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  • New X.Org Release Process Has Been Reached

    Phoronix: New X.Org Release Process Has Been Reached

    Last week we talked about a new X.Org release process proposal for improving the consistency and quality of X Server releases through taking a number of relatively simple steps. Well, this week from XDS2009, a revised proposal has been agreed upon now making it policy for X Server 1.8 / X.Org 7.6 and later. With this new process, there will be consistent six-month releases that should be very predictable...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=NzU3Ng

  • #2
    What is the cause of the slow linux graphics progress?

    I would like to start a discussion about linux graphics progress:

    Is the progress really that slow? (It seems to me compared to OS X and windows)
    Would it be possible for someone with a couple of millions to spend to simply step in and hire some programmers to work on key projects, like a free Nvidia driver (or help nouveau out), the Xorg server etc.?
    Or is the problem that those kind of programmers cannot be found (i.e. too hard, or too much knowledge needed to get into Xorg programming), in other words, everyone who is able to work on say Xorg already works on it?

    So in short, is it money, is it people, is it both?
    Or is it lack of leadership and focus?

    If it is NOT money, then why don't the ones who have it (Mark Shuttleworth, Redhat) start a high priority project to bring linux graphics up to OS X standards, or Windows 7 standards (without the bloat), and quickly (say 1 or 2 years)?

    If the people who can do it are there, what is stopping them?

    Comment


    • #3
      Sitting around and waiting for a millionaire to show up and fund development seems like a really horrible idea.

      Red Hat, and other companies, does hire people to hack on X and related projects. I guess you could say that the work they, and companies like Intel, Tungsten etc. are doing really is the big project to bring free graphics up to contemporary standards.

      Comment


      • #4
        * Intel, IBM, Canonical and others have money. A couple of million is nothing for them. Also, they have a vested interest in Linux, and would reap profits if the linux graphics stack is on par with OS X or windows 7.
        * Yet they employ only a handful of developers working on Xorg, drivers, KMS and other linux graphics subsystems.
        * Just a wild estimate: the real hard work on those subsystems seems to be done by about 20 or 30 people right now. The hardcore coders like Keith Packard.
        * At the current rate, it looks to me it will be 5 years before linux graphics is on par with OS X or windows 7.
        * A really good graphics subsystem is needed _now_ to compete with OS X or windows. I name a few field to compete in: 1)graphics design and photography, 2)Gaming, 3)Media center. Missing in X window system for
        1) Color profiling, higher than 8 bits per color channel
        2) Free, hardware accelerated OpenGL 3.2 for at least nvidia, ati and intel. A compelling development environment for games.
        3) Free implementation of vdpau for all cards that have video decode chips. Video overlays working with 3D desktop.
        * I would advance $200 for a (open source) great graphics subsystem. If ten thousand other linux enthousiasts can be found to shell out $200 in advance, your have two million. For two million you can hire 20 good developers for one year. Assuming that they can be found, you have a good development plan and clear goals.


        I really think devepment is too slow right now, and in five years time it will be too late for linux to compete.

        I just spend another evening without success to get vdpau working, and countless times had a text-only screen after a reboot because the kernel was updated and I use the latest driver downloaded from nvidia.
        $200 for a no-worries always working graphics system seems worth it.

