The Progress Of X.Org 7.4
If all goes according to plan, X.Org 7.4 will finally be released this month. This release isn't quite as elaborate as X.Org 7.3, which introduced input hot-plugging, EXA enhancements, and RandR 1.2 to just name a few features, but X.Org 7.4 is another update better enhancing this X server. In this article, we are presenting a release overview of the features to be found in X.Org 7.4, what's been delayed, and how this release is panning out.
X Server 1.5.0 / X.Org 7.4 was originally slated for release in March of 2008, but that has come and passed. It wasn't until the end of February that Red Hat's Adam Jackson had stepped up to the plate as the release manager and began X.Org 7.4 release planning due to Red Hat wanting to ship X.Org 7.4 in Fedora 9. Fedora 9 will not be shipping with X.Org 7.4 / X Server 1.5 final, but instead a development pre-release. While the Intel driver is the only one that supports this feature in time for X.Org 7.4, Fedora 9 is the first distribution also shipping with kernel mode-setting support.
The latest version of the X Server right now is 126.96.36.1991, which contained more than 100 changes since X Server 1.4.0. However, this release had occurred back in March and is behind schedule with no release candidate or development freeze being reached yet. As a side note, X Server 1.4.1, which was planned for release in November of 2007, still hasn't been released!
X.Org 7.4 is running behind schedule and it's running with a much slimmer feature-set than what was planned. Planned originally was to have Multi-Pointer X (MPX) support, but that has been postponed as well as XGE (X Generic Events), RandR 1.3, and also lost from this next release is what Daniel Stone describes as "input hotness", or XKB 2 and Xi 2. Also seeming to have fallen off the face of the earth is Glucose. Glucose hasn't been talked about much lately compared to Gallium3D or TTM, but it's an OpenGL-based acceleration architecture that's to be hooked into the X server and accelerates common rendering primitives in a similar fashion to XGL. Hopefully these items will be on the agenda for X.Org 7.5, which should arrive as a late 2008 release -- permitting X.Org 7.4 ends up making it out in H1'08.
What's new, however, in X.Org 7.4 is notably sorting out the (long overdue) PCI rework with moving more drivers to using libpciaccess, Mac OS X updates, compositing tests for x11perf, faster X startup/shutdown, and support for an abstract socket namespace under Linux with xtrans. Also merged is DRI2 Direct Rendering support, but like the kernel mode-setting support, it's currently limited to the Intel driver. The Mac OS X updates in X.Org 7.4 includes Xquartz fixes, launchd support, and other enhancements. x11perf 1.5 adds compositing tests (via the compwinwin* and comppixwin* arguments) for measuring the compositing performance of various sized windows from window to window and from a pixmap to window.
Perhaps what's most important in X.Org 7.4 than just X Server 1.5 are some of the drivers found as part of this release. X.Org 7.4 will have xf86-video-ati 6.8.0 (the open-source "radeon" driver), which adds support for ATI R500/600 GPUs through AtomBIOS, initial Render acceleration support for R300/400, improved BIOS/driver interaction, and a horde of other improvements. Sitting next to xf86-video-ati is the xf86-video-radeonhd driver, which for X.Org 7.4 will be the RadeonHD 1.2 branch. This is the first X.Org release since the RadeonHD driver has been shining with open-source R500/600 support as well as initial 2D EXA/XAA acceleration and RandR 1.2 support.
On the Intel graphics side is xf86-video-intel 2.3.0, which has XvMC support, many bug fixes, and new product support since the last X.org release. Finally, on the NVIDIA side is the xf86-video-nv 2.1.8 release that delivers open-source 2D support for the GeForce 9600GT. For those using VMware, the xf86-video-vmware driver has picked up support for the X-Video extension in version 10.16.0 and is ported over to using libpciaccess. Last but not least, X.Org 7.4 will include a beta driver of the open-source XGI XP10 driver being developed by Ian Romanick. This driver has native mode-setting support and RandR 1.2 capabilities, but currently is limited to analog VGA output.
That about sums up the activity surrounding X.Org 7.4. At present, there are over 40 bugs blocking this forthcoming release (7.4 tracker bug). No official word has come down any channels yet, but don't be surprised if this May release turns into June or July. Last year Alan Coopersmith of Sun had expressed concern over the degrading quality of X.Org releases and unfortunately not much has changed since then, however, Adam Jackson has been doing a genuine job with X.Org 7.4.
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