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Kernel 2.6.31 To Speed Up Linux Desktop

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the zoom-zoom dept.

Upgrades 360

Dan Jones writes "As the Linux community looks forward to another kernel release, the kernel hackers have been working on improving the memory management so that the X desktop responsiveness is doubled under high memory pressure. The result is an improved desktop experience. Benchmarks on memory-tight desktops show clock time and major faults reduced by 50 per cent, and pswpin numbers (memory reads from disk) are reduced to about one-third. Another improvement coming with 2.6.31 is kernel mode-setting support for ATI Radeon graphics cards, enabling faster user switching and a more seamless startup experience. Peripheral developments that will also improve the Linux desktop experience include support for the new USB 3.0 specification and a new Firewire stack. Even minor Linux releases have heaps of new features these days!"

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Obligatory XKCD (5, Funny)

Aggrajag (716041) | about 5 years ago | (#29324285)

Re:Obligatory XKCD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324347)

Linux users are homosexuals who take 12 inch black cocks up their pasty white anuses.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1, Offtopic)

julian67 (1022593) | about 5 years ago | (#29324713)

Linux users are all albinos?

Re:Obligatory XKCD (0, Troll)

marcansoft (727665) | about 5 years ago | (#29324359)

That's one of the more annoying XKCDs as far as I'm concerned. It seems to imply that the full-screen Flash video woes are somehow the kernel's fault. I used to like XKCD, but it seems to be getting dumber and dumber each day.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (3, Insightful)

abigor (540274) | about 5 years ago | (#29324395)

No, it doesn't imply that at all. It's simply saying that Linux desktop users brag about irrelevent new "features", while basic things that everyone else takes for granted don't work properly.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (4, Insightful)

marcansoft (727665) | about 5 years ago | (#29324417)

Whichever way you put it, the fact that this "basic thing that everyone else takes for granted" doesn't work is is Adobe's fault, not the Linux community's fault. It would have made a lot more sense if the complaint were about some actual bug in Linux distros, not a problem with a historically shoddy proprietary plugin.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#29324471)

As someone who uses Windows but has an open mind, I don't care who is at fault.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29324967)

You could say that about any platform, though. OS X sucks because it lacks ports of most major PC games, for example. Maybe it's not Apple's fault, but as someone who plays games, I don't care who is at fault.

(Also, Windows sucks, because to get lots of stuff working you have to deal with half-ported abominations in cygwin.)

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

Unoriginal_Nickname (1248894) | about 5 years ago | (#29325107)

It is Apple's fault. Porting games to OSX is ghastly and laborious.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (4, Interesting)

d3vi1 (710592) | about 5 years ago | (#29324557)

Actually the fault is split. 2D acceleration in Linux for most video drivers is shabby at best.

On the other hand, Adobe doesn't really put that much engineering force into X11 optimizations. Adobe Flash on a non-accelerated Mac OS X (hackintosh using the included Vesa 3.0 driver) is still faster than on X11/Linux.

I can't really blame Adobe for this. There are quite a lot of ways in which you can accelerate SOME drawing operations, but they are not available on all desktops. Clutter comes to mind right now, but it's not really the best option for QT/KDE users. It's hard to create an accelerated, desktop environment independent piece of software.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (0, Redundant)

McGiraf (196030) | about 5 years ago | (#29324427)

I have a Linux kernel on my computer. I would like to try the Linux desktop you talk about. You have a link? is better than Gnome?

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

rohan972 (880586) | about 5 years ago | (#29324717)

I have a Linux kernel on my computer. I would like to try the Linux desktop you talk about. You have a link? is better than Gnome?

Much better, it's a solid hardwood desktop. I don't have a link, I will send it to you. I've packaged it in sawdust format for ease of transportation. Just reassemble it and you're right to go.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (3, Funny)

jdoverholt (1229898) | about 5 years ago | (#29324783)

Gentoo?

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | about 5 years ago | (#29324447)

hmm ... it implies that the people implementing the "irrelevent new features" can automagically do what Adobe is apparently not capable of. In other news, most common hardware is recognized out of the box in newer Linux distros, while a lot of plastic is wasted on dated drivers for windows which included in the packaging process. OSX, obviously, doesn't even qualify, as it doesn't support anything apart from apple hardware (or equivalent)

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1, Insightful)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324503)

full screen flash is a dumb idea anyway

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

Locklin (1074657) | about 5 years ago | (#29324611)

Flash is a dumb idea anyway.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 years ago | (#29324631)

    It was a dumb episode. The only folks who use Flash fullscreen are people watching online porn. :)

    Well, and YouTube, so they can see their little friends ramble on about nonsensical stuff in a global environment. I still haven't figured that crap out yet. Why, oh why, do you want to post a video of you talking about your life for the rest of the world to watch. Let me give you a hint. The rest of the world called. We don't give a shit.

