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?

7 Answers 7


My understanding is that X will be able to run on top of Wayland as a client. See the diagrams at the bottom of http://wayland.freedesktop.org/architecture.html 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.

  • I would not be opposed to creating a completely new remote display protocol that wasn't as stupid as VNC, and more targeted towards how actual applications work than the current X11 protocol. Feb 25, 2017 at 19:20

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.

  • Maybe something like Sun's old NeWS idea (and modern Javascript) is a better model. A lot of X11 clients gave up on a lot of X's more useful features because what they wanted to do was just enough of a mistmatch to what the feature supported. That's why applications do stupid things like grab all mouse events for their entire window. I don't care how they support network transparency, just that it's supported. Feb 25, 2017 at 19:26

According to http://mmol-6453.livejournal.com/253081.html 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.


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).


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).


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.

ref: http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/551

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.

  • Well.. you always use a "desktop" computer to connect to a remote computer.
    – txwikinger
    Nov 17, 2010 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, 2010 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, 2010 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, 2010 at 19:16
  • I understood but I still think that this is a feature for power-users, not for common users.
    – OpenNingia
    Nov 18, 2010 at 13:16

While network transparency is outside the scope of wayland, there is nothing preventing compositors to implement network transparancy, or even a project, like waypipe to build remote rendering server on top of Wayland for compositors to use

  • 2022 now, would be good if Ubuntu added this to its compositor. This is the biggest reason for me keeping all my remote and local rigs on Xorg. Oct 11, 2022 at 7:00
  • still too early i suppose, but given it's 2022, gnome's compositor now supports rdp. rdp also has capabilities of forwarding clients
    – Fuseteam
    Oct 11, 2022 at 18:48

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