Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Kmscon Project Seeks To Replace Linux Virtual Terminal

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the that's-a-big-itch-you've-got dept.

Software 182

An anonymous reader writes "Phoronix reports on the progress of kmscon, David Herrmann's virtual console project that aims to supersede the Linux kernel's virtual terminal. kmscon takes advantage of modern Linux features such as kernel mode setting, direct rendering, and udev to provide hardware-accelerated rendering, full internationalization, monitor hot-plugging, and proper multi-seat support. A recent blog post by Herrmann addresses some of his frequently heard questions and criticisms about the kmscon project."

cancel ×

182 comments

is any of this needed? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070415)

Hardware accelerated rendering for simple text? Why is any of that needed?

Re:is any of this needed? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070529)

Because someone has to justify using their GTX 680 on something worthless like Linux?

Re:is any of this needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070651)

I thought the same, but tfbp explains it. I suppose an X session isn't always possible if the kernel console is too slow.

Re:is any of this needed? (4, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41070655)

you're aware that the BIOS and the linux boot screen are currently using HARDWARE ACCELERATED RENDERING for SIMPLE TEXT?

They call it "text mode"

Re:is any of this needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071305)

Back in the DOS days, BIOS was "the slow way" of rendering text and almost nothing serious used it.

And one would think there's very little "acceleration" for things like boot screens due to compatibility concerns. Dumb VGA device ahoy.

Re:is any of this needed? (3, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | about 2 years ago | (#41071411)

Hah. Going straight to BIOS was actually faster than using the DOS API. What you'd do for speed was use something like ANSI.SYS (or NNANSI.COM) or just write your own video driver, but that last wasn't exactly being a good neighbor.

Re:is any of this needed? (4, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#41072497)

Totally unrelated... except to show how relative a term "slow" can be.

This reminds me of reading the docs for a Perl DNS module once when I was writting an internal app that needed to do a lot of DNS lookups. The docs said it was "pure perl" and "slow". So, if the docs said it was slow....I figured I would use the system resolver instead.

I wrote my app, came to test it.... and DOSd my own system as my program began trying to slam the system resolver with 6 parallel workers (batch resolving IPs based on logs)...each of which had to open several files (nsswitch.conf, hosts, hosts.allow, resolv.conf.....and I think a few others if memory servers) for EACH LOOKUP.... my poor system was no match for it (this was back in the single core days)

I switched to the "slow" dns module, and maybe it was slow by some standards, but compared to the system resolver...it was lightweight and fast.

"Slow" is always a relative term.

Re:is any of this needed? (2)

snemarch (1086057) | about 2 years ago | (#41073233)

"wasn't exactly being a good neighbor"? That's the way you did stuff under DOS, and it was just fine in those days. It was a single-tasking environment, and writing directly to the 0xB800 segment when you needed fast textmode operations was just fine. ANSI.SYS was slow as hell compared to handling ANSI escape sequences yourself - even if you resorted to BIOS character output routines and not doing direct 0xB800 access... But since redirecting ANSI escape codes to files often didn't make sense, it made more sense doing direct access. Not everybody had the luxury of affording one of those insanely fast 80386 processors ;)

Re:is any of this needed? (2)

Nimey (114278) | about 2 years ago | (#41073467)

It was, but if you had a TSR, device driver, or possibly a memory manager that expected things to be a certain way then you could cause trouble by not going through the proper channels.

IIRC one of the reasons why WordPerfect was so popular was its speed, and it got this way by getting keyboard input straight from the 8042 keyboard controller. If you had too many programs in memory (EMM386, maybe one or two other types) that also read keyboard input directly and then passed it through, you'd get random characters in your WP document. Other word processors that went through DOS or BIOS didn't have that problem, but weren't as fast.

Re:is any of this needed? (3, Informative)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41071511)

compatibility issues are you kidding

your video card boots up in EGA text mode

every video card has done the same for decades now

Re:is any of this needed? (2)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | about 2 years ago | (#41073271)

Triggering a separate interrupt for individual characters was the slow way of rendering text. There's the overhead of the IRQ jump itself, handling cursor movement, window wrapping, scrolling - all that is OK if done once for a batch of characters but too much work when repeated for each character. Most programs used DOS or BIOS calls to print out strings of text at a time. Those occasional programs that had need to twiddle random characters on the screen would edit segment $B800 directly. Whether using BIOS, DOS or the text buffer, you're still using text mode. And believe me - it was much faster just setting the byte for a character and letting the hardware figure it out than plotting the pixels for the text in software. That's what text mode was - hardware-accelerated graphics that increased speed and reduced memory usage at the expense of limiting you to a set of pre-defined characters always arranged in a grid. There weren't compatibility issues because the protocol (the location and format of the text buffer in segment $B800) was kept sufficiently consistent from CGA to EGA to VGA.

