Weston (Wayland)

Wayland is a protocol for communication between a display server and its clients. A Wayland server uses the Wayland protocol to communicate with a GUI program, which is a Wayland client . A Wayland server is also called a Wayland compositor , as it also acts as a compositing window manager.

The Weston server, usually just called Weston , is the reference implementation of a Wayland compositor. It manages the displays, including composition of their contents, support for their input device events (touch screen, mouse, keyboard, etc.), and their settings (wallpapers, resolution, multi-monitor display, etc.).

Weston is lightweight compared to X11, and is fast as a compositor. It is suitable for many embedded and mobile use cases.

The current release of Jetson Linux supports Weston 6.0.

Weston/Wayland Architecture

A Wayland server and a set of Weston libraries are collectively known as Weston/Wayland . This diagram describes the Weston/Wayland architecture.

Block diagram explains Weston/Wayland overview.

The Wayland server libraries implement the Wayland protocol for Weston. The Weston libraries implement the Wayland compositor, which uses the Linux Kernel Mode Setting (KMS) for setting up the display, performs the compositing using OpenGL|reg| ES and Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) , and manages the Linux input devices.

The Wayland client application uses the Wayland protocol to communicate with the Wayland compositor. It may be an EGL application, an X server (rootless), or another type of display server.


Weston supports different graphical user interfaces through shell plugins . NVIDIA distributes it with two plugins: the Desktop shell and the IVI shell.

The Desktop and the IVI shell each provides its own Wayland protocol interface for Wayland clients. Thus a Wayland client written for a specific shell protocol does not work with others.

The desktop shell provides a modern desktop environment similar to X11, plus interfaces to the keyboard and mouse. It is implemented by the library desktop-shell.so . A special desktop shell client, weston-desktop-shell , renders the wallpaper, panel, and other desktop elements.

IVI shell is designed for In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) applications. It provides a GENIVI Layer Manager-compatible API through its controller modules, and a simple protocol for use by IVI applications. It is implemented by the library ivi-shell.so .


The user can configure the the weston shell’s look and behavior preferences through /etc/xdg/westo/weston.ini file.

Please refer to Ubuntu weston.ini manpage to know more about how to configure it.

Environment Variables

WAYLAND_DEBUG : If set to any value, causes libwayland to print the live protocol to stderr.

XDG_RUNTIME_DIR : The directory for Weston’s socket and lock files. If this variable is set, Weston creates its socket under this directory, and Wayland clients use the socket from this directory to communicate with Weston.


Generic Buffer Management (GBM) is a memory allocation API developed as a component of the Mesa open source project.

The libgbm library provides a driver-dependent API to allocate buffers and provides a GBM handle to the buffers. The library allows you to create buffers for different use cases, including scanout, rendering, cursors, and CPU-access. Weston depends on libgbm for buffer allocation and for its swapchain.

Recently, NVIDIA submitted a merge request ( https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/mesa/mesa/-/merge_requests/9902 < https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/mesa/mesa/-/merge_requests/9902 >_) to the Mesa open-source community to discover and load the alternate GBM backend at runtime. After this request was merged, NVIDIA implemented its own NVGBM backend, which supports the allocation of the nvidia-drm and tegra-drm drivers.

With the addition of the NVGBM backend, the EGL_KHR_platform_gbm extension has also been enabled. Now, the gbm_device and gbm_surface handles that GBM creates can be used to initialize the EGL and to create render target buffers with the support of the EGL_KHR_platform_gbm extension. Refer to https://www.khronos.org/registry/EGL/extensions/KHR/EGL_KHR_platform_gbm.txt < https://www.khronos.org/registry/EGL/extensions/KHR/EGL_KHR_platform_gbm.txt >_ file for more information.

With the libgbm library from Mesa open-source community, the NVGBM backend, and the EGL_KHR_platform_gbm extension support, Weston creates EGLDisplay with gbm_device and allocates the EGLSurface from gbm_surface and calls eglSwapBuffers API with the EGLSurface during the repaint cycle. This process is known as the GBM swapchain.

