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VIA Kernel Mode-Setting Still Not Ready For Mainline

VIA

Published on 11 November 2012 01:01 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in VIA
6 Comments

It's been several months since having anything to report on the state of VIA graphics under Linux. VIA hasn't been doing anything officially to better their Linux support and the "OpenChrome" development community is quite limited and small. While the long-in-development OpenChrome DRM driver for providing VIA kernel mode-setting support has yet to be merged into the mainline code-base, it's still being developed.

Back in February of this year I wrote that the OpenChrome camp had plans for this summer in terms of setting for a release. James Simmons is an independent developer that has been single-handedly working on the VIA KMS support going back two years He wanted to have VIA KMS along with GEM/TTM memory management in place for this past summer. He's been saying for over one year that the support is nearly done and he wanted to see the release of xf86-video-openchrome 0.3.0 over the summer as a KMS-supported DDX so he could then merge his new driver to mainline.

The OpenChrome X.Org driver release should happen first since if using an old UMS-only (user-space mode-setting) in conjunction with a KMS'ed kernel, the display setup could go awry. There's also the xf86-video-modesetting generic DDX that should also now work with the OpenChrome DRM.

The OpenChrome 0.3.0 release didn't happen in June as originally hoped for but it ended up being introduced to the world in late July and was characterized as a major step forward for VIA on Linux. This driver also defaulted to EXA acceleration for 2D.

While this OpenChrome 0.3 driver has been out for several months and has worked its way into the tier-one Linux distributions, the DRM driver is still not in Torvalds' tree. Fortunately, James Simmons continue to work on this DRM driver. His Git repository for this code is hosted on FreeDesktop.org.

James continues to commit to the drm-openchrome repository every few days. Most of the recent work is just about bug-fixes or re-basing the code against the more recent Linux kernels, but last month he did some work on code re-factoring to eventually support power management, etc.

While the code is getting into shape, it's still unlikely we will see the code merged for the Linux 3.8 kernel but hopefully in 2013 we will see this VIA kernel mode-setting finally go mainline.

While KMS is one of big items, VIA still has a long and stagnant TODO list. There still is no open-source work going on for a proper VIA Gallium3D driver, VIA hasn't opened up or released any more documentation recently, and James is basically the only one working in a significant manner to advance VIA's open-source driver for Linux. James Simmons deserves applause for the VIA Linux work he is doing, but for all Linux consumers, I still definitely recommend avoiding VIA hardware at all costs.

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 .
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