GNOME 3.10 arrives with experimental Wayland support

Support for Linux's next generation of display server headlines a release that brings almost 35,000 changes.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

It's that time of the year again, when the GNOME project completes one of its two yearly releases that marks a cascade of releases from Linux distribution makers such as Ubuntu and Fedora.

The 3.10 release of GNOME brings 34,786 changes to the platform, with the highlights being experimental support for Wayland, a redesigned system status menu, new header bars for applications, support for high-resolution displays, smart card login support, and new applications for handling music, notes, maps, and software installation.

The new headers bars in GNOME 3.10.
Image: GNOME Project

"GNOME has pioneered the development and support of code that is now core infrastructure for many diverse free desktops, including DBus, accessibility support, and Network Manager," said Matthew Garrett, Linux kernel developer and security expert, in a statement.

"As a result, it's unsurprising that GNOME is the first to ship with support for a next-generation display server in the form of Wayland. GNOME's commitment to improving the underlying platform is vital to the future of free software and provides a service to the entire community."

The inclusion of Wayland in this release will allow application developers to test their code in a Wayland environment prior to the switch of the core applications of GNOME to the new Wayland display server scheduled for next year's 3.12 release due in March.

A majority of the Linux community is making the shift from the ageing X display server to Wayland, with the notable exception of Ubuntu, which is creating its own display server called Mir.

The decision by Ubuntu has created a schism in its own community, with Ubuntu derivative Kubuntu deciding that it will eschew the choice made by its parent distribution and head down the path of supporting Wayland instead of Mir.

Ever since the switch to GNOME 3.0 two and a half years ago, the project has come under repeated barrages of criticism.

That criticism is likely to continue as GNOME increasingly sheds duplicate functionality that can be provided by other packages, such as the much-resented systemd, but ultimately results in those nominally optional packages being marked as dependencies for GNOME after Linux distributions give up on trying to unscramble the GNOME egg.

Overnight, GNOME developer Olav Vitters detailed the experience of Gentoo developers attempting to support their own OpenRC init system, and having to port functionality from systemd to OpenRC in order to support GNOME.

"Apparently GDM 3.8 assumes that an init system will also clean up any processes it started. This is what systemd does, but OpenRC didn't support that," Vitters said.

"Which means that GDM under OpenRC would leave lingering processes around, making it impossible to restart/shutdown GDM properly. The Gentoo GNOME packagers had to add this ability to OpenRC themselves.

"Then there were various other small little bugs, details which I already forgot and cannot be bothered to read the IRC logs."

The resolution in the case of Gentoo was to make GNOME require the installation of systemd instead of Gentoo's own OpenRC init system.

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