The State of The X.Org Foundation 2009

Barton C Massey bart at
Sun Feb 1 03:35:15 EST 2009


Attached please find my 2009 annual report on The State of
The X.Org Foundation, covering the activities of the
Foundation and X.Org in 2008.  Please let the Board know if
you have any questions or concerns about the report.

    Bart Massey
    Secretary, X.Org Foundation Board
    bart at

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The State of The X.Org Foundation 2009
Bart Massey
Secretary, X.Org Foundation
bart at
January 16, 2009

Abstract: 2008 has proved to be a time of stabilization for
the X.Org Foundation, and a time of rapid positive change
for X.Org.  Some long-standing problems have begun to be
addressed, and some exciting new technical developments have
emerged.  In particular, the Foundation has finally
completed some critical reorganization activities and
established a regular schedule for its annual activities.
As the result of renewed developer efforts and help
from corporate partners X.Org is now available on a wider
range of platforms and works better everywhere.  2009 should
see predictable and considered growth in X development and

Note: The Bylaws of the X.Org Foundation require the
Secretary to prepare and deliver a Board-approved State of
the Organization report to the Membership within 60 days of
the start of the calendar year.  It is my pleasure to
discharge that responsibility by preparing this report.
While I have prepared this report in close consultation with
the X.Org Foundation Board of Directors, all views contained
herein are ultimately my own.


  Five years ago, the X.Org Foundation was re-formed and its
  first officers elected.  Since then, approximately one X
  Window System major release has occurred per year.  The
  mission of the modern X.Org Foundation Board is to support
  this work through raising and allocation of funds, through
  recruitment and support of Foundation members, and through
  initiatives in community development, education, and
  support, and by providing a computing and communications
  infrastructure; in short "to develop and execute effective
  strategies that provide worldwide stewardship of the X
  Window System technology and standards."

  In the next two sections of this report, I first review
  X.Org Foundation activities during 2008, and report on our
  successes and challenges; I then suggest something of the
  goals, needs, and plans for the future of the X.Org
  Foundation in 2009 and beyond.  Finally, I draw some

X.Org Foundation 2008

2008 was a busy year for the Foundation and for X Window
System developers.


  In keeping with the X.Org goal of about one release per
  year, Release 7.4 of the X Window System occurred on
  September 28, 2008.  This release featured revised input
  code, "PCI rework improvements," and support for modern
  ATI graphics chips.  Release 7.5 is expected for early to
  mid 2009.

  New features developed over the last year include
  major reworking of the server input subsystem including
  advanced multi-pointer and multitouch support; also the
  final stages of XCB integration with Xlib, enabling
  universal deployment of XCB as a first-class library.

  In addition, manufacturers' ground-breaking announcements
  of open source and documentation for graphics hardware in
  2007 were followed by even more in 2008; the X developers
  working with these disclosures are now shipping much
  useful code.  ATI released a wide variety of
  documentation. Intel released still more documentation and
  source and provided high-quality open source drivers for
  almost all of its shipping graphics hardware.  VIA opened
  the source and documentation to its graphics chips.  With
  the notable exception of NVidia, in the near-future there
  should be open source X Window System support of hardware
  sold by all major graphics chip manufacturers.

  The 2008 Intel work was notable for introducing
  substantial and long-needed changes into the Linux kernel
  to support modern graphics hardware.  Kernel modesetting
  work advanced substantially, a new graphics memory
  manager, GEM, was introduced, and kernel interfaces were
  changed to allow the kernel to manage hardware formerly
  managed from userspace by the X server.  These are
  important changes, and hopefully will be mirrored in other
  operating systems soon.

Funded Activities

  One of the goals of the X.Org Foundation for 2008 was to
  continue to spend down the large cash reserve of the
  organization in productive ways.  This mission has largely
  been accomplished; a goal of 2009 will be to stabilize
  spending around a long-term financial plan.  This will
  require establishing a more extensive and regular income
  to the Foundation, something that is a challenging
  prospect in these tough economic times.

