, Apple, Google etc is generally powerless and only does what they want rather than what the user wants so old looking software being more powerful is logical.

            1. vtcodger Silver badge

              Re: Nope

              Not only is old software adequate for many purposes. People have workflows. Often they have spent years or decades developing them. Why on earth would they want to alter their workflow and debug the changes every time some programmer/designer comes up with and rolls out yet another peculiar idea? Tools are tools. Do I need to buy a new hammer or pair of pliers every 18 months? Of course not. I frequently use hand tools I inherited from my dad. He bought them at estate sales in the 1920s. They still work. Just as well as their modern equivalents as far as I can see.

              1. ianbetteridge

                Re: Nope

                You don't have to. But good luck persuading developers to work on X11 and maintain it, particularly when it's superseded by something which works better for the majority of users, as Wayland ultimately will.

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            You have this juxtaposition of a really powerful piece of software that looks old. Sure this doesn't really matter from a function point of view, but it's a jarring experience usability wise.

            I suspect a lot of El Reg's commentariat have really powerful software experience and look old(*), so you might be treading on a few toes with that.

            (*) Definitely applies to me.

        2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          [Author here]

          > Hope by that time it has some working remote feature.

          It won't.

          Seriously, it's not part of the plan, it's not a stated objective, it's not a use case for Wayland. The developers have stated that their goals are smooth tear free, high refresh rate and variable refresh rate displays, and a simplified stack for local graphics... they are not planning network support at all, and I don't think it's ever going to appear... of course, though, tools from other people may provide some kind of bolt-on but the network aspect of X11 is being discarded. So don't get your hopes up.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            "it's not a use case for Wayland"

            There are many reasons why Wayland hasn't taken over from X11 after 15 years of trying. This is just one of them.

            Wayland might be an OK option for the "Oh, SHINY!" set, but for professionals not so much.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Nope

              "Wayland might be an OK option for the "Oh, SHINY!" set, but for professionals not so much."

              It is *EXACTLY* that, In My Bombastic Opinion

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nope

              "GUI's might be an OK option for the 'Oh, SHINY' set, but for professionals not so much."

              Seriously, I have heard this exactly line said about every advance in computing tech since I got my first machine in the early 80s. GUIs, from the "you need to learn how the computer works, not expect it to work how you want" crowd. Touch-based smartphones, from the "they need a proper keyboard for email" crowd. You name it – if it was an advance in tech which made things better for most users while making the lives of technical users who prefer not to learn anything new, it was railed against.

              It's incredibly annoying, because the underlying assumption is that YOUR work is professional, whereas people who actually want things to develop and improve and focus on things which make the lives of ordinary users better are somehow... not professionals?

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            So not part of the plan to enable remote/cloud desktops like Windows…

            1. localzuk

              Re: Nope

              Not sure its comparable to Windows remote desktops? As that is a separate service that provides that, not the base desktop environment.

              To be comparable, you'd be adding something on top of Wayland to add that functionality.

          3. ibmalone

            Re: Nope

            > Seriously, it's not part of the plan, it's not a stated objective, it's not a use case for Wayland. The developers have stated that their goals are smooth tear free, high refresh rate and variable refresh rate displays, and a simplified stack for local graphics... they are not planning network support at all, and I don't think it's ever going to appear... of course, though, tools from other people may provide some kind of bolt-on but the network aspect of X11 is being discarded. So don't get your hopes up.

            This is a serious issue. I suppose the authors of Wayland don't care, but downstream should and apparently doesn't. RHEL9, only supported desktop is now Gnome. So X2Go which worked perfectly well for multiple user remote desktop access to a machine is no longer possible. The official alternative? VNC, which requires each desktop you want to run to be manually set up in a config file and tied to a specific port. VNC was a revelation when I first saw it (mumbles) twenty-ish years ago, now the way it's set up is outdated. In a way it's bizarre, RedHat's business is servers, not desktop systems, but here is wayland, a project that came out of redhat, and what is it's focus? Attempting to do high performance local graphics.

            1. Spamfast

              Re: Nope

              VNC, which requires each desktop you want to run to be manually set up in a config file and tied to a specific port.

              Actually, on Linux you can run a TigerVNC daemon listening on a single port on a remote machine that uses PAM authentication over TLS and creates a new virtual framebuffer for each connecting client in which you can run up a desktop environment.

              The only problem being that many Linux distros now only allow a given UID to run a single GUI session at a time because all the software bus configuration gets wildly confused otherwise.

              But that's a flaw in the desktop implementation not in VNC.

              1. ibmalone

                Re: Nope

                I mean, I'll try it, but here is the official RedHat documentation for *multiple user remote desktop access* (as I said): RHEL9: which explicity specifies you will have to set up a separate port (in vnc and in the firewall!) for each user.

                On top of which you still must manually ssh tunnel to get a remote connection. Compare nomachine and x2go which dynamically handle all this for you. And you can call it a flaw in the desktop implementation if you like (although I suspect you have missed the point and think I mean multiple remote desktops for the same user), but RHEL have: 1. backed the development of Wayland, 2. exclusively pushed Gnome. So whether its the desktop or wayland that's to blame for this regression it *is* a regression.

