Yes, I know Wayland has made some controversial design choices. The fact is, Wayland is the only viable X11 successor, which will hopefully bring more security and stability to the Linux desktop. Regardless of how it pans out, there’s nothing like a bit of competition to drive innovation. I won’t discuss any more politics in this post. Also a disclaimer: I’m no systems programming expert (though I aspire to be), neither am I an expert in X11, Wayland, or their associated protocols or codebases. This post merely draws on my experiences as an end user that enjoys a highly customised workflow. Wayland has been the talk of the town in the Linux world for quite a while now, but it seems a lot of important pieces of a modern desktop Linux distribution simply aren’t ready for it.
For those who haven’t encountered it before, xlogo is a trivial X11 application that pops up a window showing the X Window System logo. It’s close to being the X equivalent of a ‘hello, world’ program, which makes it a good lightweight initial test case. Whenever I need to do a quick check of my X11 connectivity (which in my case usually means I’m checking that SSH X forwarding is basically alive), xlogo is a good choice of program to run: it won’t spend ages setting itself up, and unlike text-only alternatives like xdpyinfo, it’ll pop up a window on the target display, which makes it easy to check that my connection has gone to the right display. But that’s not all xlogo is good for. There are several other things I use it for. I remember xlogo from the very first few times I used Linux – somewhere in 2002 or 2003. Together with stuff like xeyes, it was a fun little toy to experiment with after installing Linux for the first time. I had no idea it could actually be useful.
A small collection of cool Unix tools for the X Window System. For cool terminal tools, see Kristof Kovacs’ list. All applications have been tested on FreeBSD but should run on other Unix-like operating systems as well.
Arcan is a display server++ project that has been mentioned on OSNews a few times before. Arcan's developers recently posted an in-depth comparison of Arcan to Xorg - claiming to soon be not only at feature parity but beyond it.
It is worthwhile to stress that this project in no way attempts to 'replace' Xorg in the sense that you can expect to transfer your individual workflow and mental model of how system graphics works without any kind of friction or effort. That said, it has also been an unspoken goal to make sure that everything that can be done in an Xorg environment should be possible here - in general there is nothing wrong with the feature set in X (though a bit limited), it is the nitty gritty details of how these features work, are implemented and interact that has not really kept up with the times or been modelled in a coherent way. Thus, it is a decent requirement specification to start with - just be careful with the implementation and much more can be had to a fraction of the code size.
A fascinating read if you are familiar with some of the technical difficulties here.
However, I still field plenty of questions from lots of people about this, and a lot of the time, it's extremely simple stuff: "What is X?" "How does it interact with my graphics card and mouse/keyboard?" "What do apps use X for?" "What is Wayland, and how does it fit into the picture?" "What problems did X have that made us want to write new display server technologies?"
These sort of questions were what inspired me to write "The Linux Graphics Stack" in the first place, but there's really never been a comprehensive, historical writeup of our display server technologies in general. So, I chose to spend my free time at Red Hat writing it.
A very fun look at what X actually is - including embedded X server sessions running in your browser using HTML5 canvas. Fancy.
CDE 2.2.1 has been released on March 1. The release includes various bugfixes, a NetBSD port and improvement for UTF-8 locales with a new Greek UTF-8 translation.
Aside from the really cool stuff regarding X11, I'm absolutely fascinated by the user interface of this exotic piece of hardware. It's quite utilitarian, but still has an interesting sense of beauty and focus. I'd love to play with this (even though I have no idea what this equipment actually does).
Intel on Ubuntu's XMir
We do not condone or support Canonical in the course of action they have chosen, and will not carry XMir patches upstream.
Ubuntu has to do virtually all its work on Xmir drivers by itself. No one else supports it.
"Ilja van Sprundel, a security researcher with IOActive, has discovered a large number of issues
in the way various X client libraries handle the responses they receive from servers, and has worked with X.Org's security team to analyze, confirm, and fix these issues."
Any modern operating system consists of layers upon layers of systems, services, and libraries. Increasingly, no one can possibly have full understanding of all the layers of the cake. Here's RedHat developer Peter Hutterer's description of what it takes to move the cursor on your screen
. Interesting to get back to the basics, and a good reminder of how complicated this stuff really is.
