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X GUI Software Linux

The State of X.Org 618

Posted by kdawson
from the marks-the-spot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Phoronix has up an article looking at the release of X Server 1.4.1. This maintenance release for X.Org, which the open-source operating systems depend upon for living in a graphically rich world, comes more than 200 days late and it doesn't even clear the BugZilla release blocker bug. A further indication of problems is that the next major release of X.Org was scheduled to be released in February... then May... and now it's missing with no sign of when a release will occur. There are still more than three dozen outstanding bugs. Also, the forthcoming release (X.Org 7.4) will ship with a slimmer set of features than what was initially planned."
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The State of X.Org

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  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @08:53AM (#23746037) Homepage
    Is there anything else out there? Why is there such a lack of interest in X.org, when so many other projects depend on it. Most of the big projects have been moving quite quickly, making a lot of headway in the past couple of years. What's holding x.org back?
    • by jeiler (1106393) <<go.bugger.off> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @08:56AM (#23746085) Journal
      Probably the complexity of the issues involved, and the ever-expanding environmental requirements X is being written for.
      • by kripkenstein (913150) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:51AM (#23747753) Homepage
        In addition to those factors, I'd say the problem is also a lack of interest.

        On the one hand we have things like GNOME and KDE, Firefox, Blender, etc. etc. - software that the user knows by name and interacts with directly. People happily join such projects and contribute code to them.

        On the other hand you have software that the typical user might not not even know exists, like the Linux kernel. However, for geeks the kernel is perhaps the pinnacle of programming, and furthermore by lucky coincidence (or unhappy, if you are GNU) the name of the kernel has become synonymous with the entire OS, making it high-profile just like the more obvious software projects mentioned in the previous paragraph.

        Whereas the X server is somewhere in the middle. It isn't well known, even geeks might not know exactly what it does (i.e., where the separation is between X, the window manager, and so forth), and for some reason it lacks the 'coolness' factor of the Linux kernel.

        All of this is unjustified, and a shame. Perhaps more stories on Slashdot like this one will raise awareness? Maybe we should also motivate people, by e.g. telling them that hacking X is even harder than hacking the kernel ;)
        • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:02PM (#23749049)
          I would like to contribute to the X, but mostly what stops me is that the code is written for the 80s. Lots of internals are using macros and bit values and optimization hacks, and directly 'speaking' X11 protocol. The code is disorganized, with files in weird locations and with two-letter names. I'm not blaming the developers, because in the 80s this is what had to be done. And they are making huge progress making it modular and organizing the code. But it's still not an attractive codebase to dig into.

          Then, once you have decided to work on it and have fully absorbed X11 protocol into your being, you basically need a vmware license in order to develop. It's almost as hard to try out the changes you made as it is for kernel developers... slightly easier, especially for debugging, but you still need to either shut down everything you are doing to run a new build or have multiple development systems.

          So basically it is a really step hill to overcome just to start developing X. Perhaps steeper since the kernel at least has excellent, 'simple', modular code to work with.
          • by jeiler (1106393) <<go.bugger.off> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:16PM (#23749361) Journal
            Agreed. X needs to fork--have half the team maintain the current implementation, the other half do a start-from-scratch coding marathon.
          • by Anonymuous Coward (1185377) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:21PM (#23753041)

            Then, once you have decided to work on it and have fully absorbed X11 protocol into your being, you basically need a vmware license in order to develop. It's almost as hard to try out the changes you made as it is for kernel developers
            You don't need any vmware license.

            You can safely run more instances of the Xorg server on linux - just start on another screen (ex. Xorg :1). It's just that easy - the server will run in another virtual console. If you know you made changes that could lock up your screen/keyboard, you could conveniently schedule an at(1) process to kill it after 2 minutes (or ssh into the box from another machine).

            And if your messing with video card driver code, then again vmware won't be of any use. Unless you're working on the special driver for the vmware virtual video card itself.

            And finally, at least for debugging and testing purposes, qemu (which is free) works just as well as vmware.

        • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:16PM (#23749341)
          Perhaps if someone were being paid to develop it this wouldn't have happened.
          • by Progman3K (515744) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:47PM (#23751165)
            >>Perhaps if someone were being paid to develop it this wouldn't have happened.

            Yes, you are right, if someone had been paying, X.org would not exist.

            Because X.org DOES exist and it's far more encompassing of varied hardware than any commercial project, we can conclude that it is NOT the work of one commercial entity. It's a cinch no one company could have pulled it off, it is something that could only (and did only) come into existence the way it did.

            Thanks for making that point.
            • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:52PM (#23753589)
              I'm curious why you think broad but lacking hardware support trumps a good working system for you. My experience has been that yes Xorg supports lots of hardware, but poorly, and therefor i have little reason to use it, and in turn i have little reason to use Linux itself BECAUSE the windowing system and input drivers and everything else that is built in to X11 (for some reason) function so poorly.

              It's also been my experience that this is typical of community projects and software, ESPECIALLY GPL stuff, people work on the exciting stuff and leave the mundane parts of the system to rot and trail behind more modern systems.

              There is no other explanation for me for why Xorg and X11 in general are so poor, no one is being paid to develop them like other competing systems.
        • by ThePhilips (752041) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:44PM (#23749915) Homepage Journal

          My personal bet is that X is overly complicated.

          E.g. it takes 20-30 minutes to start doing something with Linux kernel. Entry bar is set low - many people like to participate. Needless to mention that to compile (properly configured) Linux kernel (with subset of drivers and features you really need) only few minutes. There are piles and piles of documentation and forums where you can find anything.

          E.g. KDE + Qt. To compile KDE - you might need days. Or just grab precompiled binary packages. But after that you can in 5 minutes create something useful and interesting. Documentation is near perfect and complete. Also reading source code is quite easy, since most of the code is human readable.

          But X is different beast. Even compiling it is challenge on itself. There is literally no documentation on its innards. There is no "Hello World" for X. There are bunch of example modules which you need to spend hours after hours to only understand where they plug into the all X mess.

          I'd say main X problem is its strive to be cool and sit on all chairs. I'd say they need to scale down the project and split it into smaller independent pieces. Forget large releases (installing apt-get would help! kidding). The smaller sub-projects would have more chances attracting people, since (at least theoretically) then entry barrier would be lower.

          • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:06PM (#23751607)
            >E.g. it takes 20-30 minutes to start
            >doing something with Linux kernel.
            That may be true in some cases...

            >There are piles and piles of documentation and forums where you can find anything.

            Ahah... ahaha. No. The Linux kernel is very poorly documented. Your comment should read "there's *out of date* and *useless* documentation, scattered around the internet where you will never find it."

            Unless you consider the source itself documentation... which is hard to argue for a source tree that is millions of lines.
          • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:15PM (#23751797) Journal
            2003 called they want their Xfree86x.org fork and release strategy back.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:18PM (#23751845)

            My personal bet is that X is overly complicated.
            Overly complicated? Or just inherently complicated? A graphics driver (which is essentially what X is) has to interact with the kernel via an interface defined by the kernel, with hardware, and with the window manager. The only one of those that it can define is the relationship with the window manager.

            By contrast, the linux kernel can define both its driver interface (how it interacts with hardware) and its API (how software interacts with it). The kernel pushes complexity into the driver space. X is stuck managing that complexity.

            X also suffers from having a complicated function. Managing graphical relations is computationally intensive and difficult. That's why the GPU is separate from the CPU -- to allow for specialization of these complex functions.

            A third problem is that X is more general purpose than many drivers. It would be easier if it only had to work with one monitor and graphics card, but the reality is that it is expected to work with all of them. This is also true of the kernel, but the kernel has greater ability to push the heavy lifting into the hardware's driver than X does.

