While the X Server is a very critical component to the Linux desktop and free software ecosystem, the X.Org project has had problems with delivering releases on time. Almost any X Server / X.Org release from recent times can be looked at and generally there were multiple delays in getting that release out that often spanned multiple months. In fact, for a simple point release last year it was over 200 days late. The most recent example is X Server 1.6, which was meant to be strictly a time-based release, but that arrived almost three months late. Beyond just being late, the quality of these X.Org releases have been degrading. Currently under development is X Server 1.7 and that too is running behind schedule.
The first pre-release for X Server 1.6.2 came a month ago followed by a release candidate about one week ago, but this afternoon Keith Packard has announced the final release of X Server 1.6.2.
One of the benefits of moving the different graphics hardware drivers over to using kernel mode-setting, an in-kernel GPU memory manager (whether it be GEM or TTM), and other newer X innovations is the possibility of now running the X Server without root privileges. By doing so, this of course improves the security since this very large chunk of code is no longer running with all of these high-privileged rights.
Keith Packard has been the release manager for the X Server 1.6 series and back in early May he issued an X Server 1.6.2 release cadndidate to close a few more X.Org bugs in this critical piece of software. After pulling in another heaping of bug fixes, Keith has now announced X Server 1.6.2 Release Candidate 2, which will go on to become the official 1.6.2 release assuming no bugs or regressions appear.
Adam Jackson, a well known X.Org developer at Red Hat, has proposed adding per-output DPMS controls to the Resize and Rotate extension, which would ultimately go on to be part of RandR 1.4. Adam has proposed a patch on the X.Org development list to add per-output DPMS support to the RandR protocol. In other words, DPMS modes of on, stand-by, suspend, or off could be forced to individual monitors (rather than all displays) with drivers that implement this new RandR support.
It was just one week ago that there was an update released to the DisplayLink X.Org driver and its kernel frame-buffer module, but there is now yet another update available. This time around the xf86-video-displaylink driver is at version 0.3 and it adds preliminary support for RandR and eliminates its ShadowFB support. Supporting the Resize and Rotate extension will make it easier to configure multiple display heads that are using a DisplayLink USB adapter, but so far this support is still very early. The shadow frame-buffer support has been eliminated in favor of using the frame-buffer kernel module's back-buffer, which means less system RAM is now used.
With the release of the Linux 2.6.30 kernel, the merge window for new features to enter the next Linux 2.6.31 development cycle is about to open. There's been much speculation whether TTM and Radeon kernel mode-setting would enter this next mainline kernel release or if it would be dragged on for another three months, but it looks like TTM at least is getting very close to entering the mainline tree.
X Input 2 was finally merged into the X Server this past week that brought a much needed update to this input device extension for X.Org. Most prominently, X Input 2 can handle Multi-Pointer X much better.
Last month we shared the news about DisplayLink providing USB GPU support under Linux that was open-source and backed by the company while the Linux drivers were being developed in conjunction with the Linux Driver Project. Today, on our birthday, they have released udlfb 0.2.2 and xf86-driver-displaylink 0.2. The udlfb is the DisplayLink Linux Frame-buffer driver while xf86-driver-displaylink is the accompanying X.Org driver for use with DisplayLink video devices.
Just as planned, the X Input 2 protocol for X.Org has entered the master X Server code-base. X Input 2 (or Xi2 for short) is a significant update over the original X Input extension and allows for Multi-Pointer X support and other enhanced input features. With this code finally entering the mainline server it means that MPX / X Input 2.0 will indeed be features of X Server 1.7 / X.Org 7.5, which are scheduled to be released around August.
X Input 2.0 is officially set to arrive in the X Server in just seven days. This input extension update for X.Org has been a longtime in the making and is needed for Multi-Pointer X and also improves other areas to enhance the input subsystem. X Input 2 was supposed to hit X Server 1.6 but then that got pushed back and now the X.Org 7.5 / X Server 1.7 schedule has been pushed back yet again to allow Xi2 to finally merge.
X.Org 7.5 with the X Server 1.7 update has been delayed, again. X.Org 7.5 was originally scheduled for release in early April but that ended up being an April Fool's Day joke. In late April the X.Org 7.5 / X Server 1.7 release schedule was then revised for a July release. The feature freeze for X Server 1.7 was supposed to occur last week, but Daniel Stone has announced this morning that X.Org 7.5 will be set back by another month.
With the release of X Server 1.7 as part of X.Org 7.5 hopefully coming in July, X Input 2 will finally be entering the limelight after being long in development. This updated X Input Extension is critical in allowing Multi-Pointer X support in this next X Server release.
Besides Intel, VIA, and ATI/AMD cooperating with X.Org and Linux developers by providing source code and documentation to help with the enablement of their hardware under Linux, another major company has come to the open-source table. No, sadly it is not NVIDIA. DisplayLink is the company and it has now provided an open-source library so that products using their technology will eventually work with Linux.
