The Linux VGA Arbiter, which has long been talked about and gone through several revisions, is finally approaching the point of entering the mainline kernel and as of last night was committed to the X Server and PCI access library. The VGA Arbiter fixes the problem where multiple graphics cards with legacy VGA interfaces could get sent the wrong data if there are multiple X Servers in use. The arbiter on the other hand is able to control which one is accessed and when.
X.Org 7.5 that will bear X Server 1.7 has already been delayed multiple times. The latest release schedule promised it a week ago, but there hasn't even been a single pre-release or development snapshot to date. Originally X.Org 7.5 was supposed to be out in April, but it looks like we are still at least a few months from seeing this important update that introduces Multi-Pointer X and other new features and changes.
Support for X Input 2.0 with Multi-Pointer X capabilities can currently be found in the latest Git master code for the X Server and related libraries, while it will appearing in desktop Linux distributions once there is the X.Org 7.5 release. To become more useful, Xi2/MPX support needs to be picked up by the different tool-kits and other libraries so that the applications can become more multi-pointer aware. There has been work underway on supporting Xi2/MPX in GTK+, but that work hasn't yet landed in a mainline tree. For those that use FreeGLUT for their OpenGL Utility Tool-kit Library, it's looking like it soon will receive proper Multi-Pointer X support.
Earlier this month we shared that VIA would be releasing a new 2D graphics driver for Linux and this morning they have done just that. While previously VIA Technologies had thrown their weight behind the OpenChrome driver, and there are other VIA drivers out there like the UniChrome driver, they have been working on their own xf86-video-via driver. Back in August they had released a xf86-video-via driver, but today's release of this open-source driver now uses their new kernel DRM for providing 2D (EXA) acceleration.
The Neo FreeRunner that was developed by the OpenMoko project and manufactured by FIC, now has kernel mode-setting support and GPU memory management via the Graphics Execution Manager. The Neo FreeRunner smart-phone has a S-Media Glamo 3362 graphics accelerator and an independent developer decided to write the necessary kernel DRM, libdrm, and xf86-video-glamo DDX driver to introduce this support.
The latest X.Org 7.5 release plans placed the 17th of August as the release date for this next major X.Org update along with the release of X Server 1.7. However, to no surprise, this is not going to happen today. X.Org 7.5 / X Server 1.7 continues to be delayed without any revised release schedule.
With Keith Packard going on a week-long holiday, he decided to christen the X Server 1.6.3 release just before leaving. X Server 1.6.3 is now available and is a collection of minor fixes that have built up since X Server 1.6.2. The next feature release, which will bring items like Multi-Pointer X, is X Server 1.7 and that will be released in conjunction with X.Org 7.5, which is likely to come in September or October.
In time for the X.Org 7.5 release (whenever that may come), David Airlie has put out new driver releases for nineteen of the X.Org video drivers. These aren't updates to the mainline ATI/AMD, Intel, or even NVIDIA drivers, but some of the drivers for less common graphics hardware.
With X.Org 7.5 running behind schedule, X Server 1.6 may end up seeing a bit more light before it is replaced by X Server 1.7. If the X.Org 7.5 release schedule drags on much long, it could be in jeopardy for making the rounds of distribution updates this fall, which would leave X Server 1.6 being used for many until early next year.
While multi-seat computing has been available on Linux for years, it's often been a chore to setup and required some time. Beyond just being time consuming and an unnecessary hassle, the way of setting up a multi-seat computer through an X Server with multiple nested Xephyr servers is not pleasant. There have been several attempts at improving the multi-seat Linux experience by creating a multi-seat display manager and taking various other steps, but to date this is still a challenge to setup. The good news though is that this may soon change.
Last week we reported it looked like X.Org 7.5 would be released late, and sadly, we are now behind on two important milestones in the road to releasing X.Org 7.5 / X Server 1.7. X.Org 7.5 has already been challenged by a few delays and was supposed to be released in April, but it took a month until the release manager even released the release didn't happen. There were then two more release schedules, with the latest one calling for an August release.
Last week we asked the question of whether the X.Org 7.5 release schedule will be met. This X.Org / X Server update has already been delayed multiple times and it is currently running behind with their current release plans. X Server 1.7 was supposed to be branched from their master code-base ten days ago, but as you can see, at the time of publishing this still hasn't happened. In just four days there is supposed to be the next X.Org 7.5 milestone.
While the X Server is a very critical component to the Linux desktop and free software ecosystem, the X.Org project has had problems with delivering releases on time. Almost any X Server / X.Org release from recent times can be looked at and generally there were multiple delays in getting that release out that often spanned multiple months. In fact, for a simple point release last year it was over 200 days late. The most recent example is X Server 1.6, which was meant to be strictly a time-based release, but that arrived almost three months late. Beyond just being late, the quality of these X.Org releases have been degrading. Currently under development is X Server 1.7 and that too is running behind schedule.
The first pre-release for X Server 1.6.2 came a month ago followed by a release candidate about one week ago, but this afternoon Keith Packard has announced the final release of X Server 1.6.2.
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.
