back to article Ex-org? Not at all! Three and a half years after X.Org Server 1.20, 1.21 is released

Version 21.1.0 of the X.Org Server has been fully rolled out, with just one fix since the release candidate, but it is still notable as the first major version for three and a half years for a project that was thought to be near-abandoned. The future of the X Server project looked bleak in 2020 when long-term project …

  1. DarkwavePunk

    Long live the king.

    X11 might be a bit of a mess as a protocol but I have fond memories of being able to use a web browser that my feeble hardware couldn't possibly have run at the time. Run off the mighty SunOS server at my university and projected to my screen at home in glorious 14.4 modem speeds I was truly enlightened.

    Okay, all 1000 websites there were at the time, but still.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Long live the king.

      Not quite so limited but I used to run an X server on an early version of Windows with the clients running on the HP-UX server. In fact it was the sole reason for running Windows.

  2. msobkow Silver badge

    I live by X2Go, which is built on a secure SSH link for X.Org displays. For the life of me, I can NOT remote a Gnome session because it is based on that festering Wayland crap that regens the WHOLE display for transmission every frame.

    Whoever came up with Wayland should be shot and pissed on...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wayland creators

      I beg to differ! First pissed on, then shot.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Wayland creators

        if you piss after shooting, it'll hurt more

        sort of like using a spoon...

      2. Simian Surprise

        Re: Wayland creators

        And then do we tie him to a public urinal?

    2. Daniel Palmer

      Person that came up with wayland: Thought that the current xorg was a deadend and developed something to replace it that won out among the other similar projects

      You: Complains about wayland but apparently didn't step up to maintain Xorg yet feels entitled to say someone should be murdered and pissed on for actually doing something.

      Number one issue with working on open source is people that gob off about what other people do in their own time.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Linux

        no, Wayland is yet another thing (similar to what Poettering has done) being crammed at us by the 'new, shiny, it is OUR turn now" too-young-to-realize-what-they-are-doing types.

        The fact that they do this in open source is NOT the problem (it has happened a LOT with Windows, after all). It's the fact that THEY ARE DOING IT.l Their narrow view of how computers are used (and possible demand that we play with our toys ONLY the way THEY tell us, and no other) just reflects a possible level of arrogance and disdain for normal people.

        At least, In My Bombstic Opinion.

        If Xorg were going to die I would probably do what I could to fork it. Problem is getting paid for my efforts - I do not have F.U. money and must do consulting gigs to survive. But now, seems good with a new maintainer.

        And I am _ALWAYS_ using X11 over TCP with embedded devices running Linux. It just makes sense to edit and build things on them this way.

        I have often pointed out where these misconceptions about the user base come from:

        a) Marketeers and their "new shiny"

        b) Looking ONLY at sales or new installs

        c) Poor sampling with surveys (Stack Overflow is NOT a representative sample)

        d) living in a bubble world [especially when MOST of the user base is OUTSIDE of your bubble]

        e) "It's MY turn, now!!!"

        and so on

        Wayland sounds MORE like "The Micros~1 way of doing things" i.e. a large bloated monolithic solution vs something more distributed (even to the point of client and server across a network). SystemD is like this, Pulse Audio has been accused of being this, and a LOT of people vote with their installs by choosing Linux distros like Devuan that have NONE of that crap in them [except pulse audio is still there but I believe they're working on a way to get rid of that, too]

        Wayland (IMBO) is Change for the sake of Change. So, NO. Just NO.

        1. Daniel Palmer

          >no, Wayland is yet another thing (similar to what Poettering has done)

          >being crammed at us by the 'new, shiny, it is OUR turn now"

          >too-young-to-realize-what-they-are-doing types.

          No one is forcing you to use anything you don't want to. The systemd situation was slightly different in that tools that were needed by everyone, not just systemd, like udev etc got consumed. This isn't the case here.

          No one has the right to force you to use wayland and equally you have no right to tell anyone what software they can work on. If you want to continue using xorg because you know better than everyone else then it's up to you to keep it working.

          Using other people's work for years and contributing absolutely nothing does not mean you get to rattle your cane from your wheelchair at the whippersnappers like you are some sort of authority.

          1. ST Silver badge
            Mushroom

            > If you want to continue using xorg because you know better than everyone else [ ... ]

            I continue using Xorg because it works much better than Wayland. Not because I know better than anyone else.

            If Wayland wasn't such a crashy pile of crap, I would consider using it. But it is a crashy pile of crap. I can't use it. I needs a graphics server that works, not one that randomly explodes while I'm doing work.