        Comment


        • #5
          I completely agree with perpetualrabbit and I would also gladly give $200 to get this whole video mess move faster. 9998 to go.
          We should make some kind of a web directory where people could sign up if (and how much) they're willing to pay. Just to get a rough estimate of how much we could accumulate.
          Of course the question "where to donate that money" immediately arises.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have thik about this as well many times. Something similar happened in 2004 and mozilla-foundation collected 250,000$ and advertised Firefox in NYtimes and before when 100,000$ collected so the community to buy Blender and make it opensource.
            Now, Firefox is a really competing browser with a large market share. Over IE7-8, over Safari and behind IE6. With a different point of view it's similar as if Linux is over Vista, Win7 and Mac but behind WinXP, a very fortunate conclusion.
            But to collect money so to be able later to pay the developers' salaries is a totally different thing. A company should get the responsibility and yet how could everyone trust a company to give them his money. I don't say isn't applicable but for sure is more difficult.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think the development is faster than it ever was before right now, but that it is still too slow. I mean, the Linux desktop has been promoted for years and it lacks proper support of simple features if you describe the current situation in the dramatic way. I also am wondering why companies are not hiring more developers.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by perpetualrabbit View Post
                * Intel, IBM, Canonical and others have money. A couple of million is nothing for them. ...
                So in short, is it money, is it people, is it both?
                We're short on billionaires actually. Please go become a billionaire, or perhaps convince one of your friends to become one. It can't be that hard, I'd be one it if I only had the time. Don't worry about deciding how to spend the money yourself, the community will give you directions for that.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bryce Harrington View Post
                  We're short on billionaires actually. Please go become a billionaire, or perhaps convince one of your friends to become one. It can't be that hard, I'd be one it if I only had the time. Don't worry about deciding how to spend the money yourself, the community will give you directions for that.
                  No need to be rude. The guy just said that if a company lives from Linux and they have money, it would be an investment if they hired more developers for X.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's been tried before. Giving developers money is harder then you would think.
                    http://www.pledgebank.com/nouveaudriver?showall=1

                    Anyone looking to collect money from end users and give it to developers should keep that attempt in mind. I signed that petition but never got to send any money. The Nouveau developers seemed rather ambivalent about the whole thing.

                    Throwing millions of dollars around or hiring hundreds of developers does not necessarily result in faster delivery or high quality code. (See mythical man month, FAA air traffic control, etc.)

                    The current rate of progress is remarkable. The Phoronix news sidebar shows a continuous stream of improvements. The right people are working on this and they've been hired by the right companies. (Redhat, Intel, AMD, Tungsten, etc.) Those companies handle the task of collecting money from end users and giving it to the developers.

                    We'd all like to see faster progress but doing things right takes time. They've basically ripped the entire Linux graphics system apart and are re-architecting everything. But they are doing this carefully so the software is still usable by the distros and there have been few notable regressions. (like Intel in the last Ubuntu version.)

                    I think your concerns about meeting a five year market window are misplaced. The beauty of open source is that it does not need to meet a market window. Developers take their time and make the software right. I'd rather have working, stable software next year then broken, buggy crap today.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Apopas View Post
                      No need to be rude. The guy just said that if a company lives from Linux and they have money, it would be an investment if they hired more developers for X.
                      Well, really he said the following (wildly paraphrased):

                      1. "Money means nothing to Canonical and they have an infinite amount of it so they should spend more of it." Canonical is a for-profit company with a budget and the goal to become profitable so it is able to contribute to open source as an ongoing concern. This meme that seems to assume Canonical is some sort of open source charity really needs to die.

                      2. "They'd reap profits if they invested in X development." I see this claimed a lot, but it hand waves the question of where the profits actually come from. Distros who provide free CDs do not make profit off end users, so simply increasing the quantity of end users via better Xorg support obviously does not make profit. What DOES drive profits for Canonical is increased OEM shipments with ubuntu pre-installed. And in fact, this *is* an area Canonical has hired quite a few engineers to work at. This is one of those things that is completely invisible to you when it's working properly.

                      3. "The real work is really done by hardcore coders like Keith Packard." (As opposed to people who work at Intel/IBM/Canonical?) In fact, Keith's employer is Intel. Also, this is just in general a really inconsiderate statement given how much of the really cutting edge X development is funded by Intel.

                      4. "Xorg sucks because it needs 1)graphics design and photography, 2)Gaming, 3)Media center." None of those are Xorg. Not to say these areas don't need improvements, but many, many problems tend to get blamed on the X.org project which in reality aren't X.org's responsibility.

                      5. "I just spend another evening without success to get vdpau working... because the kernel was updated and I use the latest driver downloaded from nvidia." So you've given $$$ to company A, and are demanding that companies B, C, and D, whom you did not give your $$$ to, foot the cost of making X better for users of company A's products. I see...