            Finally, I think that one of the biggest advantages that the kernel has over X is that it is adjacent to more things. X lies between the kernel, the graphics hardware, and the window manager. Generally, X uses the kernel rather than the other way around. Therefore, it's only people that are working on graphics hardware and the window manager who are interacting with X and therefore likely to find something that they want to change. By contrast, any program might make a kernel call.

            Similarly, KDE/Qt and Gnome are accessed directly by many programs. Programs should be accessing X through the window manager.

            All that said, you are probably correct about X needing to split itself into smaller, more elegantly abstracted pieces. However, even if X does that, it is still likely that it will be under documented with relatively less participation than other projects. While fundamental, it's simply not adjacent to enough other software to recruit easily. Without recruits, who is going to write the documentation and tutorials needed to gather more recruits?

            Of course, we may simply be confusing words here. You may be using complicated to refer to what I would call inelegant or non-modular.
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @08:57AM (#23746093) Journal
      I agree. I recently discovered the xfree86 project. It seems like a good alternative to x.org.
      • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:10AM (#23746257) Homepage
        Uh, a strange thing to say but your posting history seems normal so...

        In February 2004, with version 4.4.0, The XFree86 Project adopted a license change that the Free Software Foundation considered GPL incompatible. Most Linux distributions found the potential legal issues unacceptable and made plans to move to a fork from before the license change. At first there were multiple forks, but the X.Org fork soon became the dominant one. Most XFree86 developers who were already annoyed at other issues in the project also moved to X.Org.
        In short, x.org was xfree86 but that project is practicly dead. Pretty much everyone worth mentioning have migrated from xfree86 to x.org and while x.org may be moving slow, xfree86 has almost stopped dead. Going back there would do little to nothing to bolster X development. Tbe question is rather why there's so little work overall (or so it claims, I don't have enough knowledge to say) since the competition is basicly non-existant.
        • by Yetihehe (971185) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:13AM (#23746305)

          Tbe question is rather why there's so little work overall (or so it claims, I don't have enough knowledge to say) since the competition is basicly non-existant.
          Wow, you have just answered your question in the same sentence.
          • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:22AM (#23746405) Homepage
            Open source does not work like big business. It doesn't stagnate because there's no competition. It stagnates because people don't want to work on it. There isn't much competition for the Linux Kernel either. That doesn't slow down it's development.
            • by pebcak (773787) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:29AM (#23746503) Homepage

              There isn't much competition for the Linux Kernel either.
              You mean like FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Darwin and OpenSolaris?
            • by Undead NDR (1252916) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:39AM (#23747541) Homepage Journal

              Open source does not work like big business. It doesn't stagnate because there's no competition.

              Not entirely true, IMO. Even though no money is directly involved, a team of open-source developers will still want their project to be successful over competing projects as a matter of personal pride and potential business opportunities.

              If there's no competition, they have one less motivation to keep up work.

          • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:31AM (#23746523) Homepage

            Wow, you have just answered your question in the same sentence.
            The Linux kernel for example, is completely without competing forks that I know of, yet seems to be making good strides. xfree86 was going slow, and even after the x.org revival things again appear to be going slow. With a lot of people focusing on the desktop performance of Linux, why isn't this project interesting? A lot of other projects seem to be progressing nicely even without the competition breathing down their necks. I wonder if part of the reason is that the code is X11 licensed, which is fairly close to BSD so you don't have even LGPL protection of your code. If Stallman is looking for a non-(L)GPL project to replace, maybe he should drop the Hurd and start working on a GPL'd X instead...
        • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:16AM (#23746329) Homepage
          First, I believe your parent post was a joke. Second of all, the reason most open source projects go stagnant seems to be for a couple reasons. First, the code is an ugly mess, and nobody wants to work on it. Second, internal conflict about where the project is going, so nothing gets done, or every new feature or bug fix becomes a big argument, about how it should be done. Thirdly, very boring project subject matter. The last one seems to be the big killer. There could be a nice open source Outlook/Exchange replacement. It wouldn't be inherently hard to build, but it seems that nobody is interested in doing it. Most of the stuff that gets a lot of attention is the stuff that developers are interested in building.
      • by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:16AM (#23746335) Homepage
        I'm guessing that X.Org inherited an absolutely terrifying codebase from xfree86.