                Consider, we have a remote linux server to provide a linux desktop for people who primarily use windows machines but occassionally need linux. Currently we use X2Go for this, we only need to install some packages, they only need to click an icon on their desktop. The only per-user configuration we need to worry about is whether their account is permitted to login. Now we install RHEL9. How do we enable more than one user to remotely access a desktop on this system? What do they have to do on their machine to access it? What do we do when a new user wants access? Bear in mind that although they are unlikely to all use it at the same time we may have more than twenty people needing to do so. Sounds fun doesn't it?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  SSH forwarding or routed VPN

                  You open one port and the rest is accessible behind SSH, just like NoMachine does with NX, or alternatively, you stick it behind a routed VPN. You wouldn’t ever want to expose VNC (nor RDP) directly for security reasons and the extra SSH key or machine cert gives you a second factor of authentication as per best practices.

        3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Nope @MacroRodent

          I don't really agree, although I'm prepared to accept that the type of application you're running will make a difference. The problem with your argument is twofold.

          Firstly, 'modern' X11 applications are not written correctly. They render into a local pixmap on the client, and then blit this across the network. This was NEVER the way X was intended to work, and will always require more network bandwidth. It was intended that you would send graphics primitives that are super efficient across the network, and let the server do all the rendering local to the display hardware (remember the backwards terminology of X11). In addition, font handling was done locally in the server as well, so the client program would sent the character references in a network efficient manner, not the complete glyphs that represent the characters. This means that properly written complex programs can be written that work over mere KB/s links. Many (many) years ago, I set up systems at a computer show, with just a 14.4Kb/s SLIP modem link back to the office, and we had all sorts of programs running through that link at a usable speed.

          Of course, this is completely foreign to the people who learned to program graphic applications on Windows, so they don't use it in it's most efficient manner, and they then complain that it's slow. Whodathunkit!

          Secondly, with X11, you don't need to remote control a whole graphics console on a remote system. This means that your window manager should be running on your local system which manages just your display hardware. This allows many, many people to run client programs on a single remote system simultaneously, without having to worry about virtual frame buffers and display manager for each user on the remote system. This means that the client program can be much lighter in resource use.

          In addition, it allows you as a user to manage your sessions much more easily. Attached to a local or a remote system, a window displaying on your screen looks the same and they can sit next to each other, or overlap, and they can be managed the same, including cut and paste between windows (albeit slightly limited to text and parts of pixmaps, rather than more complex objects).

          People who complain about the limitations of X11 really don't understand how it works, or how to use if effectively. It's not perfect, but it does things that Wayland/RDP/VNC will, by design, never be able to do.

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        Depends on the X app. If the app designer 'knew' the graphic card was local and he could wait for a response after drawing each pixel then network performance will be awful. If the app designer did some thinking in advance to send as many commands as possible before waiting for a response then network performance is fine.

        I always assumed sending an entire window full of pixels would be slower than sending the commands that draw them. To be fair, I never tried because X was fast enough.

        * firefox needs the --no-remote option when used remotely. That one caught me by surprise.

        1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          It's been some time since 'commands' were sent - i.e. drawing lines, placing fonts etc with complex drivers in the days of yore. Now it's more efficient to send pixel data.

          You're also talking at a level below application development - no-one has talked raw X protocol for years, that's down to the underlying libraries.

          1. MacroRodent

            Re: Nope

            > no-one has talked raw X protocol for years,

            Probably almost never, because that is what XLib is for. Applications and toolkits run on top of it. I believe it by default tries to combine consecutive X11 protocol commands.

            It is true newer X11 programs do the drawing and font rendering themselves and push pixels, and that really breaks the original idea. I first encountered it with some bloated Java program, that was totally impossible to remote the plain X11 way. The GUI library redrew the entire window for every change (not sure if Java still does this, it was 20 years ago). Using it with VNC server worked. It looks like a X11 server to the application, but sends only the changed pixels (or rather changed blocks) to the remote client.

          2. karlkarl Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            > no-one has talked raw X protocol for years

            No, but X11 has provided the infrastructure for NoMachine (currently the fastest modern competitor to RDP) and multi-session VNC to exist.

            Without X11 we would be back to Windows 95 where the best you can do is screen scrape. Wayland is OK because it allows for multiple sessions in that regard. But unfortunately we are still back to "dumb" rasters, aka VNC. This will never be as efficient as utilizing a subset of an intelligent protocol.

            If you have time; do compare NoMachine's X11 based offering against VNC or Waypipe. It is a little depressing as to the difference.

            Also, the *fastest* solution we have, even beating Microsoft's annoyingly impressive RDP is X11 TCP/UDP (not tunneled through SSH) with an appropriate Xt-based toolkit like Motif. Looks like "old" but its performance far outpaces more modern solutions. For many use-cases, this really is the solution, still after all these years. And we are effectively going the wrong direction if we ever want to remedy that.

            We might not care about remote desktop solutions personally (I prefer SSH); but someone who develops awesome software that we both use, just might need them... Hopefully Asahi Linux can one day fix this shortcoming.

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: Nope

              The "modern" approach to running applications remotely seems to be html + css + javascript. Not saying that is a good thing, but it is definitely a thing.

              1. ghp

                Re: Nope

                Let me say it: it's a disaster when developing client-server applications.

                1. captain veg Silver badge

                  Re: it's a disaster when developing client-server applications.

                  Is it?

                  Well, that's an opinion. Mine is rather that it fits brilliantly the client-server paradigm* provided you are ready to write the client part in JavaScript** and accept that this means that it is effectively in the public domain.


                  * I remember well the first time that I spake the word "para-dime". My interlocutor looked puzzled. After a bit he inquired "do you mean para-dijjum"? I've tried to avoid the word since. Substitute "model" here, if you like.

                  ** Other client-side runtimes might be available. Wasm comes to mind.

            2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

              Re: Nope

              RDP has been around since 1995 so I'm not sure I'd hold up X11 as the saviour here.