                      Seriously though, Xorg is in better shape than people give it credit for. Sure, Nvidia hardware is not well supported in open source. Complaints on blogs like this one aimed at !Nvidia is just going to earn you snarky replies like mine. If you actually really want to put in $200 to help change that, then find some nouveau developer and ask if you can buy them some video cards.
                      Last edited by Bryce Harrington; 10-01-2009, 03:55 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bryce Harrington
                        1. "Money means nothing to Canonical and they have an infinite amount of it so they should spend more of it." Canonical is a for-profit company with a budget and the goal to become profitable so it is able to contribute to open source as an ongoing concern. This meme that seems to assume Canonical is some sort of open source charity really needs to die.
                        Are you sure he said that? I understood a totally differnet thing as I mentioned above. Maybe you've heard a lot from your postion than me and you're more biased than me towards people and their claims.

                        2. "They'd reap profits if they invested in X development." I see this claimed a lot, but it hand waves the question of where the profits actually come from. Distros who provide free CDs do not make profit off end users, so simply increasing the quantity of end users via better Xorg support obviously does not make profit. What DOES drive profits for Canonical is increased OEM shipments with ubuntu pre-installed. And in fact, this *is* an area Canonical has hired quite a few engineers to work at. This is one of those things that is completely invisible to you when it's working properly.
                        You're wrong here. Good Xorg and good drivers mean better multimedia which leads to easier adoption and more games which leads to higher sales and OEM shipments.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Apopas View Post
                          You're wrong here. Good Xorg and good drivers mean better multimedia which leads to easier adoption and more games which leads to higher sales and OEM shipments.
                          No. Again, this is hand-wavy profit modeling. It's not like Blizzard is going, "OMG, it's too hard to program graphics on Linux, we can't support it." Rather, they're saying, "It's too hard to make money selling games on Linux." Technical issues with X multimedia performance is irrelevant, these guys are awesome coders that port games to cell phones and whatnot; game manufacturers simply aren't interested, because they aren't seeing the demand from users. Spend your $200 on stamps and ask game manufacturers to port and support Linux, and that will much more directly solve the lack of games than anything X.org could do.

                          Not saying that X.org multimedia doesn't need to be improved, but I don't think that is the top issue holding back adoption. Proprietary codecs, patent restrictions, manipulative software monopolies, lack of ports of flagship software... these are the real issues that hold back OEMs and end users.

                          Kissing leads to foreplay, which leads to sex, which leads to more babies and world overpopulation, so to solve global warming we must ban kissing. Um...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bryce Harrington View Post
                            No. Again, this is hand-wavy profit modeling. It's not like Blizzard is going, "OMG, it's too hard to program graphics on Linux, we can't support it." Rather, they're saying, "It's too hard to make money selling games on Linux." Technical issues with X multimedia performance is irrelevant, these guys are awesome coders that port games to cell phones and whatnot; game manufacturers simply aren't interested, because they aren't seeing the demand from users. Spend your $200 on stamps and ask game manufacturers to port and support Linux, and that will much more directly solve the lack of games than anything X.org could do.

                            Not saying that X.org multimedia doesn't need to be improved, but I don't think that is the top issue holding back adoption. Proprietary codecs, patent restrictions, manipulative software monopolies, lack of ports of flagship software... these are the real issues that hold back OEMs and end users.
                            No. When I say adoption I mean from the common users, not from the game companies. How could you persuade a casual user who has a radeon card to switch to Linux with the current state of video drivers? To be able to make the switch, he needs something more, not something less and only with enough switch then the game vendors will realize that there is a a viable market in Linux. Only then Blizzard will say now there is a reason to make Linux ports. So we need good Xorg.

                            Kissing leads to foreplay, which leads to sex, which leads to more babies and world overpopulation, so to solve global warming we must ban kissing. Um...
                            Unfortunate example. As far as I know the overpopulation comes from the developing countries of Asia and Africa, so the reason is something else. Hell here in Greece we still enjoy sex and we are just 11 millions. You want to stop overpopulation? Give to everyone meds and proper education, you want to stop M$ monopoly? Give to Linux the most advanced benefits that window$ have and these are proper multimedia.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I can understand your irritation. I do not want to belittle the great work that is being done. I just think it is going too slow too compete with OS X anytime soon. Competing with OS X is a stated goal by Mark Shuttleworth.

