So, recently I noticed a settings like icon next to the sign in button on the login screen. Upon clicking it I am presented with two options:

  1. Ubuntu
  2. Ubuntu on wayland

Why has this suddenly appeared? Should I be worried? What is Ubuntu on wayland?

I am running a persistent live Ubuntu 18.04 (the latest version as of 24 April 2019). I also noticed that it does not appear on my other persistent live version of Ubuntu 18.04 (the latest version as of 24 April 2019)

  • 1
    no need to worry.. they are different display servers.. the default is Ubuntu on Xorg.. other is Ubuntu on Wayland.. Ubuntu on Xorg simply shows Ubuntu..
    – PRATAP
    Apr 25, 2019 at 18:36
  • I believe that the intention (in the greater Linux world) is to move to Wayland over the course of time. It mostly works, but there are some points that still need improvement. This affects me, because I've learned to use Xorg to control some of my devices, and I have not yet learned how to get similar results in Wayland. Apr 25, 2019 at 19:28
  • Thank you for clearing that up.
    – t.v8aloyi
    Apr 27, 2019 at 15:47
  • 1
    See this: wiki.ubuntu.com/Wayland
    – pomsky
    Apr 30, 2019 at 5:45
  • @pomsky note last update of the article is in 2017. Current Gnome is on mutter (again). Nov 30, 2019 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


at the graphical login screen, you may see an icon either next to the login name, or at the top of the screen on the right; the icon may look like a settings industrial toothed wheel icon, or it may look like the ubuntu 3-branch symbol;

if you click on this icon, you may see:

Ubuntu on Wayland

or you may see this:

Ubuntu on Xorg

Xorg and Wayland are display servers (not to be confused with display managers, such as lightdm or gdm3, or with desktop environments, such as KDE, Unity, LXDE, XFCE, Openbox, Fluxbox, etc)

what this means, seeing these 2 options, is that you have one desktop environment, namely Ubuntu, and 2 display servers installed, and you can choose whichever you want; so which one should you choose?

Xorg has been around a long time, so it is likely that all linux programs work with it; so if you don't want to have things not working anymore, choose Xorg;

Wayland is new, and some programs do not work with it, such as gparted, or screen recorders, etc; one question here even noted that Wayland turns off your nvidia, causing the laptop to heat up;

to see which display server you are using, in a terminal/at a command prompt try this:


so, if you are trying Wayland and things don't work, log out, click on the icon on the login screen and choose Xorg then log back in.

Also if you have more than one display manager installed, for example you have gdm3 and lightdm, to check which one you are using, type at a terminal command prompt:

cat /etc/X11/default-display-manager

and to switch between them type

sudo dpkg-reconfigure lightdm


sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm3

A text window appears where you can use the arrow keys to select one of the installed display managers and press enter.

It is possible to install other desktop environments as well, such as one or more of these or others, and then they will also appear in the list of desktop environments which you can choose from, before logging in:

sudo apt-get install xfce4
sudo apt-get install kde-plasma-desktop
sudo apt-get install lxde
sudo apt-get install openbox
sudo apt-get install fluxbox

Then the desktop environments list to choose from before login might look like this:

Ubuntu on Wayland
Xfce Session
  • I have 2 desktop environments. Vanilla GNOME and Ubuntu GNOME. No matter what I do, I can't uninstall all meta-packages which are made only for Vanilla-gnome.
    – Pranav
    Feb 2, 2021 at 16:44
  • Wow, Thank you Jmarina, this is so detailed.
    – Jovylle
    Jul 9, 2022 at 0:49

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