Linked by Oscar Boykin on Wed 25th Feb 2004 08:59 UTC
X11, Window Managers For the past year, there has been a slow and steady stream of news events regarding XFree86, X11, or new X server implementations. To those not paying close attention (and even those who are), the meaning of some of these events may not be clear. In this brief article, I attempt to share my impression on what the changes mean for users of free software on the desktop. It appears that XFree86 is in some turmoil, and it may leave some to infer that free desktop systems will suffer.
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Good summary indeed.
by dpi on Wed 25th Feb 2004 17:10 UTC

On FOSDEM there have been a lot of talks about general GUI (ie. FreSco), hardware + GUI (ie. Robert Love's speech), and the future (DirectFB, FD.o). Keith Packard held a speech which basically was about the same as yours, except you have a lot of references instead which is quite hard to do in a RL speech. There's a small difference regarding the future of FD.o (and X? ;) though.

First, there are basically as what i see as 3 streams who both will go their own way. Whoever becomes mainstream in which timespan is what we don't know yet...

1) A conservative group who do not use radical solutions.
2) A progressive group who build upon X.
3) A progressive group who code from scratch.

1) The people who think X (XFree86) is now good enought and who keep thriving on this. For example Enlightenment has a hack called Imblib(2) which works around XFree86's design, snapshotting a background, using that in a different window. This is an ugly and slow hack, but it works more or less. There will be people who will, for the time being, develop their software around these hacks and other hacks. How many and on which X server / implementation is also in some extend in the hands of mr. Dawes & co.

2) There are people who base their code upon X (XFree86) and build upon that ("radical") new things and people who base their code upon this. The GNOME people for example cooperate with FD.o. FD.o is also the only example i can honestly name and i'm not sure wether Xouvert and FreSco fall under group 1 or 2.

3) There are these people who from scratch code a solution to the current problems. Y (which has as goal backwards compatibility) is an example, DirectFB (which is backward compatible with X) is yet another, and there are probably even more (other FB implementations?).

Whatever is going to succeed it has to be better than the current implementations and when they want a clean change, backward compatibility OR cooperation with tons of GUI programmers to call for a change, is unevadable. The latter is extremely difficult and lots of work, so going for the former seems the best choice.

What Keith kinda pointed out as a difference is how he sees FD.o's future -- specifically the code which has not yet been coded. If i understood correctly he wants FD.o to be extremely modular 3D environment with the X server only being a GL server.