The State of The X.Org Foundation 2010
Barton C Massey
bart at cs.pdx.edu
Sat Feb 20 18:01:50 EST 2010
Attached please find my report on The State of the X.Org
Foundation, as required by the Bylaws of the Foundation.
Many thanks to all who have participated in the development
Secretary, X.Org Foundation Board
bart at cs.pdx.edu
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The State of The X.Org Foundation 2010
Secretary, X.Org Foundation
bart at cs.pdx.edu
February 20, 2010
Abstract: 2009 has been a year of consolidation for X.Org.
Software is now being released on a predictable schedule,
with predictable improvement.
Note: The Bylaws of the X.Org Foundation require the
Secretary to prepare and deliver a State of the Organization
report 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.
Six 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 2009 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 2010 and beyond. Finally, I draw some
X.Org Foundation 2009
In 2009 X.Org development proceeded at a steady and
reasonable pace. The Foundation did not make major changes
in operation in 2009.
In keeping with the X.Org goal of about one release per
year, Release 7.5 of the X Window System occurred on
October 26, 2009. This release featured the first
official version of Multi-Pointer X, "E-EDID support",
improved pointer acceleration, an XACE-based SELinux
security module, and RandR version 1.3. It also included
the kernel modesetting support developed over the last
several years, with the goal of moving parts of X better
handled by the host operating system into it.
Based on the limited ability to raise funds in the 2009
economic climate, and on the limited capacity of
conference organizers, the decision was made in early
2009 to cut back from two conference events per year to
just one. The Board felt that alternating between North
America and elsewhere on alternate years would provide
sufficient developer contact worldwide, while cutting
costs even when extra travel subsidies were taken into
account. This appears to have been a correct decision.
The 2009 X Developers Conference was held in Portland
Oregon September 28-30, immediately following the Linux
Plumbers Conference there. The conference emphasis was
on smaller projects and preliminary work; there was no
strong unifying topic. The 2010 X.Org Developers
Summit is planned for 16-18 September in Toulouse
France. Discussion is proceeding on possibly holding
the 2011 X.Org Developers Conference in conjunction with
BOSSA in Brazil.
The Google/X.Org Summer of Code 2009 was successful,
with three of four accepted projects completing and
contributing to X.Org development, as well as helping to
bring new developers to X.Org . The X.Org Endless
Vacation of Code was established in 2009 to provide
opportunities similar to Summer of Code to selected
students on an ad hoc calendar. Only a couple of
students have shown interest to date, and the one
student that submitted an accepted proposal later
withdrew. This is probably due to the lack of promotion
of the program.
The X.Org Foundation funded a video hackfest held at the
Collabora offices in Barcelona in November. The event
was reportedly highly successful , and was held at a
modest cost. It is hoped that other X.Org projects will
take this example to heart and seek funding help when
The Board had hoped to complete the legal transition of
the X.Org Foundation from a US LLC to a US 501(c)3
Educational Non-Profit Foundation in the first few
months of 2008. A large number of delays culminated
in the completion of this transition in early 2009,
when the State of Delaware granted us corporate status.
However, it turns out that some IRS documents still need
to be filed by the Treasurer. This work is underway.
The 2009 Board election was once again delayed, and
completed in mid-February 2010. This is unfortunate,
and further work needs to be done to ensure that the
2010 and ongoing elections can be held in a timely and
regular manner. This election was the first in quite a
while in which the restriction in the X.Org Bylaws that
only two people from a given organization can be on the
Board simultaneously was an issue. The issue was
resolved by Keith Packard stepping down from the Board,
leaving only two Intel representatives.
The attempt to improve coordination and throughput of
the Board continued in 2010. The Board established a
wiki that it experimented with as an internal
communication mechanism, but it saw only modest use.
The regular bi-weekly IRC meetings begun in 2008
continue to date, and e-mail continues to play a crucial
Membership in the Foundation is currently at about 145
active members. Work continues on encouraging X.Org
participants to join the Foundation.
Communication between the Board and the Membership has
continued to be an issue in 2009, culminating in a bit
of drama during the 2010 Board election. As a result of
this, I am stepping down as Secretary, in the hope that
someone else on the Board can do a better job of
facilitating this communication.
2010 And Beyond
No substantial work was done in 2009 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 still believe that this may be
the future of funding for the organization, but funding
options undoubtedly will be explored again in 2010.
Good improvements have been made in the X.Org /
Freedesktop.org shared infrastructure, in particular more
sysadmin support. Emphasis for 2010 will be on cutting
infrastructure costs, and on continuing to improve
infrastructure reliability and responsiveness. There was
some work done in 2009 on expanding build and tinderbox
facilities; this work will likely continue in 2010.
Traffic volume and spam problems on the xorg email list
and on X.org wikis became an issue in 2009. The wiki spam
problem is particularly bad on auxiliary X.Org wikis that
do not have the same amount of regular attention from
their maintainers as the main X.Org site. After careful
consideration, the Board failed to come up with any ideal
resolution to these problems.
The heavily-hacked legacy members.x.org PHP codebase has
been increasingly a thorn in the side of conducting
membership business, and is due for replacement. The
Board should consider how to proceed on this issue as
early as possible in 2010, with the goal of having the
replacement in place and verified in time for the next
Attempts were made to straighten out X.Org banking issues
in 2009, but as of this writing the banking situation is
There is ongoing concern among the Board about the
trademark situation of X.Org. It is not at all obvious
what trademarks, if any, are currently registered. There
is also a friendly lack of consensus among the Board
members about what needs to be registered; the various
costs and benefits make for a complex engineering
tradeoff. In 2010, this issue needs to be resolved one
way or the other. As an ancillary issue, the question of
what, if anything, to do about changing out the old X.Org
"halo" logo should once again be considered.
The state of the X.Org Foundation is strong. The X Window
System continues to succeed.
Each year that I have prepared this report I have
confidently predicted that the following year will be the
Year of the Linux Desktop. However, I do not believe that
2010 will be the Year of the Linux Desktop, due to
decreasing interest in desktops and laptops. I am quite
sure that 2010 will be the Year of Mobile Linux.
More information about the members