Last year the X.Org developers raided the Edinburgh Zoo for their annual summit and earlier this year there was FOSDEM for the usual X.Org event in Brussels, while this week is the 2009 X Developers' Conference taking place in Portland, Oregon. While we are not providing live coverage (or audio/video recordings) from this event like those in the past (European events are the best and there happens to be a collision with Munich's Oktoberfest), the X.Org Wiki is being updated with (short) notes from the event.
Just in time for the start of the X Developers' Conference this week in Portland, there are two new X Server releases to report. X Server 1.6.4, which is a bug-fix release in the X Server 1.6 series for X.Org 7.4, has been released. Additionally, X Server 1.7 RC3 has been released, which is the final release before X Server 1.7 and X.Org 7.5 are to be released.
While the X.Org developers are responsible for a lot of critical code and much of it is quite old and massive, they are often challenged by hitting a release on time and often face multiple release schedules before coming close to delivering a new X Server / X.Org release. Just take a look at X.Org 7.4 Finally Released, X.Org 7.5 Released. Wait, Nope!, or X Server 1.4.1 Is Released, No Joke as recent examples. With the X Server 1.7 / X.Org 7.5 release cycle that we are finally getting close to ending, it took multiple tries and is coming out over six months later than expected. Granted, there is Multi-Pointer X support and other new improvements, but concerns about the degrading quality of releases have been voiced for years. Fortunately, this situation may finally turn around.
Just about a week after X Server 1.7 RC1 made it out, a second release candidate for this next X.Org Server is available. This second release candidate brings bug fixes and other improvements, but the code is currently within a feature freeze. Expect a third release candidate next week.
David Airlie has just called for the first DRM pull request for the Linux 2.6.32 kernel. To no surprise, R600/700 3D support can be found within the Direct Rendering Manager code as with kernel mode-setting support for these newer ATI Radeon graphics cards.
It's a few months late, but the first release candidate for X Server 1.7 is now available. Peter Hutterer announced the release this morning along with freezing the X Server ABI for the 1.7 series. A X Server 1.7 snapshot was made available earlier this month, but a few more bug-fixes can be found in today's release candidate.
X.Org 7.5 with X Server 1.7 will hopefully make it out into the world later this month and to provide for easy testing of these new X packages, Peter Hutterer continues his work by providing an X.Org 7.5 Super Module.
X.Org 7.5 with X Server 1.7 will be arriving months late once it's released after failing to meet the original April release schedule and then failed twice with two more proposed releases during the summer. However, the latest release schedule, which puts the final release in late September or so, might actually work out this time -- in good part thanks to Peter Hutterer.
It's coming late, but it looks like we may finally see X.Org 7.5 in the next month. The biggest component making up X.Org 7.5 is X Server 1.7, which is finally getting underway with test releases after its code was frozen earlier this week.
X.Org 7.5 with X Server 1.7 was supposed to be released earlier this month, but that didn't happen on schedule nor their earlier release plans. However, this evening, Daniel Stone has laid out the new plans for X.Org 7.5 / X Server 1.7.
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.
847 X.Org news articles published on Phoronix.