Re:is any of this needed? (2)

snemarch (1086057) | about 2 years ago | (#41071715)

...at very limited resolutions (yes, there's the extended VGA text modes, but those are still limited and look horrible), with limited character sets, and either display cloned across all connected monitors, or limited to a single monitor output.

80x50 textmode is perfectly fine for me, but other people might have different needs... and the unaccelerated framebuffer modes are definitely horribly slow.

Re:is any of this needed? (4, Informative)

JabberWokky (19442) | about 2 years ago | (#41070701)

Because monitors aren't VGA anymore. We now have small laptops with 2880x1880 screens built in that are plugged into multiple monitors. If you want to drive that at a snappy response, or if you want to select a primary monitor and switch between them, you should take advantage of the hardware.

Heck, a simple one: I have a laptop with a dead built-in monitor. I use an external monitor, which works fine with X, but the console is on the internal screen.

Re:is any of this needed? (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41071093)

That is why real operating systems all have a serial console. Be glad for that.

Re:is any of this needed? (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 2 years ago | (#41073165)

and how many real laptops have serial ports these days? USB doesn't count since compared to RS232 it's complex and a pain in the ass to use.

Re:is any of this needed? (1)

snemarch (1086057) | about 2 years ago | (#41073289)

Ah yes, a serial console is superior to supporting an external monitor. Definietely a lot faster and easier to hook up as well ;)

Re:is any of this needed? (4, Interesting)

broken_chaos (1188549) | about 2 years ago | (#41070761)

Framebuffer consoles are (or were), in some cases, surprisingly slow. Huge amounts of output at least used to overwhelm them, only catching up if you swapped back and forth between VTs -- this didn't happen in non-framebuffer consoles or in terminal emulators in X.

I think it has improved significantly over the past few years, but that's probably partly from already working some hardware-accelerated rendering into some of the framebuffer console drivers. Though I'm not sure why they're not just working on improving the framebuffer drivers further -- the project seems to aim to put every damn piece into userspace, which seems like a terrible idea for something so essential as the basic console. If you break one of the things it depends on (such as xkb -- yes, really, a piece of X11 for a console system), then you lose any ability to interact with your system, or even view the boot output.

I'm really not sure who it's aimed at. If you break your install and you don't have an old kernel-based VT fallback, you're screwed. If you don't break it and it works fine, what benefit is it? You'll more than likely just be starting up X11 momentarily anyway.

Re:is any of this needed? (4, Informative)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41070903)

no it is worse

text mode performance is unimportant to graphics vendors, they do the bare minimum to make it work, they don't lift a finger to make it faster.

nursing the dynamic data flow to potentially slow I/O devices (like USB displays) is a job for user space. Data is queued to be sent to the device for display but it might be modified while in the queue by graphics events. You don't want to put this stuff in the kernel.

you are actually making good arguments to remove this functionality from the kernel

you don't lose the ability to interact with your system or view the boot output, if you have SSH enabled, or if you dump the log messages to the serial port.

embedded people have been working on screenless systems for years, they are not necessary for interacting with the computer. There are plenty of other ways.

Re:is any of this needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41072567)

you don't lose the ability to interact with your system or view the boot output, if you have SSH enabled, or if you dump the log messages to the serial port.

Nobody fucking wants to do this. We want a computer that works. I don't care how awesome this is, if there's a single chance of not seeing boot output due to it failing, then it's a piece of shit that shouldn't exist.

Re:is any of this needed? (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41071157)

If you read the article (or was it the blog post?), you'll find answers.

First, kmscon has only one dependency - libudev. It can be compiled to use Pango for font rendering, or EGL for hardware-accelerated rendering, but those are optional. X11 is never used.

