Wayland on KDE Plasma is progressing well, but needs improvement

Original note from: MuyLinux
To read the original in Spanish by J Pomeyrol, click here

How is Wayland support on KDE Plasma? KDE Plasma 5.21 came out a couple of weeks ago and of all its new features, the one that we devoted less space to was this one, because there is usually not much to tell: «support is improved, now it is allowed to do this, they have been corrected mistakes when doing this other… ». It’s all so vague that you only notice the changes when you use it. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last two weeks.

I know we’ve talked about Wayland a lot for a while now, but it’s justified: the new graphics server has been in the oven for more than a decade to replace the aging but competent Xorg, and that time never seems to come. At least for the bulk of users. Of the big distros, only Fedora and RHEL have been encouraged to put it by default and only with GNOME. Ubuntu plans to do it in its next version, in the same way, only in its main edition with GNOME.

It is not a mystery either: GNOME is the desktop environment that has advanced the most with Wayland support, and although Fedora has dared to make it the default session for several versions, with each new one that is released, it shows that everything works better. To the point that if they do not tell you what you are wearing, or think about it because it is practically not perceived … with increasingly exceptional exceptions, it should be noted. In KDE Plasma the situation is different.

Wayland on KDE Plasma, my experience

Well, that’s it: Wayland’s support for KDE Plasma has been in development for a long time and the advances are significant: from being a time bomb to being able to be used almost without problems. And all this in the last year. Or that’s my experience. With each new version of KDE Plasma that came out, I gave Wayland a chance and it didn’t last long, because there was always something that went badly or some function that simply did not work. And when a function doesn’t work … bad by definition.

With KDE Plasma 5.20, but especially with KDE Plasma 5.21, the progress that I have observed is important. In fact, this latest version is the only one that I have been able to use for more than a while before returning to Xorg, and not by little: in these two weeks I have barely changed to Xorg from time to time, for the reasons that I will now comment on. Because yes, Wayland in KDE Plasma has improved a world, but Xorg continues to show itself as a more stable and equally responsive alternative.

That is why I am returning to Xorg now, but I did not want to stop commenting something in these parts about my experience with Wayland in KDE Plasma 5.21 and the phrase that best sums it up is that of “progresses adequately, but needs to improve”, qualifiers that will sound like who studied in Spain many years ago. For the others, let’s say that instead of giving you a numerical grade, when you were between the fail and the approved low, they marked you with one or the other.

Well, Wayland in KDE Plasma improves properly, but needs improvement. My experience during these couple of weeks has been one of rejoicing at how well it was going … compared to my previous experiences: the main components of the desktop work well, the effects also, the KDE applications hardly give any bugs … Everything is very correct; So much so that if you don’t have a good time fiddling with things or working normally, you don’t notice any differences from Xorg. At most, some flicker or visual inconsistency.

Once you confirm that Wayland in KDE Plasma can hold its own without cracking anywhere and you start to use it normally, you begin to detect problems with the graphical server, either due to inconsistencies or specific errors depending on the application or function. I have compiled several and some make me so nervous that until it is resolved I will not return to Wayland, although my hope is that this 2021 everything will stabilize at the level that GNOME offers, which is not perfect, but it is close to it.

Errors … For example, there are when modifying the plugins of the panel and even with the contextual menus, sometimes forcing you to repeat the action (for example, anchor an application); flickering when docking windows with others in mosaic mode and resizing them … Details that need to be improved, but which are little and can be overlooked at any given moment.

By the way, a tip for those who have tried the session with Wayland and the effects of the windows work like a blow: KDE Plasma 5.21 added an option in the composition to attenuate this effect, worth the redundancy, and for me it has been essential to be able to use it comfortably: in “System Preferences> Screen and Monitor> Composer”, change the default option “Balance of latency and smoothness” to “Prefer smoother animations”.

Continuing with the bugs, one that has now been resolved (the first maintenance release of KDE Plasma 5.21 came out this week) was that Spectacle, the screen grabber, was stuck in Babia when trying to capture a rectangular region. There is another that affects notifications from Telegram (the native ones from Plasma, since those from Telegram do not work in Wayland), and that is that when clicking on them they do not respond; but it seems that it is a specific failure of Telegram.

Basically, it is this type of thing that fails: small functions in applications that in principle are not a hecatomb, some game that does not even start … When you add it all up, it loads a lot.

The one that has bothered me the most and that is why it did not happen, is the loss of the intermediate copy of the text. As you know, in Linux -in KDE it has always worked great- you can copy text in the traditional way, selecting it and copying it with the contextual menu of the application or with a combination of keys; but you can also select it and paste it directly with the middle mouse button. I use this a lot and in Wayland it only works for me in the same window.

Apart from such a specific case, another insurmountable error - for me and for many other users - that I have run into when using Wayland in KDE Plasma is the configuration with more than one monitor, which is true that it has improved a lot, but It has to improve much more because as it is it is impractical: it is impossible to assign a main monitor, changing the distribution of the screens can destroy your desktop … A disaster.

I have not said it, but the computer with which I have tested it has KDE neon (that is, with the latest patches available) and an integrated Intel fully compatible with Linux graphics. I will retest Wayland on KDE Plasma with the next version of the desktop, to see how it works. For now, I recommend checking it out to see its status first-hand, but Xorg is still the safe bet.

I have the sincere doubt if Fedora 34 will dare to serve its spin of KDE Plasma with Wayland by default, because I see it as very risky and an experiment that does not make much sense. We’ll see.