    Sometimes there's something good on YouTube, but you really have to look for it. Your eyes will usually start to bleed before you find it though.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324759)

I watch a fair bit of stuff on youtube - funny clips from various shows, weird Japanese stuff from nico nico douga, Carl Sagan, James Burke, Linux demos, TED...

None of it in full screen, though, and not just because full screen doesn't work well.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

Inner_Child (946194) | about 5 years ago | (#29324999)

    It was a dumb episode. The only folks who use Flash fullscreen are people watching online porn. :)

Or Hulu, or CBS, or NBC... yeah, there are a lot of uses for fullscreen Flash that don't involve porn.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (2, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 5 years ago | (#29325069)

The only folks who use Flash fullscreen are people watching online porn. :)

Well, and YouTube,

and Hulu.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324571)

Will somebody please mod this offtopic? I mean come on, the very first comment I read in what should be an objective technical discussion is somebody complaining about linux desktop users? And this gets modded up?

Re:Obligatory XKCD (4, Insightful)

ScytheBlade1 (772156) | about 5 years ago | (#29324429)

It may seem to imply that, but that isn't the goal. The goal of that comic is to show the difference between linux gurus who can rebuild their kernel six times a day and get it right every time, and "your average XP --> Ubuntu switcher."

I'm a guy who took gentoo and rebuilt it in my home directory about fifty times with a set of scripts I developed, getting smaller and more specific every time until I could write it to a CF card and drop it in my embedded router that runs at 33MHz, and still run/startup faster than your average home router.

I have a friend who uses Kubuntu (which really is a terrible KDE distro) who is definitely more adept in linux than your average switcher, but he doesn't spend his time memorizing internals or rebuilding kernels either.

To me, I can see that comic and go "neat, that's a lot of CPUs" along with pegging Adobe for being a problem: "yeah, adobe sucks at cross platform." My friend goes "neat, that's a lot of CPUs" and "yeah linux is terrible in that area."
Both pairs of statements are true. (And don't call me on the technicality that "linux is terrible in that area." Quit being hyperliteral; that's my entire point!)

Re:Obligatory XKCD (2, Funny)

pjt33 (739471) | about 5 years ago | (#29324723)

linux gurus who can rebuild their kernel six times a day

How did they manage that before support for 4096 cores?

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 5 years ago | (#29325115)

> linux gurus who can rebuild their kernel six times a day

How did they manage that before support for 4096 cores?

They used a Beowulf cluster.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 5 years ago | (#29324859)

Why do you believe Kubuntu is a terrible KDE distro?

What would you call a "good" KDE distro?

I've used both Mandriva and Kubuntu...

Re:Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325129)

Slackware, Arch, Pardus ...

Re:Obligatory XKCD (4, Insightful)

MPAB (1074440) | about 5 years ago | (#29324567)

The comic didn't imply the kernel. Purists that wash their hands while saying "Linux is just a kernel, not my fault if it cannot (run x, recognize y or perform z)" are the target of this comic which tries to explain why linux (as a whole OS-and-software alternative) is not ready for the desktop.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (3, Interesting)

marcansoft (727665) | about 5 years ago | (#29324703)

Linux isn't broken because Flash sucks, the "Ready For the Desktop" moniker is broken if people consider it to imply Flash support. Flash is a closed technology (the spec is only open if you're not writing a player), which puts any problems with Flash playback anywhere squarely into Adobe's hands. If being "ready for the desktop" implies "Adobe plays nice with you" and there is nothing you can do if they don't, something is really wrong. What is the Linux community supposed to do, hold Adobe at gunpoint until they fix Flash?

I'm not saying Linux is otherwise ready for the desktop (and complaints about issues with Linux desktops themselves are perfectly okay), but Flash brokenness is a silly example.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (5, Insightful)

reub2000 (705806) | about 5 years ago | (#29324743)

What's broken here is that a completely closed off format has become standard on the internet.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (2, Interesting)

MPAB (1074440) | about 5 years ago | (#29324943)

The same way mp3 became a standard and "linux" users must install codecs "at their own risk".
The same way linux-verboten WinModems became a standard that faded only when they couldn't keep up with ADSL.
The same way Realtek and Broadcom WiFi cards have become a standard in most notebooks (and some desktops) and they still perform very poorly under "linux".
The same way NVidia and ATI have become the video adapter standards and none has yet got full support (not even mentioning double screens) under Linux.

I'm not blaming linux for any of this, but I do blame those that cry over the fact the rest of the world has accepted and can get along with those de facto "standards".

With the right kexts and a couple of clicks, my Leopard hackintosh install gets a much better grab of my hardware than both my Ubuntu and Debian installs, over which I'm endlessly trying new drivers and recompiling the kernel.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324981)

The community could, for example, finish Gnash...