Second, the rationale for putting this in userspace was mainly for internationalization. In particular, some character tables (for Asian languages, especially) can be rather large. If it was in the kernel, that memory could not be swapped out. In userspace, you can.

Third, this seems aimed at regular console users, not primarily-X-users-that-use-a-terminal. There are plenty of good X11 terminal emulators (and just as many bad ones). This is aimed at people who don't need (or at least, don't want) X, but still want to use all the features of modern hardware. It also claims to interact well with both the kernel VT system, and with X - you can keep an X session on one virtual screen, keep the kernel terminal on another (for those few cases where it is needed, like kernel error messages), and put kmscon on the rest.

I will probably try this out, because I at least used to fit into that group of regular console users. I have on several occasions run out of virtual terminals. I'm not so much of one anymore, but maybe this will get me back into it.

Re:is any of this needed? (3, Interesting)

broken_chaos (1188549) | about 2 years ago | (#41073355)

First, kmscon has only one dependency - libudev. It can be compiled to use Pango for font rendering, or EGL for hardware-accelerated rendering, but those are optional. X11 is never used.

Looking into the source briefly suggests it actually doesn't have a hard dependency on udev, but has optional dependencies on: systemd, udev, dbus, libdrm, gbm, egl (mesa), glesv2 (mesa), xkbcommon (a part of X11), freetype2, and pango. This means if you don't intentionally build it with the minimal of requirements (presumably making it no richer in features than the default VT system), it would be linked against all those and break if any of them broke during an upgrade or for any other reason.

This is aimed at people who don't need (or at least, don't want) X, but still want to use all the features of modern hardware.

This seems like a niche-of-a-niche market, so to speak. I greatly prefer terminal applications, but I always run them under X (using a minimal window manager, etc.) so that I have access to more complex things like PDF viewing or web browsing (beyond links) when needed.

It also claims to interact well with both the kernel VT system, and with X - you can keep an X session on one virtual screen, keep the kernel terminal on another (for those few cases where it is needed, like kernel error messages), and put kmscon on the rest.

Ah, I guess the Slashdot, Phoronix, and author's blog posts are a bit sensationalist, then -- all three of them make repeated references to completely replacing the standard kernel VT system, including the author recommending disabling CONFIG_VT entirely.

Re:is any of this needed? (1)

mynis01 (2448882) | about 2 years ago | (#41071141)

I have to agree. This seems kinda pointless, just connect to your TTYs with tmux or screen, problem solved. Why are we worried about improving something that is deliberately a fall back to a simpler system?

Re:is any of this needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071249)

Because reinventing the wheel is more fun then fixing old code.

Re:is any of this needed? (3, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41071197)

I remember a while back, (Like a decade or so) I did some simple benchmark tests.
In essence display all the numbers from 1 to 1,000,000
And depending on the video Card, this program would run faster in X-Windows or just in Text Mode.

Most new video cards have the performance in the GUI stuff, and not much work in making text mode faster. So I would expect with hardeare acceleration rendering for simple text you may be able to see a major speed improvement noticeable in application that blurt out data to the screen (Such application that blurt are normally meant to be piped to an other app for better detail, But sometime we just let it run... That I/O is slowing down the application running speed.

That said what I would really like to see out of a Frame Buffer Text Mode is better support for other terminal types. No longer restricted to the BIOS text rules. We can emulate other formats such as the higher number VT that allows for different font sizes on the same screen (well wide, narrow, and normal). Form based Terminal Emulation such at 3270.

I am not dissing the command line, I really like it, but PC Text mode is an ancient fossil now that need to be gone.

Re:is any of this needed? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41073095)

That said what I would really like to see out of a Frame Buffer Text Mode is better support for other terminal types. No longer restricted to the BIOS text rules. We can emulate other formats such as the higher number VT that allows for different font sizes on the same screen (well wide, narrow, and normal). Form based Terminal Emulation such at 3270.

So, basically you want GUI features without having a GUI system. Graphical changes: Wide, Narrow, Normal. My video game has a terminal emulator that's fully hardware accelerated -- It can even use 3D "glyphs". What we really need is just OpenGL without X11. Gimme that at boot: standardised API to low level GPU stuff. That's all we really need. Canonical is going in that direction... Textmode is essentially a fallback mode for when shit hits the fan. If you're using a server, connect via SSH or serial on another machine. If you're using it as a desktop machine, then use a damn desktop rendering system. If that's too heavyweight, the answer isn't to make a special purpose low level textmode rendering system, the answer is to make the rendering pipeline lightweight.

