Using Wayland/Weston in Debian

As of today Weston is available in Debian sid/testing, and it is very usable, at least for me with an ATI card. I have been tinkering with it a bit. One of the things I did was to switch to a german keymap (see man 5 weston.ini and /usr/share/doc/weston/).

Several gtk applications are usable if you install libgtk-3-0 from experimental. However, doing this is not recommended, so I won't describe the necessary steps.

You can simply launch weston from inside X, or use weston-launch from the console. For the latter, check the README.Debian in the documentation.


Having a terminal is certainly nice, but especially if you want to do more than just that knowing the keybindings is useful. That list doesn't mention workspaces yet, but it's basically super + F<workspace number> or super + <up|down> to switch workspaces, and super + shift + <up|down> to move the focused window to another workspace. I'm sure there are more keybindings I haven't figured out yet.

Installing a web browser

I was also very pleasantly surprised that the packaged web browser dwb runs fine inside Weston. I tried epiphany-browser as well, which uses gtk3, but it segfaults.

Dwb is a little hard to use, buy you might even like it if you prefer keyboard-based controls.

Building mplayer

The mpv movie player is available but didn't work too well for me. I was able to build mplayer from sources using these instructions.

A few additional steps are necessary:

# apt-get build-dep mplayer

This failed for me due to conflicts. If you're having problems as well try to manually clean up the list obtained with apt-rdepends --build-depends --follow=DEPENDS mplayer.

Additionally, I also had to install the following packages:

# apt-get install libwayland-dev libxkbcommon-dev libegl1-mesa-dev libavresample-dev

After this building mplayer was straight forward for me:

$ ./configure --prefix=$prefix --enable-wayland --enable-debug --disable-x11
$ make install


With a working terminal, web browser and video player weston is very usable for me. I'm not very happy with the window management, but I guess that was to be expected.

As you can switch to a different tty and run weston-launch there it's also possible to run xorg and weston simultaneously.

Published on Oct. 26, 2013 by Nicolas and tagged Debian, Weston. You can follow the discussion with the comment feed for this post. Feeling generous? Donate!


  1. avatar
    wrote this comment on
    I tried getting weston/wayland working, but sadly it only displays a blank screen for me :/
    1. avatar
      wrote this comment on
      Too bad. Still works fine for me, but I guess not all cards work well.

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