The alternative to the "broken" as you've put it "ready for the desktop" criteria is "ready for people who don't expect Flash apps and 3D games to work". I think using the latter definition is just shooting yourself in the foot and alienating yourself from the general public, even if it makes more sense to you.

I work on my Linux desktop (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | about 5 years ago | (#29325167)

Aren't arguments about Linux being broken on the desktop red herrings? (linux, tux, herrings, red herrings?... ba boom tsh, I'll be here all week) The argument should be whether Linux, in my case Ubuntu, allows a Luser to work on h/is/er desktop. Positing one hypothetical, or specific case, after another and then proclaiming Linux is broken on the desktop is silly, as you pointed out. Linux now, compared to the early edition of Mandrake I first installed, is a working desktop OS.

Any OS intended for the desktop is trying to perform as a calibrated solution to an arbitrarily established target while trying to incorporate new features reflecting the advances of hardware manufactures. Moore's Law can be made to suggest the moving target any desktop OS has to aim at while not wasting limited resources developing features that the market might relegate to the margins. Linux has done, and continues to do, a great job of staying on target but will never meet the demands of all users, including those who want a, more or less, marginal feature made mainstream. Stating the bleeding obvious the strength of Linux and Open Source is anyone who wants a feature develop that feature given it's feasibility and a willingness to spend the necessary resources.

All large corporations, especially widely held corporations, are bound and driven by the profit motive. Limited resources and profit expectations don't always allow the best of all possible worlds.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (4, Insightful)

centuren (106470) | about 5 years ago | (#29324841)

ScytheBlade1 is right:

The comic didn't imply the kernel. Purists that wash their hands while saying "Linux is just a kernel, not my fault if it cannot (run x, recognize y or perform z)" are the target of this comic which tries to explain why linux (as a whole OS-and-software alternative) is not ready for the desktop.

Indeed, the xkcd in question [xkcd.com] (a link to the page, not the image) doesn't hang on technical accuracy. It's absolutely a commentary on issues with the "Linux Desktop", with developers putting a relatively rare server concern such as support for thousands of CPUs ahead of something that pretty much every PC user expects to have (the ability to watch Hulu smoothly).

To nit-pick, however, the comic does seem to imply the kernel. In the alt-text you find:

"I hear many of you finally have smooth Flash support, but me and my Intel card are still waiting on a kernel patch somewhere in the pipeline before we can watch Jon Stewart smoothly."

The author is waiting on a Linux kernel patch to fix the Flash issues he has with his Intel card.

That's one of the more annoying XKCDs as far as I'm concerned. It seems to imply that the full-screen Flash video woes are somehow the kernel's fault. I used to like XKCD, but it seems to be getting dumber and dumber each day.

When Markansoft says the above, it's clear that he prizes technical accuracy in the comic enough to forgo appreciation of the general point of humour. However, is the comic's implication really wrong? I don't know much about how Flash works with hardware, or if it requires any specific support for a chipset. The author seems pretty sure he needs a patch for his hardware set up before he can get the same quality of Flash performance already enjoyed by other Linux users. That certainly doesn't remove Adobe and their cross-platform unfriendliness from the situation, but Linux distros are made from work arounds, and the comic's target is the priorities of developers, not Adobe's open source policies.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (3, Insightful)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about 5 years ago | (#29324641)

Hey, you want to know why linux doesn't have more desktop market penetration? Guess what, the average person would try linux and open their favorite youtube video [youtube.com] and get pissed off at linux because it doesn't do full screen flash well.

You think that in the same situation Microsoft wouldn't have somone calling Adobe to get the full screen flash video working properly? They understand that it is always the operating system's fault when something goes wrong, no matter what the truth is.

Microsoft may be a giant corporate asshole, but they understand that people's perceptions no matter how misguided will impact the popularity of their product. Look at Vista, at release there were a lot of problems. Now at service pack 2, Vista is performing much better, but its brand name is still mud because of the problems. I personally think this was part of the plan. Windows 7 is coming out, and it is looking to be what Vista should have been.

In the end, the "Windows" brand hasn't been damaged, the "Vista" brand was. And Windows 7 will hit the market sounding like some sort of savior for computers.

Meanwhile, Linux advocates still want to know why the average person won't leave windows.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324635)

Obligatory post pointing out there is more to XKCD than just the image. Mouseover text is part of the comic: http://xkcd.com/619/

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

marcansoft (727665) | about 5 years ago | (#29324791)

Slow fullscreen is still Flash's fault. It may be [i]tolerable[/i] with certain card drivers and if your screen resolution is low enough, but the bulk of the problem is still Adobe's. I have an Nvidia that works great for everything else, but fullscreen Flash is unwatchable at 1920x1080.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

marcansoft (727665) | about 5 years ago | (#29324803)

Damn, somehow my brain was in BBCode mode. My apologies for that.

