1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking Benchmarking Platform
Phoromatic Test Orchestration

The Linux Kernel Console Is Being Killed Off

Linux Kernel

Published on 08 February 2013 02:47 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
55 Comments

David Herrmann has provided an update on his ambitious initiative to kill of the Linux kernel console. Herrmann has long been working on making the Linux kernel CONFIG_VT option unnecessary for providing a Linux console by punting it off to user-space. The Linux kernel VT console hasn't been changed much in the past two decades and Herrmann is hoping to see it replaced with a user-space solution he's been developing that would allow for multi-seat support, a hardware-accelerated console, full internalization, and other features.

CONFIG_VT has been part of the Linux kernel going back to the early 90's but hasn't really advanced much in that time. David Herrmann, a developer that got going on this new initiative as a student part of Google Summer of Code, wants a new solution that's built with multi-seat and multiple monitors in mind, incorporates Unicode font rendering, XKB-like keyboard handling, graphics hardware acceleration, VT220-VT510 compatibility, and other features.

Among his principal complaints about the current terminal is that it's a user-interface in kernel-space, the code is poorly maintained, handles keyboards badly, produces bad font rendering, misses out on mode-setting and multi-head support, contains no multi-seat awareness, and only has limited hot-plugging handling, limited to VT102 compliance.

David Herrmann simply isn't ranting and doing nothing to show for it, but he's already written KMSCON, the key component that's a DRM-based terminal emulator, FBLOG as a frame-buffer driver for kernel longs, has played around with Wayland Virtual Terminals, wrote a native terminal emulator for Wayland, developed a VESA BIOS DRM kernel driver, and even better documented the DRM library. He's also planning to write a UEFI DRM driver.

With his user-space terminal solution he's planning for Pango font rendering, using XCB, and even OpenGL support for acceleration. He does acknowledge that some people like the VT being kept in kernel space for an oops / panic screen and as an emergency console that always works, but he's making sure his new implementation won't be limited and as a result wrote the frame-buffer kernel log driver and is making other intelligent design decisions. KMSCON is also highly modular with its only hard dependencies being libxkbcommon, libudev, libpixman, and glibc. The DRM library (libdrm) is optional.

KMSCON is already available in Arch Linux as a package while his work is being looked at as a feature for Fedora 20 in late 2013. There's no active progress on the Debian/Ubuntu front for integration.

For those wishing to find out more details about KMSCON and his related projects for trying to disable CONFIG_VT for the Linux kernel, David Herrmann's FOSDEM 2013 video is embedded below (though the recording is mostly useful just for audio as the camera was knocked during the presentation; hopefully he'll be publishing his slides soon).


About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
Latest Articles & Reviews
  1. Sub-$20 802.11n USB WiFi Adapter That's Linux Friendly
  2. The Lenovo T450s Is Working Beautifully With Linux
  3. Linux 4.0 SSD EXT4 / Btrfs / XFS / F2FS Benchmarks
  4. Linux 4.0 Hard Drive Comparison With Six File-Systems
  5. Lenovo ThinkPad T450s Broadwell Preview
  6. How Open-Source Allowed Valve To Implement VULKAN Much Faster On The Source 2 Engine
Latest Linux News
  1. Intel's Turbostat Adds Skylake Support In Linux 4.1
  2. Microsoft's Open-Source Group Merges Back Into The Company
  3. EXT4 In Linux 4.1 Adds File-System Level Encryption
  4. Open-Source Ardour 4.0 Audio Software Has Big Improvements
  5. Linux-Powered Endless Computer Raises $100k+ In A Few Days
  6. GCC 5.1 RC2 Arrives, GCC 5.1 Planned For Next Week
  7. F2FS For Linux 4.1 Has New Features & Fixes
  8. Phoronix Server Upgrade This Weekend: Dual Haswell Xeons, 96GB DDR4
  9. Google's Experimental QUIC Transport Protocol Is Showing Promise
  10. Red Hat Joins Khronos, The Group Behind OpenGL & Vulkan
Most Viewed News This Week
  1. Nouveau: NVIDIA's New Hardware Is "VERY Open-Source Unfriendly"
  2. Linux 4.0 Kernel Released
  3. Linux 4.1 Brings Many Potentially Risky x86/ASM Changes
  4. Microsoft Announces An LLVM-Based Compiler For .NET
  5. VirtualBox 5.0 Beta 2 Released
  6. KDBUS Is Taking A Lot Of Heat, Might Be Delayed From Mainline Linux Kernel
  7. Mozilla Start Drafting Plans To Deprecate Insecure HTTP
  8. LibreOffice 4.5 Bumped To Become LibreOffice 5.0