The Linux Kernel Preparing To Drop Infrastructure For Old & Obsolete Graphics Drivers

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 22 November 2023 at 10:15 AM EST. 31 Comments
Back during the Linux 6.3 kernel support for a number of legacy DRM drivers was removed and now patches have been volleyed for taking things one step further by now eliminating the infrastructure for supporting these older user-space mode-setting graphics/display drivers.

The ATI Rage 128, 3Dfx, S3 Savage, Intel 810, SiS, VIA and Matrox MGA DRM drivers were what was phased out in Linux 6.3. This is part of the effort for removing obsolete GPU drivers from the DRI1 era.

Rage 128

Thomas Zimmermann of SUSE is now aiming to take things one step further by removing the infrastructure for user-space mode-setting. With Linux 6.6 being this year's lTS kernel, it's a nice point now to eliminate this infrastructure and should anyone be using such old out-of-tree drivers or similar they can stick to using Linux 6.6 LTS.

Zimmermann wrote on dri-devel:
The old drivers for user-space mode setting have been removed in Linux v6.3. No one has complained or requested their return. It is time to remove these drivers' infrastructure from the DRM core.

The recent Linux v6.6 has been designated as long-term release, so any remaining users have a few more years to get a new graphics card. The legacy devices continue to be supported via simpledrm. Merging proper drivers with kernel mode setting is also an option.

Patches 1 to 7 fix a few trivial issues that have been forgotten during the removal of the drivers.

Patches 8 and 9 remove the leagcy ioctl interfaces. One op is different from the others, so it gets its own patch.

Patches 10 to 12 remove the legacy source code from DRM. With that gone patch 13, the AGP code can be simplified as well. There used to be a device file for user-space mode setting, /dev/agpgart, that is now obsolete.

These 14 patches get rid of another 8k lines of legacy code within the Direct Rendering Manager subsystem. If no objections are raised, this legacy user-space mode-setting infrastructure removal could happen for the Linux 6.8 kernel cycle in the new year.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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