            So: instead of getting millennial-defensive about Wayland's tendency of defecating on itself at random, and instead of lecturing others about what they should or shouldn't be working on, why don't you lead by example and work on improving Wayland. It certainly needs the work.

            1. Daniel Palmer

              >So: instead of getting millennial-defensive about Wayland's tendency of defecating on itself at random

              This sounds a lot like telling other people about what to do in their own time again.

              I work on Open Source. You don't get to tell me what to work on.

              If you want something done either pay for it or do it yourself.

    3. gfx

      Before logging in ubuntu with gnome you can choose if it uses wayland or xorg. Kubuntu also.

      I usually end up with Xorg because wayland messes with the wacom.

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Wayland is a protocol, not an implementation. If you have a problem with the display updating continuously, then blame the display manager you are connected to.

      As it is, GNOME and QT have for a LONG TIME more or less drawn everything you see in a window into a pixmap. Even on X. The pixmap is pushed at you via X and then some magic extension (if you have one in X) tries to put the pixmap in a surface and composite it.

      Wayland acts as a protocol that allows the GNOME/QT client to communicate directly with the display manager to create and render directly into a surface. The display manager shouldn't be repainting anything unless the GNOME app says something has actually changed.

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Flame

    Refresh rates

    Wayland capping at around 80 FPS and Xorg going in the high 180 FPS

    Er, isn't that getting into willy-waving territory?

    1. Nelbert Noggins

      Re: Refresh rates

      And probably something to do with Ubuntu and many games still using xwayland to run, especially if using wine/proton.

      Unless you have an Nvidia card, from what I was reading Wayland, Nvidia and gaming is a bit of a mess atm. How it all changes as Nvidia used to be the goto option for 3d on Linux and amd was the mess.

      I recently experimented with arch and fedora to see if I could get rid of windows on my gaming pc.

      Didn't have any frame rate limiting issues or other problems with wayland, just usual level of wine/proton support and games using proprietary codecs, eg media foundation.

      Next year after steamos 3 is released I'll investigate again, but for now there's too much messing around with my game libraries and the multiple stores to be able to just switch on and play.

      1. badflorist

        Re: Refresh rates

        " from what I was reading Wayland, Nvidia and gaming is a bit of a mess atm"

        Not "atm", always. Back in 2012 I tried for a few weeks to make a pinwheel based Ui in wayland using an Nvidia (7xx series I think) and nothing would even render. Depending on which textures or sprites I was using, I could get shapes and colors but, any and all animations would either crash Wayland or do nothing. To be fair (I guess), this was the time at which Nvidia started to "open" up their API a bit (with the OEM driver), but it was enough that I haven't sought to touch Wayland since.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Refresh rates

      For anyone too lazy to follow the links, the resulting conversation squarely and rightly places the blame on Nvidia's drivers plus a little bit of XWayland. When using a game written for Linux (like most of Valve does) and with AMD hardware I can get 300 FPS. However I limit that to 60 to save on Joules and because I can't tell the difference.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Refresh rates

      It's also nonsensical because Wayland is a protocol not an implementation.

  4. TripodBrandy

    Waylanding

    Wayland is mostly usable now in KDE Plasma, at least when using Intel GPUs, apart from some occasional strange behaviour like dialog windows appearing in the top-left corner. On my other machine with AMD graphics I still have to use X as Wayland is pretty unstable with daily crashes and hangs.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Waylanding

      "Wayland is mostly usable now"

      Damning with faint praise.

      I agree that is, now, the case with KDE on Debian/Devuan. It wasn't a few months ago.

      1. badflorist

        Re: Waylanding

        Honestly, I don't think anyone even cares if Wayland works anymore. It's fine for distros (well, Ubuntu) to push it for a "more enriched" experience, but nobody else cares. If gaming became a serious concern, even Wayland wouldn't cut it as it would have to be some new (non-existent) low level API (Vulcan like) using VT-d like virtualization. I have yet to see 1 thing that I can't do with X but can do in Wayland, well, 1 thing useful that I'd actually like (Wayland can do some funky stuff, but is it useful?).

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Waylanding

          perhaps we just need to make OpenGL high performance enough for games, and let the rest of that be managed on the back end.

          I would think that OpenGL and dri would be enough... assuming the dev effort went THERE and not to some new, shiny pipe dream system (Wayland) to replace what already works.

          1. badflorist

            Re: Waylanding

            Vulcan is a high performance OpenGL, that is it's intention exactly ("OpenGL next"). Sadly, I have yet to see a "Web" Vulcan API like OpenGL ES/WebGL. A Vulcan to complement WASM could make browser games fun again (like old Shockwave... but on steroids).

