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.gitignore Tiny Wayland compositor Aug 15, 2018
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Makefile Fix tinywl linking order (#1463) Jan 16, 2019 Annotate the source Jan 3, 2019
tinywl.c Fix software cursor rendering for tinywl and some examples Jan 13, 2019


This is the "minimum viable product" Wayland compositor based on wlroots. It aims to implement a Wayland compositor in the fewest lines of code possible, while still supporting a reasonable set of features. Reading this code is the best starting point for anyone looking to build their own Wayland compositor based on wlroots.

Building TinyWL

TinyWL is disconencted from the main wlroots build system, in order to make it easier to understand the build requirements for your own Wayland compositors. Simply install the dependencies:

  • wlroots
  • wayland-protocols

And run make.

Running TinyWL

You can run TinyWL with ./tinywl. In an existing Wayland or X11 session, tinywl will open a Wayland or X11 window respectively to act as a virtual display. You can then open Wayland windows by setting WAYLAND_DISPLAY to the value shown in the logs. You can also run ./tinywl from a TTY.

In either case, you will likely want to specify -s [cmd] to run a command at startup, such as a terminal emulator. This will be necessary to start any new programs from within the compositor, as TinyWL does not support any custom keybindings. TinyWL supports the following keybindings:

  • Alt+Escape: Terminate the compositor
  • Alt+F1: Cycle between windows


Notable omissions from TinyWL:

  • HiDPI support
  • Any kind of configuration, e.g. output layout
  • Any protocol other than xdg-shell (e.g. layer-shell, for panels/taskbars/etc; or Xwayland, for proxied X11 windows)
  • Optional protocols, e.g. screen capture, primary selection, virtual keyboard, etc. Most of these are plug-and-play with wlroots, but they're omitted for brevity.
  • Damage tracking, which tracks which parts of the screen are changing and minimizes redraws accordingly.