Ubuntu 20.10: Applications

The upcoming Ubuntu 21.04 release will use Wayland as its default display server.

Deja vu?

Ubuntu developers made Wayland the default session in Ubuntu 17.10 (which was, notably, the first version of the system to use the GNOME Shell desktop). However, things weren’t perfect at the time so developers chose to switch back to Xorg for the subsequent release.

But now they say they’re ready to give Wayland another whirl.

Ubuntu 21.04 Wayland Switch

Three years since its last waltz with Wayland support for the display server has come on considerably.

“We believe now is the right time to try again, it should give us enough time before the next LTS to get proper feedback”

Ubuntu’s Sebastien Bacher explains: “some of the blockers we found back then got resolved (desktop sharing), and that’s where the upstream focus is going. We believe now is the right time to try again, it should give us enough time before the next LTS to get proper feedback and sort out issues.”

This sounds promising. Ubuntu is a Goliath; where it leads others follow. In throwing its weight behind the tech it’s signalling that it’s ready for wider attention — which could help motivate projects to improve their Wayland support.

And its adoption could spearhead the arrival of new technologies like Pipewire to the Ubuntu desktop.

Xorg will still be there

Not everyone will be excited about this switch, especially Nvidia users.

Thankfully Ubuntu will default to Xorg on Nvidia based systems for 21.04. The hope is that Wayland Nvidia support will be in a better shape by 2022 and the next Ubuntu long-term support release.

Want to test the current state Ubuntu’s Wayland support right now?

Just logout of your current session, click the ‘cog’ on the login screen, and select the “Ubuntu on Wayland” session. Then login as normal and away you go!

Wayland session on Ubuntu 20.04
Trying Wayland on Ubuntu is easy

Ubuntu 21.04 will still come with a Xorg session accessible from the login screen, so if Wayland really isn’t your thing it’s trivial to switch back.

Phew, features at last!

As announced earlier this week, Ubuntu 21.04 is sticking with GNOME 3.38 rather than shipping the new (albeit under active development) GNOME 40 release — though Fedora has announced it will ship the new desktop in its next release.

So on a selfish note, it’s nice to know there will be something new in Ubuntu 21.04 after all! 😅

Are you excited by this news? Let me know what you think about switching to Wayland (and your experience with it) down in the comments!

News hirsute hippo Ubuntu 21.04 wayland