How to switch between Wayland and Xorg in Ubuntu 17.10

Because Wayland doesn't properly work for root access needing programs

Starting with Ubuntu 17.10, the dev team have decided to dump Xorg and incorporate Wayland as the default video driver, primarily to boost performance. But, Wayland is still in earlier phase of development and seems like “not yet” ready for use as daily driver.

Was Canonical wrong in enabling Wayland by default in Ubuntu 17.10?

According to my opinion, it is a big mistake from Canonical. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Wayland due to its simplistic architecture and closeness to the Linux Kernel while communicating with Video hardware, but there are several incompatibility issues associated with the Wayland. Several popular and extensively used applications including GParted, Shutter and several other screen capturing programs, and  programs needing root access won’t work with Wayland without a workaround. I’m sure Wayland is the best future direction for Linux, but only after the major incompatibility issues are resolved.

Xorg Vs Wayland

I don’t want to write another Wiki article on the technical differences between the two Instead, I will point out the major difference between the two drivers. The biggest difference between the Xorg and the Wayland is that Wayland doesn’t do any drawing. Xorg uses two drawing modes where all applications need to get drawing requests from the server. Wayland uses buffer handle and gives a direct rendering. This approach saves a lot of system resources, leading to quick response times and faster boots.

Finding which display server is active in a Ubuntu session

Ubuntu 17.10 comes packed with both Wayland and Xorg, but Wayland is activated by default settings. However, anyone can quickly change which one to use while logging in.

You can find out which display server is active in your Ubuntu session by using the following command in the Terminal:


Command for finding which display video server
Command for finding which display video server

The output will be “x11” for Xorg. For Wayland, the output is “wayland”.

Command for finding display video server
Command for finding display video server

Switching between Wayland and Xorg

Step 1) During logging in click on the gear icon near the ‘Sign In’ button.

Step 2) You will see two options including “Ubuntu” and “Ubuntu on Xorg”.

If you select Ubuntu, the following session will load with Wayland. On the other hand, selecting “Ubuntu on Xorg” will load x11 display server. Ubuntu will “remember” the last used option while logging in next time. Therefore, you only need to do this one time.

Login Wayland - x11 Options in Ubuntu 17.10
Login Wayland – x11 Options in Ubuntu 17.10


Kiran Kumar
Hi there! I'm Kiran Kumar, founder of I'm an avid Linux lover and enjoy hands-on with new promising distros. Currently, I'm using Ubuntu as a daily driver and run several other distros such as Fedora, Solus, Manjaro, Debian, and some new ones on my test PC and virtual machines. I have a day job as an Engineer, and this website is one of my favorite past time activities especially during Winter ;). When I'm not writing for FOSSLinux, I'm seen biking and hiking on scenic trails. Hope you enjoy using this website as much as I do writing for it. Feedback from readers is something that inspires me to do more, and spread Linux love!. If you find a time, drop me an email or feedback from the 'Contact' page. Or simply leave a comment below if you found this article useful. Have a good day!


  1. I have two options on Ubuntu 18.04 Ubuntu and Unity if I select Ubuntu echo $XDG_SESSION_TYPE will give me x11.


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