              Whilst X11 works over TCP it has some noticeable shortcomings, the most obvious one being that if the network connection drops the application dies. The last time I looked (which admittedly was quite a long time ago) all the solutions to this were proprietary and a tad flaky.

              1. karlkarl Silver badge

                Re: Nope

                Just to clarify, because in general I agree (and I find the issue of remote desktop streaming interesting).

                Microsoft has done really well with RDP. Not only had they tightly bound the WinAPI GUI widget set to it (Actually Citrix did the hard work in WinFrame, Microsoft licensed it for NT 4.0 Terminal Services); RDP also can send raster images very well through the pipe whilst leaving communication noise to a minimum (plus the 3D stuff these days!).

                X11 however tends to be more chatty, and the wrapping is at a lower level, X11 drawing commands rather than widget sets. However in very simple X11 toolkits (Xaw, Motif, etc), this still ends up faster. Obviously it quickly breaks when we start moving away from XIntrinsics and using raster based toolkits. Sending rasters down X11 is very poor compared to RDP. The "chatter" also means that across a LAN it works well but across the internet, the constant round trips creates problems.

                Yes, X11 sessions don't resume. Xpra is one open solution looking to solve that. The Solaris Sun Ray software was fantasic (I still have my nifty smart card). It is a shame this was not solved. Perhaps once people get bored of this Wayland fantasy, we can all get back to working on XDMCP2!

                We do have Xrdp on Linux but that is really just using (ironically) Xvnc and then converting and sending the raster through Xrdp protocol. Sadly it would be impossible to achieve Microsoft's RDP performance because the protocol has no concept of widget toolkit on UNIX/Linux. This is where an OS by a single vendor has some benefits. If only Microsoft hadn't shat on Windows since XP, it would be a really good desktop OS ;)

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Nope

                  "Microsoft has done really well with RDP."

                  Sure, if you're a crook. See this ElReg article, posted this afternoon (Wed 17 May 2023 // 20:32 UTC).

                  1. Sandtitz Silver badge

                    Re: Nope

                    So the crooks are using crappy admin credentials on public RDP server? I count two faults there, neither of them Microsoft's, can't fix stupid.

                2. tux_is_god

                  Re: Nope

                  "The Solaris Sun Ray software.." agree. That was a proper thin client. I still remember taking my id card out the sunray at Guillemont park, travelling to London office, putting my card in and my desktop as I left it. As they said, The Network is the Computer.

            3. damiandixon

              Re: Nope

              I've been using nomachine for almost a decade for windows and linux. It's way better than vnc and does not muck up accelerated graphics .

      3. Graham Dawson Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Nope

        X11 is awful and needs to die. It's a networked GUI that's terrible at being a networked GUI.

        This is true.

        Wayland isn't the solution.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          Obvious post is obvious. Wish I'd thought of making the point.

          During the meanwhile, until that better replacement comes along, I'll happily(ish) stick with X11.

          Have a beer, Mr. Dawson.

        2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          [Author here]

          > Wayland isn't the solution.


          That, or we revive NeWS. :-)

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            That, or we revive NeWS. :-)

            Given that one main problem with NeWS was that the machines of the time were far less powerful than current ones so NeWS could be horribly laggy, it would be an interesting experiment to try. However, as NeWS was Turing complete the idea of giving random apps complete power over your display server is not going to play well in the modern world.

          2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            Oho, new thing to try!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nope

        On the risk of sounding like an Apple executive, maybe you're using it wrong (grin) or your use case differs from others (which is always possible, that's why we like flexibility).

        One of the features of X11 is that you don't HAVE to export the whole desktop, only the application you work with. Yes, you can do things á la RDP (with some effort) which will work best on a LAN, but that is optional, not mandatory.

        Yes, if you export the whole show it'll take a while for all of it to come across on a slow pipe, but an individual window is there in no time.

      5. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        You have the ability to choose Wayland. Do NOT advocate taking away MY choice to use X11!!!

        Because, like with gnome, the devs behind the push for Wayl;and are (apparently) trying to DO JUST THAT - "Move Us" (for our own good) to the "new shiny" instead of LETTING US STICK WITH THE THING THAT DOES THE JOB!

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          Don’t worry, Bob. It won’t be long before X11 is re-implemented in Systemd.

          (Note icon.)

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            good one, heh

          2. ghp

            Re: Nope

            I thought that was Wayland - systemd's version of X11 - as the name ends in "d".

            1. captain veg Silver badge

              Re: Nope

              I'm hoping that the audio is supplied by Waylond


            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nope

              Think you’re confusing that with its forwarding-friendly cousin systemd-wayLANd

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          Amazing. I'm finding myself 100% agreeing with Bombastic Bob today. Must be Long Covid or something.

        3. ianbetteridge

          Re: Nope

          I'm not sure who you think is taking your ability to use X11 away. The developers of Asahi, who are making what's an entirely sensible decision given the hardware target?

          There's no grand conspiracy of developers who want to MAKE people move to Wayland. What's happened is that most of people who developed for X11 have basically "slow quit" and there's a dearth of maintainers for some pretty fundamental parts. And X11 doesn't offer (or half-offers, badly) a lot of features which, for the majority of desktop users, are more important: proper multi-monitor support, per-monitor dpi scaling, decent tear-free graphics, and probably a dozen other things that I am less aware of.

          Now you can argue that Wayland isn't the right answer to this, and YES it took more than 10 years to get it even to the point where it's usable on most recent hardware. But I haven't heard many (any) people who actually write code for this kind of stuff argue that X11 doesn't need replacing at some point.

