Introducing KWayland::Server

A few weeks ago I blogged about the new KWayland module in our workspace modules. Back then I also mentioned the server component of KWayland and that it’s not part of the 5.1 release. Yesterday I finally committed a change to install the library and the header so that starting with Plasma 5.2 the server component is also available. This is a good point in time to explain what the server library is and what can be done with it.

Like the client library the server library is a very low-level Qt wrapper for the Wayland server library. So the main task is to be a Facade to wrap the C library in a for us easier to use Qt style API. E.g. it’s emitting signals when the C callbacks are invoked and hides all the required C casts of void pointers. Nevertheless we still have access to all the wraped Wayland members, so it allows to easily combine KWayland::Server with wayland server code.

KWayland::Server is not a wayland compositor. It is deliberately designed to be head-less, which makes it a wonderful solution for using as a backend for automated tests. E.g. for kscreen it is used to simulate changes in the screen setup which is a huge improvement over the state we have on X11 where there is basically no chance at all to test screen changes.

Although the library is head-less the repository contains also some test applications including a wayland compositor which can render:

Aus KWayland

The actual compositor is a good old QWidget connecting to the X-Server. It starts a Wayland server and can render the buffers provided by connected clients, in this case KInfoCenter showing the Wayland module (which uses KWayland::Client). KInfoCenter is run using the Wayland QPA, so it’s a native application and doesn’t use X11 at all.

Overall this test compositor is just about 200 lines of code and supports not only rendering, but also input as can be seen in this screenshot of kate:

Aus KWayland

Unfortunately the KWayland::Server module doesn’t support the test applications provided by Weston yet. The reason for this is that those applications expect the xdg-shell protocol to be present. But this protocol is not yet supported by KWayland::Server and won’t be supported any time soon, due to the unstable nature of that protocol. So for the time being one can only test with QtWayland and the small set of test applications provided by the KWayland repository (those can of course be run against Weston).

Of course there is still a lot of work to be done in the server module – the code is full of TODOs. Helping hands are of course welcome and Google Code-In students can expect a few tasks around the KWayland::Server module 😉

Now that the server module gets installed we can start using it in applications. I have a plan where to integrate it for the 5.2 release (teaser: it won’t be KWin) and depending on how much time I find for it, kwin_wayland might also get to the state that it starts a server. But Christmas and feature freeze are approaching, and there is still lots of other things to work on.

If you like the work we are doing, consider donating to KDE:
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The donations are used to e.g. sponsor developer sprints where we can discuss the implementation of Wayland in the Plasma workspaces.