Linux has gained immense popularity as an open-source alternative to proprietary operating systems. Pop!_OS, developed by System76, is one of the Linux distributions that have taken the community by storm. It’s known for its performance, user-friendliness, and visual appeal. 

While Pop!_OS is built on a solid foundation, there’s always room for optimization, and one way to achieve that is by enabling the Wayland display server. In this guide, we’ll explore what Wayland is, why you should consider using it on Pop!_OS, and how to install and enable it for a smoother Linux experience.

What Is Wayland?

Before diving into how to enable Wayland on Pop!_OS, let’s understand what Wayland is and how it differs from the more traditional X Window System (X11).

Wayland is a protocol for a compositor to talk to its clients and a library for creating Wayland compositors. In simple terms, it’s a new way to handle the graphical display on a Linux system. Wayland aims to be more efficient, secure, and modern compared to X11, which has been the default display server protocol for Linux for many years.

X11 operates with a client-server model, where applications (clients) send requests to the X server, which handles the rendering and displaying of graphical elements on the screen. While X11 has served Linux well for a long time, it has some drawbacks including security vulnerabilities and performance issues.

Wayland, on the other hand, uses a simpler and more efficient architecture. In the Wayland protocol, the compositor acts as both the server and the window manager. This streamlined approach can lead to better performance and security.

Why Enable Wayland on Pop!_OS?

Pop!_OS, like many Linux distributions, offers a choice between X11 and Wayland. While X11 works perfectly fine, enabling Wayland can enhance your overall Linux experience in several ways.

Improved Performance

Wayland is designed to be more efficient than X11 which results in a smoother and more responsive graphical performance. This means that the applications and graphical elements should render faster and with lower latency.

Better Security

Wayland is more secure than X11 as it isolates the applications and prevents them from accessing each other’s data. This security feature helps protect your system from potential vulnerabilities and malicious activities.

Enhanced HiDPI Support

Wayland has improved support for High DPI (dots per inch) displays which makes it an excellent choice if you have a high-resolution screen. This ensures that the text and images appear sharp and clear, without any scaling issues.

Reduced Screen Tearing

Screen tearing, where two or more frames are shown in a single screen draw, can be an issue on X11. Wayland addresses this problem which results in a smoother and more visually appealing experience.

Modern Desktop Features

Wayland is designed with modern desktop features in mind. It offers better support for multitouch gestures, better handling of multiple monitors, and more responsive window management.

With these benefits in mind, enabling Wayland on Pop!_OS can significantly improve your daily Linux experience. Let’s now dive into the process of installing and enabling Wayland.

How to Install and Enable Wayland on Pop!_OS

Enabling Wayland on Pop!_OS is a straightforward process. It can be done by following the given steps:

Follow these steps to get started:

Check for Wayland

The first step is to check if Wayland is already installed on your system. 

Open a terminal instance and run the following command:


Note: If it returns “wayland”, you are already using Wayland. If it returns “x11”, you are using the Xorg server.

Install Wayland

If Wayland is not installed, you can do so by installing the “gnome-session” package. Open a terminal and run the following command:

$sudo apt install gnome-session

Note: This installs the GNOME Wayland session. Other desktop environments like KDE may have their own Wayland sessions.

Log Out

After installing the “gnome-session” package or an equivalent package for your desktop environment, log out of your current session.

Choose Wayland

At the login screen, you should see a gear or settings icon next to your username. Click on it to select your session type.

Log In

Log in with your credentials. Use Wayland instead of Xorg.

Please note that not all applications are fully compatible with Wayland, and you may encounter issues with a certain software. If you run into problems, you can always switch back to Xorg from the login screen using the same method.

Troubleshooting and Potential Issues

While enabling Wayland on Pop!_OS is usually a smooth process, you might encounter some issues along the way. Here are some common problems and their solutions:

Application Compatibility

Not all Linux applications are fully compatible with Wayland. If you encounter issues with specific applications, you can switch back to X11 temporarily for those applications that don’t work well with Wayland.

Graphics Drivers

Ensure that you have the latest graphics drivers installed on your system. Outdated or incompatible drivers can lead to display issues when using Wayland.

Screen Tearing

If you still experience screen tearing after enabling Wayland, you can try using a compositor like Picom to reduce tearing and improve your graphical experience.


Enabling Wayland on Pop!_OS is a simple yet effective way to unlock a smoother Linux experience. With improved performance, enhanced security, and modern desktop features, Wayland offers numerous benefits over the traditional X11 display server. 

By following the steps that are outlined in this guide, you can seamlessly transition to Wayland and enjoy a more efficient and visually pleasing Linux experience on your Pop!_OS system. Don’t hesitate to make the switch and discover the benefits of this modern display protocol.