I can give you a multi font hardware accelerated terminal emulator with full Unicode support, but what I need is a way to throw textures and polygons on the screen -- NOT YET ANOTHER TEXT API.

Re:is any of this needed? (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 2 years ago | (#41073351)

>> [...] in X-Windows[...]
your point is void

Attention Distros (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070439)

Please don't take this as an excuse to default the console to anything other than 80x24. Not only is it annoying, but when arch went to this default, I struggled for days trying to figure out how to undo it. I finally did, but a month later it somehow reverted.

Please don't do that. Thanks.

Re:Attention Distros (4, Insightful)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41070525)

OTOH, please make it configurable to have a default of other than 80x24. Back in the days of 9" terminals, 80x24 is great. Today, when I have a 20" monitor attached, capable of displaying 1600x1280, please let me display more lines and columns.

Re:Attention Distros (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070661)

If you want something other than 80x24, start X.

Re:Attention Distros (2)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41071267)

If you want anything more than 9600 baud, go back to the 1980s.

Re:Attention Distros (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41072503)

I was running X in the 80s.

I agree with the other guy about the fancier terminal options. If you want a fancier terminal, perhaps it's finally time for you to leave the 70s and start using X.

Re:Attention Distros (2)

randomencounter (653994) | about 2 years ago | (#41072755)

Sometimes you have a need for a minimal terminal interface.

For me it's usually because I managed to break X playing with new drivers (again!) and I need something to fix it in.

So I should be crippled to 80x24 while I do that when better could be available?

Re:Attention Distros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41072961)

Yes. This is Linux not Windoze or Mac OSuX.

Re:Attention Distros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071471)

I can't remember console ever not doing that. Am I missing something?

Re:Attention Distros (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41071979)

AC2 meet AC1 who thinks this should require X... :)

Re:Attention Distros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41072585)

Why don't you just start X?

Re:Attention Distros (3, Insightful)

ciggieposeur (715798) | about 2 years ago | (#41070665)

Don't you mean 80x25?

80x24 is vt100, xterm, and friends.

80x25 is CGA/EGA/VGA.

Re:Attention Distros (4, Interesting)

Nimey (114278) | about 2 years ago | (#41070759)

Have you ever used 80x24 on a 22" monitor with 1680x1050 native res? The letters are so huge as to be unreadable. Ubuntu et al handle it correctly by letting the X driver do KMS to the native res, which carries over to the console.

I'd be happy with defaulting to whatever the video hardware can handle and then having an easy way to configure it for other resolutions.

Re:Attention Distros (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070819)

Have you ever used 80x24 on a 22" monitor with 1680x1050 native res?

No, I don't use junky monitors.

Re:Attention Distros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071301)

I don't use the console unless something goes wrong. I prefer to run terminals in X. Therefore, the only time I see the console is when booting or shutting down. At the point where it changes text mode during boot, I lose sight of all the boot messages preceding it. This is pointless and annoying since I don't normally use the console unless something is broken. And if something is broken, I hardly care that I'm "only" working in 80x25.

The bottom line is that they're making the boot process more complex for no good reason, and the kicker is that it's not easy to revert to the "old" behavior. If they want to give an option during the install process, that would be great. But I can't think of any good reason to make the console default to anything other than 80x25.

Re:Attention Distros (1)

truedfx (802492) | about 2 years ago | (#41072281)

If you don't use the console, this shouldn't bother you, since it shouldn't affect you.

Re:Attention Distros (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41072539)

You are being intentionally obtuse.

He does use the console. He just uses it as an emergency fallback mechanism. As such, it should be as simple as possible. Trying to give it the "trans-warp" treatment is just stupid and really bad engineering.

Re:Attention Distros (2)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 2 years ago | (#41071223)

Also, please don't take away the consoles as they work now without making sure there's a compatible screen reader available that will read the console boot messages in real time. There are a number of blind sys admins who would be out of a job if they could not hear boot messages during boot. A user space console could be a good thing, but if it harms this small tech community, overall it would be a very bad thing.

What's proper multi-seat support? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070567)

Dumb question, but what do they mean by proper multi-seat support?

