When comparing XMonad vs Wayland, the Slant community recommends XMonad for most people. In the question“What are the best window managers for Linux?” XMonad is ranked 4th while Wayland is ranked 23rd. The most important reason people chose XMonad is:
XMonad is written, configured, and fully extensible in Haskell. This means that users aren't limited to a small set of pre-programmed layouts and actions: anything can be programmed into the configuration. It's simple to modify basic settings, and the example config has lots of comments to get you started. Haskell keeps this code clean, concise, and readable, and its type system keeps you safe from any serious mistakes. This makes it fast and light, even on very small and slow systems.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Fully extensible with Haskell
XMonad is written, configured, and fully extensible in Haskell. This means that users aren't limited to a small set of pre-programmed layouts and actions: anything can be programmed into the configuration.
It's simple to modify basic settings, and the example config has lots of comments to get you started. Haskell keeps this code clean, concise, and readable, and its type system keeps you safe from any serious mistakes. This makes it fast and light, even on very small and slow systems.
Pro Efficient to use
XMonad is a very minimal and efficient window manager, especially if the user is familiar with Haskell.
Pro Edit configuration and reload on-the-fly
Configuration is compiled into the WM, and it can be changed/updated on-the-fly, without requiring a full reload.
Pro Absolutely minimal
The entire window manager is extremely small, and includes nothing beyond basic window manipulation and tiling. Out of the box, there are no window decorations, status bar nor icon dock; just clean lines and efficiency.
Pro Highly configurable
If you enjoy programming, you can even add features to XMonad to make it your perfect desktop environment, and the Contrib modules give you most of what you need to do exactly that.
Pro Very stable
Use of Haskell, in conjunction with smart programming practices, guarantees a crash-free experience.
Pro Handles multiple monitors well
XMonad can handle multi-monitor setups by default.
Pro Great availability of libraries
The use of Haskell as an extension language means that popular pieces of functionality are easily shared and widely available as Haskell Libraries. Many default layouts, and tools for quickly and easily building your own, are available through XMonad-contrib, and highly re-usable configurations are commonly shared through blog articles and the Xmonad Wiki.
Pro Xinerama support
XMonad has full support for Xinerama: windows can be tiled and managed across multiple physical screens.
Pro Dynamic Tiling
XMonad uses dynamic tiling which means that it automatically handles arranging your windows into various layouts which the user can cycle through.
Pro Easy to maintain
Wayland has no drawing APIs. Instead, a Wayland client gets a DRM buffer handle, which is practically just a pointer to a graphics memory. Practically Wayland does not care how the client draws to that buffer, it only copies the client's buffers on the screen.
The removes a lot of complexity (because Wayland just pushes the complex stuff to the other layers of the stack) and by making the clients responsible for all the rendering, they can be smarter on how they do things like double-buffering for example.
Pro Simplifies the graphic stack
Wayland simplifies the graphics stack by trying to force everything through a GEM/DRM stack and straight into the kernel. Furthermore, it manages compositing itself.
Con Steep learning curve for uninitiated users
Like a lot of tiling window managers, the learning curve for XMonad is quite steep.
Con Requires knowledge of Haskell for configuration
Understanding of Haskell is required in order to configure XMonad.
Con Requires a lot of Haskell dependencies
XMonad depends on GHC (the Glasgow Haskell Compiler) which can take up about 700 MB or disk space.
Con XWayland handles popup windows poorly
Con No mechanisms to configure input
Tools like xinput and xmodmap that help customize keyboard and mouse input are incompatible with Wayland, have no corollary, and there is no clear roadmap for providing their functionality.
Con Little driver support
Most closed sourced drivers do not support the KMS/shared-GEM/shared-DRM technologies on which Wayland works. While this may be okay for open source purists, who only want to use graphic cards that have open source drivers available, it may not sit well with people who spend a lot of money for high-end graphic cards only to get some crappy 3D performance.
Although it should be noted that NVIDIA has declared that they will start supporting Wayland, it may take years before Wayland fully supports most high-end drivers.