      6. mpi Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        That may all be true, but here is the long and short of the problem:

        X works out of the Box. Wayland doesn't.

        To someone who has the time and will to fight the intiricacies of his display server, that may not be a problem. To me, who has neither, it does.

        If Wayland matures to a point where it just works out of the box the way X does now, I will happily give it a try. Until such time, I will stick to what just works.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nope

          It took X11 a while to work (on Linux) out of the box. In the 90s I remember trying to figure out the right settings in the XF86Config file to get an X11 desktop working on my parents' turbo-charged 66MHz Pentium PC, with the added stress of having been told that an incorrect setting could cause their state-of-the-art 15" monitor to burn out. Seeing the X-shaped cursor on the dithered-grey screen for the first time was a real cause for celebration.

        2. peterhoeg

          Re: Nope

          Plasma and wayland works out of the box and so does Plasma on X11. The wayland option has some issues but so does X11.

          1. ianbetteridge

            Re: Nope

            Exactly. The loudest voices in this debate like to pretend that X11 has absolutely no issues and is rock solid and reliable, with no problems at all regarding, say, security. No one pretends that Wayland hasn't got plenty o'bugs.

    3. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      Well - did you see any of the weaknesses noted in the article (or post)?

      Are any of those important to you on apple hardware?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nope

      X11 has been running on Windows for decades.

      Anything you can run under X you can run in Wayland using XWayland.

      Hector Martin's post is not about X the protocol or apps, but about X graphics driver stack and its unsuitability for modern hardware.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nope

        I've just found out that some of the functionality I use in xlib is not present in Wayland.

        I will have to write and maintain code to figure out which window manage is running and to then call that window managers API to get consistent required functionality required.

        Seems a huge backwards step to me.

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      With X11 I can set up a login, and with some care, set up a shell that uses DISPLAY to run an X11 application in the context of THAT user, and by use of ssh with a cert, NOT have top enter a password.

      That way you can (for example) sandbox everything you do with a web browser within that login TO that login. If web site 'a' tracks you, you can completely sandbox your history etc. JUST to that login. You can ignore using NoScript for THAT login, and things work, and maybe even (with firefox) have it PURGE HISTORY on exit.

      As an example I need to use slack for work. So, the slack login has its own Firefox with its own history etc. allowing script and completely separate from anything ELSE I might do.

      And also, if you work on embedded stuff, you can run an editor on the embedded platform (running Linux, let's say) and by setting DISPLAY you can use your desktop for an editor like 'pluma' or the 'meld' application or one of many OTHER useful GUI-based programming tools. Good luck doing that with WAYLAND. [I have heard about the workarounds. No thanks]

      1. ianbetteridge

        Re: Nope

        That's great! Now how many people, in the entire world of Linux, do you think need to do that on a regular basis? Or even once?

        As for your example of having multiple instances of Slack running with no tracking... I'm pretty sure you can do that without having to write your own X11 code. Or any code.

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    This article comes with a complementary bucket of free sand for all readers. Feel free to stick your head in it.

  3. FIA Silver badge

    The Apple Silicon market is a closed one, without the free choice of mix-and-match GPUs and displays found in commodity PCs.

    I'm not sure this is true is it? You can attach any display to an M1 mac as they have USB-C and HDMI (I have 2 dells attached to mine), and as we're talking about Linux surely any PCI-E GPU connected over thunderbolt would work if there are Linux drivers for it? (Mind you if it uses a binary blob you would need an ARM64 one).

    Apple doesn't provide third party drivers for M1 silicon on mac os, but there's no reason one couldn't be written for Linux.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      > You can attach any display to an M1 mac as they have USB-C and HDMI (I have 2 dells attached to mine)

      A Mac mini I guess? AIUI the laptops support just 1 external display. My MacBook air has no display output whatsoever just 2 USB-C.

      So yes you can attach 3rd party displays. No, as far as I know, you cannot attach an external GPU. I think that the inability to support additional or external GPUs is the reason that Apple still sells Intel-based Mac Pros. The Apple Silicon processors are not just CPUs: they are SOCs, and the GPU and CPU are extremely closely integrated, sharing the same memory. I suspect, although nobody knows for sure yet, that there will never be external GPU support on this processor family.

      1. jake Silver badge

        "My MacBook air has no display output whatsoever just 2 USB-C."

        Presumably you send a login prompt to one of those serial ports ... Man should not live on GUI alone, it's bad for the soul.

      2. Tom 38

        A Mac mini I guess? AIUI the laptops support just 1 external display. My MacBook air has no display output whatsoever just 2 USB-C.

        I have a MBP with an M1 Pro, it has 3 USB-C and is quite happy with two external screens.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          [Author here]

          > I have a MBP with an M1 Pro, it has 3 USB-C and is quite happy with two external screens.

          Glad to hear it. Maybe the Pro reverses or undoes this limitation.

          For clarity: internal screen *as well*, right? For 3 total? Otherwise we are still talking 2 max, as I said.

          1. Richard Crossley

            Mac Book Pro Max, 4 external screens (3 thundetbolt plus HDMI) plus the internal.

          2. Tom 38

            Yeah, 2 external and the laptop screen. The only complication is that none of the Apple silicon GPUs support Displayport MST, so on an external dock, you can't use both displayport (or you just get duplicated screens), you can use one of them and the rest have to be thunderbolt - I use a cheap USB-C to HDMI adapter which works fine.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I still have an earlier Intel i9 MBP which comes with 4 USB-C and that too is quite OK with feeding two screens via USB-C in addition to the laptop screen itself.

