Intel's Brewing A New Linux Driver Release Cycle
Intel's Open-Source Technology Center (OSTC) team responsible for the open-source Linux graphics driver stack is drafting new plans for how they release their driver code. The release model and release criteria for the Intel Linux driver will be quite different from the status quo of putting out new releases on a timed quarterly basis.
Rather than pulling together all of the software components that make up the Intel Linux driver stack, the OSTC team will do more specific releases based upon pre-defined criteria. For example, the next Intel Linux driver release is focusing upon improving the driver performance and enhancing the stability of the graphics driver. The Intel Linux stack mostly consists of the latest Linux kernel (for the Intel DRM driver), xf86-video-intel DDX, and Mesa. But of growing importance these days is also libva (the VA-API library for video acceleration) and then also libdrm and Cairo. Wayland is coming around too.
Among the work the Intel Linux team has been focusing upon (which should be no surprise if you follow Phoronix closely) is RC6, frame-buffer compression, semaphores, and other work within the Intel DRM in the Linux kernel. The Intel engineers will also be working to close more of the open bug reports on the driver, either by fixing the bugs or removing them if the issue is no longer relevant to the current stack.
With no longer being obliged to put out just one release per quarter, this will also hopefully help in shipping new code on time that enables support for new hardware, and so that it can arrive at an appropriate time for distributions to pull into their latest cycles.
Right now there is no indication that the Mesa release cycle will change from its current six-month plan. Due to the rate at which Mesa (particularly Gallium3D) and its drivers have been advancing, it would be nice to see quicker Mesa releases out the door, but that's not entirely in the control of Intel. Perhaps though we will see more frequent releases once OpenGL 3.0 support is finally in place.
Eugeni Dodonov, a former Mandriva engineer who is another one of the new employees to Intel's open-source Linux graphics team, mentions the pending release process changes on his blog. Right now there aren't too many more public details beyond that about what other Intel Linux driver changes may be forthcoming.