Running Weston

There are two ways to launch Weston, described in the following subsections.

To launch Weston with a script

  • Enter this command to launch Weston:

    $ nvstart-weston.sh

    The script may ask for your password to run some preliminary steps, such as modprobing the display driver and adding your username to proper group. It may also ask you to reboot after a fresh flash of BSP.


    This script launches Weston with desktop-shell , without any additional options. If you want to run different shell or with options, such as --modules , you must use the manual procedure described in the next section.

  • Enter this command to run a Wayland client:

    $ weston-simple-egl


    You do not need to use sudo or set the environment variable XDG_RUNTIME_DIR to run a client when you have launched Weston with the nvstart-weston.sh script.

To launch Weston manually

  1. If the X server is running, stop it:

    $ sudo service gdm stop; sudo pkill -9 Xorg
  2. For an NVIDIA ® Jetson AGX Orin™ device, start the nvidia-drm driver:

    $ sudo modprobe nvidia-drm modeset=1

    For an NVIDIA ® Jetson AGX Xavier™ or NVIDIA Jetson Xavier™ NX series device, start the Tegra dummy DRM driver:

    $ sudo modprobe tegra-udrm modeset=1
  3. Set up the environment and directory permissions:

    $ unset DISPLAY
    $ mkdir /tmp/xdg
    $ chmod 700 /tmp/xdg
  4. Choose a valid TTY device:

    $ export WESTON_TTY=1
  5. Launch Weston.

    • To launch Weston as a root user, enter this command:

      $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston --tty="$WESTON_TTY" --idle-time=0 &

      Optional: Set the environment variable ‘WAYLAND_DEBUG’ to ‘server’ to dump protocol messages from the server to ‘stderr’:

      $ WAYLAND_DEBUG=server

      Optional: Use the ‘–use-egldevice’ switch to disable gbm swapchains and use EGLStream to write Weston output.

    • To launch Weston as a non-root user with weston-launch , enter these commands:

      $ sudo groupadd weston-launch
      $ sudo usermod -a -G weston-launch $USER
      $ sudo chown root /usr/bin/weston-launch
      $ sudo chmod +s /usr/bin/weston-launch
      $ weston-launch &
  6. Run a Wayland client:

    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston-simple-egl

    Optional: Set the environment variable WAYLAND_DEBUG to 1 to dump all protocol messages to stderr :


To run Weston tests, you must load the module weston-test.so by a command line option or by a setting in weston.ini . For example, you may specify the option:


To launch Weston with ivi-shell and ivi-controller on the device, pass these arguments to the Weston binary:

--shell=ivi-shell.so --modules=ivi-controller.so

Multiple Display Heads

Weston supports multiple display heads with multiple overlays on all Jetson devices. Use weston.ini to set the expected resolution and orientation of the monitors.

If multiple displays are connected, applications are launched on the one that contains the mouse pointer at the time of launch. Once an application is launched, you can drag it across a boundary between displays.

If multiple displays are connected and they have different resolutions, Weston reports the frame rate of the display on which more than 50% of its window is displayed.

If a monitor is removed while Weston is running (hot removal), running applications dynamically shift to the remaining active monitor.

Example of weston.ini Display Options

Use this example as a model for setting your own display options in weston.ini :

transform=90 (0,90,180,270)


Weston monitors events sent by the Direct Rendering Manager ( DRM ) subsystem using udev . When the display configuration changes, udev receives a HOTPLUG event. It calls drmModeGetResources() to identify connectors that have been added or removed, and takes actions accordingly.

Verified Use Cases

  • Disconnect and connect the HDMI ® display after launching Weston.

  • Disconnect and connect the HDMI display while the application nvgldemo is running, and verify that application drawing is visible after connection.

  • Launch Weston without an HDMI display connected and then connect an HDMI display.