      3. ianbetteridge

        M2 Pro MacBook Pros support two external monitors natively, M2 Max MBPs support four. There are workarounds on other machines, using either DisplayLink or InstantView software.

  4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    It's worth reading the Mastodon thread in full

    It basically boils down to 'Wayland is pretty much there, but you're going to have to do some work and may have to change your drivers'. It's not yet mature but without people attempting to switch it probably will never be there.

    The problem is that if you have an edge case or complex configuration Wayland will not be a solution out of the box, and some of the commentators have a hard time dealing with real life constraints to ideological purity. For instance, the idea the resolution should not change, which doesn't sit well with games and full screen video playback.

    Going to look at moving this FreeBSD box to Wayland - AMD and Intel should support it, and Nvidia support is now in testing for more recent cards (most cards younger than about 6-7 years old).

    I do like X, but remoting can be a pain, and a non mainstream WM is used (I prefer cwm) it really does not play well with poorly written pieces of software that assume the existence of a full desktop environment, complete with dbus and APIs to add desktop icons.

    There is, as ever, a 'Unix is not just Linux' problem. Wayland isn't in a bad shape in FreeBSD, is there to some extent in NetBSD, and due to lack of resource, not a priority for OpenBSD at the moment.

    1. damiandixon

      Re: It's worth reading the Mastodon thread in full

      Try nomachine for accessing a remote desktop.

  5. karlkarl Silver badge

    This guy is using his recent position of popularity to spread FUD about Xorg like a little child. He really is either a massive moron, or a snake pushing his agenda. These key points (echoed from my posts on Phoronix).

    > "along came xf86-video-modesetting, which was supposed to be the future"

    It is *still* the future. Most Wayland compositors use this exact Xorg driver as a starting point. They merely call it a "backend" rather than "driver".

    > "but modesetting couldn't even handle tear-free output until earlier this year (2023)"

    Uhh... so its still solved then... Perfect. Wayland is no longer needed. Problem solved.

    > "That was in 2015. And here's the problem: X was already dying by then."

    Is just nonsense weasel speech. What is dying? Linux? Grow up

    > "Deal with it. The major players in desktop Linux have decided it's time to move on from Xorg"

    No they haven't. A couple of desktop environment projects have perhaps to facilitate a tighter integration. Many Linux users don't use a desktop environment.

    Take your Apple-style "Deal with it" nonsense and shut the fsck(8) up please.

    Translating his whole drivel is simply:

    > "Asahi Linux as a project doesn't have enough manpower to get the current industry standard display system working"

    And that's fine. There are plenty of incomplete system ports in the same boat. You don't have to lie about your shortcomings. You are doing your best, people don't blame you for that.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge


      An industry standard in Linux? Really?

      1. karlkarl Silver badge

        Haha, god no!

        Established by UNIX but greatly benefitted from by Linux. That is why it would be so bizarre to think this level of industry standardization could happen again unaided, and within the Linux community.

        They won't realize what they had until it is too late!

      2. jake Silver badge

        "An industry standard in Linux? Really?"

        Linux[0] is an industry standard.

        [0] If you are talking about a specific piece of a specific distro, it helps to specify. Hint: Be specific.

        1. ChoHag Silver badge

          Linux is *several* industry standards. All alike. All unique. A new one every week.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Is it time for the project to be TAKEN OVER by fans, and *NOT* "Wayland Cultists" ??

      Just a thought...

      I favor just fixing the bugs, extending features where needed, MAYBE go to X11R8 to address performance, and MOVE FORWARD with X11.

      [certain legacy features could be wrapped in a 'legacy library' without losing 'the new stuff' nor impacting performance]

      1. karlkarl Silver badge

        Xenocara from the OpenBSD project is likely going to be the project taking this forward.

        xenocara-portable will probably be the name for the Linux version.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Asahi Linux can't get Xorg working on recent Apple hardware, I know OpenBSD and Xenocara (X11) has made excellent progress. Perhaps migrate to that instead. Fantastic security to boot!

  7. keithpeter Silver badge

    Quote from OA

    "Xwayland will be supported, so that apps will run under Wayland based desktops"

    So when these Apple Silicon Macs start to appear on the second hand market, people will be able to run any of the software they need. Sounds fine as a starting point. I'm sure people will start tinkering...

    Question: will this work on Asahi for the version of ARM that Apple have produced have a knock on to lesser kinds of ARM by generic laptop makers? I'd like some of this 15 hour battery life.

    Icon: obvious really

    1. Proton_badger

      They have found related to ARM builds in all kinds of places: QT5 JS Engine, GCC miscompiling things, libebrtc PipeWire, Linux core atomic ops were broken on ARM64 including breaking the workqueue code, etc. I've also seen them submitting many other bugfix patches to projects not specifically related to ARM but found because of their work - when they raise a bug it is often with a suggested fix included or even a patch which is fantastic.

      In addition they're doing a lot of work with Rust for Linux because of Asahi Lina's AGx GPU driver that has really tested the upcoming Rust support in Linux.

      So the project is finding a lot of issues, and fixing them. They're very productive.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Linux already supported ARM, the problem is there are zero standards for ARM PCs the way there are for x86 PCs, so until those appear Linux will still require some work to install and what they did for Macs probably won't help much.

      If Qualcomm succeeds in creating an ARM PC market to the point where others produce them and they agree upon some sort of standard (or all copy what Qualcomm does as the defacto "standard") then it would be possible to build a packaged ARM Linux installer that will work on non Apple ARM PCs.

  8. jake Silver badge

    In other news ...