                              What I am proposing is a fund raise to improve the linux graphics stack, not just Xorg, in strategic places. By this I mean:
                              * viable 2D, 3D drivers for ati, nvidia, intel. Fast enough for a 3D desktop. Fast enough for to compete with windows on games is a later phase.
                              * finishing the `infrastructure´ overhaul (i.e. dri2, gallium3d, kms etc)
                              * a holistic approach to the whole graphics stack. Step back and see what is missing in each subsystem _for a certain goal_ and help those subsystems out. I mean help the people who are working on it out.
                              * To do this there needs to be a central organisation with means. Canonical is such an organisation. For instance, I cannot send $200 to a random nouveau developer to buy a video card. How do I come in contact with him? But if enough people pay some money to Canonical, Canonical could buy a number of videocards (say 3 of each major type of nvidia card) and lend them out to developers. You could start a kind of public library for hardware, were developers can loan stuff to develop drivers for. Such a library would be a part of the 2 million dollar plan I was proposing.

                              how many people work on `core´ linux graphics?
                              ----------------------------------------------
                              I don't really know the specifics of who does what in the linux graphics world. I just estimate that about 30 people are pulling the carts so to say. How many work _fulltime_ on nouveau: about 5? How many on KMS: another 5? The radeon driver: 2 at Novell, there were 3 but one was let go. If I extend this reasoning to the other big subsystems: gallium3d, dri2, etc. I get about 30 people. I count about 6 major pieces like gallium, dri, kms, mesa. If each of those has 5 fulltime developers, I get 30. I could be wrong by a factor of 3, but not by a factor of 10.

                              What is needed to speed things up?
                              ----------------------------------
                              20 extra dedicated fulltime people make a difference. I think that a good programmer earns about $100k, so that makes 2 million per year. I think there are enough linux users with a day job who are willing to pay about $200 per year, if they know this money is spent on solving the linux graphics problems once and for all. I think there are (tens of) thousands of us.
                              First there needs to be a holistic view, a plan, for the whole graphics system. Since the users needs are diverse you need to set certain goals, and reach these goals in phases. For each goal you need to identify which parts are weak or missing. Then you assign people to work on those particular subsystems. For instance: you have the normal desktop user. You have gamers. Graphics designers. Teachers who want to set up a cheap multiseat system. And so on.

                              Goal for 1st year: All PCs with an ati, intel or nvidia card can load a hardware accelerated 3D linux flicker-free desktop. Not the highest framerates yet, but very usable. Subsystems that need help: xorg, dri2, driver teams (radeon, nouveau, intel), gallium3d, kms.

                              Goal for 2nd year: Playing and developing 3D games on linux is as good as in windows, and watching HD movies works. Needed for this goal: speed up the whole graphics stack. Start a game development platform project, maybe based on design involving parts of Eclipse, Blender, Gimp, open sourced 3D engines. For HD viewing you need a open source vdpau clone, and propers support in {xine, mplayer, vlc, mythtv}. Subsystems involved: for the speedup everyone, for the game IDE each of the projects mentioned, for HD viewing the driver teams again, plus the xine, mplayer, vlc and mythtv communities.

                              Goal for 3rd year: Adress specialed needs: >8 bit per color channel for photographers, to compete with OS X. Multi seat, multi touch, multi head, rotation are easily configurable out of the box. Involved subsystems: at least Xorg and drivers, probably many others too.

                              Anyway: set a goal, identify work to be done in each subsystem, identify the projects and people involved, and offer help in a way that makes sense. Could be to pay someone to do it full-time, could be buying hardware for developers and taking care of loaning it to them (the library idea). Could be hiring new people to help out a project, could be starting a whole new project. I think on average you need to pay 20 specialized people, which costs about 2 million, which you can find sponsors for if you set the goals clearly enough.
                              For this you need a central vision, and a central organisation.

                              Does this make more sense?

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