Now that DRI2 was removed from the Xorg7.4 release, there is a lot of whining around why it was not released as is so that we have at least something working.

The first thing one has to understand, is that the current Xserver rendering architecture is horribly outdated; there was no work done to keep it up to date during the Xfree days and even when Xorg started, the primary goal was to uncouple the different parts to allow asynchronous releases.

So currently there is not one field where construction done but several. These are 2D Acceleration, Memory Management, 3D Acceleration and 2D Modesetting. And they are all being worked on at the same time to speed things up.

But the problem is that more or less all of these depend on proper Memory Management, which is also the hardest thing to get right.

Now lets look at how Xorg works today; every Xorg driver implements its own way of memory management and provides the DRI1 functionality when it comes to 3D. Furthermore it is responsible for modesetting, which is quite suboptimal, since some perliminary modesetting is already done in kernel, so it can output messages during bootup. The Xorg driver resets the hardware again when it is loaded.

Kernel Based Modesetting

In order to solve this duplication the modesetting code is about to be moved into the kernel, so the hardware can be setup once and for all. But since modesetting involves memory management which is not done properly yet too.

Memory Manager

The idea here is to share as much code between the drivers as possible and to provide a common API for the userspace. (the new memory manager will live inside the kernel) So a memory manager consits of an API, a shared part and a hardware specific part. The first proposal came in form of TTM from Tungsten Graphics. TTM had a quite complicated API which many developer also thought of as not being able to suit new graphics cards. The shared code part was already written and some drivers like noveau started to use it. But then Intel introduced GEM, which had a simpler API and suited modern graphics cards better. Although GEM currently contains only Intel specific code, developers started to pick it up. There is a branch of the ATI driver which provides a similar API to GEM. The bottom line here is that there is no stable API yet, but it will likely be more similiar to GEM then to TTM.

3D Acceleration

DRI2 is a restructuring of the direct rendering infrastructure which was needed in order to redirect direct rendering. Currently when an application wants to draw an OpenGL window, it does this directly to the framebuffer. With DRI2 it will be redirected to some offscreen memory so the Compositing Manager can do fancy things with the output. This obviously depends on a stable memory management API and thus had to be changed when GEM was introduced, because DRI2 was designed only after TTM in the first place.

2D Acceleration

in the 2D acceleration area EXA was set as the way to go. But then Intel again introduced UXA – this time it is nothing different. It provides the same API as EXA, but takes advantage of the new GEM Memory manager. It was just given a new name because much of the old code was ripped out. This work will be most likely be used by the other drivers too.

Hope this helps too clear things up a bit. As you can see, changing the Memory Manager means changing all the other stuff too. Therfore it is important to get it right in the first place.

Releasing Woes

there were several problems with the last release of YouAmp, since I have not tested the upgrade path at all. The app simply crashed if you had an older version installed beforehand, but thankfully I managed to fix them by now, so you can safely upgrade.

The next release wont get that many architectural changes but is going to be localized, and here is where you can help; if you want YouAmp translated in your language, grab this messages.pot file and put the translations of the lines beginning with msgid on the lines beneath beginning with msgstr.

But please check the repository beforehand to be sure that the translation is not there yet. You can send me the translations via email (check the About section).

YouAmp 0.3.5

coming with the new Maemo Diablo Release there is also a new YouAmp release. This new release features:

  • changed the way to switch the views
  • improved browser behaviour
  • several playlist orderings supported
  • now being launched over d-bus
  • bugfixes & code cleanup

Order Menu

It should be available through diablo-extras soon.

On Gnome and Decadence

Basically I already wrote on the topic even before the thread on Planet Gnome started, but I would like to add a few things in that context.

Basically I also think that the way for Gnome from now on is to evolving rather than rewriting stuff for Gnome 3.0.

But in order to be able to evolve reasonable, one has to mutate first. And mutating is hard being Gnome – to catch up my former post – since Gnome is written in C.

In order to explore new concepts of usability, one need prototyping, but writing a prototype from scratch is hard and also unnecessary, since we already have applications for that task. So the straightforward thing would be to create a fork for experimenting and change the structure as necessary.

And here is where where Gnome fails; changing a python program is very easy since the language suits RAD very well, while hacking away in C is hardly possible.

That is also the reason why all the promising things are written in dynamic languages; GnomeDo is C#, Gimmie is Python, only AWN is C, but most of its Plugins are Python.

Now imagine Nautilus would have been written in Python – how easy would it be to hack away a version solely relying on Tracker for file organisation. I definatly think we would see much more innovative stuff here.

Getting involved in Gnome is broken

Although I was preaching it for a while already that one should not use C today besides from teaching Assembly, it was only recently that one of the Gnome Developers brought up that topic too.

It is a fact that developing in C is more time consuming, since there is absolutely no support for any modern design patterns in the language, like iterator exceptions or even Objects/ Classes. Although you can help yourself on library level with things like glib, it will never achieve a level of usability like a language which was designed from ground up with those features in mind, like Python or even better; Groovy.

So now there is Vala which is a Java like language that compiles into GObject C code, but although it is much better than being forced to write plain C, it is still not what you can attract people with. With Vala you basically create a language for the Gnome ecosystem, which effectively means you still dont integrate people which did have anything to do with Gnome before. It also means that you cant use it for anything besides writing Gnome applications.

My advise would be to use some standardized managed language like Java/ D/ C#. So if one wants to contribute to gnome one has only to learn a new API and not a whole new language.

I mean thanks to Sun open sourcing Java, we have now a fast an powerful Virtual Machine/ JIT and its a fact that managed languages are the way to go. So why not take a jump and start using it instead. You would get tons of people already familiar with the language, since Java is currently tought almost everywhere. You also automatically get support for all the other languages running on the JVM like Python(Jython) or Groovy. That is without spending any effort on creating bindings and caring about main loop compability, since everything compiles in to the same JVM bytecode.

Updated Tremulous Client for Ubuntu

I just uploaded the backported Tremulous client from trem-servers.com to my PPA. This tremulous build has several advantages over the repository version

  • GUID Support, with uniq IDs per server, to ensure your identity cannot be stolen
  • Options are available on the main menu screen and finally “sort by ping” works
  • When sorting by name, non-alphanumeric characters in front of the servers’ name get ignored
  • No more disconnects on restarts. Never see “a reliable command cycled out” again
  • supports wwwDownload and allowDownload defaults to 1
  • Demos aren’t interrupted anymore if you press any other key than Escape
  • Scroll wheel works in console and server browser
  • Alt+Tab minimizes Tremulous to the taskbar

the required vms is also included.