        Simply getting xfree to compile was a chore, even on the (few and far between) stable releases.

        Personally, I'm still unconvinced that X is a particularly "good idea." 15 years later, and the promises of simplicity and compatibility are still unrealized, as every single implementation of the protocol has suffered from numerous problems. Perhaps it would be best to start from scratch, and revise X11 to be a more realistic/practical specification.

        Even back in 1994, it was being called [art.net] the Iran-Contra of user-interfaces.
        • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:54PM (#23750093)

          Personally, I'm still unconvinced that X is a particularly "good idea." 15 years later, and the promises of simplicity and compatibility are still unrealized, as every single implementation of the protocol has suffered from numerous problems. Perhaps it would be best to start from scratch, and revise X11 to be a more realistic/practical specification.
          The main problem I think is that X is written in C. Originally the X server did graphics itself, scan converting lines and such, so it had to be in C (and there weren't many real alternatives then). Now all it really does is manage a lot of information -- and C is a really really bad language for managing lots of information. Even a simple desktop has over a thousand "windows" that all have position, change listeners, and other properties. Then there are all the bitmaps, pens, backing stores, repaint regions, etc. Events, queues, messages.

          The X server should be mostly scrapped and rewritten in Java. Java is a language that is suited for managing information like that, while still being high-performance (enough). The server could be rewritten in C++, but C++ is messy and is a complicated and archaic language at this point anyway.

          Take a look at for instance weirdx [jcraft.com] which basically one person did. It handles most of the core functions of X and plenty fast (of course it is incomplete since it is one person's hobby). Or see Sun's Project Looking Glass, an opengl X server written in Java -- that was also written in one guy's spare time. With more development on these they could be real competitors to X.org while being more approachable, and I'll bet faster than the C code.
          • by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:15PM (#23750517) Homepage

            The X server should be mostly scrapped and rewritten in Java. Java is a language that is suited for managing information like that, while still being high-performance
            I'm confused. Do I mod this as "Funny"?
      • by ewoods (108845) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:54AM (#23746875)
        Glad that was modded as funny. Wow.

        X.org should scrap the network transparency cruft. It's never worked well, been a slow performer and is used by a small portion of the user population. It's been supplanted by better tools such as vnc and nx (better as in faster, easier to use, more widely accepted). Scrap that and it would make X.org a lot easier to maintain and use. It doesn't have to implement everything in the protocol specification and that's one thing that could go the way of the dodo.
        • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:11AM (#23748123) Journal
          When displaying to a local server X uses unix domain sockets. Those are very fast, and they're caching friendly, so they compare well with other forms of inter-process communication like shared memory. If you have some evidence that network transparency is any kind of a bottleneck, I'd like to see it, but no one has been able to produce such numbers as far as I've seen.

          Don't optimize before you've proven where the bottleneck is.
        • by lysse (516445) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:45PM (#23749927)
          From my cold, dead hands! As far as I'm concerned, that "network transparency cruft" is the only compelling thing about X!
        • by Randle_Revar (229304) * <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:10PM (#23750429) Homepage Journal
          If you mean "take out the tcp/ip part", that wouldn't really change anything. If you mean "take out everything that enables networking" that would be a lot of work, and it still wouldn't get you very much. The hard part of maintaining and working on X internals doesn't really come from the network transparency stuff itself.

          Now, if you have to deal with xlib for the X protocol, that can be a pain. But that is why XCB [freedesktop.org] (X C Bindings) was invented.

          XCB is apparently very nice to work with, and it has "a small footprint, latency hiding, direct access to the protocol, improved threading support, and extensibility". The most recent distros are using XCB/xlib which uses XCB internal, while allowing xlib apps to function without changing anything. When XCB is standard in enough installed systems, apps and toolkits can begin migrating to native XCB. When the Awesome window manager 3.0 comes out, it will be the first WM to use XCB directly.

