The State of The X.Org Foundation 2009
Barton C Massey
bart at cs.pdx.edu
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.
Secretary, X.Org Foundation Board
bart at cs.pdx.edu
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The State of The X.Org Foundation 2009
Secretary, X.Org Foundation
bart at cs.pdx.edu
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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 Freedesktop.org
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
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.
More information about the members