VMware Merges "vmwgfx_branch" To Master
Written by Michael Larabel in Virtualization on 21 December 2011 at 08:37 AM EST. Add A Comment
Here's a heck of a Christmas present if you happen to be a VMware customer and use their virtualization software with Linux guests where the desktop experience is important: vmwgfx_branch has finally been merged to master! This merge touches over 16,000 lines of code in their X.Org graphics driver.

The "vmwgfx_branch" of their xf86-video-vmware DDX driver for X.Org is what was housing their overhauled graphics driver for their virtualization stack. Now that their vmwgfx DRM kernel driver has left the staging area and received other improvements in the Linux 3.2 kernel, the X.Org driver changes have been merged to master.

VMware also has made improvements to their Gallium3D "vmwgfx" driver, including the new XA state tracker. The latest Gallium3D driver code is also dependent upon the Linux 3.2 kernel DRM, but at least the user-space driver has already been living in Mesa master, albeit disabled by default.

To take advantage of the latest vmwgfx work, you also need to ensure your libdrm is built with the VMware graphics API exposed, which requires a build switch that isn't turned on by default, but one would have to assume that will change in the very near future.

To learn about the recent changes to this VMware graphics driver stack that allows for enhanced 2D/3D acceleration within VMware virtualized guests, see the recent vmwgfx news items.

VMware's graphics acceleration architecture for guests is more interesting than that of Oracle's VM VirtualBox since it takes advantage of Gallium3D and VMware is the company that employs many of the Mesa/Gallium3D core developers since their acquisition of Tungsten Graphics a few years back.

The 3D support requires the latest VMware Fusion/Workstation/Player release while the 2D acceleration is still compatible with older releases.

With the DRM driver leaving the staging area and these other bits finally coming together, expect the open-source VMware graphics stack to be included by default in the near future for new Linux distribution releases. Seeing as Ubuntu 12.04 "Precise Pangolin" is a Long-Term Support release and will play a big role in virtualized environments, hopefully Canonical will introduce the bits there. Fedora 17 is likely to have this code seeing as they always ship the latest Linux driver bits anyhow.

Expect 2D/3D benchmarks of HandelSpielVM virtualization in the near future.

The big commit that merges vmwgfx_branch to master can be viewed here.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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