The State of Kernel Mode-Setting
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 1 October 2008. Page 2 of 3. 18 Comments

To recap what kernel-based mode-setting provides to the end-user, it's mostly visual eye-candy. During the graphical boot process there is less flickers when using KMS since there's no need for mode-setting to occur multiple times, VT switching is much faster and the virtual terminal remains at the display's native resolution, and there is now support for graphical panic messages. Not only is there more hardware with Fedora 10 that supports kernel-based mode-setting, but there is more within the Fedora/Red Hat world that benefits. Red Hat has replaced their aging RHGB (Red Hat Graphical Boot) project with Plymouth. Plymouth is a new Red Hat project designed to provide an enhanced graphical boot process and it relies upon KMS. If KMS isn't supported on the hardware being used, it will fallback to a text mode while booting. For more information on Plymouth, it was discussed during this year's X Developers' Summit at the Edinburgh Zoo.

For our testing in this article we used a Lenovo ThinkPad T60 notebook with an ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 128MB graphics processor. Here is the boot process with Plymouth on Fedora 10 Beta.

The Plymouth boot process with Fedora customizations is beautiful! While an ideal world we shouldn't have to see a boot screen since the system should boot very fast, Plymouth looks great and is magnitudes better than RHGB and all other Linux boot screens we have encountered. Plymouth also supports different plug-ins such as one for fading in and Spinfinity (the one you see above). While Plymouth is nice, it could use some tighter integration with the GNOME Display Manager to lessen the time between the Plymouth screen and the log-in screen appearing (Update: David Airlie confirmed this should be fixed by the Fedora 10 release).


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