Funny how Windows and Linux go opposites (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324291)

MS takes the drivers back to user mode after touting the kernel-mode as a performance plus.

Based on my experience with 2008/Win 7 and ATI, I think the display drivers belong firmly in user mode.

I've never had my OS punk out because of a graphics bluescreen. The desktop manger and explorer may have needed a restart, but no data ever stopped streaming or got corrupted.

Re:Funny how Windows and Linux go opposites (2, Informative)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324545)

The drivers *are* in userland (well there, is enough in the kernel to display basic images and text). KMS means the kernel can change video modes, which allows early boot splash screens with no "blink" transitions when X takes over and allows "bluescreens", that is, the kernel can print error messages to the screen even if X locks up.

Re:Funny how Windows and Linux go opposites (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | about 5 years ago | (#29324559)

Most of the driver is still in userspace. The modesetting is a relatively small part of modern graphics hardware. The reason for the switch, also, isn't performance, but consistency: with KMS, there's no flicker on boot as the X server proper starts.

Besides: a userspace driver can screw up the machine almost as easily as a kernel-mode one. Remember that a userspace driver needs to run as root, and must be able to write directly to IO ports and the PCI configuration space. Both kinds of driver can easily crash a machine.

Re:Funny how Windows and Linux go opposites (1)

Enleth (947766) | about 5 years ago | (#29324665)

They do belong in user mode, but with one little catch: the user mode part must not meddle with the low-level hardware state, and that's what KMS is for. I'm not familliar with how exactly Vista and Win7 implement their video driver framework, but it seems that they do something pretty much like KMS: low-level, generic control over the graphics card (and only that) is still held by the kernel so when the high-level, user mode driver craps out, the OS can regain control of the video card and put it back in a known, stable state.

Re:Funny how Windows and Linux go opposites (1)

joib (70841) | about 5 years ago | (#29324815)

MS takes the drivers back to user mode after touting the kernel-mode as a performance plus. Based on my experience with 2008/Win 7 and ATI, I think the display drivers belong firmly in user mode.

Actually, if anything, the graphics driver models of windows and Linux are converging. The Vista/win7 graphics driver model is AFAIK not a pure user space model, but there is a small kernel component doing stuff like mode-setting and GPU memory management. Precisely like the "new" Linux graphics drivers with KMS and GEM/TTM; the bulk of the driver still resides in user space.

Even minor releases? (1)

DeHackEd (159723) | about 5 years ago | (#29324297)

At this rate I'm starting to question if we'll ever have a 2.7 "alpha/beta" series since all the major new features above and beyond stand-alone device drivers seem to be going right into the current branch.

Re:Even minor releases? (2, Interesting)

armanox (826486) | about 5 years ago | (#29324321)

I don't have the link handy, but, Linus has said before that a kernel 2.8 or 3.0 doesn't matter to him.

Re:Even minor releases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324607)

Hurry Debian ... Hurry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324301)

Flip I sure hope debian, will jump on this, for the next release.

Re:Hurry Debian ... Hurry (1)

spud603 (832173) | about 5 years ago | (#29324375)

Flip I sure hope debian, will jump on this, for the next release.

Kirk? Is that you?

Re:Hurry Debian ... Hurry (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324585)

Squeeze will not freeze until Q1 2010 at the very earliest. There is plenty of time for 2.6.31, and likely even 2.6.32

Re:Hurry Debian ... Hurry (1)

moon3 (1530265) | about 5 years ago | (#29325037)

Debian's kernel release is coming, after a heavy cereal lunch..

Duhh... Lunix? (-1, Offtopic)

Cheesetrap (1597399) | about 5 years ago | (#29324315)

This would be more exciting if it wasn't for the fact that the majority of people outside Slashdot think a kernel release is when you can see corn in your poop.

Catering to wide audience (2, Insightful)

ultrabot (200914) | about 5 years ago | (#29324331)

From TFA:

The result is an improved desktop experience; benchmarks on memory tight desktops show clock time and major faults reduced by 50 per cent, and pswpin numbers (memory reads from disk) are reduced to about one-third. That means X desktop responsiveness is doubled under high memory pressure.

Furthermore, memory flushing benchmarks in a file server shows the number of major faults going from 50 to 3 during 10 per cent cache hot reads.

And on next paragraph...

Linux foundner Linus Torvalds, first developed the operating system for his desktop and it rose to promince as a commodity Unix server.

Been using .31, and I'm a fan. (3, Informative)

sherl0k (1215370) | about 5 years ago | (#29324349)

I can honestly say that the system does feel a lot snappier, more responsive, and just overall a much more pleasant user experience. Everything's just a lot smoother. The kernel team is doing a pretty awesome job of speeding things up. Kudos.