  • Launch Weston without an HDMI display connected, launch the nvgldemo application, and then connect an HDMI display.

All of the use cases above are also verified with DisplayPort displays.

Issues Fixed in Weston

  • Application window disappears when display is re-connected.

    A fix for this issue has been backported to the downstream Weston 6 codeline from the upstream Weston main codeline. See the freedesktop.org GitLab for more information.

  • Weston crashes using ivi-shell when no display is connected.

  • Support added for multiple hotplug displays in ivi-shell .

ivi-shell was not originally designed to support hotplug. This is an NVIDIA enhancement.

The fix adds a protocol to ivi-vm which lets the client receive a hotplug event sent by ivi-controller . The client must handle the event during hotplug using the ivi-layermanagement API to relocate surfaces, destroy surfaces, and so on. The client can create listeners to listen for the connector_name , screen_id , and screen_destroy events in the ivi-wm-screen interface to the ivi-wm protocol to get notifications of hot plugging.

Following is some example code:

static void
screen_id(void *data, struct ivi_wm_screen *ivi_wm_screen, uint32_t id);

static void
screen_destroy(void *data,struct ivi_wm_screen *ivi_wm_screen,  uint32_t id);

static void
connector_name(void *data, struct ivi_wm_screen *ivi_wm_screen, const char *process_name);

struct ivi_wm_screen_listener wm_screen_listener = {

ivi_wm_screen_add_listener(ivi_wm_screen, &wm_screen_listener, args);
ivi_wm_screen_add_listener(ivi_wm_screen, &wm_screen_listener, args);

Known Issues

  • There is currently no way for the DRM module to notify Weston that a page flip has failed. Consequently, when Weston is configured to support multiple displays, hot-plugging a display at certain times may cause drmAtomicCommit() to fail with a “page flip pending” assertion.

Compositing Mode in Weston

Jetson devices have multiple planes per head. The major types of planes are:

  • Primary plane

  • Overlay plane

  • Cursor plane

On every frame, Weston evaluates all surfaces and views and chooses one of these strategies to composite them:

  • Overlay-only mode : Weston tries to assign a plane for each surface or view. If that is not possible, it shifts to “mixed mode.”

  • Mixed mode : Weston tries to assign overlay plane(s) to some of the surfaces and views, composite the remaining surfaces and views using GL, and update the result to the primary plane. If that is also not possible, it proceeds with “GL-only mode.”

  • GL-only mode : Weston composites all of the surfaces and views using GL, and updates the result to the primary plane.

With all of these strategies, Weston makes sure to preserve the rendering order of the surfaces and views.

You can force “GL-only mode” compositing by setting the environment variable WESTON_FORCE_RENDERER to 1.

The demo application weston-simple-dmabuf-egldevice demonstrates mixed-mode compositing in Weston, where some surfaces are assigned overlay planes and others are composited with GL to the primary plane.

You can use the application weston-debug to verify that overlay planes are being assigned. Use the following procedure:

  1. Stop X if it is running and prepare the device for launching Weston:

    $ sudo service gdm stop; sudo pkill -9 Xorg
    $ unset DISPLAY
    $ mkdir /tmp/xdg
    $ chmod 700 /tmp/xdg
    $ export WESTON_TTY=1
  2. For a Jetson AGX Orin device, use the nvidia-drm driver:

    $ sudo modprobe nvidia-drm modeset=1

    For a Jetson AGX Xavier or Jetson Xavier NX series device, use the Tegra dummy DRM driver:

    $ sudo modprobe tegra-udrm modeset=1
  3. Launch Weston with the --debug switch:

    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston --tty="$WESTON_TTY" --idle-time=0 --debug &
  4. Launch a few Weston client applications:

    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston-simple-egl &
    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston-simple-dmabuf-egldevice &
    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston-simple-dmabuf-egldevice &
    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston-simple-dmabuf-egldevice &
  5. Run the weston-debug application:

    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg ./weston-debug -a
  6. Look for information like that shown below in the weston-debug output. Blue colored surfaces are overlay-composited and green-colored surfaces are GL-composited:

    Layer 5 (pos 0x50000000):
        View 0 (role xdg_toplevel, PID 8080, surface ID 3, top-level window 'simple-dmabuf-egldevice', 0x33c798b0):
            position: (714, 860) -> (970, 1116)
            [not opaque]
            outputs: 0 (HDMI-A-1) (primary)
            dmabuf buffer
                    format: 0x34325258 XRGB8888
                    modifier: 0x3800000000fe014
        View 1 (role xdg_toplevel, PID 8073, surface ID 3, top-level window 'simple-dmabuf-egldevice', 0x33bb9500):
            position: (209, 591) -> (465, 847)
             [not opaque]
            outputs: 0 (HDMI-A-1) (primary)
            dmabuf buffer
                format: 0x34325258 XRGB8888
                modifier: 0x3800000000fe014
        View 2 (role xdg_toplevel, PID 8066, surface ID 3, top-level window 'simple-dmabuf-egldevice', 0x31769110):
            position: (1129, 339) -> (1385, 595)
            [not opaque]
            outputs: 0 (HDMI-A-1) (primary)
            dmabuf buffer
                format: 0x34325258 XRGB8888
                modifier: 0x3800000000fe014
    View 3 (role xdg_toplevel, PID 8051, surface ID 9, top-level window 'simple-egl', 0x314c6430):
        position: (1343, 642) -> (1593, 892)
         [not opaque]
        outputs: 0 (HDMI-A-1) (primary)
        EGL buffer
    Layer 6 (pos 0x2):
         [view] evaluating view 0x33c798b0 for output HDMI-A-1 (0)
         [view] view 0x33c798b0 format: XRGB8888
             [overlay] provisionally placing view 0x33c798b0 on overlay 4002 in mixed mode
         [view] evaluating view 0x33bb9500 for output HDMI-A-1 (0)
         [view] view 0x33bb9500 format: XRGB8888
             [overlay] provisionally placing view 0x33bb9500 on overlay 4001 in mixed mode
         [view] evaluating view 0x31769110 for output HDMI-A-1 (0)
         [view] view 0x31769110 format: XRGB8888
             [overlay] not placing view 0x31769110 on overlay: no free overlay planes
         [view] evaluating view 0x314c6430 for output HDMI-A-1 (0)
             [overlay] not placing view 0x314c6430 on overlay: couldn't get fb
    [repaint] Using mixed state composition
    [repaint] view 0x33c798b0 on Overlay plane 4002
    [repaint] view 0x33bb9500 on Overlay plane 4001
    [repaint] view 0x31769110 using renderer composition
    [repaint] view 0x314c6430 using renderer composition

NV16/NV24 in Weston

The Weston GL compositor adds support for NV16 and NV24 content via shared memory buffers.

Applications that use the WL_SHM_FORMAT_NV24 enum can substitute DRM_FORMAT_NV24 , as by convention both enums use symbols defined in drm_fourcc.h .

Shared-Memory Rendering

The Weston test color-format.weston exercises shared-memory rendering for all formats that Weston currently supports. Though implemented as a test case, it is intended for visual verification, and it must be manually terminated.

To run the test case

  1. Start Weston with the weston-test.so module, for example:

    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston --tty="$WESTON_TTY" --idle-time=0 --modules=weston-test.so &
  2. Enter this command to execute the test application:

    $ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg color-format.weston

    The application displays eight color test patterns, each rendered using a different color format. All should appear substantially identical, with minor variations caused by the limitations of the formats.

  3. To terminate the test, enter Ctrl-C.

DMA Buffer Rendering

DRM now supports NV16 and NV24 color formats. To use these formats, construct an EGLImage from the DMA buffer via the exposed EXT_image_dma_buf_import and EXT_image_dma_buf_import_modifiers extensions.

