Intel UMS Support To Be Eliminated In Linux 3.16 Kernel
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 31 March 2014 at 02:00 PM EDT. 4 Comments
For those Intel owners -- namely those with vintage Intel hardware -- the days of using user-space mode-setting (UMS) for the open-source Linux graphics driver are running out.

With the Linux 3.14 kernel that was released over the night, Intel UMS support was deprecated. Intel hasn't maintained their user-space mode-setting support on Linux in about a half-decade with pushing everything these days through kernel-based mode-setting. The Radeon and Nouveau drivers have also become completely dependent upon kernel mode-setting too, with user-space mode-setting these days mostly being left to really old X.Org drivers without a DRM/KMS module. Modern Linux distributions are also beginning to drop support for these old GPUs.

At first there were some performance issues in the Intel KMS code-paths, bugs, and other issues, but those early KMS issues have been worked out for years. Nearly all Intel Linux users are much better off with the KMS code-paths and that's even the only option for recent generations of Intel HD Graphics. However, there's still some very old Intel Linux users out there sticking to UMS. These users are mostly running old Intel 8xx or 9xx series chipsets where sometimes the BIOS goes awry with the Intel KMS driver or there's other system issues if trying to use this new driver, mostly around stability problems.


If you are trying to run Linux on an old Intel i8xx/9xx chipset, you're best off using a few-year-old Linux distribution as the user-space mode-setting code-paths have been completely unmaintained for some time and Intel developers really aren't concerned about this ancient hardware... Heck, it's rare these days to see even Ironlake or Sandy Bridge improvements with the developers now mostly being occupied by Haswell, Broadwell, Bay Trail, and Cherryview.

The next step now that the Linux 3.14 kernel is out there with the deprecated UMS support, Intel's open-source developers are talking of marking the UMS support as "BROKEN" and then dropping the UMS support completely with the Linux 3.16 kernel, per this intel-gfx list post.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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