Re:Been using .31, and I'm a fan. (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | about 5 years ago | (#29324431)

The kernel team is doing a pretty awesome job of speeding things up. Kudos.

Seconded. It also says good things about the state of the kernel and development team that they can focus on optimization and the user experience. It wasn't that long ago the focus was on getting wireless to work. We've come such a long way. Very impressive. Well done.

Re:Been using .31, and I'm a fan. (5, Funny)

Rebar (110559) | about 5 years ago | (#29324731)

The Break-In process of the new Linux kernel takes time. There is a significant change in Video Performance as the kernel break in. There is still a perception that Linux kernels have a short break in time or worse yet, don't require break in. Some hackers used a second computer to break in the Linux kernel, and transfer the image to their primary computer. This method will not appreciably reduce the break in time required for the kernel. Linux kernel Break-In must be done in the position where you plan to use it.

The System Performance Stages of the kernel are as follows:

* First Stage of Break-In = The system will feel very open, clear and with good detail resolution and dynamics. The greens and lower reds will have elevated intensity levels. The lower output of the blue and green information is due to reduced bandwidth performance at this Stage. In some systems, especially with aluminum or titanium heatsinks, the greens and blues may appear edgy or even fatiguing. The visual stage will appear OK with some lack of Focus. It will take from 5 to 15 hours of break-in for the kernel to reach the Second Stage of Break-In.

* Second Stage of Break-In = The blues and greens will appear less elevated and up front as the monitor intensity level increases. This is followed by the reds starting fill in. The lack of Focus may become more noticeable and the visual stage will start to widen and have more depth. It will take an additional 15 to 35 hours to reach the Third Stage of Break-In.

* Third Stage of Break-In = The system response time will completely flatten out. The presentation will become very clean and less up front. The lack of Focus is disappearing and the imaging will improve as will the low level detail resolution. The Green comes in and it is very tight and you will see lower Red frequencies than your other kernel provided. In effect the visual signature of the kernel will seem to disappear and the X-window presentation will be very real and non-fatiguing. It will take an additional 30 to 50 hours to reach the Final Stage of Kernel Performance.

* Fourth and Final Stage of Kernel Performance = The Visual Stage will be wider than your monitor with excellent depth, height and precise localization of individual icons on the desktop. The hue of the icons will be very accurate over the entire desktop. Symbolic links have excellent referencing ability. The metallic sound of your hard drive is very lifelike. Rhythm, Pace and Dynamics are effortless. Many users find they are now viewing the X-window system at lower Light Levels due to the effortless presentation. You will start to see subtle visual cues like the programmer turning his head while he is programming. You will find you are viewing the Window Manager and forgetting about evaluating your system.

Re:Been using .31, and I'm a fan. (1)

centuren (106470) | about 5 years ago | (#29324987)

I can honestly say that the system does feel a lot snappier, more responsive, and just overall a much more pleasant user experience. Everything's just a lot smoother. The kernel team is doing a pretty awesome job of speeding things up. Kudos.

That's good to hear; I've been waiting for such news concerning the kernel to help inspire me to fire up my desktop again and finish the last install I started (I left it at a stock kernel and mouse buttons not configured for my MX1000). It's been all too easy to use my laptop for everything, but new kernel features that noticeably improve the user experience have always been exciting. I remember the difference preemptive multitasking made to the desktop experience when it was introduced. It made a huge difference on our systems, especially with the security course we were taking at the time (which had all our CPU time completely occupied for about a week).

Benchmarks (4, Interesting)

pm_rat_poison (1295589) | about 5 years ago | (#29324353)

Phoronix [phoronix.com] has published benchmarks of an ubuntu system with kernel 2.6.31-rc5

We just need an alternative to X (2, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | about 5 years ago | (#29324373)

Just like folks at Apple realized with their OS X, we in the Linux world, need an alternative to X. I heard that Google Chrome OS will get rid of it entirely. I would like to hear from anyone who disagrees.

Re:We just need an alternative to X (2, Interesting)

eyepeepackets (33477) | about 5 years ago | (#29324485)

X works really good for what it's designed for and I'd hate to have to live without it. That said, what I also would like is a custom version for gaming which turns down or off features not needed for gaming. Wouldn't it be nice if users could build a custom X as easy as custom kernels?

Re:We just need an alternative to X (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324645)

>a custom version for gaming which turns down or off features not needed for gaming ...gaming needs as many or more "features" as anything non-gaming...

if you want better game performance, look for driver improvements and mesa improvements (including gallium3d).

Re:We just need an alternative to X (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | about 5 years ago | (#29324989)

You can compile x.org yourself [x.org] , you know. Actually, since you don't need to reboot to run a new X, it's easier than compiling a new kernel. That said, what exactly would you turn off? I'm reminded of the famous "simply too many notes [youtube.com] " scene from Amadeus.

