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I'm not sure what this was used for, but it's not used by libwayland.
Setting _WAYLAND_DISPLAY would result in the Wayland backend being
picked but would ignore the actual value of the env variable.

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Pluggable, composable, unopinionated modules for building a Wayland compositor; or about 50,000 lines of code you were going to write anyway.

  • wlroots provides backends that abstract the underlying display and input hardware, including KMS/DRM, libinput, Wayland, X11, and headless backends, plus any custom backends you choose to write, which can all be created or destroyed at runtime and used in concert with each other.
  • wlroots provides unopinionated, mostly standalone implementations of many Wayland interfaces, both from wayland.xml and various protocol extensions. We also promote the standardization of portable extensions across many compositors.
  • wlroots provides several powerful, standalone, and optional tools that implement components common to many compositors, such as the arrangement of outputs in physical space.
  • wlroots provides an Xwayland abstraction that allows you to have excellent Xwayland support without worrying about writing your own X11 window manager on top of writing your compositor.
  • wlroots provides a renderer abstraction that simple compositors can use to avoid writing GL code directly, but which steps out of the way when your needs demand custom rendering code.

wlroots implements a huge variety of Wayland compositor features and implements them right, so you can focus on the features that make your compositor unique. By using wlroots, you get high performance, excellent hardware compatibility, broad support for many wayland interfaces, and comfortable development tools - or any subset of these features you like, because all of them work independently of one another and freely compose with anything you want to implement yourself.

Check out our wiki to get started with wlroots.

wlroots is developed under the direction of the sway project. A variety of wrapper libraries are available for using it with your favorite programming language.


Install dependencies:

  • meson
  • wayland
  • wayland-protocols
  • EGL
  • GLESv2
  • libdrm
  • GBM
  • libinput
  • xkbcommon
  • udev
  • pixman
  • systemd (optional, for logind support)
  • elogind (optional, for logind support on systems without systemd)

If you choose to enable X11 support:

  • xcb
  • xcb-composite
  • xcb-xfixes
  • xcb-xinput
  • xcb-image
  • xcb-render
  • x11-xcb
  • xcb-errors (optional, for improved error reporting)
  • x11-icccm (optional, for improved Xwayland introspection)

Run these commands:

meson build
ninja -C build

Install like so:

sudo ninja -C build install



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