While development efforts within the X.Org community are now ramping up for the release of X Server 1.9 that should arrive in August, there is an ongoing discussion concerning a planned long-term change for the X Server: pulling the drivers back in.
X Server 1.8 was only released a few days ago, but Keith Packard is quickly focusing his attention to X Server 1.9, where it looks like he is interested in being the release manager once again.
X Server 1.8 is here. Being developed under a new process, this new X Server from the X.Org project was given a 31 March release date. It wasn't released on Wednesday as planned, but it's coming today -- just two days later. Based upon the sizable delays in earlier X.Org Server releases, this is not bad at all.
X Server 1.8 may be the first X.Org release in recent times where it's released on time or at least close to being on schedule. Back in October, X Server 1.8 was given a release date of the 31st of March. This is just a little over a week away, but it looks like this next major update to the X Server that brings udev input handling, DRI2 updates, xorg.conf.d support, and other changes.
Over the past several weeks there have been a number of new Linux graphics features introduced by David Airlie, a Red Hat employee and long-time X.Org contributer. Last month David began on a project rampage by bringing hybrid graphics to Linux via code he called "vga_switcheroo" to switch between ATI/NVIDIA/Intel GPUs without rebooting the system (though restarting the X.Org Server is needed at this time) that that code has now made its way into the mainline Linux kernel. Last week another David Airlie project was multi-GPU rendering support for Linux that was written as a proof of concept to show a second GPU could render 3D applications onto the screen of the first GPU, regardless of the hardware vendor. This week we now have the ability to run two X.Org Servers for a multi-head setup off a single graphics card.
Last month at the X@FOSDEM meeting in Belgium, Luc Verhaegen gave a talk on cleaning up the Linux graphics driver stack. This talk was met by some that agreed with his views and, well, others that didn't exactly see eye-to-eye with him. He shared with everyone his views on changes that should be made to the Mesa/X.Org/DRM stack, including some greater modularization, in an effort to make the testing / build process easier, drive greater maintainability of drivers, and unifying components by providing more shared libraries and formalizing different APIs.
Now that David Airlie's vga_switcheroo has went upstream in the Linux 2.6.34 kernel that provides hybrid graphics support and delayed GPU switching, David went on to look for something new to work on in his downtime when not busy with tasks at Red Hat. This new work is on GPU offloading / multi-GPU rendering.
There's a few months left until it's summertime in the northern hemisphere, but Google is already preparing for their annual Summer of Code (SoC) project as are their projects involved. X.Org will once again be part of the Summer of Code program where Google pays various student developers to work on different free software projects. While nothing is yet officially determined for the X.Org SoC work, there are some ideas expressed by the X.Org developers for any interested students.
While X Server 1.8 should be out later this month, enough bug-fixes have come along since X Server 1.7.5 (the last scheduled maintenance release) to warrant a new version. Peter Hutterer pushed out the first release candidate for X Server 1.7.6. With X Server 1.7.6 there will be many bug-fixes atop 1.7.5, including this being the first 1.7.x release where the server's RECORD extension is actually working. There's also about a dozen other fixes to the DIX, xselinux, and other areas of the server stack.
Last month we reported on issues within the X.Org Foundation that were raised by Luc Verhaegen over the lack of transparency and issues within this crucial organization that backs the development of the X.Org Server. One of the problems expressed was over the lack of minutes that have not been readily available for the X.Org Foundation Board of Director meetings nor any IRC logs. Well, that is now being changed with the meeting logs being published and the IRC information also being published for any interested individuals to tune in to the chat.
XGI's Linux driver was written off as dead back in the summer of 2008 when Ian Romanick who had been working on the open-source XGI Linux driver through his work at IBM had left the company to go join Intel where he now works on Mesa and Intel's open-source 3D stack. XGI Technology really hasn't put out new hardware lately and has been flying under the radar, but this past January a long-time XGI employee began working on this code.
Along with announcing the X.Org Foundation board of director results, Bart Massey also issued the 2010 State of the X.Org Foundation report. This lengthy report on the state of the foundation for this year can be read on the mailing list. It really doesn't detail the financial situation well like many are after, but just an overview of the X.Org happenings now and going forward. Below are a few take-aways from the report.
While concerns have been raised about the state of the X.Org Foundation, the 2010 elections have ended and were not extended though it was requested by some X.Org members. The new X.Org Foundation board members include Alex Deucher, Keith Packard, Matthieu Herrb, Matthias Hopf, and Eric Anholt. Alex Deucher had the most votes to be seated and this his first time sitting on the board and now provides some AMD representation where he works on their open-source driver stack and documentation. With Matthias Hopf on the board, Novell GmbH has a say as Egbert Eich of the same Novell X team is no longer serving.
For the past two weeks elections have been going on by X.Org members to elect five people to serve as board of directors for the X.Org Foundation, the formal 501(c)(3) organization that backs the development of the X.Org project. The elections for the board of directors takes place annually replacing four of the eight members each time around, but this year the elections have been particularly interesting. The X.Org Foundation itself isn't in the public spotlight too much and there really isn't much in the way of public communication and involvement outside of this gang of eight. Since the elections started there has been a rather explosive mailing list discussion started by Luc Verhaegen and it has revealed new details about this foundation.
The most heated talk this year during FOSDEM in the X.Org development room was certainly the talk by Luc Verhaegen with his ambitions to clean up the Linux graphics driver stack. Building the entire X.Org stack can be a mess and there is certainly areas to improve upon in the development process and making it easier for end-users and others to test out this latest code. Luc's goal for this is to create unified trees for each driver that contain all of the driver-specific code rather than having various bits scattered all over the place.