Currently only block-linear DMA buffer layouts are supported. DRM_FORMAT_NV21 , DRM_FORMAT_NV16 , and DRM_FORMAT_NV24 have been added to supported_drm_formats .

To run a verified use case (video playback test)

  • Enter this command:

    $ gst-launch-1.0 filesrc location= ! qtdemux ! h264parse ! nvv4l2decoder ! nvvidconv !
          'video/x-raw(memory:NVMM), width=(int)1280, height=(int)720, format=(string)' ! nvdrmvideosink


    • is the pathname of the apt source file

    • is NV16 or NV24 .

The gst-launch-1.0 command is a GStreamer pipeline to display video. It uses the nvvidconv plugin to convert other formats in the stream to NV16/NV24. The video is displayed with the nvdrmvideosink plugin, which internally uses DRM.

VPR Memory

You can allocate VPR memory using nvbuf_utils , GBM and EGLStream.

  • With nvbuf_utils : Add the NvBufferTag_PROTECTED tag to the NvBufferTag member of struct NvBufferCreateParams and pass it to NvBufferCreate() .

  • With Generic Buffer Management (GBM) : Specify the GBM_BO_USE_PROTECTED usage flag for gbm_bo_create() .

  • With EGLStream : Add the EGL_PROTECTED_CONTENT_EXT attribute when creating EGLSurface objects. Specify the texture parameter GL_TEXTURE_PROTECTED_EXT for protected textures.

To write to protected textures with GL you must also use a protected context, which you may create by specifying the EGL_PROTECTED_CONTENT_EXT attribute. Note that you must also specify this attribute when you import a dma-buf into EGL, in the case where the dma-buf is created in VPR memory.

To run a sample case

  • Run the weston-simple-dmabuf-egldevice application with the -p switch.

    To verify the correctness of the result, examine it on the screen. It should be the same as when you run the application without using VPR memory.

Current Limitations

The VPR content can only be rendered on the screen with overlay GLcomposition. GL currently does not support protected content. Such support will be added in a later release.

Thus, if there are several windows on the screen exceeding the limit for overlay composition, protected content is not rendered for the excess windows.

HDCP currently is not supported. It will be supported in a later release.

Weston dma-buf Support

Clients can post dma-buf buffers to Weston using the Linux DMA-BUF Unstable V1 Protocol of Wayland. Dma-buf support with Weston has following components.

Buffer Allocation

GBM is commonly used to allocate buffers, which are backed by the dma-buf file descriptor.

This code snippet shows how to allocate a buffer using GBM:

drm_fd = open("/dev/dri/card0", O_RDWR);
device = gbm_create_device(drm_fd);
bo = gbm_bo_create_with_modifiers(device, width, height, format, modifiers, modifiers_count);

Weston supports the formats DRM_FORMAT_XRGB8888 and DRM_FORMAT_ARGB8888 .

A modifier is an encoding of vendor-specific buffer layout parameters. Weston supports modifiers that are supported by DRM (see the IN_FORMATS plane property blob) and by EGL (call eglQueryDmaBufModifiersEXT() ).

Buffer Write/read from CPU

You can use this API function to write data directly into a GBM buffer:

gbm_bo_write(bo, user_buffer, sizeof user_buffer);

You also can memory map a GBM buffer and get a CPU-accessible address to the data written to or read from it. The following code snippet shows how:

uint32_t dst_stride = 0;
void *gbo_mapping = NULL;
// Map bo to CPU accessible address.
char *dst_ptr = gbm_bo_map(bo,
                           0, 0,

// Write data to or read data from dst_ptr.
 . . .

// Unmap bo.
gbm_bo_unmap(bo, gbo_mapping);

Wayland Protocol to Post dma-buf Buffers to Weston

Weston uses the Generic Buffer Management (GBM) library to allocate buffers, which are backed by dma-buf file descriptors. Client applications must call the following GBM functions to get the dma-buf file descriptor and associated parameters from the GBM buffer object. To post the dma-buf to a Wayland surface, the file descriptor and parameters must be provided via Linux DMA-BUF Unstable V1 Protocol.

