XGI Display Driver Finally On The Linux Kernel Chopping Block

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 19 January 2019 at 05:49 AM EST. 12 Comments
XGI Tech, the nearly two decade old spin off from SiS that was short-lived and once aimed to be a competitor to ATI and NVIDIA, still has a Linux driver within the mainline kernel. But this frame-buffer driver is slated to soon be removed.

There's long been the "xgifb" driver within the mainline Linux kernel staging area. This has served for display purposes with XGI hardware without any hardware acceleration, but the driver was limited in scope and hasn't received any real maintenance in years. Plus with being an FBDEV driver while all modern Linux display drivers make use of the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) infrastructure, it's really outdated.

Greg Kroah-Hartman who oversees the Linux kernel staging area plans to just kill off the driver, likely with the upcoming Linux 5.1 cycle. He commented with a patch to kill the driver, "There has not been any real work done on cleaning this driver up and getting it out of the staging tree in years. Also, no new fb drivers are being added to the tree, so it should be converted into a drm driver as well. Due to the lack of interest in this codebase, just drop it."

Back in the day using the XGI Volari graphics on Mandrake Linux.

Once this pending patch is mainlined, there will no longer be the XGI frame-buffer driver for Linux. If anyone interested in vintage Linux hardware support wants to see it re-emerge, it would need to be rewritten as a proper DRM driver.

XGI had some interesting boards back in the day like the Volari Duo albeit not competitive with the competing ATI/NVIDIA graphics processors. XGI chips also appeared on some server/workstation motherboards for display. Back in the day I was also pushing them for open-source Linux driver support. But now it's really the end of the line on Linux.

Given there is someone even still maintaining the ATI RAGE Linux driver, VIA Unichrome graphics, and other vintage hardware open-source driver projects, maybe someday we'll actually see an XGI DRM driver although the Volari graphics cards never saw widespread use like some of these other vintage driver efforts.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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