          As for NX, it is really just compresses the X protocol and encrypts it. If you remove X network transparency, NX is useless. I, and I suspect many *nix admins, vastly prefer NX or X over SSH to VNC, RDP, etc (of course plain ssh probably gets used more than all of those put together on *nix).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FudRucker (866063)
      RE:"when so many other projects depend on it."

      is that a good thing? it is not! i think applications that require an x-window-system should be just agnostic enough to allow for the older alternative to xorg, [eg] http://www.xfree86.org/ [xfree86.org]
    • by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp&freeshell,org> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:18AM (#23746345) Homepage Journal
      I have a theory.

      We're using X as our windowing system because it's what we have, and we need it. But I don't think anybody (or not many people) really *believe* in it.

      That is to say, I doubt anybody takes a look at it and says "this is it! This is the way we should do Windowing!" And so the followup, "...and if it this thing worked, then it'd be more awesome."

      What people actually say when they start looking at it looks more like this.
      "Okay! X.org is a good project! I think maybe I'll contribute my time to it! Hold on...what is this? Why does it have all these features that nobody cares about? Why the nonstandard build system? What's with all the crazy legacy code? This thing is way too complex for me to spend my time on, and what I learn won't transfer to any other work. I'll pick something else."
    • by Enleth (947766) <enleth@enleth.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:28AM (#23746485) Homepage
      It's a HUGE, and I mean, REALLY HUGE codebase that deals with hell lots of different concepts (graphics, input, networking, ...) that requires a good deal of understanding to modify it properly. Yet, there are less than 30 (!) active developers. That's probably one of the most under-manned Open Source project out there, proportionally to its size. And it's, again, because it's complicated as hell and nothing can be done about this - it's just the way a windowing server has to be.

      I've tried to help the project two years ago, I did dome work on input hotplugging and while not much of the code I wrote finally made it to the upstream (Daniel Stone, the man behind the input subsystem, finally decided for a different solution than what I was thinking about - maybe that was a good decision, I'm not the one to judge), I could experience myself how difficult developing X is. Besides skills and experience, you need to be able to keep track of such a big structure mentally, all the time. Not every programmer can do that, even skilled and experienced.

      And, no, you can't always abstract everything out and make a nice, clean structure for the code to adhere to. Maybe the X code could be a bit easier to modify, but just a bit. Trying to force that, you would end up with an Xserver counterpart of GNU Hurd, if you know what I mean...
  • by BattleCat (244240) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @08:55AM (#23746067)
    selfness show up on large scale. Jumped Linux ship two years ago in favor of MacOS X, never looking back, starting to get job done, instead of another OS/DE fight won.
    While I was long-time subscriber to xorg-devel and other related MLs, every holy war fought there was nailing X coffin slowly but surely. Do they still sing "network transparency out of the box" mantra every time someone suggests changing architecture ?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:06AM (#23746201)

      Do they still sing "network transparency out of the box" mantra every time someone suggests changing architecture ?
      That's the complaint you're going to go with? Seriously? Something that degrades gracefully into the ideal solution (shared mem and unix sockets) for a local-only graphics server?

      There's a LOT wrong with X.org right now, even mentioned in TFS. I personally wish they would put a lot more work into the transition to evdev and HAL, so we can get rid of xorg.conf and finally make strides to being as user friendly as "the other" OSes.

      But network transparency? You're fighting the wrong battles here.
      • by kaiman (234281) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:21AM (#23746401)

        But network transparency? You're fighting the wrong battles here.
        That is so true. Using Macs myself since a couple years. I have a recent MacBook Pro (mostly occupied by my wife) and an iBook G3 left for my stuff. While I can ssh into the MacBook Pro and do command line stuff fast, I so wish I could simply

            export DISPLAY=skarabrae:0.0

        and get actual work done fast!