Re:What's proper multi-seat support? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070719)

Dumb question, but what do they mean by proper multi-seat support?

http://www.x.org/wiki/Development/Documentation/Multiseat

> Multiseat is a model of computing that supports multiple local users using their sessions in a totally independent way. This looks quite similar to the old mainframe computer model, but with the "terminals" connected directly to single PC box. There's a lot of people that use and sell multiseat Linux systems due its low cost which qualifies it as a wonderful "techno-social" model of computing.

Re:What's proper multi-seat support? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41070729)

A 'multiseat' setup(in the contemporary sense) takes advantage of the fact that putting a decent number of video outs on a single computer is cheaper than ever, and the number of USB HID and/or sound devices you can support is pretty large, and puts multiple independent monitor/keyboard/mouse users on a single host system.

I haven't had the... pleasure... of testing this myself; but I assume that non-X display scenarios, including virtual terminals, are painfully graceless under such a scheme. Certainly, all the multi-head systems I've used do something brutally ugly during the BIOS display, something slightly less ugly(generally at least mirroring) on GRUB, and don't actually start working properly until X is up and going.

Re:What's proper multi-seat support? (1)

nullchar (446050) | about 2 years ago | (#41072737)

I run multiseat and it's exactly that. One seat may have some boot display, but all other seats are blank until X starts. If X fails to start, only seat0 has a VT. Once X starts, VT switching is usually disabled in the xorg parameters so no VTs may be used on any seats.

Thus, it would be rad if ctrl-mod-f12 would launch kmscon on each seat! Then if X is hosed, you have an option besides ssh-ing in.

Re:What's proper multi-seat support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070743)

Probably without a fixed maximum number of pty's.

Re:What's proper multi-seat support? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41070749)

multi seats
multi displays
multi keyboards
multi mice

everyone sits down, everyone logs in. it's the old fashioned "time sharing" system back again.

With USB display adaptors, it's "plug and play".

Re:What's proper multi-seat support? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#41071175)

With USB display adaptors, it's "plug and play".

In principle, or in fact?

I've had a multi-seat linux system for many years and always found it difficult to set up and incredibly brittle to each new video card driver, Xorg release, and OS version (and likely not workable unless you disable the Gnome or KDE display manager). Once you get it working you do not touch it until you have at least a weekend to spend editing inittab, Xorg.conf, and so on.

I have concluded there isn't critical mass of user interest to keep it working and properly supported, and so given up hope that it will ever improve for good.

Anybody have a different experience?

If I could just say, "anything that hangs off USB hub 2001:f103 is part of a separate console" (including accelerated video replay and a usb sound card) I would be delirious with joy.

Re:What's proper multi-seat support? (4, Informative)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41071355)

In principle, or in fact?

I've had a multi-seat linux system for many years

Fedora 17 documentation:

For the first time Fedora 17 provides completely automatic multi-seat configuration.
To use this feature, simply plug in a USB dock such as the Plugable Docking Station, with a monitor, mouse and keyboard, and a new desktop appears.

I would be delirious with joy.

well I guess I just made your day

Re:What's proper multi-seat support? (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about 2 years ago | (#41071833)

I've had a multi-seat linux system for many years and always found it difficult to set up and incredibly brittle to each new video card driver, Xorg release, and OS version (and likely not workable unless you disable the Gnome or KDE display manager). Once you get it working you do not touch it until you have at least a weekend to spend editing inittab, Xorg.conf, and so on.

My experience has been the same as yours. I want multi-seat so that I can have a dedicated console in the basement next to the actual server hardware, but also have the ability to use the mouse and keyboard in the living room where the entertainment center are. I don't want the server in the living room, I want it directly below, in the basement where I can dump its heat into the stone foundation.

Kernel Mode Setting (3, Insightful)

andydread (758754) | about 2 years ago | (#41070801)

Does this mean that when KMS is broken on "insert graphics card of the month here" I won't be able to get to the console? ooo nooo...

Re:Kernel Mode Setting (1)

diegocg (1680514) | about 2 years ago | (#41071009)

Sadly, yes.

Re:Kernel Mode Setting (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 years ago | (#41071087)

And if I have KMS disabled because the in-kernel drivers don't support my graphics chipset? I guess that means no console at all? If so, then a giant FAIL for this project.

