Mesa Developers Aren't Convinced Over Dropping Old OpenGL Drivers Right Now

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 21 June 2024 at 10:10 AM EDT. 36 Comments
Earlier this week was a proposal for creating a new Mesa legacy driver branch for clearing out older OpenGL drivers like the ATI R300, AMD R600, Lima, Nouveau NV30, and other older GPU drivers. However, other upstream Mesa developers aren't convinced by the proposal.

There is a lack of consensus over creating a new "Amber2" development branch to house the old OpenGL drivers so that the mainline Mesa codebase would just stick to supporting the more recent GPU drivers. With a number of prominent upstream developers not agreeing to the idea at this time, it's looking like there won't be any new legacy driver branch in the near term.

When the prior "Amber" branch was created for legacy OpenGL drivers, it was done on the basis of moving out the old "classic" Mesa drivers to focus just on Gallium3D drivers, Vulkan, and other more recent code. While clearing out the older drivers currently still in mainline Mesa may help with some tree-wide changes, the maintenance burden isn't as great as during the prior classic driver removal. Thus not all Mesa developers see the benefits at this time of creating a new legacy driver branch.

Old Radeon graphics slide

So while no firm decisions have been laid out, the discussion is trending toward no new legacy branch / old driver removal at this point. Among the alternative ideas raised was waiting 5+ years and then going ahead and dropping all OpenGL drivers from Mesa to focus just on the Vulkan API world... We'll see where the ecosystem is at in five years if it will be Vulkan-only (potentially with API compatibility layers atop) or how long the open-source OpenGL hardware drivers will keep on being maintained.

In any event those wishing to follow this "Amber2" legacy branch discussion can find it on the Mesa mailing list.
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