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Weston is the reference implementation of a Wayland compositor, and a useful compositor in its own right. Weston has various backends that lets it run on Linux kernel modesetting and evdev input as well as under X11. Weston ships with a few example clients, from simple clients that demonstrate certain aspects of the protocol to more complete clients and a simplistic toolkit. There is also a quite capable terminal emulator (weston-terminal) and an toy/example desktop shell. Finally, weston also provides integration with the Xorg server and can pull X clients into the Wayland desktop and act as a X window manager.

Refer to for building weston and its dependencies.

The test suite can be invoked via make check; see for additional details.

Developer documentation can be built via make doc. Output will be in the build root under

docs/developer/html/index.html docs/tools/html/index.html


Libweston is an effort to separate the re-usable parts of Weston into a library. Libweston provides most of the boring and tedious bits of correctly implementing core Wayland protocols and interfacing with input and output systems, so that people who just want to write a new "Wayland window manager" (WM) or a small desktop environment (DE) can focus on the WM part.

Libweston was first introduced in Weston 1.9, and is expected to continue evolving through many Weston releases before it achieves a stable API and feature completeness.

API (in)stability and parallel installability

As libweston's API surface is huge, it is impossible to get it right in one go. Therefore developers reserve the right to break the API between every 1.x.0 Weston release (minor version bumps), just like Weston's plugin API does. For git snapshots of the master branch, the API can break any time without warning or version bump.

Libweston API or ABI will not be broken between Weston's stable releases 1.x.0 and 1.x.y, where y < 90.

To make things tolerable for libweston users despite ABI breakages, libweston is designed to be perfectly parallel-installable. An ABI-version is defined for libweston, and it is bumped for releases as needed. Different ABI-versions of libweston can be installed in parallel, so that external projects can easily depend on a particular ABI-version, and they do not have to fight over which ABI-version is installed in a user's system. This allows a user to install many different compositors each requiring a different libweston ABI-version without tricks or conflicts.

Note, that versions of Weston itself will not be parallel-installable, only libweston is.

For more information about parallel installability, see

Libweston design goals

The high-level goal of libweston is that what used to be shell plugins will be main executables. Instead of launching 'weston' with various arguments to choose the shell, one would be launching 'weston-desktop', 'weston-ivi', 'orbital', etc. The main executable (the hosting program) links to libweston for a fundamental compositor implementation. Libweston is also intended for use by other projects who want to create new "Wayland WMs".

The libweston API/ABI will be separating the shell logic and main program from the rest of the "Weston compositor" (libweston internals).


  • All configuration and user interfaces will be outside of libweston. This includes command line parsing, configuration files, and runtime (graphical) UI.

  • The hosting program (main executable) will be in full control of all libweston options. Libweston should not have user settable options that would work behind the hosting program's back, except perhaps debugging features and such.

  • Signal handling will be outside of libweston.

  • Child process execution and management will be outside of libweston.

  • The different backends (drm, fbdev, x11, etc) will be an internal detail of libweston. Libweston will not support third party backends. However, hosting programs need to handle backend-specific configuration due to differences in behaviour and available features.

  • Renderers will be libweston internal details too, though again the hosting program may affect the choice of renderer if the backend allows, and maybe set renderer-specific options.

  • plugin design ???

  • xwayland ???

There are still many more details to be decided.

For packagers

Always build Weston with --with-cairo=image.

The Weston project is (will be) intended to be split into several binary packages, each with its own dependencies. The maximal split would be roughly like this:

  • libweston (minimal dependencies):

    • headless backend
    • wayland backend
  • gl-renderer (depends on GL libs etc.)

  • drm-backend (depends on libdrm, libgbm, libudev, libinput, ...)

  • x11-backend (depends of X11/xcb libs)

  • xwayland (depends on X11/xcb libs)

  • rpi-backend (depends on DispmanX, libudev, ...)

  • fbdev-backend (depends on libudev...)

  • rdp-backend (depends on freerdp)

    • screen-share
  • weston (the executable, not parallel-installable):

    • desktop shell
    • ivi-shell
    • fullscreen shell
    • weston-info, weston-terminal, etc. we install by default
  • weston demos (not parallel-installable)

    • weston-simple-* programs
    • possibly all the programs we build but do not install by default
  • and possibly more...

Everything should be parallel-installable across libweston ABI-versions, except those explicitly mentioned.

Weston's build may not sanely allow this yet, but this is the intention.

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