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The Xorg server/client architecture allows for network transparency which means it is possible to start x-clients on a remote machine and display the GUI on the local machine (i.e. via x-forwarding by using ssh).

Will Wayland have the same or a similar way of allowing to display the GUIs of applications on a different system than they are running?

Will this feature be required to be there, before any steps are taken to replace Xorg with Wayland on Ubuntu systems?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

According to network transparency is on the list of things to do, it's just on the bottom of that list. If what is said there is true, we will eventually be able to connect graphically to another machine and run applications, but not immediately, and probably BEFORE X is dropped. I hope this is true, because like others here, I consider this to be a prime advantage to an X based system than others, such as Windows.

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My understanding is that X will be able to run on top of Wayland as a client. See the diagrams at the bottom of for example.

They only mention this in terms of being able to share input devices with X for backwards compatibility, but I presume it means that it will be possible to communicate with the X server over a remote connection even though it is running on Wayland.

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No Wayland is less ambitious that Xorg and won't have network transparency.

Quoting from Mark Shuttleworth blog:

Some of the core goals of X make it harder to achieve these user experiences on X than on native GL, we’re choosing to prioritize the quality of experience over those original values, like network transparency.


As a personal opinion I don't think that network transparency of graphic "server" is a feature needed for a desktop computer, it's is a feature that best match the tiny_client / big_workstation architecture.

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Well.. you always use a "desktop" computer to connect to a remote computer. – txwikinger Nov 17 '10 at 15:15
I will miss the feature personally. I SSH into my PC from my phone (runs X too) and forward back applications like Chromium because they run faster than their counterparts do natively on my phone. – Oli Nov 17 '10 at 15:36
Even without that feature you can use Remote Desktop application to do the job. @txwikinger: not always true, a tinyclient is not always a 'desktop' (i.e. an Ubuntu-desktop installation) but may be a simple computer with minimal hardware and minimal system ( e.g. with no hard drive ) – OpenNingia Nov 17 '10 at 16:38
@OpenNinga: I am not talking about remote desktop, I am talking about remote login to servers for example. I usually use a "desktop" computer to do so. Maybe not an Ubuntu desktop installation, but I have some form of "desktop" to interact. – txwikinger Nov 17 '10 at 19:16
I understood but I still think that this is a feature for power-users, not for common users. – OpenNingia Nov 18 '10 at 13:16

I do not know of any graphical application that I cannot launch over an ssh session. I, and probably everyone I know professionally use this everyday. Not just at work, but at home too. Compiz and other cool effects are a luxury. Network transparency for every single graphical application I might install is a requirement. RDP or VNC are unacceptable substitutes.

All I can see on this topic is comments like "don't worry about it because...[insert words that make me worry here].

What I want is for someone developing Wayland to publicly say "don't worry about it because "network transparency is a top priority for us." They know we want to hear that but they won't come out and say it without hedging.

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Wayland's ability to run X nested means that it will be possible to support most situations of network transparency and similar features. Also I read that this functionality may be replaced with a better method (if I can find the link again I will provide it).

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The correct answer is: "Network transparency is outside of the scope of the Wayland protocol".

A full explanation is provided in this FAQ but a brief summary might be: "the aim of the Wayland is to define a small protocol, trying hard to stay away from the biggest error of X: doing and mandating too much (X even had a print server in it!!!). With this concept in mind there's no outstanding reason to add network transparency in the Wayland protocol. That can be done in a standalone API and its server / client. Nothing in the Wayland protocol is against network transparency."

One thing worth mentioning is that current X implementations are not network transparent anymore, as Daniel Stone explains in this video (which you should really see if you're interested in the argument and if you want to have some good --nerdy-- laugh).

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An example of remoting client / server for Weston (the reference implementation of the Wayland protocol compositor) is explained here:… – Diego Oct 21 '13 at 12:50
I'm not sure it's that much clearer. A RealVNC developer is trying to submit patches and people have already had FreeRDP support added. – Oli Oct 29 '13 at 13:00
@Oli: That is a confirmation of what I wrote: the patches you mention are for Weston, a compositor that actually implements the Wayland protocol. Any compositor implementing Wayland protocol is free to implent any network transparency mechanism, as Weston does. On the contrary the Wayland protocol doesn't mandate any network transparency protocol. – Diego Dec 9 '13 at 11:18
This is the point of the video where Daniel Stone says that X isn't network transparent anymore: – Diego Aug 12 '14 at 8:52

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