Emperor Joseph II:My dear young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.
Mozart: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?

Re:We just need an alternative to X (4, Insightful)

the linux geek (799780) | about 5 years ago | (#29324489)

I would love to see somebody tell me what's wrong with X without referencing the UNIX Haters Handbook or anything else more than ten years old. I've been using it for a LONG time, in various proprietary and open-source incarnations, and it's come a long way. Xorg generally even works without an xorg.conf these days, and no other windowing system comes close to X's networking/remote-access features.

Re:We just need an alternative to X (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 5 years ago | (#29324561)

Most complains about X nowadays a really complains about poor support from video card manufacturers.

Re:We just need an alternative to X (1)

msclrhd (1211086) | about 5 years ago | (#29324817)

And people think that by moving to a completely different graphics server is going to fix this?

Re:We just need an alternative to X (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324491)

I disagree. Happy?

Anyway, if you think Linux should get rid of X, wouldn't it be a good idea to, you know, actually state why you think so? You know, provide some arguments?

Re:We just need an alternative to X (4, Insightful)

impaledsunset (1337701) | about 5 years ago | (#29324543)

I disagree. Do you have any reason why you want to get rid of X?

X's code base is ugly at places, and writing pure-X11 applications isn't the most fun thing in the world, but I can't think of (m)any shortcomings that lead to any trouble in real world usage that can't be fixed. Also, X has to offer a lot of things that any new thing wouldn't have. You might not use many of the features you get for free with X, but some of us do. X's architecture can be seen as a shortcoming, but it's also an advantage in many situation. Remote X for example is a great thing.

The biggest problem is all the applications that are currently written for X. You can't rewrite everything, and it is not even worth it. Really. X is working fine, and it's getting better. The same goes for the drivers, and everything that's already in.

And if Google Chrome OS's windowing system doesn't support the X protocol, I can assure you I won't be using it.

Re:We just need an alternative to X (2, Insightful)

ultrabot (200914) | about 5 years ago | (#29324549)

Just like folks at Apple realized with their OS X, we in the Linux world, need an alternative to X. I heard that Google Chrome OS will get rid of it entirely. I would like to hear from anyone who disagrees.

Nouveau guys seem to disagree:

http://icps.u-strasbg.fr/~marchesin/nvdri/fosdem1.pdf [u-strasbg.fr]

Re:We just need an alternative to X (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324619)

xinput 2 is here. xkb2 is coming. evdev is here. exa and uxa are here. kms is here for some drivers already. the basics of gallium3d are here, the rest, including drivers, is coming. xcb is here, it just needs to be used more. input and output hotplug and autoconfiguration are here. With all this there is no need to replace X. The basic design is ok and the details have come a long way since xfree86.

Re:We just need an alternative to X (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324657)

You mean the protocol or its implementation?

Re:We just need an alternative to X (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | about 5 years ago | (#29324745)

X is not a problem. X is actually one of the best parts of the Linux graphics stack, and it allows very nice things like running graphical applications remotely. Moreover, DRI allows applications to bypass the X server entirely. The actual problems are the drivers, and a lack of standardized APIs for things like video acceleration that work regardless of the card manufacturer. However, this area is slowly improving, for example take a good look at Gallium3D. When this matures, the amount of effort required to implement a video card driver will be greatly reduced; OpenGL, OpenVG and all other graphics APIs will be implemented in the Gallium3D stack, and the Gallium3D driver will be comparatively simple.

Lets do to X what ALSA did for sound. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324779)

OSS wasn't free nor sophisticated enough, so the more complicated ALSA was created to replace it. However ALSA was too much of a pain of a butt to code apps for, so several competing, yet incompatible sound daemons were developed. The sound daemons have their own bugs, and when combined with the bugs in ALSA result in even more buggy behavior. So, in most cases the most reliable option is to use OSS emulation and direct applications to use OSS which ALSA was supposed to replace to begin with.

Re:Lets do to X what ALSA did for sound. (2, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 years ago | (#29325103)

Totally wrong, you must be new here.

OSS existed both in free and non-free forms. The non-free implementation was missing some featured and supported few cards. OSS was very limited where mixing of multiple audio sources was concerned.

So if you wanted sound effects while you listening to music OSS probably was not enough for you. These is where the sound daemons came into play. They acted as a single OSS client and did all the mixing operations for other software to connect with.

ALSA - provided an architecture to handle modern multi channel boards and do mixing. It also improved the abstraction of particular drivers; so it was easier to add support for new cards. The libraries make it much easier to write clients for as well.

OSS emulation is popular because there is still a great deal of OSS client software around and hey you get most of the ALSA benifents of multi-client support and functional drivers for just about every card under the sun even while using OSS emulation so there is no good reason no to use.

