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Patches to make WINE work on Wayland display server protocol are being merged

Code update will remove the need for translation layer in Linux distros

With WINE 8 out, the team is merging in the code changes to add support for the Wayland display server protocol.

Although the process began last Friday, the introductory notes on the merge do say: "This is the first of (many) parts in the upstreaming of the Wayland driver for Wine." WINE 8.0 came out just a month earlier so this functionality will take a while to make it into the mainstream. WINE 7.0 appeared about one year earlier so this will probably appear in WINE 9.0 at the start of 2024.

Wayland is getting increasingly common: it's the default display server for most GNOME-based distros now. Ubuntu made it the default in version 21.04, and Fedora way back in version 25. However, most still include the XWayland layer to support legacy X11 apps. So while WINE can run on Wayland-based distros right now, that only works via translation. The new code will make WINE talk directly to the new display server without going through this intermediary.

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Collabora developer Alexander Frantzis has been working on the code for a little over two years, first announcing it in December 2020. He released a version with several significant features in June 2021, including support for next-gen OpenGL replacement Vulkan, multiple monitors, and handling of HiDPI monitors.

For slightly less technical summaries and demo videos, Collabora published blog posts describing the progress at the end of 2021, and a second at the end of 2022.

WINE itself is undergoing some substantial internal changes, one goal of which is to support running 32-bit Windows apps on 64-bit operating systems. This isn't such a deal-breaker on Linux just yet – Canonical changed its mind about dropping 32-bit libraries back in 2019, for instance. However, WINE also runs on macOS, and Apple dropped 32-bit app support in macOS 10.15 "Catalina" that same year. In time, Linux will surely follow.

WINE has to allow for this, and this is among the goals of WINE 8.0. Now that is out, work is under way on development versions. WINE development release 8.2 appeared on February 17, a step towards the future WINE 9. Arch Linux users can already try the wine-wayland package.

Although one of the aims of this effort is to support Windows games on Linux systems, notably Valve's Steam Deck handheld, this is another example of how games-oriented development can assist Linux users with no interest in video games.

WINE's Wayland support also helps run Google Chrome, which now runs with full hardware acceleration. Many apps embed Chrome to run JavaScript code, notably using Electron, which has caused problems with Windows Defender. ®

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