  The X.Org Foundation once again held two developer
  conferences in 2008.  The 2008 X.Org Developers Conference
  (XDC 2008) was held at the Google offices in Mountain
  View, California April 16-18.  The 2008 X.Org Developers
  Symposium (XDS 2008) was held at the Edinburgh Zoo in
  Edinburgh, Scotland September 3-5.  Both conferences
  were reasonably well-attended, and the interaction there
  served an important role in accelerating X development.

  There has, however, been substantial burnout of conference
  organizers and concerns about mounting conference expenses
  as a result of this schedule.  The Foundation Board thus
  voted to cut the major developer conference schedule to
  one conference per year for the near-future, alternating
  between XDC in the US and XDS in Europe.  XDC 2009 is
  scheduled to be held at the end of September in Portland,

  The Google/X.Org Summer of Code 2008 was quite successful,
  with most projects completing and contributing to X.Org
  development, as well as helping to bring new developers to
  X.Org (
  The X.Org Vacation of Code program was not run in 2008 due
  to organizer time constraints, but the Foundation Board
  voted to establish a program titled X.Org Endless Vacation
  of Code starting in 2009, which will provide opportunities
  similar to Summer of Code to selected students on an ad
  hoc calendar.

Foundation Activities

  The Board had hoped to complete its legal transition from
  a US LLC to a US 501(c)3 Educational Non-Profit Foundation
  in the first few months of 2008.  Unfortunately, a large
  number of delays culminated with the completion of this
  transition in early 2009, when the State of Delaware
  granted us corporate status.

  The 2008 Board election was delayed; this election is now
  underway and expected to complete by early February 2009.
  This is unfortunate, and further work needs to be done to
  ensure that the 2009 and ongoing elections can be held in
  a timely and regular manner.

  After experimentation with Board meeting structure, the
  committee structure adopted early in 2008 has proven
  largely a failure.  The other mechanisms for increasing
  Board coordination and effectiveness have been mixed.  The
  regular bi-weekly IRC meetings begun in 2008 will continue
  in 2009, and e-mail will continue to play a crucial role.

  In late 2008 a lamentable several-year backlog of X.Org
  membership applications was cleared by dint of hard effort
  of several board members.  This was the culmination of a
  couple of years of discussion and review of what to do
  about membership, and should provide a good foundation for
  2009 membership activities.  However, my goal of having
  100 known high-quality X developer X.Org members by
  end-of-year may not have been reached.

2009 And Beyond

  The activities begun in 2008 to advance the X.Org agenda
  seem to have largely headed in the right direction.
  However, much remains to be done, and new ideas and
  directions will be needed in 2009.

  Foundation Activities

    Membership remains a crucial issue for the Foundation.
    In addition to clearing the application queue in 2008,
    some preliminary work was done on removing inactive
    developers and non-developers from the membership rolls.
    However, this work still needs attention to be completed.
    In addition, recruitment is still a high priority.

    No substantial work was done in 2008 in finding recurring
    sponsors for X.Org as a whole, although conference
    sponsorships and other kinds of directed sponsorships were
    strong.  Many on the Board believe that this may be the
    future of funding for the organization, but it would be
    nice if work in 2009 could establish at least a couple of
    new recurring general sponsorships.

    The shared infrastructure of X.Org and
    was partly rationalized in 2008.  With the ongoing
    efforts of Board members and others on both sides, we
    are in the process of establishing a more sensible
    computing infrastructure.  Work in this area needs to
    continue in 2009.

    Solving our banking and bookkeeping problems has largely
    proven to need to wait for completion of the corporate
    transition.  In early 2009 X.Org will establish a new,
    more flexible bank account and payment process.

    Centralized collection and archive of standards and
    documentation for X has increased in the past year, but
    not largely as a result of any specific Foundation
    effort.  Ongoing attention needs to be paid to these

  Technical Activities

    Issues with the X.Org website and other documentation
    need to be adequately addressed in 2009.  In addition,
    better ways need to be found to improve communication
    between the Foundation, its membership, and the larger
    X development community.


  The state of the X.Org Foundation is strong.  The X Window
  System continues to succeed; 2009 is once again the Year
  of the Linux Desktop.  The Foundation has made great
  progress in the past year, and is now consolidating some
  great gains.  Hopefully we can continue to achieve the
  consistent rate of improvement that will lead to better
  development and wider adoption of the X Window System.

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