Binary Driver Blobs Aren't Yet Ready For Wayland
Written by Michael Larabel in Wayland on 25 July 2012 at 08:23 AM EDT. 78 Comments
Aside from the Wayland/Weston 0.95 announcement, also being discussed in recent days on the Wayland development list has been support supporting the AMD Catalyst and NVIDIA Linux binary graphics drivers under Wayland.

For those that may be living under a rock for the past while, the binary Linux graphics drivers don't yet support the proper features for running Wayland. If you want to run Wayland natively on the hardware, you're basically left to use the open-source Intel, Radeon, or Nouveau graphics driver stacks; there's some exceptions, but these are the easiest ways to get Wayland with Weston up and running.

AMD and NVIDIA will be unlikely to support Wayland/Weston until there's any serious adoption of this next-generation display server to succeed the X.Org Server on the Linux desktop. When there's benefits to Wayland where they can justifying the support expense, the support will likely come but not anytime in the near future -- not in 2012.

On the Wayland mailing list there's a recent thread of RFC: Ideas to run weston on nvidia/ATI blob with hardware acceleration. The idea comes down to implementing a library to basically wrap around the NVIDIA/AMD to provide "fake" EGL library support that wraps around the blob, the KMS need can be bypassed by using an X.Org Server with the normal blob DDX, and for buffer sharing the SHM implementation can be used right now until the drivers support a GL Extension for sharing buffers between different processes. There's some some other technical hurdles to jump, but this is the basic overview.

"In this way, we eliminated the last Barrier that bind us to X, the blob."

But, of course, some Wayland developers think that the binary drivers can just burn in hell and everything will be fine. "Wayland is already successful in a large way. It is most certainly not contingent upon proprietary drivers supporting wayland. Nvidia will likely fix their driver, but only *AFTER* wayland is being used."

And other comments like:
Please don't make it easy for "the blob to work with Wayland/Weston", and don't change anything in our stacks for that to happen. Please don't sacrifice anything in our side.

Let Nvidia adapt to Wayland/Weston and not the other way around. And if they won't, I think people will be more than happy to be on Nouveau.

Fuck you nvidia!
With fall-back support to using a classic X.Org Server this might be possible, but the binary Linux graphics drivers aren't simply going to disappear anytime soon. The binary Linux graphics drivers are still faster, more power efficient, comply with the latest Khronos OpenGL specifications, and offer greater features (SLI / CrossFire, multiple AA modes, etc) than what's currently possible on the different open-source graphics drivers. Anyone that says otherwise is living in an imaginary world.

Regardless, it's a fun discussion to be had...

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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