Re:Kernel Mode Setting (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41071199)

Then just don't use it. Nobody is trying to make this replace the Linux kernel console, much in the same way nobody is trying to make Emacs replace ed.

Re:Kernel Mode Setting (1)

fa2k (881632) | about 2 years ago | (#41072177)

Presumably, you will get into GRUB because that's run before Linux. Hopefully, there will be some kernel command line option you can specify to use a standard graphics mode. I have an old laptop that shows a vertical stripe pattern when the fancy boot screen is enabled, and doesn't get better in X (if it actually gets that far, I don't know), but it will boot when I change the kernel options. It would be madness and extreme hubris to trust in the driver quality enoung to not haev a fallback option.

Deep windows 8 discount (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41070845)

If you have already purchased or plan to buy an eligible Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013, you will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 after the software debuts on Oct. 26. Registration will close on Feb. 28, 2013.

Dear god no (3, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#41070859)

I switched to Ubuntu a number of years ago and could never forgive them for trying to hide all the startup info from the console. It's become even more egregious with grub2 parameters/configuration, kernel video modes, even the old faithful boot command "linux single" no longer works to get to a console screen to fix something.

I don't know how many other distros have adopted this "windows mania" to run everything from gui but for the love of god, leave the console alone. It's the only thing that works anymore when nothing else (emergency sync, boot, etc).

Re:Dear god no (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41070983)

Is a serial console not an option for you?

Re:Dear god no (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41071219)

Why would I need one? The virtual console and safe mode have always given me this ability.

Having a serial terminal laying around to work on your Linux box in case something goes wrong seems like a giant leap backwards ... unless you have some fetish for old TTY devices. :-P

Sometimes, you need the lowest possible denominator in order to be able to do these things.

Re:Dear god no (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41071555)

In 2012, heck in 1999, you use a null modem cable and a laptop instead of a dedicated serial console.

Since I would assume any geek has at least another computer and can easily get a null modem cable and a usb to serial adaptor this really is pretty simple.

That approach is great when for one reason or another you cannot get any display out of a machine.

Re:Dear god no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41072639)

In 2012 nobody wants to do this because it's a waste of time. Just have a fallback that works. You shouldn't require to have a shitty social life and 10 years experience in DnD just to see output.

Re:Dear god no (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41073167)

This is a fallback that works.

Just because you don't know what you are doing does not mean you can't know this and have a social life.

Re:Dear god no (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41071611)

not when your x server stops processing keyboard events
you're not flipping to the virtual console or doing anything else

got news for you: remote debugging is alive and well. read the gdb manual, its use over a serial port is fully supported and documented.

Re:Dear god no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41073357)

it works over ssh too

Re:Dear god no (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | about 2 years ago | (#41071685)

I don't even have serial ports in my laptop :(

Re:Dear god no (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41071809)

Not even the Universal Serial Bus type?

I thought those were pretty Universal.

Re:Dear god no (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 2 years ago | (#41071745)

Considering that I haven't seen new hardware in the home or "prosumer" level (and only "occasionally" at the server level) with a serial port for years, I think that's a pretty poor assumption for them to make.

Re:Dear god no (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41071927)

"only occasionally"

how about Supermicro's entire product line? All of their servers still have serial ports.

Re:Dear god no (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41072451)

PCI/PCIe cards that add serial ports are not hard to find either.

Re:Dear god no (1)

bigtrike (904535) | about 2 years ago | (#41071521)

init=/bin/bash still works with grub2 in Debian.

Re:Dear god no (1)

euxneks (516538) | about 2 years ago | (#41071631)

They are trying to make Ubunutu more user friendly, showing console information on bootup is "scary" for a non technical user.

Whether they succeed in making it user friendly is another discussion entirely. However, you can disable the non-console bootup by removing "silent" from the grup parameters (as far as I remember, anyway, they may have changed it again)

sidenote: seriously slashdot? I have to format my comments in some pidgin html?

Re:Dear god no (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41071743)

Select 'Plain Old Text'. This option has been there since, basically, forever.

RTFM (3, Informative)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41071663)

edit the boot parameters, remove "quiet" and replace with "nosplash debug"

is it really THAT hard???

It's not removing the console (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#41072173)

Why are you even complaining about that? This project is not to remove the console, it is to make a new console.