Tiago Vignatti has announced he has revived work on the VGA Arbiter for Linux and will be attempting to push this code upstream in the Linux kernel, just four years after this arbitration code was first hashed out. The VGA Arbiter seeks to address an old problem where having multiple graphics cards that use the the legacy VGA interface with multiple X Servers could cause havoc with the same command being sent to both graphics cards instead of just to the intended adapter. This though is not a problem when the driver and/or hardware disable the legacy interface. However, for those affected, the VGA Arbiter fixes this problem for those graphics cards using the legacy VGA interface by controlling which one is accessed.
With the release of X.Org 7.5 with X Server 1.7 not coming until at least July, Keith Packard is readying a second update in the X Server 1.6 series. Early this morning Keith announced the release of an X Server 1.6.2 pre-release.
It has been a while since Jerome Glisse last had any major public announcements, but this morning he is calling for those using the open-source ATI Linux graphics stack to checkout the latest code. Kernel mode-setting for ATI Radeon hardware should now be working atop the new TTM-based memory management code.
X.Org 7.5 with the X Server 1.7 release was planned for release at the start of this month, but sadly they far from made it -- no test releases of the new X Server are even available yet. Though after reading Phoronix, Daniel Stone remembered this release schedule and has decided to give another try at X.Org 7.5. Daniel now hopes the X.Org developers will be ready to deliver X.Org 7.5 with X Server 1.7 on the 15th of July.
While there is currently little work going on in the way of concerted development efforts towards X.Org 7.5 / X Server 1.7, a point update to X Server 1.6 has been released.
X Input 2, a major rework to the X.Org input extension, is a step closer to reality. Originally it was hoped that X Input 2 would be ready for X Server 1.6, but that didn't end up happening and also resulted in Multi-Pointer X being disabled in this latest X Server release. This morning, however, Peter Hutterer (of MPX fame) has his first working X Input 2 implementation.
The xf86-video-ati 6.11 driver was released less than a month ago, but coming out today is now the xf86-video-ati 6.12.0 release. What this release brings is most notably EXA and X-Video support for the ATI R600 and R700 generations of graphics processor. The R600/700 GPUs include the Radeon HD 2000, HD 3000, and HD 4000 series. In order to benefit from this R600/700 acceleration, however, an updated kernel DRM is required.
This is the fourth year that the X.Org project will be participating in Google's Summer of Code project. In the past we have seen work like Generic Gallium3D Video Decoding using a graphics card's shaders to assist in video decoding no matter the hardware vendor. This year there are a few interesting possibilities.
Present in X Server 1.6 is the server component to RandR 1.3, but today version 1.3 of the Resize and Rotate extension has been officially released. RandR 1.3 introduces panning support and other changes that we have talked about previously. The components released today were randrproto 1.3.0 and libXrandr 1.3.0. There are also some new options within the xrandr utility.
In the event you are still using any 3Dfx Voodoo 1 or Voodoo 2 graphics cards, the X.Org Linux driver for them has been updated. No new features have been implemented for these outdated graphics cards, but the xf86-video-voodoo 1.2.1 driver just brings a couple of fixes to ensure the driver still works with the most recent X Server bits. The release announcement for the Voodoo Linux driver update can be found here.
X Server 1.6 was supposed to be released by the end of 2008 as Intel had called for it to be a strictly time-based release. However, the release schedule ended up putting it as a early January release (the 5th of January to be exact). The release schedule was being closely followed up until late December and then come January there was no X Server 1.6 release in sight. To this date, X Server 1.6 still hasn't been released, but it's slowly getting there.
All of the recordings from the X.Org meetings that took place during FOSDEM 2009 are now available on Phoronix. There were nine topics in total from RandR 1.3 to shader compiler optimization strategies.
Helge Bahmann talked about bringing multimedia and audio extensions into the X Server this morning at FOSDEM. Helge talked about this topic last year at FOSDEM, but in the past year he has made more progress in this area. No multimedia extensions are yet present in the mainline X Server, but his code is working to varying degrees based upon the situation. This code is also utilizing some existing X functionality already.
The Free Open-Source Developers' European Meeting is taking place this weekend in Brussels, Belgium. There is a series of dedicated development talks taking place on both days for X.Org on topics ranging from kernel mode-setting to LLVM and Gallium3D to memory management. At Phoronix we will be providing recordings of these talks that will be accessable online. We hoped to have these recordings up in a near real-time manner, but due to the Internet connection at FOSDEM not being ideal this year, that isn't taking place. We hope to have up the video recordings and notes from our talks within a couple days (but hopefully not that long).
The xf86-input-synaptics driver, which is used as the touch-input driver for many notebooks, has reached version 1.0.0. Worth noting in this release is improved device auto-scaling and support for input device properties. The improved device auto-scaling should give supported touch-pads a more unified feel without needing to do any manual configurations. Should you need to configure your Synaptics touch-pad, the input device properties support makes it possible without having to enable SHM config.
RandR 1.3 has come together for the X Server 1.6 release with namely new properties and panning support. Besides this update to the Resize and Rotate extension for the X.Org Server, xrandr, the command-line utility for controlling RandR-capable drivers/hardware, has been receiving improvements as well.
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