Lead developer for Compiz, Sam Spilsbury, says he sees little need to develop Compiz for Wayland
due to the increasing fragmentation of the Linux ecosystem. Spilsbury writes "What does compiz actually provide to users of these systems? None of this functionality that user wants really depends on our compositing engine. There's nothing so special about our compositing engine that gives it a reason to exist This is the real practical toll of fragmentation amongst the Linux ecosystem. It's not just that there are multiple implementations of the wheel. There are multiple implementations of entire cars which do almost the same thing, but a little different from everyone else. Some say this is the free software's greatest strength. Now that I know the personal and technical toll of fragmentation, I see it as its greatest weakness."
"For two decades, X has been the foundation for Linux graphics. Ubuntu's decision late in 2010 to switch to Wayland shakes things up all the way to those roots
. Just over a month ago, the official 1.0.0 release of Wayland appeared, as well as its associated Weston project. How will these milestones affect working GUI programmers? What will happen to all the existing toolkits - Qt, wxWindows, Tk, and others - on which so many graphical applications already depend?"
Wayland 1.0 was officialy released
on October 22. Wayland
is a protocol for a compositor to talk to its clients as well as a C library implementation of that protocol. The compositor can be a standalone display server running on Linux kernel modesetting and evdev input devices, an X application, or a wayland client itself. The clients can be traditional applications, X servers (rootless or fullscreen) or other display servers.
"This is an introductory overview post for the Linux Graphics Stack
, and how it currently all fits together. I initially wrote it for myself after having conversations with people like Owen Taylor, Ray Strode and Adam Jackson about this stack. I had to go back to them every month or so and learn the stuff from the ground up all over again, as I had forgotten every single piece. I asked them for a good high-level overview document so I could stop bothering them. They didn't know of any. I started this one. It has been reviewed by Adam Jackson and David Airlie, both of whom work on this exact stack." Introductory or no, still pretty detailed.
We have some very good news for those of us with a love for the Common Desktop Environment
. I'm a huge fan of CDE - I've even dedicated an article to it
- so I'm excited about this. CDE has been released as open source under the LGPL
, and can be downloaded as of today for Debian and Ubuntu. Motif will follow later.
John Goerzen, Debian/GNU Linux developer, transitions his kids from bash to xmonad
: "I'd been debating how to introduce GUIs for a very long time. It has not escaped my attention that children that used Commodores or TRS-80s or DOS knew a lot more about how their computers worked, on average, than those of the same age that use Windows or MacOS. I didn't want our boys to skip an entire phase of learning how their technology works." I decided long ago that my kids - if I ever have them, I'm undecided and way too young - will learn computing the way I learned it: with a CLI. I never realised an xmonad setup would form a good transition phase into GUIs.
"Although current discussion of the Linux desktop tends to focus on the disharmony around Unity and the GNOME shell, the true revolution on the desktop
is taking place out of sight of users. The Wayland display server is expected to reach version 1.0 later this year, and is seen by many as the long term replacement for the X Window System, with real potential to improve and transform the performance of the desktop for Linux users."
"This is the first real release of Wayland and Weston
. Wayland is the protocol and IPC mechanism while Weston is the reference compositor implementation. The 0.85 branch in both repositories is going to be protocol and interface stable. We have a series of protocol changes on the table before 1.0 but this branch marks a stable point before we jump into that." Change is coming to the Linux world. And yes, I get the irony of using this particular icon, but it's the closest I could find.
Submitted by Michael 2011-08-28 X11
"X.Org Server 1.11 was officially released this Friday evening
. X.Org Server 1.11 was originally planned for released in mid August, but then the unfortunate passing of Keith Packard's mother (the X.Org release manager) led to a one-week delay. Our condolences go out to Keith Packard and his family. After numerous belated releases from X.Org in the past, a one week delay is nothing to complain about, especially considering the sad circumstance. While this is a new major X.Org Server release, it's mostly about bug-fixing. X Input 2.1 was delayed (with its touch-related features) to the next X.Org Server release (or later), there isn't any RandR extensions (after RandR 1.4 was restarted), and just nothing to get too excited over, besides addressing outstanding issues. Regardless, it's an improvement that incorporates six months of enhancements."
Submitted by Antonio Ospite 2010-01-19 X11
"On Jan. 13, 2010 Xorg version 7.5 has landed to Debian unstable; one of the most notable additions to it was the XInput2 system, which incorporates the MPX efforts. So I hooked up a second USB mouse to my machine and started playing with it