Sound is a solved problem if you are still having problem with sound on your linux desktop then you must:

1.You have some very exotic hardware or needs. There are still some gaps in the super low latency realm for people trying to do sound engineering and such.

3.You are using really and I mean really cheap hardware that is missing important features and was doing way to much in software on that other platform. Drop $20 and get a new audio card, or get a motherboard with a chip set form a company whose name you can at least pronounce, if you want to use onboard audio.

3.You are using a really old distribution

4.You are using a really poor distribution

5.You failed to read the documentation and have badly mis-configured your system.
 

Re:We just need an alternative to X (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | about 5 years ago | (#29324919)

I would like to hear from anyone who disagrees.

Troll. But I'll bite.

X11 is a whipping boy for anyone who's ever had a complaint about a Unix GUI. No matter whether it's a badly-designed application, an unstable driver, or poor kernel scheduling, or a deranged toolkit drag-and-drop model, people always fault X11. And no matter what the root cause of the problem, the solution is always to throw out the X protocol and design something else. People like you fail to account for the possibility that there's actually very little wrong with X, and that it can certainly be the basis for a modern, functional GUI.

There was a very interesting comment [slashdot.org] on Slashdot a few years ago by Mike Paquette (who wrote Apple's Quartz) explaining why Apple didn't use X11 for OS X. The funny thing, in retrospect, is that every single feature mentioned in Paquette's post has now been implemented for X11, and that's with volunteer work. If Apple had invested resources into making this happen for X instead of reinventing the wheel, everyone would have been better off. Yet despite these additional features, we still retain full network transparency along with full compatibility stretching back to the 80s.

Don't confuse "newer" and "better". X11's architecture is quite good, and is among one of the better designs for a windowing system ever created. It's clean, extensible, fast, and network-transparent. It defines mechanism, not policy, and does its job extremely well. That it's been extended to support all kinds of modern features is a testament to the strength of its original design.

If it weren't for the soul-crushing stupidity, it'd be hilarious that people claim X is slow. X ran quickly on computers with 1/000 the performance of even a modest desktop system today, but it's slow on these modern computers? That makes no sense. People claim that X's network transparency puts it at a performance disadvantage, but neglect that Unix Sockets, used for local communication, are among the faster IPC mechanisms in existence. Criticism of X as a platform is baseless.

Re:We just need an alternative to X (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 years ago | (#29325097)

Don't confuse "newer" and "better"

Insightful.

X ran quickly on computers with 1/000 the performance of even a modest desktop system today, but it's slow on these modern computers?

You, sir, know what you're talking about. If only more were like you.

*Another* FireWire stack? (1)

TJamieson (218336) | about 5 years ago | (#29324385)

I honestly don't know, why is it needed? Isn't this the third one in about 5 years now?

Re:*Another* FireWire stack? (2, Informative)

TJamieson (218336) | about 5 years ago | (#29324507)

Replying to myself... whee!

It is not a new FireWire stack, rather the "second" stack that has been experimental for a few years is no longer marked experimental. However, the maintainer still says to use the old stack for many applications.

Yeah (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324399)

RAM is cheap and I have plenty of it. What about improving desktop performance when memory is not a limiting resource?
Honestly, there's something very wrong with a current state of Linux desktop when Windows 7 GUI runs faster that KDE 4.

Re:Yeah (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 5 years ago | (#29324569)

Fewer memory reads means less time waiting for memory reads, regardless of how much of it you have.

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324625)

it already works well with high memory with its ablity to use more then 4gb of ram with ether 32bit or 64bit enviroments

Minor release? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324403)

Even minor Linux releases have heaps of new features these days!

Linux has been on the 2.6 line for what? 6 years?

ATI mode setting, well, sort of... (4, Informative)

eddy (18759) | about 5 years ago | (#29324439)

From the kernelnewbies article:

This version adds Kernel Mode Setting (KMS) support for ATI Radeon. Hardware supported is R1XX,R2XX,R3XX,R4XX,R5XX (radeon up to X1950). Works is underway to provide support for R6XX, R7XX and newer hardware (radeon from HD2XXX to HD4XXX).

With the HD5850 and HD5870 weeks away (don't buy a new card till they're out, you'll hate yourself!), this means you have to be three GENERATIONS behind the curve for this yet unreleased kernel feature to be of use.

Re:ATI mode setting, well, sort of... (3, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | about 5 years ago | (#29324529)

If you need a bleeding-edge card, you're gaming, and to be frank, Linux is not the best environment for gaming. If, on the other hand, you're interested in solid 2D work with decent acceleration, a solid older card is just the thing. I just picked up a dirt-cheap R400-based card myself. (I'd have stuck with my trusty Matrox G450, but the driver will probably never support modern multihead with xrandr 1.3.)

