It has been one year and four days since X.Org 7.3 was released and a number of months since X.Org 7.4 was supposed to be released, but today X.Org 7.4 is scheduled to finally make it out the door! This release is shipping quite late and with a slimmed down set of features, but in this article we have more details on what this release holds in store for the Linux desktop community and why it may be a short-lived release.
"Maybe I'm just naive, but designing a graphics API such that all image data had to be sent over a socket to another process every time the image needed to be drawn seems like complete idiocy. Unfortunately, that is precisely what the X Window System forces a program to do, and exactly what Cairo does when drawing images in Linux - a full copy of the image data, send to another process, no less, every time it is drawn. One would think there would be some room for improvement. Unsurprisingly, others felt the same way about X, and decided to write an extension, Xlib Shm or XShm for short, that allows images to placed in a shared memory segment from which the X server reads which allows the program to avoid the memory copy. GTK already makes use of the XShm extension, and it seems like a good idea to see if Gecko couldn't do the same."
Phoronix has up an article looking at the release of X Server 1.4.1. This maintenance release for X.Org, which many open-source operating systems depend upon for living in a graphically-rich world, is coming more than 200 days late and it doesn't even clear the BugZilla release blocker bug. According to Phoronix, there are more problems for X.org than just this one.
The X Windowing System is the graphical backbone of most UNIX-like operating systems (and OpenVMS) - despite lots and lots of criticism, the system has withstood the test of time. Despite its age, development on X has not slowed down - in fact, it only seems to have picked up. A few weeks ago, we had kernel-based mode setting, and today we have the X server running as user instead of root.
Even though some users of the two desktops take every opportunity to make fun or flat-out attack one another, it is no secret to more reasonable people that the KDE and GNOME projects strive to make their respective desktops interoperate, and that the developers working on either of the two projects have a great deal of respect for one another. This has lead to an attempt to jointly organise the desktops' flagship conferences, in one place, in 2009.
Have you ever been annoyed by Linux' lack of a coherent graphical boot process? Graphics hardware causing problems during sleep/wake cycles? Problematic virtual terminal switches? Kernel-based mode-setting, a new feature of Xorg still in heavy development aims to solve many of these problems by moving the mode-setting code from the user-space X driver into the Linux kernel. Phoronix takes a look at this new feature.
"For the next round of Linux Releases (Ubuntu Gutsy, Fedora 8, OpenSuse 10.3, Mandriva 2008, etc.) Compiz Fusion should be installed by default in those releases and with the release date looming not far ahead the time is ripe to give you a preview of what to expect from the latest Compiz Fusion."
X.org 7.3 was released earlier today, but because the X.org website was unreachable, we bring you this news a bit late. X.org 7.3 includes RandR 1.2, input hotplug (both enable hotplugging of devices), improvements in KDrive, DTrace support, and more.
"Scheduled for release tomorrow is X.Org 7.3. Among the new features for X.Org 7.3 include the Xorg server 1.4, an application for adjusting a display's backlight, updated display drivers, and support for font catalog directories. Version 1.4 of the X.Org server contains such features as RandR 1.2 support, input hot-plugging, KDrive enhancements, Solaris DTrace support, and EXA improvements. In this article today, we will briefly go over some of the changes found in X.Org 7.3 and we will follow up with some benchmarks in early September."
"This is the first development release of Compiz Fusion, the result of more than six months of work and polish. Compiz Fusion is the result of a merge between the Compiz community plugin set 'Compiz Extras' and the parts of the Beryl project that are independent of the window manager core. The two communities have re-united to create a user experience for Linux that rivals anything available on other platforms."
Peter Hutterer, the man behind the multiple pointer X server, has released an update to MPX server, adding support for multitouch displays. "MPX already supported multiple input devices. Which blows pretty much all assumptions in user interfaces (input) out of the water. Now I've gone one step further and added support for multi-touch displays."
The merger between compiz and Beryl now has a name: Compiz Fusion. "Our previous attempts to select a project name have not gone well. We tried a poll but the names in the poll were not pre-qualified to determine if they were usable and the 'winning' name was also a strongly disliked name. Kristian and I each proposed a plan to select a name, but that effort got sidetracked by a massive flame war on the mailing list. While our community has some democratic features, ultimately it is a meritocracy and the people who contribute the most value have the most say. So in the end a decision was made by the majority of the people who have contributed the most."
Cairo v1.4.6 is released and it's got a "particularly juicy performance fix, (working around an X server performance bug), as well as native PDF gradients with alpha". In other interesting open source releases, the powerful audio application Ardour v2.0 was released (with Mac OS X support).
"After several weeks of discussion the leaders of Compiz and Beryl have agreed that the two communities shall reunite. This decision is supported by both David and Quinn and represents the majority decision of the administrators and developers in each community."
"The Compiz and Beryl teams are discussing a merger. Posts on the Compiz forum and Beryl mailing list indicate that the projects are discussing how to execute a merger and work together to deliver a single compositing window manager to give 'bling' to the Linux desktop."
The Beryl project has won a lot of press time so far with its impressive tricks -- even more than its slower-evolving daddy, Compiz. There are several lose ends to Beryl's core engine and incompatibilities with existing applications or technologies. However, something that really put off a lot of people when they try Beryl is its dreadful settings manager.
"Desktop computing technology has evolved considerably since the first graphical user interface was developed by researchers at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center in 1973. Microsoft's Aero Glass, Apple's Quartz 2D Extreme, and Sun's Project Looking Glass are all poised to transform the way that users interact with computers. Also at the forefront of innovation, the Linux community has some prodigiously impressive new user interface technologies of its own. Beryl, a new open-source window manager for Linux, features compelling visual enhancements like support for transparent windows and elaborate window animations."
"Beryl 0.2.0 is a complete overhaul of Beryl. The last stable release (0.1) featured a very fun, and eye-candy based compositing window manager. However, since it's release, many parts of Beryl have been rewritten, replaced, or simply dropped. It’s filled with eye-candy, better user support, new features, and stability."
"On Tuesday, January 25th Mandriva introduced a new project: Metisse LiveCD. In this article we are going to investigate the features offered by this promising project and see if Metisse can compete with the popular desktops in terms of ergonomics and ease of use."
Two more articles on Beryl. The first one is on drag and drop in Beryl: "What does Beryl add to the drag and drop picture? Well, for a start, if you've got a lot of windows open, it's easier to find the target if you can see all the windows at once. Also, if you want to drop a file/text on an application on another desktop, you can do this much more easily. This is a cool little feature that allows you to drag and drop files between applications on the same desktop, or different desktops." The second one is a performance tweak for Beryl.