NetBSD On The State & Future Of X.Org/X11

Written by Michael Larabel in X.Org on 4 May 2024 at 08:36 AM EDT. 315 Comments
While on Linux the desktop environments, graphics stack, and other application software is steadily adopting Wayland support and focusing less on X11/X.Org support, the state of Wayland support and the open-source graphics driver stack in general is less robust among the BSDs. The NetBSD project published a status report around their ongoing dependence and modifications to their X.Org stack.

Nia Alarie with the NetBSD project published a status report on the X.Org graphics support. NetBSD maintains their X.Org stack as a somewhat fork of the X.Org codebases including with their own BSD makefile build system use, their "xsrc" repository that is a regularly-updated fork of the upstream X.Org code, and various X.Org DDX driver differences.

NetBSD installer

Most notable is Alarie's conclusion with the status report:
"The big question - does all this have a future? The good news is that all new hardware has generic support in X. Someone writes either a modesetting kernel driver or a classical wsdisplay kernel driver and they will be automatically supported by the associated drivers in X. The bad news is that to have applications running we require access to a larger open source ecosystem, and that ecosystem has a lot of churn and is easily distracted by shiny new squirrels. The process of upstreaming stuff to X.Org is an ongoing process, but it's likely we'll run into things that will never be suitable for upstream.

Of course, on NetBSD, you also have the option of trying vanilla modular X.Org from pkgsrc, or using something else entirely."

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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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