By the way, "linux single" still works on grub by default, Ubuntu must have added some weard config to it, just reconfigure the beast, and it will be back. The kernel video modes are there for a reason, the console gets much better in high definition. If you like big letters, just setup a big font. And the startup screen, it is just matter of removing one package, but I don't remember its name. Yeah, it may be better to just not install Ubuntu. There is still Mint, or if you don't like that (I never used Mint, so I don't know), plain Debian.

Re:It's not removing the console (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41072655)

A new console? Why bother?

Apparently it's working to well (like ALSA, init, GNOME, and X).

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and quite often the relevant parties are completely blind. Hire some guys to write video drivers or improve one of the NLE's.

Leave the boring stuff alone.

A Real console (3, Insightful)

stox (131684) | about 2 years ago | (#41070875)

is a Teletype ASR-33 hanging off the serial port.

Re:A Real console (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41070951)

serial port.

A what now? "Serial port"? Is that anything like USB?

(I kid, I kid - I still have a null modem cable in my big bag o' cables)

Re:A Real console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071111)

Sadly most Linux distros can't boot from serial by default, but other unixen can, like OpenBSD or Solaris.

I only buy servers with a serial port. Then I cross-link the serial ports so I always have remote serial console access from one of my servers to another in case of trouble. And I don't have to worry about the security of one of those serial-to-IP embedded thingies that hosting facilities like to use.

Re:A Real console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071385)

FWIW, by "default" I mean that in order to use a serial console you have to first reconfigure the distro to put a console on the port. Which makes for a catch-22 if you don't have a monitor and separate keyboard when you're installing. Which I don't. All I keep around is a laptop with a USB-to-serial cable. I'm not one of those people who keeps boxes of junk in the corner.

Re:A Real console (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41071475)

if you have multiple systems then you can prepare boot media on another system or use it to pxe boot

Re:A Real console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071441)

I think you're I'm my team at work. You're fired!

Re:A Real console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41072679)

I've been administering Linux since 1994. I've maintained some of my servers, remotely, without hiccups, for over a decade (that is, a decade of carefully upgrading remotely). I'm also a systems engineer, and in all likelihood you're probably relying on some of my software as we speak. That is, presuming you use e-mail or IM. So, I know my share, and I don't cargo cult.

My point about the serial console is that it's a pain in the butt, when it _should_ just work automatically. But most sysadmins these days have followed in the footsteps of NT admins, and keep a rolling monitor and keyboard at their side 24/7. And that's why Linux, unlike almost every other Unix, doesn't have a console on the serial port by default---there's not enough demand.

Kids these days....

Re:A Real console (2)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41071455)

you're wrong

just put the serial params on the boot command line

every linux I've tried works fine with a serial console

you will need to pxe boot or burn your own boot media to get the params there in the first place

Re:A Real console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071825)

Exactly: I need to pxe boot or burn my own boot media. And that's what I do--pxe boot. It's still extra work, especially when you're doing remote upgrades and have to make sure that you don't lose the configuration.

Re:A Real console (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41072283)

pxe booting is hard?

actually keeping track of what you do is hard?

pxe boot makes life easier because you CAN save the boot configurations for all your machines in one directory

Re:A Real console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41073423)

Yeah, that's right. When you're maintaing a heterogenous unix environment on your own dime and time (this isn't for work) for _decades_, having to worry about that crap is "hard". That is, it takes precious effort. The fewer moving parts, the better.

Have you ever tried to remotely upgrade several unix servers from 3,000 miles away? Regularly? For over a decade? I doubt it.

I can do it, and do it standing on my head. That doesn't mean I can't complain when something could be made easier and simpler. Complexity is the enemy. Being able to manage complexity isn't a badge of honor, it's a badge of shame, because your job as a sysadmin is to keep things simple.

To the best of my knowledge I've never had any of my systems rooted. Ever. And my servers have dozens of shell accounts, some logging in from Windows. I've personally known and worked at many companies where the idiots who thought they knew it all had live root kits running on their systems. Most of the time they didn't even realize it. I've had AT&T ask how the fsck I discovered an intruder on a massive SunOS server, and I told them it was because I didn't dick around with automated crap (the kit was tailored to hide from the tools SunOS admins were taught to use). (Also, sysadmins who don't understand and regularly write assembly or C code have a hard time understanding how exploits work, and so have a false sense of security.)

