A Root-less X Server Nears Reality
Written by Michael Larabel in X.Org on 2 July 2009 at 02:31 AM EDT. 11 Comments
One of the benefits of moving the different graphics hardware drivers over to using kernel mode-setting, an in-kernel GPU memory manager (whether it be GEM or TTM), and other newer X innovations is the possibility of now running the X Server without root privileges. By doing so, this of course improves the security since this very large chunk of code is no longer running with all of these high-privileged rights.

Due to now living in a KMS-enabled world, at least on the Intel and ATI side (the NVIDIA side is still slowly but surely coming via Nouveau), it's rather easy to get the X Server running without any special rights. Intel's Jesse Barnes explains on the X.Org mailing list that only a small patch is needed for the X Server and then a trivial one to the Direct Rendering Manager in the kernel. Right now, however, the X Server patch is a bit "hackish", but he and other developers are currently collaborating on the best approach to implement this new capability.

It looks like we may be seeing root-less X Servers in the near future.
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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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