        Network transparency is *the* feature of X.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:17AM (#23746339)
      Internally, X11 running in local mode works the same way as Apple's window server - using shared memory and local sockets. Hell, even Windows Vista works this way (except using Windows IPC mechanisms instead of Unix ones).

      Everyone who suggests changing the architecture of X by removing network transparency is arguing from a position of ignorance. There isn't a faster mechanism for doing a GUI server without either building the windows server into each app (allowing only one app at a time), or building the window server into the kernel (bad idea).
      • by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:45AM (#23746739)
        Internally, X11 running in local mode works the same way as Apple's window server - using shared memory and local sockets.

        It doesn't uses shared memory, I think. There's a "shared memory" extension, but there's not a "shared memory transport" for the X11 protocol. Sun's propietary server has a shared memory transport, and it was said that they'd opensource and port it for X.org, but so far nothing has happened. It'd be an interesting thing to have, i think - today, when an application wants to display a image in the server it must send the whole image to the server (the protocol is network-oriented so it can't send a "reference" like a file, it has to send the whole data of the image). If the client app keeps the image in its memory after sending it to the server, the image is using 2x its memory size (one in the server, one in the client). With a shared memory transport, client and server could shared the memory that the image is using. Or so I've heard.
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @08:55AM (#23746071) Journal
    It's Open Source -- unlike proprietary software, we're not at the mercy of a company to dictate the release schedule or fix bugs if they get around to it. If bugs aren't fixed, it's because we failed to fix them.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @08:56AM (#23746081)

    From the article:

    At Phoronix we are even willing to offer -- cash and/or computer hardware -- bounties for having X.Org release schedules met and bug lists being cleared out.
  • by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @08:58AM (#23746095) Homepage Journal

    From the article:

    What do you think about X Server 1.4.1, X.Org 7.4, and the X.Org release quality in general? Are these delayed and much drawn out release cycles a barrier to the greater adoption of Linux?

    I've been using Ubuntu for 4 years now and it's pretty much shielded me from any lack of quality in the releases. Probably if I spent more (unnecessary) time under the hood it would expose issues but I've been living in a very blind 'trust Ubuntu' atmosphere where things pretty much just work (ok, lets not mention the recent key generation problem :)

    In short, I guess the only people that might find the quality lacking are the developers and maintainers, and anyone specifically in the graphics industry? Not your average desktop user..? Or am I being naive?

    Free Playstation 3, Wii and XBox 360 [free-toys.co.uk]
    • by RobBebop (947356) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:09AM (#23746245) Homepage Journal

      I agree wholeheartedly. The current release of X is suitable and works well for me.

      The "upgrade every year" mentality is the wrong one to have. They missed their date? Okay, that's fine. As long as they don't buckle under the "release schedule" mentality compromise quality. I may be naive, but I don't know any reason they would want to push/rush their next release.

    • by andrewd18 (989408) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:15AM (#23746317)

      I've been living in a very blind 'trust Ubuntu' atmosphere where things pretty much just work
      On the one hand, this is why I dislike Ubuntu. It doesn't require that the user learn much about how the system works. They plop the CD in the tray and it takes care of them, breeding a generation of Linux users that barely have an idea how to file a proper bug report.

      On the other hand, I realize that Ubuntu is a good thing for Linux adoption because Linux needs a critical mass of people using it before it can start making inroads into the home and gaming markets. That critical mass is much larger than the number of people interested in --funroll-loops, so a system that's plug-and-play is important.

