The Linux Milestones That Didn't Make It This Winter
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 20 March 2015 at 09:06 PM EDT. 17 Comments
FREE SOFTWARE --
While this winter brought many exciting milestones for Linux and open-source fans, there's also some milestones/features hoped for this winter that haven't yet come to fruition.

Phoronix readers in the northern hemisphere are now into spring but there's some Linux/FLOSS milestones that were hoped for over fall/winter that didn't pan out. Here's a look at some of the items that immediately come to mind. If missing out on anything else of importance, feel free to share your Linux feature desires and other 2015 hopes with others in the forums by commenting on this article.


One of the most pressing items sought after right now is for AMD to release their new AMDGPU kernel driver. AMD is moving forward with their new Linux driver architecture where a new Radeon DRM kernel driver is needed that will be used by the fully open-source driver stack and the new Linux Catalyst user-space blob. There was some hope we'd see this new "AMDGPU" driver surface in the winter, but it hasn't yet made its debut and is now too late for the Linux 4.0 kernel. The new driver would need to be published very soon if it's to be publicly reviewed and ready for merging into Linux 4.1. The timing is important since this unreleased code is needed for R9 285 open-source support (the Tonga GPU that's already been available publicly for months) and this driver will need to land in Linux distributions soon for providing support for the Radeon Rx 300 series and Carrizo APUs due to debut later this year.

KDBUS -- the kernel D-Bus implementation for IPC -- was seeking to land in the kernel in 2014 but as of Linux 4.0 this still hasn't happened. At least a few days ago KDBUS v4 was published and gives hope of potentially seeing KDBUS for Linux 4.1.

The Nouveau re-clocking support is still in bad shape for the open-source NVIDIA DRM driver. Modern desktop NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards can't properly re-clock to hit their targeted frequencies and thus the performance tends to be a mess. There's been progress in re-clocking various generations of NVIDIA GPUs via this reverse-engineered driver, but for most Nouveau users out there the re-clocking isn't yet usable. Nouveau at the reduced clock speeds can tend to be "good enough" for running a modern Linux desktop, but any gaming tends to be rather slow.

OpenGL 4 support in Mesa. Mesa 10.5 supports numerous GL4 extensions, but there still isn't enough yet to claim full OpenGL 4.0 compliance -- even though OpenGL 4.0 is five years old. At least when GL 4.0 is finally reached, much of GL 4.1 and GL 4.2 is already in place. Many hoped Mesa/Gallium3D would finish up GL4.0 in 2014, but it hasn't yet happened. Shader sub-routines and tessellation shader support are the main features blocking Mesa from advertising OpenGL 4.0.

On the binary blob side, we're still waiting for NVIDIA to fully implement their KMS driver and Wayland/Mir support plans. NVIDIA's Linux blob has been improving their EGL support in recent releases but they don't yet register with the KMS APIs nor is their EGL stack fully compatible with Wayland/Mir. Though it looks like in the spring there will be more in their next major public driver update.

On the kernel front, beyond KDBUS, there's also other popular functionality not yet merged.

Let us know in the forums what you're looking (or hoping for) the most out of Linux and open-source projects in 2015.
About The Author
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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 10,000 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 or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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