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.
The XFree86 Project recently announced their final RC before the release of XFree86 4.4.
The XFree86 Project modified their license (fully effective as of the upcoming 4.4.0 release). The updated license change applies to the base XFree86 license, and to source files that explicitly carry a copyright notice in the name of The XFree86 Project, Inc. Copyrights and licenses in the names of others will not be affected by this change, however some fear that these changes might be GPL-incompatible.
Daniel Stone writes over at Slashdot: "A short time ago, freedesktop.org xlibs 1.0 was released. Simply put, this is the collection of libX11, libXext, and other little-used libraries that kind of power your whole desktop. The xlibs team at fd.o are now maintaining all these libraries, and more, and we're going to be making releases as part of the fd.o platform, which is far more wide-ranging, but it still forms an important part of the platform. Share and enjoy!"
In a press conference held today at LinuxWorld 2004 in New York, members of the old X consortium, some members of the disbanded XFree86 core developer group, and Havoc Pennington of freedesktop.org announced that X.org and XFree86 have essentially merged, and that the reformed group is working together to bring "not just more eye candy but new functionality" to the X server for Linux and Unix. Our Take: We wonder what this means for Keith Packard's X implementation hosted at fd.o. Update: Apparently the above is not accurate, only a few (one?) developers joined X.org.
The XFree86 core team has announced that it is disbanding. What does this mean for the pending XFree86 4.4.0 release which was going to be out in January? (currently the latest version is 4.4-RC2). We hope that someone puts a release together to give something new to users before freedesktop.org's XWin server comes out at the end of 2004 or early 2005.
The XFree86 project released the second RC for their upcoming 4.4.0 X server version.
The first milestone in the Xouvert roadmap has been reached. The first version of the new replacement X-server features patches from different places around the net and a cleanup to the default X-tree.
"This document attempts to give a sketch of the names and relationships of these technologies and projects, and a glimpse into their status and development. Some technologies have never proved themselves, and/or have been rendered obsolete by later development and are available primarily for legacy code. This document attempts to clarify much of this natural evolution and market selection." Read the X roadmap from Jim Gettys and await a long and interesting interview with freedesktop.org members on Monday, here, at OSNews.
The new X Server developed under the sponsorship of freedesktop.org is aiming at replacing XFree86. Some code will be re-used but the core will be rewritten by Keith Packard and others. The new X server features full support for transparency, and has window-level image compositing among other things. Check out the screenshots (one more added, now there are four shots).
"The freedesktop.org X hacking is low-profile unstableware at the moment, but one particular proposal interests me the most", Havoc Pennington (of Red Hat, Gnome and freedesktop.org fame) is writing on his dev blog. Havoc discusses the new features and explains the new levels of the 'modernization' of this XFree86 fork.
Cygwin is latest contributor on XFree86.org that gets pushed away by the behavior of some of its founding members and the dysfunctionality of XFree86.org. Hopefully, Red Hat, SuSE, FreeBSD, Apple, Sun and others will create a fork (or join Xouvert, X2 or a more 'open' X11.org) in a way that allows truly open development and innovation in X in a faster pace than XFree86's maintainers have allowed so far.
Reading through this report here, the author gives some well thought out reasons for a next generation Windows Server architecture for X.
What if FreeDesktop.org started to become the "free software desktop project" and GNOME and KDE slowly became "flavours aimed at different audiences", Seth Nickell wonders in his blog. Seth is having some good ideas about how the future of X11 DEs should feel like, while down that page there is an extra explanation of Storage, the technology we reported last week that Seth is developing.
KGI, or Kernel Graphics Interface, provides a framework that allows full 3D accellerated video card drivers to compile on different platforms without any modification to the drivers themselves. KGI, which has been developed on Linux to the point that it's "rather stable," is now available for xBSD.
Xouvert is the open, innovative X server that brings tomorrow's technology to your desktop today It looks like they intend to keep everything public and out in the open. They will also be using some advanced development software as well. See the web site to learn more.
This article is aimed at Unix developers who already have some experience with programming languages and want to start developing GUI applications. It may also come in handy if you have used a particular GUI toolkit for some time and want to know whether others might suit your needs better.