      I think I'm starting to understand kind of how the 70's computer geeks felt when their friends came over asking for help with their Windows boxes.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:00AM (#23746117)
    Oh, wait.
  • by tjstork (137384) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ykswordnab.ddot)> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:07AM (#23746209) Homepage Journal
    People aren't going to work on X because a lot of developers want to make new stuff, not fix up someone's old junk. So, the only way to get them to do it is to pay them. There's not enough money for that. Bounties are nice and all, but you really need to have a foundation with big money coming in to get the people to actually work on this stuff.
  • by Neil Watson (60859) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:07AM (#23746221) Homepage
    Xwindows is one of those nice things that just work. With such dependabilty it is all that important the we get our instant gratification with superficial features like transparent windows? The X.org group made great strides after the fork from XFree86. Can we really expect them to keep that pace?
  • ID games? (Score:5, Funny)

    by couch_warrior (718752) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:09AM (#23746251)
    Clearly X.org is being held up because it is the new game engine for "Duke Nukem Forever"....
  • Paid developers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siride (974284) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:11AM (#23746269)
    Aside from Keith Packard and Dave Airlie, and maybe one or two others, how many paid full-time X developers are there? Watching the mailing list, it seems like there's a couple of volunteers, some people who submit the occasional patch but otherwise work on Qt, or GNOME or whatever, and then the core listed above. I think there just isn't enough manpower right now and the distros, instead of fixing that problem, just maintain their own patchsets and do a "good enough" job to make X work smoothly for their releases, and leave it at that. Clearly, nobody wants to make X a priority and it shows. The Wiki is almost never up to date, it's nigh on impossible to build a working X system from git, even with the couple of half-arsed build scripts available from the mailing list (for my part, I have never been able to get it to build completely, and not for lack of trying or ability). The mailing list is full of academic arguments over color specs and other pointless things, or people asking for help. There used to be a lot of discussion on how to improve X and also, how to get things done. That no longer happens. What the distros and Linux companies need to do is get more people working directly on X and get serious about making X a serious project. It's not just some option piece of software that nobody has to care about. It's only one of the most important aspects of desktop Linux. And it just makes no sense to me that no distros are really spearheading X development. If they don't take the time to make this an issue, X will continue to atrophy, further limiting Linux's potential in the market.
    • Re:Paid developers? (Score:5, Informative)

      by axxium.us (1305805) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:46AM (#23746749) Homepage

      What the distros and Linux companies need to do is get more people working directly on X and get serious about making X a serious project.
      Hi. I am the X11 maintainer for Zenwalk Linux. While I can't fix it all myself I have been updating the wiki and fixing documentation with the available time that I have to commit to it. I agree and think that if each GNU/Linux distribution had at least one developer helping in what we he/she can it would make a significant improvement.
  • by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:11AM (#23746279) Homepage
    Pfff !...

    Those pesky open-source project. Always speaking about their wonderful communist idea, but never able to ship software on schedule, always dropping features or postponing them to the next release. Never working hard enough to meet their users' expectations.

    They should take example on legitimate hard-working commercial corporations like.. uh... Microsoft for exa...
    No, wait !
  • by archeopterix (594938) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:17AM (#23747211) Journal
    Here [hack.org][pdf warning] is an interesting article from James Gosling and it pretty much explains why making the GUI system a server was necessary in the past but is not such a good idea anymore.

    Perhaps X should be replaced, not improved.

  • by jonsmirl (114798) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @10:18AM (#23747225) Homepage
    Three main trends got X to where it is.

    1) Proprietary hardware. NVidia and ATI didn't release specs. That resulted in what little dev talent there was being used to do reverse engineering. ATI has gone a long ways towards fixing this.
    2) Insistence on cross platform support. Cross platform support means no device drivers - everything in user space. There are all kinds of security issues with everything in user space. This also mean no integration with the underlying kernel. OOPS isn't visible, VT interaction, mode setting, no intergration with framebuffer, etc. Insistence on cross platform means that one OS can prevent progress from occurring on the others. There seems to be some movement on this issue.
    3) Failure to endorse OpenGL-ES as the core driver system. The embedded world went OpenGL-ES and ignores X (N810 is an exception). There is money in the embedded world and not in the desktop. The money went to OpenGL-ES.

    From a developer's point of view the architecture of X has not evolved in a way where a developer can work on one chunk of the code without having comprehensive knowledge of the entire system. Requiring that level of knowledge really reduces the number of potential developers. Finally there is a giant amount of NIH that goes on.

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