    ... The largest brewery in Dublin reports that Guinness is the only way forward.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clip board security

    One thing I feel is insecure in standard X is that the cut buffer can be too easily shared with the browser, or windows open in a container, or in a remote shell window. Of course it is extremely convenient, however, an requiring an extra step other than generating a window event to release the cut buffer data to another window would be more secure. Like requiring a sudo level text command.

    In the past, when browsers were less secure than today, it did happen that malware could force a paste of whatever was in the cut buffer at that time.

    At one point the Wayland specs had some notion of a more secure cut buffer, but I believe their was a lot of blowback from the inconvenience. Now looking at these specs the page is completely empty!

    Of course, generally the only places I paste passwords are into the browser or remote shells, so perhaps its a pointless worry.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Clip board security

      using a new data type for copy/pasta would help with this. Render as new data type when copying/pasting passwords for example, something that has a DH key exchange in it...

      If it were a standard this would be nice. X11 clipboard can theoretically handle any future data format. Very flexible. Just need to document it and get applications to support it.

      NOTE: I have a script that decrypts a key for github where I enter a password, then it goes onto the clipboard via 'xclip' so I can 'git push' etc. and it seems that after a while the clipboard contents just 'go away' on their own, but you can always copy/pasta something else in its place to 'secure' it

  10. TVU Silver badge

    "In a lengthy post on Mastodon, one of the lead developers of the Asahi Linux project to port Linux to Apple Silicon-powered Mac computers has asked users not to use, saying: "we absolutely do not have the bandwidth to spend time on it"."

    The problem I have with Wayland is that it is still a work in progress and it has yet to attain the full functionality of X11 and that includes handling multiple monitor displays the last time I checked. The following quote from another forum seems to be quite appropriate:

    "You failed to read the fine print at the bottom of all the wayland promises over the past 12 years:

    "It will improve your performance. Next year. Or the year after that. Or maybe the year after that. If you have the right hardware. And the right desktop. On certain tasks with certain apps. Maybe. Depends on the alignment of the stars and the moon, and if Jupiter is in the 2nd house"."

    1. AdamWill

      I've been running multiple monitors on Wayland for, uh, about eight years at this point. It works fine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So, at that point multi-monitor wasn't yet implemented in wlroots (thus no Sway), nor Gnome or KDE's compositors...

        So that only leaves you with running the Weston tech demo for the last 8 years?

        Wow... that must have sucked for you!

        1. AdamWill

          Are you sure it wasn't in gnome's compositor? We made Wayland the default in fedora 25 (Nov 2016), and I'm pretty sure I was running it for a while before then. I've always used multiple displays. It's long enough that I don't remember exactly when I switched.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every time there is a Linux article...

    ...I'm reminded why I hate Linux.

    It's an anarchic swarm of forks and egos that doesn't care about normal users, only other 'forking egos'.

    If you all buried your differences and produced a version that *anyone* could install and it would find the best drivers for that system and a single (yes no doubt infinitely configurable) UI, and provide clear and simple updates, then people might actually use it. I accept that parallel versions would be needed for PCs, Macs, etc.

    I'm now going to wait for people to tell me that akchually I've just described linux mint with xfce - or Debian with Gnome 3.14 - or 107+ other permutations that just proves my point. And that I'm being lazy / shortsighted / intolerant because I'm not prepared to wade through all this again in discussion forums designed for netscape navigator just to see if the combination I've been assured *is the one* can actually see my laptop's bluetooth / DVD / battery and if noth then what the oh-so-easy hack is to make it work.

    /Yes, I do have an asbestos overcoat.

    1. georgezilla

      Re: Every time there is a Linux article...

      " ... and provide clear and simple updates ... "

      So something like an icon in your panel that tells you when and how many updates there are? That you can install with a single click, or NOT install? Or that you can keep using your computer while the updates are being installed, Including apps that you are currently using? And not have to wait while your computer restarts? And restarts. And ......

      Like Linux currently does?

      THAT kind of ..............

      " ... and provide clear and simple updates ... " ?

      " ... a version that *anyone* could install ... "

      You mean like Windows?

      Oh wait. Not "anyone" can do a clean install on bare metal of Windows. Or know that they may need to find drivers for most of their hardware.

      Or do you mean like OS X? Well shit. it's illegal to install OS X on anything other then Apple hardware. And if you do, it's a pain in the ass.

      " ... I do have an asbestos overcoat ... "

      < heavy sigh >

      You wouldn't need it if you had a dam clue. Instead of hating something you know so little about.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Every time there is a Linux article...


        Have apple changed their T&Cs now to actually make it illegal?

        Back in the day you used to be able to slap on one of the apple stickers Apple gave away with new kit on a bit of hardware & so bearing the apple logo (and thus an "apple branded computer" in a sneaky interpretation of the licence terms and so could install the software. I'm guessing some legal bods tightened up the wording to nobble that cheeky workaround then?

        ... Had no need to try installing on a PC for ages so not looked at fine print for a v. long time, since the Mini came out basically: Partner likes Macs, but, although mini not cheap, a lot cheaper than an all in 1 mac as back in the day when her old all in 1 died and funds were low & so she had a while to wait for budget to cover a new mac, had to fight to get OSX running on a PC so she could keep using OS of choice until new all in 1 was affordable .

        1. ianbetteridge

          Re: Every time there is a Linux article...

          > Back in the day you used to be able to slap on one of the apple stickers Apple gave away with new kit on a bit of hardware & so bearing the apple logo (and thus an "apple branded computer" in a sneaky interpretation of the licence terms and so could install the software. I'm guessing some legal bods tightened up the wording to nobble that cheeky workaround then?