Last week we provided an update as to our X@FOSDEM 2010 video status. Well, it's still taken some time to get these recordings out there that were taken earlier this month in Brussels, Belgium. While I am back to my normal working schedule, the uploading has been hampered by the file size of these 720p HD recordings. The videos are too long to be hosted on YouTube, we don't have the bandwidth to allocate for these massive video files for non-Premium users, and most of the other video sites out there don't allow video recordings of an hour in length or file sizes greater than 1GB or have a decent Flash Player.
X Server 1.7 was released back in October with support for X Input 2.0, Multi-Pointer X, and other improvements after having arrived several months late. Since that initial 1.7 release some five months ago there have been new stable updates / point releases made available quite regularly. These updates incorporate bug and security fixes -- some of which work has been back-ported from the current X Server 1.8 code that should be released towards the end of March. X Server 1.7.5, however, was just released and this will likely be the last official X.Org update to the xorg-server 1.7 series.
Keith Packard has just made available the first release candidate of X Server 1.8 and confirms that its release schedule is still on track. Snapshots and the Git code for X Server 1.8 go back to last year, but with a planned release by the end of March, Keith has now started working on release candidates.
For those waiting on our X@FOSDEM 2010 videos that we recorded, they still need to be uploaded. Each of the talks, which were less than an hour in length, are about 3GB in size with the original HD files. The Internet connection at FOSDEM in Brussels was better than last year, but still was slow and too unreliable for uploading these large video files. T-Mobile's WLAN connections in northern Germany seem to be not nearly as fast and reliable as they have been in the past in Bavaria, so this too is taking longer than anticipated and may mean that it's a few days until the uploads are in place and the videos embedded at Phoronix.
X@FOSDEM is taking place at FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium. Nicolai Hahnle and Daniel Stone provided talks on R300 GLSL compilation and X11 and its problems, respectively. Intel's Eric Anholt also ended up giving a very brief talk on the Cairo-GL project. Luc Verhaegen is now starting to talk on cleaning/integrating the Linux graphics stack.
Peter Hutterer has put out a new release candidate for X Server 1.7.5, which also marks this point release as being just about complete. There are still two weeks left before the 1.7.5 release is expected to be made and then after that we still may see X.Org Server 1.7.6. In the just-made xorg-server 220.127.116.112 release are fixes for potential segmentation faults and other small changes.
While X@FOSDEM has turned into a mess due to a lack of participation and interest among the X.Org development community, plans are underway for the 2010 X Developers' Summit. This year's XDS is back in Europe and is taking place in Toulouse, France. The talks for the three day event have not yet been determined, but will come about leading up to September.
Well, it was bad enough when X@FOSDEM became a one day event (where for the past several years it has been a highly-populated two-day conference) at the upcoming Free Open Source Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) taking place in Brussels next weekend, but now it's not even a one day event. X@FOSDEM has just been sliced down to now just be a half-day conference... Well, five hours.
Two days ago we reported on XGI submitting open-source driver patches after they've basically been written off as dead for years and their Linux driver has been unmaintained. These patches actually were notable in that they provided EXA acceleration support, improved EDID, support for custom display modes, and compatibility with ARM-based systems. However, they didn't apply cleanly.
Last May we were briefed that DisplayLink would provide open-source driver support on Linux. DisplayLink is a company that makes graphics processors capable of powering high resolution displays that work over a USB connection. This technology is found within products from Hewlett-Packard, ASUS, Samsung, and others. Since last year DisplayLink and the Linux community has been working on a LGPLv2 software stack and in June first released a frame-buffer and X.Org driver and since has released other improvements.
Peter Hutterer has announced the first release candidate for X Server 1.7.5. This new test build is coming less than a month after the release of X Server 1.7.4 and its change-log isn't particularly exciting, especially considering the fact that most of the X.Org developers are currently down in New Zealand for Linux.Conf.Au. X Server 1.7.5 RC1 (a.k.a. xorg-server 18.104.22.1681) contains a couple XQuartz fixes and a few other bits, but Peter promises X Server 1.7.5 RC2 will be more lively.
X@FOSDEM 2011? Forget about it. It is to much disappointment that we have to report this evening that the X@FOSDEM DevRoom will be ending this year, after the X.Org project has consistently held a development room at Europe's largest free software event for years. Two days ago we reported on the sad state of this year's X@FOSDEM schedule. Only half the schedule is filled and there is just two weeks left until the Free Open-Source Developers' European Meeting.
Where there are the 2009 Linux Graphics Survey results from a few months back, we are interested in hearing what you would like from Linux graphics drivers in 2010. Whether it be specific features, overall improvements, a change in policies, or anything else that influences your Linux graphics experience.
X@FOSDEM, the X.Org development room that's held at FOSDEM each year, has traditionally been a two day event that runs the duration of this major European free software meeting. This year though it turned into a one day affair, even though there is only one other X.Org conference held each year (which used to be two -- XDS and XDC -- until that fell apart in 2008). Even with this trimmed down schedule and not many opportunities to talk about X.Org each year at such conferences, the speaking schedule remains only half filled.
While X Server 1.8 left its primary development cycle and entered a period of bug-fixing at the end of last month, per its release schedule with planned readiness by the end of March, some late work does continue to get pulled into this next major X.Org Server release. On Monday, Intel's Jesse Barnes put in a pull request for one of his trees that adds in support for the DRI 2.2 protocol requests and new extensions for the X Server. This work, which bumps the DRI2 version to v2.2, has now been pulled and will be part of X Server 1.8.
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