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Old 09-03-2017, 11:12 PM   #1
CajunCoder
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Wayland: Inaccessible and restrictive by design? (Aka, Wayland won't get out of my way and I don't want it in my future.)


Hello everyone.

I'm a new Linux user, having started using it about 4-5 months ago. I quickly fell in love with Linux for two primary reasons:
#1: It's highly configurable and lets me do whatever I want with my system.
#2: The aforementioned freedom means that it stays out of my way and results in a very low-friction environment that I can cater to my own needs.

The moment that I found utilities like xdotool, xbindkeys, and wmctrl, I was in love, and completely dumbfounded by how much power and freedom a few elegant and simple programs could offer me.

This, and many more small instances like it, are the reasons why I am using Linux right now. And, I've discovered that Wayland -- the up and coming display server that everyone is accepting unconditionally and making default on an increasing number of distributions, destroys and prohibits this functionality by design.

Apparently, Wayland has a concept of 'security' which leaves me dumbfounded, and I want nothing of; it treats each window as an isolated black box, which no other program can send keystrokes to, and from which no keystrokes can be captured unless that window is in focus. I suppose this is supposed to prevent things like keyloggers, but it breaks far too much basic functionality to be worth it. Giving Wayland a spin, I found that:

- xdotool, wmctrl, xbindkeys, etc. didn't work.
- virtual keyboards don't work
- my drop down terminals don't work
- even default keyboard short-cuts like Ctrl+Alt+T don't work

All depending on what is or isn't in focus. Much of this does work *some* of the time, depending on your version of Wayland and what window you have in focus. Testing on Ubuntu 17.10, some of the above worked in some user-installed programs, but did not work in most pre-installed or otherwise divinely protected programs like Nautilus, Gedit, and the like, resulting in a system with a very inconsistent and, for me, unusable / intolerable user experience; not only because it's incredibly annoying that I can't use keyboard shortcuts half of the time, but also because I rely on voice recognition and other accessibility software due to severe repetitive strain injury in my wrists.

So, my fears are:
- Wayland is uncritically accepted as the default display server
- X11 is left by the way-side
- Wayland is never improved in this regard, as, in my experience, developers are not likely to change this kind of design decision.
- I'm reduced to clicking around with my mouse or using divinely blessed hotkeys and input methods only, and the 'minority' of users like myself are left with no alternative other than running the increasingly unsupported X11 for coming years. The freedom, accessibility, and flexibility of X will be long gone.

Why don't I hear anyone mentioning/talking about these things?

I, for one, do not need or want this concept of 'security' that is baked into Wayland. It's like constructing a house with multiple rooms, but no doors connecting them because, oh my -- if someone ever broke in, they'd have access to every room in your house! Do we do that? No, because it's ridiculous; it restricts the legitimate owner to the point of rendering the building unusable, or at least highly inconvenient. No, instead you focus on securing access to your house from the outside.

Am I too pessimistic, or is this the unavoidable future of my Linux user experience? Is there any action I can realistically take to help productively change this as an individual? Or should I just pray that X11 lives on?
 
Old 09-04-2017, 10:08 AM   #2
GazL
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If nothing else, the non-linux UNIXes will still need a gui display server of some kind so I'm not convinced that X11 will be going away anytime soon.
 
Old 09-04-2017, 12:32 PM   #3
DavidMcCann
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Wayland has a long way to go before everyone is using it, and things are bound to change. So far it's only the default for Fedora, and that's long been recognised as a test-bed for new ideas. The only desktops available are Gnome and KDE: Mate support is being worked on and Xfce support will not even be a project until after Xfce has migrated to GTK3.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CajunCoder View Post
Giving Wayland a spin, I found that:
- xdotool, wmctrl, xbindkeys, etc. didn't work.
- virtual keyboards don't work
- my drop down terminals don't work
- even default keyboard short-cuts like Ctrl+Alt+T don't work
There are probably other ways of doing all these things. I've never heard of the first two tools. Attaching commands to keys can be done through your desktop: I use Super+0 and Super+1 to change the colour of my clock, depending on the current wallpaper, and Super+t for calling up a terminal. Ctrl+Alt+T is hardly a default: I've never seen it and an on-line search took me to Windows shortcuts!
 
  


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