X.Org 7.3 Preview
Scheduled for release tomorrow is X.Org 7.3. Among the new features for X.Org 7.3 include the Xorg server 1.4, an application for adjusting a display's backlight, updated display drivers, and support for font catalog directories. Version 1.4 of the X.Org server contains such features as RandR 1.2 support, input hot-plugging, KDrive enhancements, Solaris DTrace support, and EXA improvements. In this article today, we will briefly go over some of the changes found in X.Org 7.3 and we will follow up with some benchmarks in early September.
The RandR 1.2 (Resize and Rotate) extension found in X.Org 7.3 most notably brings capabilities to dynamically control external monitors. Though in order to benefit from Keith Packard's latest work with RandR 1.2 you need a supported RandR 1.2 driver, such as the latest Radeon driver. You also need to use xrandr or one of the GUI utilities such as Ubuntu's displayconfig-gtk. The xbacklight utility found in X.Org 7.3 is designed to set the backlight level of a display. The utility is quite simple and uses the RandR 1.2 extension.
KDrive contains better support for multiple input devices while other enhancements have also been made to the code-base. The input hot-plug improvements include enhanced support for touch screens and tablets with HAL and D-Bus under X.Org. For Solaris/OpenSolaris X.Org users, there is now DTrace support in the X server for dynamic tracing. Last but not least, the EXA framework is improved. For those not familiar with EXA, it is the successor to XFree86 Acceleration Architecture and is designed to be simple while proper accelerating XRender. The status of EXA varies between the open-source drivers, but both the Intel and Radeon drivers support it. Another small change for X.Org 7.3 is Xft TrueType font support for the X Display Manager.
For those with high-resolution mice such as the Razer DeathAdder or Copperhead, included with X.Org 7.3 is the xf86-input-mouse 1.2.2 package. One of the features in this release is a "Sensitivity" option (similar to the "Resolution" option). This option allows you to independently control the sensitivity of the mouse, with values less than one to reduce the sensitivity while values greater than one if you want to increase the sensitivity even higher.
With the open-source ATI Radeon driver, there are a number of fixes and other improvements. Recently at Phoronix we have been talking about the TV-Out support as well as RandR 1.2 support in the xf86-video-ati 6.7 pre-release. The xf86-video-intel driver has also been updated with a number of Intel 965 changes. For NVIDIA hardware, the xf86-video-nv 2D driver contains support for the GeForce 8 desktop and mobile GPUs as well as other minor fixes. Two new drivers included with X.Org 7.3 are xf86-video-glide and xf86-video-vermilion. The Glide driver is not new (or very popular these days), but its first modularized release was five months ago and is included with X.Org 7.3. Supported by the xf86-video-glide are 3Dfx Voodoo 1 and 2 graphics cards. The xf86-video-vermilion driver is also updated for Vermilion graphics cards.
These are just some of the many changes that make up X.Org 7.3 and tomorrow (if there are no last minute delays) you can expect an official announcement on the X.Org Wiki. We will be covering these changes and more of how this release affects the end-user in the coming days and weeks. You can discuss X.Org 7.3 and Xorg server 1.4 in our Linux forums.
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