Re:ATI mode setting, well, sort of... (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324673)

So? The basics are there, that makes adding newer stuff easier, especially since AFAIK the 5xxx series isn't radically different from 4xxx.

Re:ATI mode setting, well, sort of... (1)

eddy (18759) | about 5 years ago | (#29324835)

>So?

So no kernel mode setting for me and my old 4870. Just pointing out that this isn't some ATI model wide feature, like it came across from the blurb, which to recap, says:

Another improvement coming with 2.6.31 is kernel mode-setting support for ATI Radeon graphics cards, enabling faster user switching and a more seamless startup experience.

It could have said:

Another improvement coming with 2.6.31 is kernel mode-setting support for legacy [amd.com] [0] ATI Radeon graphics cards, enabling faster user switching and a more seamless startup experience.

[0] AMD's own term for things older than the ATI Radeon X2100 Series.

Re:ATI mode setting, well, sort of... (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324939)

Oh, I see. Yes, your phrasing would have been better.

Who cares? (0, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 5 years ago | (#29324445)

Why does this matter, really? Linux is a server OS, why are they spending any time on useless trivia? Compare the number of working linux boxes used for servers versus desktops, and ask the same question again.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324527)

Linux is a terrible desktop and an even WORSE server. In my company we use Windows for server duties (far more stable and fast than linux) and OS X for desktops. We've tried various open source operating systems in the past (freebsd, openbsd, linux) but they all suck for one reason or another, failing to support even the most basic hardware and applications. Windows and OS X JUST WORK, no hassle, no fuss. So stick that in your open source pipes and smoke it..

Re:Who cares? (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 5 years ago | (#29324597)

Sure, we will stick your vague assertions and hints at the existence of anecdotal evidence completely unaccompanied by any actual information into our pipes.

Re:Who cares? (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 5 years ago | (#29324801)

If it weren't for the OS X reference, I'd say that sounded like Steve Ballmer off his meds and trolling AC.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325023)

He already stuck it in our tubes.

Won't someone think of the tubes!?

Re:Who cares? (2, Insightful)

OriginalSolver (552648) | about 5 years ago | (#29324573)

No where is Linux defined as a server OS. Linux may be used primarily on servers but it is also used on desktops,imbedded systems and phones. Linux is many things to many people.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324709)

ditto

Re:Who cares? (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#29324697)

Today isn't Tuesday

Re:Who cares? (1)

Locklin (1074657) | about 5 years ago | (#29324715)

I wouldn't be so sure, I'm not sure how ~1% of desktop computers compares to ~12% server market in real numbers. There are may be many more desktops/laptops in the world then servers. In real numbers, they might not be so different.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Enleth (947766) | about 5 years ago | (#29324843)

Oh my, another weirdo who thinks that programmers are like construction workers or the like and can be reassigned from one construction place to the other just like that.

First, there's no "they". The fact that someone is doing desktop-related work has absolutely, totally NO EFFECT on any server-related work in Linux kernel or userspace, because it's done by different people and mostly in different areas of the code (otherwise they just let you decide what code to use when configuring the kernel, like with schedulers).

Second, there's no "they", again. Different people work on different things and it'd better stay like that. Just imagine what would happen if you somehow, forcibly reassigned (an absurd idea, but let it stand for the sake of an example) the desktop programmers to write server features. Got it? I, for one, do not want a TCP/IP stack written by a guy with 15 years of graphics driver programming experience.

Benchmarks on memory-tight systems? (2)

dvh.tosomja (1235032) | about 5 years ago | (#29324541)

I'm runing linux desktop on box with shitload gigabytes of free RAM and GTK still render spin edit slow like hell.

Try putting 100 (or so) GTK spin edits on one window an run it. 45s to be fully displayed (Intel Atom, 1GB ram). The same in win32 on windows XP and on the same machine - 2s. But still, >500 MB of free RAM on both systems.

Even better - devmapper supports barriers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324591)

http://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=9554#c12

Comment #12 From Alasdair G Kergon 2009-07-01 10:47:44 -------

As of 2.6.31-rc1, write barriers are supported by most device-mapper targets.

(Just dm-raid1 and dm-mpath still need finishing.)

Linux patches again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324651)

How is it that they ship a product to market and have to constantly patch it? I thought real software never got patched.

About time (1)

unifyingtheory (1357069) | about 5 years ago | (#29324761)

May I be the first to say it's about time the kernel devs paid some attention to desktop users. Servers aren't the only ones out there running Linux!

It's not all doom and gloom for the penguin (4, Funny)

wonkavader (605434) | about 5 years ago | (#29324969)

From the article:

The advent of Windows 7 in October may drive Linux's desktop market share down even futher.
It's not all doom and gloom for the penguin, however...

Thank goodness. I was so worried and depressed.

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