          Yeah, that was never legal. It's basically down there with freeman of the land claiming that a parking ticket is "an offer to contract" and so you don't need to pay them.

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Every time there is a Linux article...

      "I'm reminded why I hate Linux."

      You hate it because it's not Windows?

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Every time there is a Linux article...

      > It's an anarchic swarm of forks and egos that doesn't care about normal users, only other 'forking egos'.

      That is in part because open source development and evolution is done in public, unfiltered.

      From what has been made public about some aspects of Windows development, it is clear there were fights and ego clashes, only these happened behind closed doors and people didn’t have the option of walking out with the source code…

      Another aspect is the lack of funding. I suspect if say Canonical had a bigger cash mountain they would have probably only delivered one Ubuntu desktop distro and heavily marketed that, with the intention of giving the high st. buyer the choice of Windows, MacOS and Ubuntu.

      I thus suspect the Asahi Linux project are currently wanting to avoid forks and differing flavours, wanting there to be one Linux distro for Apple, namely Asahi Linux (with Wayland), keeping things simple for both end users/customers and those wishing to port Linux software to Apple hardware.

    4. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Every time there is a Linux article...

      There is a need for a few different distros - e.g. I make heavy use of the more specialized small footprint, run on crap spec hardware distros.

      But yes, fragmentation whilst good in that someone has huge amounts of choice does have the related problem of too much choice causing problems in uptake. Irritating as Windows or macOS may be, at least they look / behave in a consistent* way.

      User friendliness of distros has gone backwards to some extent - I recall a long time ago Mandrake distro (long gone, another issue of many Linux distros - can you rely on the one(s) you like staying around?) had a nice user friendly installer / first run set of tools that, let you do a lot of config choices from selecting various software packages to getting mouse settings how you liked it through to the "basics" such as drive partitioning etc.

      It was good as you could readily set up a system fairly much how you liked it just via the installation / first run setup process. Remember hoping this would lead to a nice user friendly "set up your system how you like it" install / first run wizard being a common thing on Linux (which would be great for uptake by "average" non tech people), but sadly it never really happened. TBF Linux installs are now less "scary" for the average user, but in general with most distros still have to do a lot of "manual" work after install to get things how you want them if you do not like the "defaults" applied.

      Instead of taking old "past it" (usually when OS out of support & the machine not really got the specs for newer OS, or the upgrade failed spectacularly - stares at MS ) machines of family members** to the tip (they have WEEE containers there) I generally repurpose them with Linux & generally that means a Linux that can cope with old hardware specs, low RAM, disk space, weedy CPU etc. compared to a newer machine. You end up with something fine for low intensity stuff such as email, web browsing - have an old laptop now running Puppy hooked up to the TV & with mini bluetooth keyboard linked with it - makes a good way to have a "dumb" TV but be able to stream stuff to it, all the benefits of a "smart" TV, without the dubious privacy issues, lack of control over software updates that come with an actual "smart" TV.

      *FSVO consistent. Both MS & Apple seem to like altering the UI periodically for no obviously useful reason.

      ** In some cases have just installed Linux on the kit and given it back to family members if they just used it for web, email etc. & had no need for WIndows only software.

  12. Grogan Silver badge

    I use old X clients (old window managers like icewm, a 10 year old XFCE etc.), so wayland and xwayland can go ride the bologna pony.

    I also play games, and I don't appreciate being forced to use a compositor to even have a display.

    I don't like KDE or Gnome, which have their own session compositors, so to even use it, I'd have to have a system compositor just to run my window managers through xwayland.

    Most of the xorg distribution is "mature" not unmaintained. I guess I'm hallucinating the xorg-server releases, libx11 and even new releases of xf86-video-amdgpu when they are trying to get everyone to use the generic modsetting driver.

  13. AdamWill

    Retina does not necessarily imply fractional

    "Additionally, the laptop models' displays, as well as Apple's own external screens, are all hi-DPI devices, or as Apple calls them "retina displays". These effectively mandate the use of fractional scaling – something that does not support well."

    I don't know if this is from the OA or the author's gloss, but it's not quite right. Retina does not imply *fractional* scaling. In fact, historically it was kinda the opposite. The clever thing about the original Retina displays was that they did *not* require fractional scaling: they only required *integer* scaling, which is a lot easier. (i.e., scale by 2x horizontally and 2x vertically). Apple's bright idea was to just take the laptop's existing display and double its resolution in each direction.

    These days, *some* Retina displays are designed to expect fractional (i.e. non-integer) scaling, but definitely not all of them. For instance, per Google, the Macbook Pro 13" has a resolution of 2560x1600, which is 227ppi, which means that 2x integer scaling should give a pretty reasonable display - just like 1280x800 on a 13" screen, only much sharper. That might be a *bit* "lower res" than some people might want, so they might go with 1.75x scaling instead, but 2x would definitely be workable.

    The 14" model has a resolution of 3024x1964, 254ppi, which is even more suited to integer scaling - 2x scaling will "look like" 1512x982 , which should be a pretty nice look on a 14" screen.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Retina does not necessarily imply fractional

      [Author here]

      > Retina does not imply *fractional* scaling. In fact, historically it was kinda the opposite.

      I think you are misinterpreting 2 different things here: both what I meant, and the broader Apple use of the Retina term.

      Apple's Retina displays originated on the phones, remember. Specifically the iPhone 4, then later the iPad, and only some years later the Mac range.

      The first one I owned personally was an iPhone 6S Plus, with a 1920x1080 LCD that it runs at 730x414. That's approximately 2.6 on-screen pixels per display pixel, with very slightly different aspect ratios in the X and Y dimensions. (!)

