KDE Neon: Now with Wayland!

This post may be a bit on the late side but I find the topic interesting enough to share with you. Recently, the Kde Neon project released a developer edition of their Linux distribution that included Wayland as the display server. Wayland purports to be a lighter, simpler and easier to use replacement for the ubiquitous X Window System and protocols.
I’ve taken this release for a spin. And, I must stress that it is a development release so it is not intended for production use so probably best to hold off on trying this on your main PC/Notebook. My first impression is this…

“Wow, I have nothing to report! It just worked.”

I’ve installed the distribution on an older System76 Gazelle notebook. This system has an Intel I7-3610Q 8 Core Processor Running 3.3 Ghz, 16 GB of RAM and so uses the 3rd Gen Core processor Graphics Controller. So, admittedly it’s a pretty “Plain Jane” system. Still, it’s been a super reliable system and I would have had no idea that it was running Wayland if I didn’t install it from this particular development release on my own.

Consider that an rock solid endorsement for KDE/Plasma/Wayland on this hardware configuration. When a technology works so well you don’t notice it that is a great thing. If Wayland indeed makes life easier for the end developers maintaining the window system, developers preparing drivers and of course those developers writing software for end users that will run atop the package all the better. And, just an impression with no metrics it “feels” snappy. Wayland does look to be an important evolution to the graphics subsystem and perhaps more distributions will adopt it as the default.

I’m looking forward to seeing what others experience with the transition from X to Wayland. I have come to understand there is still work to be done on the Wayland project with regard to drivers on higher end graphics cards and am excited to see how Wayland will evolve as these issues are addressed. I have two primary production workstations with pretty good graphics cards and I’d like to take as much advantage of the hardware as possible.

On another note though I’m pretty new to the Kde Neon distribution I like it. It is based on the most stable release of Ubuntu Linux but has a focus on using the most current KDE Plasma Desktop. I am a big fan of Ubuntu but was kind of curious as to why the KDE Neon project didn’t go “upstream” and just pivot directly off of the “notoriously and obsessively stable” (a good thing) Debian of which Ubuntu is a derivative. Again, not an issue just an item of curiosity. I should also mention KDE Neon ships as a pretty bare bones distribution.

I actually like this approach as I’m for anything that keeps the bloat in my system down. And, the packaging/repository system of Debian and its derivatives makes adding the packages that you use and enjoy a pretty simple matter. For me I just needed installed some basic productivity and development packages upon which I depend and a little bit of my own bloat if you will:

# apt-get install aptitude
# aptitude update
# aptitude dist-upgrade
# aptitude install --with-recommends kgpg libreoffice calligra gimp vim-gtk postgresql postgresql-contrib postgis qgis openjdk-8-jdk openjdk-8-demo openjdk-8-doc kdevelop kompare build-essential pkg-config libc6-dev m4 gcc g++ g++-multilib autoconf libtool libncurses5-dev zlib1g-dev automake git subversion ant maven k3b dragonplayer krfb chromium-browser kmahjongg fortune-mod cowsay screenfetch  boinc-manager  htop iotop smartmontools

There are still a few other packages I am using that don’t seem to be the standard repositories or are stale in the repositories. But, these can be easily downloaded from their respective project websites:

Smart-git– http://www.syntevo.com/smartgit/download?file=smartgit/smartgit-8_0_3.deb
Chrome — https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/index.html
Earth — http://www.google.com/earth/download/ge/agree.html

And, then there are a few packages that don’t seem to have debs/repositories and have to be downloaded and installed in a more manual fashion. These packages are widely used and it does seem odd that the most current stable versions these packages are not already in the “Universe” repositories:

Netbean — https://netbeans.org/downloads/
(Hopefully, this will change now that it is an Apache project.)

Intellij — https://www.jetbrains.com/idea/download/download-thanks.html?platform=linux
(C’Mon Jetbrains! At least add your own repository. You have a license/key activation system anyway.)

Gradle — https://services.gradle.org/distributions/gradle-3.1-all.zip
(Ironic as it is a build system and deb package creation/push could just be a task in the main project.)

WildFly — http://download.jboss.org/wildfly/10.1.0.Final/wildfly-10.1.0.Final.zip
(Maybe Ubuntu deb ignored because this project is tied closely to RedHat? Just a pity if that is the reason.)

And, of course there is the latest “toy” I’m playing with and find interesting — the new ZCash Crypto-Currency — that does have a deb/repository but is still a new project and as of yet requires a number of  additional configuration and setup steps. I’ve written these steps in a previous blog entry:

Zcash — https://gesker.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/zcash-on-ubuntu-debian/

In short, check out the KDE Neon distribution. I like it. You may find it suits you as well. And, if you have a spare system take the new KDE Neon Wayland development release for a spin. Hopefully, you will have as little to note with regard to KDE on Wayland as I have found. And, that is highest praise one can give to a subsystem!

Please post comments below and share your thoughts and experiences. More importantly if you come across bugs or regressions let the KDE Neon project know by filing a bug report.