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 at 10:25 p.m. 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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