      So, I stand by my comment: the OS *needs* to support fractional scaling to handle this well. iOS doesn't even have options for it: you get what Apple thinks best. The big-screen iPad Pro has a single option: full-size or zoomed.

      MacOS has more. Using a Mac with a Retina display, Apple's UI doesn't expose scaling factors directly, but they are there. What the user sees are 5 steps, from "Larger text" to "Default" to "More space".

      This is as it should be, IMHO. GNOME, for instance, optionally exposes raw percentages, and on Fedora only if you enable it from the CLI. Other distros give you an on/off switch, which should not be necessary and is bad UI for a start. I have no time for excuses about "may degrade performance". GNOME 3 came out 12 years ago (Wayland 15 years) and is backed by a multi-billion-dollar corporation. Make it work, make it work *now*, and stop whinging or making excuses.

      MATE drops the screen resolution, which is an awful fix. Xfce exposes a fractional scaling factor but this don't work and you have to manually enter overrides of less than one -- which *does* work but is even worse UI.

      But the point is, and that is what I am getting at here, if you have more than one display, X11 cannot handle this. It does support fractional scaling but it's global and so applies to all displays. Windows is bad at this but you can set it per-display. Only macOS handles it right: one OS-wide setting and the OS makes sure that it works right across all displays, on its own with no user intervention.

      What I am getting at here is not what Apple products ship with: it is that to properly support such displays, and offer a choice of text and feature sizes on screen to suit users of different ages and eyesight abilities, the display server *must* support non-integer scaling factors, which as I said X11 does not do well. I stand by that.

      And secondly, to have more than one display if they are not the same DPI, it must also support non-integer scaling factors *on a per-screen basis*, on the fly, without reboots or restarts.

      And ideally, without ever showing the user a percentage or a fraction or a decimal, let alone usability nightmares such as values between 0 to 1, or worse still negative numbers.

      As such, I entirely stand by my summary.

      You are correct in what you say, but I don't think it's especially relevant and it neglects the devices on which the tech was introduced.

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Retina does not necessarily imply fractional

      I don't get this either.

      For me any fraction less than one means that you need a bigger display. Or better glasses.

      Not long ago I passed a 28" 4K monitor to my father. My tired eyes could make out the details on on it with a little effort. Dad couldn't. So I reduced (or "scaled", if you like) it to 1920x1080. This makes it simply a bigger version of the monitor he previously used. But still an improvement.

      In my home office I have a 32" 4K monitor. It's OK. I'd like bigger.

      Fractional DPI can go take a jump. Give me a big screen and an appropriate number of pixels. I understand that this might be problematic on laptops, but I don't care.


  14. gnwiii

    You can't always get what you want

    Several posts focus on what the author of the post wants. What that author gets depends on a complex ecosystem of paid and a small minority of unpaid (e.g., hobbyists and students) developers.

    If what you want aligns with needs or desires of industry and/or government, you might get it. If not, you either assume responsibility for making it happen, or settle for what you can get.

    1. ianbetteridge

      Re: You can't always get what you want

      There are an awful lot of posters in this thread who apparently spend their lives doing wondrously complex things with X11 and whose computing lives depend on it who, none the less, want someone else to do the maintaining and development of X11 code.

  15. ChoHag Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The finest example of the CADT process I've seen in a long time.

  16. jonnycando

    Blast from the past!

    I remember the kerfuffle over Lindows and feeling pretty bad because Microsoft was being its snotty self.

    Cue warm fuzzy feelings that this is still around after all this time. Not that I’ve used it but I’ll test drive any Linux because that’s what I do for fun.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Blast from the past!

      [Author here]

      > Cue warm fuzzy feelings that this is still around

      FreeSpire? Yes, I agree, but you are commenting on the wrong post.

      I think you wanted this one?

  17. ianbetteridge

    Seriously guys…

    X11 is not the future.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Seriously guys…

      Who cares what the Fedora set have to say about Plasma? This is part of the same crowd who brought us the systemd-cancer ...

      Instead, for KDE related matters perhaps ask KDE instead[0]?

      Quoting from that document:

      Why not a new Compositor?

      Given that KWin was designed as a X11 Window Manager and later as a X11 compositor the question is valid, why not to implement a new Wayland compositor from scratch. Most parts of KWin are X11 independent. E.g. the Desktop Effect system is able to integrate Wayland clients without any change, the same is true for Window Decorations and other parts.

      Another reason is that the KWin development team does not have the manpower to maintain an independent X11 window manager and a Wayland compositor. Starting a new Wayland compositor would mean to stop the work on the X11 window manager, which would be a bad move as we cannot know yet whether Wayland will succeed and will be supported on all hardware. Also in future KDE will have to provide an X11 window manager.

      So no. KDE/Plasma will be running with X11 into the foreseeable future.

      [0] For the copy/paste folks:

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Seriously guys…

        [Author here]

        > So no. KDE/Plasma will be running with X11 into the foreseeable future.

        This is not true.

        KDE has supported Wayland since v5.4 in 2015:

        It's been available in the standard desktop since v5.5:

        It even works with nVidia drivers since v5.16, 5 years ago:

        As I said when reviewing the Lenovo X1 Carbon, not only does it work fine, it works better on Wayland than on X11 if you need fractional scaling:

        You should believe outdated documentation less, and actually try this stuff yourself before you post guesses and FUD. Shame on you, "jake".

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Seriously guys…

          I did not say Wayland would not be supported.

          What I said was that support for X11 will continue.

          The two concepts are orthagonal.

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