The following code snippet shows the main calls involved:

stride = gbm_bo_get_stride_for_plane(bo, 0);
offset = gbm_bo_get_offset(bo, 0);
handle = gbm_bo_get_handle_for_plane(bo, 0);
modifier = gbm_bo_get_modifier(bo);
drmPrimeHandleToFD(drm_fd, handle, 0, &dmabuf_fd);
zwp_linux_buffer_params_v1_add(params, dmabuf_fds, 0, offset,
                                       stride, modifier >> 32,
                                       modifier & 0xffffffff);
zwp_linux_buffer_params_v1_create(params, width, height,
                                       format, flags);

GL Renderer in Weston

The GL renderer in Weston creates an EGLImage from a dma-buf object that it receives with Linux DMA-BUF Unstable V1 Protocol using the EGL_EXT_image_dma_buf_import and EGL_EXT_image_dma_buf_import_modifiers extensions. Weston obtains the GL texture target to be used with this EGLImage by calling eglQueryDmaBufModifiersEXT() , and binds the EGLImage to the texture.

Display Hardware Compositing in Weston

The DRM compositor in Weston calls drmModeAddFB2WithModifiers() to associate a DRM frame buffer ID with the dma-buf it receives via Linux DMA-BUF Unstable V1 Protocol. It then uses the frame buffer ID to present the dma-buf to one of the available display hardware planes using drmModeSetPlane() , in the legacy path, or drmModeAtomicCommit() , in the atomic modeset path. This takes the form of a flip, where the reference to the new buffer is swapped in during vblank.

Weston dma-buf Sample

weston-dmabuf-formats is a simple application to test Weston dmabuf support for different formats, such as XRGB8888, NV12, NV16, NV24.

Enter this command to launch the application:

$ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston-dmabuf-formats --import-format= --loop= --use-gbm
  • is NV16 or NV24 .

  • is number of iterations to execute.

  • --use-gbm indicates that the application is to use GBM instead of nvbuf_utils for buffer allocation.


The client application weston-debug receives and prints debug messages using the weston-debug protocol. For example, when Weston is recompositing it prints all surface views and descriptions of the decision process regarding their assignment to overlays and GL compositing.

For weston-debug to work, you must run Weston with the --debug switch. Do not use this switch in production.

You can pass weston-debug additional parameters to choose categories of debug output to display:

$ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg weston --debug
$ sudo XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/tmp/xdg ./weston-debug -a

Alternatively, you can enable Weston debug output by setting the environment variable WAYLAND_DEBUG=server , and Weston client debug by setting WAYLAND_DEBUG=1 .

GNOME Wayland Desktop Shell Support

Jetson Linux supports the GNOME Wayland windowing system. Jetson Linux support for GNOME Wayland is currently experimental.

This section describes the steps for enabling and using Gnome-Wayland.

To start the windowing system

  1. In /etc/systemd/nvuser.sh , change:



  2. In /etc/modprobe.d/tegra-udrm.conf , uncomment this line (remove the ‘#’ at the start of the line):

    #options tegra-udrm modeset=1
  3. In /etc/systemd/nv.sh , change:



  4. In /etc/systemd/system/nvargus-daemon.service , stop the nvargus daemon from being launched on boot by inserting ‘;’ at the beginning of the line:

  5. Reboot the device.

  6. After you reboot:

    • For a Jetson AGX Orin device, execute the following commands to relaunch the GDM with Gnome-Wayland:

      $ sudo pkill X
      $ sudo modprobe nvidia-drm modeset=1
      $ sudo systemctl restart gdm3
    • For a Jetson AGX Xavier or Jetson Xavier NX device, Jetson Linux logs you in to a Wayland session if auto-login is enabled. Otherwise it displays a list of available interfaces (e.g. “Wayland,command line”) and logs you in to a session of the type you select.