The way to keep a system running safe is to keep it simple, and that's the lesson those guys never learned. They thought their job was to learn all the tricks, to install all the latest and greatest "security" or firewall software, when in reality it was to simplify. How do you simplify? Rigorously and persistently look at all the crap you can remove from the process. S-I-M-P-L-I-F-Y. Same rules apply to every other aspect of administration. I don't like PXE because it's just one more stupid thing to keep in mind, which for my particular environment is unnecessary. (If I was running a computing farm, obviously it'd become quite useful.)

Re:A Real console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071851)

serial port.

A what now? "Serial port"? Is that anything like USB?

(I kid, I kid - I still have a null modem cable in my big bag o' cables)

No, a Serial Port is a type of Internet port number that can only receive serial communications, like one byte at a time. (Seriously kidding)

Slightly updated (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | about 2 years ago | (#41071993)

If you were really snazzy you had a DECwriter II (LA-36)... zzzt! zzdedezzzt! zzzzzt! (....[pause].....hummmmmm as the head vibrates in the 'view' position)...

Re:A Real console (1)

Cramer (69040) | about 2 years ago | (#41072143)

I guess that makes me decadent since I have VT420s. (and no MMJ crimps :-()

Userspace? (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#41071307)

The reason I use virtual terminals is because they are NOT user space. Otherwise xterm and similar programs work well enough. But if this would add a graphical layer that can mix cleanly with the text mode, then it might be interesting (e.g. "cat image.jpg" and get a picture).

Re:Userspace? (1)

tobiasly (524456) | about 2 years ago | (#41071629)

e.g. "cat image.jpg" and get a picture

I think you meant "image cat.jpg"

Re:Userspace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41071695)

| The reason I use virtual terminals is because they are NOT user space.

So.. you don't use bash then do you? Or any commands after switching to a VT?

Re:Userspace? (4, Funny)

Lussarn (105276) | about 2 years ago | (#41072207)

Thats already possible..

cat image.jpg

I don't even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, redhead..

Talented Fish Swims Upstream (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41072209)

Another very talented fish, wasting his life swimming upstream.

I see no need for this. There are so many things that are needed. A console for Linux is just not on the list.

From the "FAQ", video driver fail (1)

fa2k (881632) | about 2 years ago | (#41072447)

And even if your video-driver fails, then your kernel-console cannot recover as you probably run fbcon which uses the same drivers as user-space.

Not if I can help it! I don't need a fancy console, I have X for that.

The only fallback would be vgacon which is only accessible from the kernel, but recovering via text-mode doesn’t work in most video-driver-failure-cases either.

Is that fact or guesswork/anecdote? And if it works in 4 out of 10 cases I'd still want it.

Therefore, this whole argument is simply wrong, but most of you probably know that already.

Well it adds more complexity, and at the very least it increases the possibility for bugs . I'm just really skeptical, because I have had the graphical boot screens fail on multiple computers. It seems like a nice project, but it should be an additional service like X11, it shouldn't replace the kernel consote. [Though with systemd, the kernel console isn't very useful anyway, as if something goes wrong, you are hosed]

Idiocy (0)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 2 years ago | (#41073189)

This project is a waste of time and it is incredibly dumb. Direct rendered text? Give me a break. All they are doing is replicating functionality already found in X, its useless duplication. The terminals are supposed to provide an interface that can be used before or without loading video card specific drivers. The only way to display without loading video card drivers is to do it through the BIOS, the VGA BIOS textmode is the initial environment and the fallback environment when a video card driver does not load properly and as well for those who just want a text based interface and do not need a full GUI. If you do want more than a text based environment, and want a lightweight GUI, you might as well load X and a lightweight window manager like fvwm, which will not use that much RAM anyway. X is not heavyweight, thats a stupid old myth that refuses to die, but some of the desktop environments are.

It is pointless to duplicate functionality already found in X, especially when X itself only uses a few megabytes, nothing in todays hardware, and another system basically would provide no or insignificant savings in ram,

Finally! (3, Funny)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 years ago | (#41073269)

I can't wait to see vi rendered in 32-bit photorealistic glory!

Pronounce it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41073515)

I hear that the M#tijnaGnsJIOseJNEATOjaNAOW project had this functionality sooner but since no one could pronounce it, the Internet killed it. How does one pronounce kmscon? Kimscon?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...