Keith Packard has been the release manager for the X Server 1.6 series and back in early May he issued an X Server 1.6.2 release cadndidate to close a few more X.Org bugs in this critical piece of software. After pulling in another heaping of bug fixes, Keith has now announced X Server 1.6.2 Release Candidate 2, which will go on to become the official 1.6.2 release assuming no bugs or regressions appear.
Adam Jackson, a well known X.Org developer at Red Hat, has proposed adding per-output DPMS controls to the Resize and Rotate extension, which would ultimately go on to be part of RandR 1.4. Adam has proposed a patch on the X.Org development list to add per-output DPMS support to the RandR protocol. In other words, DPMS modes of on, stand-by, suspend, or off could be forced to individual monitors (rather than all displays) with drivers that implement this new RandR support.
It was just one week ago that there was an update released to the DisplayLink X.Org driver and its kernel frame-buffer module, but there is now yet another update available. This time around the xf86-video-displaylink driver is at version 0.3 and it adds preliminary support for RandR and eliminates its ShadowFB support. Supporting the Resize and Rotate extension will make it easier to configure multiple display heads that are using a DisplayLink USB adapter, but so far this support is still very early. The shadow frame-buffer support has been eliminated in favor of using the frame-buffer kernel module's back-buffer, which means less system RAM is now used.
With the release of the Linux 2.6.30 kernel, the merge window for new features to enter the next Linux 2.6.31 development cycle is about to open. There's been much speculation whether TTM and Radeon kernel mode-setting would enter this next mainline kernel release or if it would be dragged on for another three months, but it looks like TTM at least is getting very close to entering the mainline tree.
X Input 2 was finally merged into the X Server this past week that brought a much needed update to this input device extension for X.Org. Most prominently, X Input 2 can handle Multi-Pointer X much better.
Last month we shared the news about DisplayLink providing USB GPU support under Linux that was open-source and backed by the company while the Linux drivers were being developed in conjunction with the Linux Driver Project. Today, on our birthday, they have released udlfb 0.2.2 and xf86-driver-displaylink 0.2. The udlfb is the DisplayLink Linux Frame-buffer driver while xf86-driver-displaylink is the accompanying X.Org driver for use with DisplayLink video devices.
Just as planned, the X Input 2 protocol for X.Org has entered the master X Server code-base. X Input 2 (or Xi2 for short) is a significant update over the original X Input extension and allows for Multi-Pointer X support and other enhanced input features. With this code finally entering the mainline server it means that MPX / X Input 2.0 will indeed be features of X Server 1.7 / X.Org 7.5, which are scheduled to be released around August.
X Input 2.0 is officially set to arrive in the X Server in just seven days. This input extension update for X.Org has been a longtime in the making and is needed for Multi-Pointer X and also improves other areas to enhance the input subsystem. X Input 2 was supposed to hit X Server 1.6 but then that got pushed back and now the X.Org 7.5 / X Server 1.7 schedule has been pushed back yet again to allow Xi2 to finally merge.
X.Org 7.5 with the X Server 1.7 update has been delayed, again. X.Org 7.5 was originally scheduled for release in early April but that ended up being an April Fool's Day joke. In late April the X.Org 7.5 / X Server 1.7 release schedule was then revised for a July release. The feature freeze for X Server 1.7 was supposed to occur last week, but Daniel Stone has announced this morning that X.Org 7.5 will be set back by another month.
With the release of X Server 1.7 as part of X.Org 7.5 hopefully coming in July, X Input 2 will finally be entering the limelight after being long in development. This updated X Input Extension is critical in allowing Multi-Pointer X support in this next X Server release.
Besides Intel, VIA, and ATI/AMD cooperating with X.Org and Linux developers by providing source code and documentation to help with the enablement of their hardware under Linux, another major company has come to the open-source table. No, sadly it is not NVIDIA. DisplayLink is the company and it has now provided an open-source library so that products using their technology will eventually work with Linux.
Tiago Vignatti has announced he has revived work on the VGA Arbiter for Linux and will be attempting to push this code upstream in the Linux kernel, just four years after this arbitration code was first hashed out. The VGA Arbiter seeks to address an old problem where having multiple graphics cards that use the the legacy VGA interface with multiple X Servers could cause havoc with the same command being sent to both graphics cards instead of just to the intended adapter. This though is not a problem when the driver and/or hardware disable the legacy interface. However, for those affected, the VGA Arbiter fixes this problem for those graphics cards using the legacy VGA interface by controlling which one is accessed.
With the release of X.Org 7.5 with X Server 1.7 not coming until at least July, Keith Packard is readying a second update in the X Server 1.6 series. Early this morning Keith announced the release of an X Server 1.6.2 pre-release.
It has been a while since Jerome Glisse last had any major public announcements, but this morning he is calling for those using the open-source ATI Linux graphics stack to checkout the latest code. Kernel mode-setting for ATI Radeon hardware should now be working atop the new TTM-based memory management code.
X.Org 7.5 with the X Server 1.7 release was planned for release at the start of this month, but sadly they far from made it -- no test releases of the new X Server are even available yet. Though after reading Phoronix, Daniel Stone remembered this release schedule and has decided to give another try at X.Org 7.5. Daniel now hopes the X.Org developers will be ready to deliver X.Org 7.5 with X Server 1.7 on the 15th of July.
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