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I was looking for a lightweight X server, but failed to find one. Then I found out about Wayland. I says that it aims to coexist with X, but can run standalone.

When I try to compile it, it needs Mesa, which needs X.

What exactly is Wayland?

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Wayland is an experimental new display server. It is not an X server, and to run X applications you will need to run an X server with it (see the bottom diagram on Wayland Architecture). Since there are very few Wayland applications so far, this means you really can't use it to replace X yet.

Update: As noted in other answers, Wayland is the protocol, not the server software. Also the number of Wayland applications have greatly expanded since this answer was first written in 2010.

  • What benefits does it have over X, if X has it's own display server, and you can't run X applications on it? – Blender Dec 13 '10 at 17:04
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    Theoretically, Wayland can be less of a bloated and inefficient beast. Note that the dominant UNIX on the desktop abandoned X11 years ago: Mac OS X. – Kevin Cantu Dec 13 '10 at 18:29
  • I was wondering about that... What does Mac OS use? I would be quite interested to see. – Blender Dec 15 '10 at 3:08
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    Mac OS X didn't abandon X, as it was never there to begin with - they actually added it in later releases, but also as an option on top of their core display system for displaying X applications. Their core display system is Quartz - see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartz_%28graphics_layer%29 and for a comparison to X at the time developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=75257&cid=6734612 . – alanc Dec 15 '10 at 3:14
  • Wayland is a protocol, not a display server. – Alexander Feb 13 '17 at 14:39
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(Note: It is not a display server, as the selected answer asserts.)

Wayland is a communication protocol for a display server and its clients. Weston is a display server / compositor that is a reference implementation using the protocol.

If your system currently uses Xorg, you can run Weston as an Xorg client. Alternatively, you can configure your environment to run Weston instead of Xorg. For example, many login managers allow you to select a desktop environment to run after logging in; one of these options can be Weston. But keep in mind that Weston is a work in progress, and a reference implementation that helps inform the protocol (and vice-versa), above all else. Newer versions of Gnome and KDE implement the Wayland protocol and come with their own compositor / display servers (no Xorg).

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