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulkan_(API)

  5. jetjet

    No worries, Lehnard P. will embed one X server in systemD

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Mushroom

      F*ck y*u for suggesting that...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Nah. Not one.

      It'll be two servers ... one for internal use, and one for access from the outside. Why two? For security reasons, of course. Because it's obvious that an init really, really needs the functionality.

      And of course he'll have to include two versions of EMACS, one to edit each of the two slightly different HTML file formats and convert them to and from the obviously needed binaries. Again, for security reasons. Shouldn't add more than three or four hundred megs to the systemd-cancer. if you don't like it, don't use it. WONTFIX.

  6. aerogems
    Holmes

    The Real Question

    What is the status of XFree86? Alive? Dead? Walking dead?

    There needs to be a zombie icon.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: The Real Question

      In a nutshell, XFree86 was forked several times starting in early 2004 after making licensing decisions that were somewhat controversial. X.org was the fork that came out on top, and most of the XFree86 developers moved to that.

      XFree86 was "officially" (whatever that means) declared dormant in late 2011.

      1. aerogems

        Re: The Real Question

        I'm aware of the history, I'm just curious about the status of the project itself. I mean, someone's still paying to keep the website up, even if it looks like a throwback to the days of the 90s and Geocities hosted personal websites. Same with the CVS repo.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: The Real Question

          As I said, their status is "dormant".

          I suspect DigitalOcean is hosting them for free ... it's not like a handful of simple web pages, a few megs of storage space and maybe a couple hundred hits per month costs them anything. Many people/companies host historical stuff gratis. Publicly accessible museums are good PR.

          As a side note, I rather suspect it is a dead branch in the tree of software ... It would take quite an effort to bring it up to the existing standard, and at that point, given the same starting point, they'd essentially have the same basic thing as X.org, but without the userbase. Makes it kind of pointless, no?

        2. thx1111

          Re: The Real Question

          On the upside, there are some XFree86 drivers from ancient times that were never moved to X.org in working condition, in which case, when you want to run some really old hardware, you can still find working XFree86 drivers.

  7. jake Silver badge

    X is dead! Long live X!

    Wayland has far too many issues to be a general release product, and IMO it always will have far too many issues to be a general release product[0].

    Sticking with X.org until I see a very good reason not to ... and believe me, the world of Corporate "I just luuurrrvs teh systemd-cancer" Computing is NOT a good reason!

    [0]No, I'm not going to detail them here, not enough hours in the day. Try DDG.

  8. Gerhard den Hollander

    Xscreensaver

    Xscreensaver does not work under Wayland

    I'm not going to give up a tool I've been using for 30 years (1.13 I think) just because some newfangled kid on the block doesn't want me to.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Xscreensaver

      the best screen saver in XScreenSaver is the one that does the LCD re-conditioning. I hate having ghosts on my LCD monitors

      just shut off mate-screensaver or gnome-screensaver (or whatever) and run XScreenSaver on startup. Works for me. It complains about being out of date on FBSD though. I don't care.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Xscreensaver

        I like Xscreensaver too, but I've been finding it dead (as in "not running anymore") on systems for a while now. I've got version 5.42 on my Debian laptop now, but it has happened elsewhere.

        It's somewhat disturbing to wiggle the mouse expecting a locked screen password prompt, only to have the screen simply un-blank to your display.

        I suspect it's one of the savers in my random selection saver list causing the problem, maybe one of the GL-based savers, but I haven't rigorously investigated.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Xscreensaver

          Well, screen savers are pretty but basically useless today such as for protecting your screen... and given the rich variety of pranks discussed here to play on a work colleague five seconds after they leave their keyboard unlocked, relying on a screen saver to protect you is imprudent.

  9. bazza Silver badge

    Bravo for the New Maintaner!

    Jolly well done :)

    From the article:

    Another commented that gaming on Ubuntu 21.10, which defaults to Wayland, has "Wayland capping at around 80 FPS and Xorg going in the high 180 FPS" for some games.

    Hang on, the whole point of Wayland was to be fast. Wasn’t it? I know there were other reasons too behind its creation, but none of them had the veto over speed. It’s all very well to have a clean code base, a simpler architecture, and better security, but slower?

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Bravo for the New Maintaner!

      Bravo for the New Maintaner!

      Jolly well done :)

      Indeed ...

      +100 upvotes for your comment.

      And one on me -->

      O.

  10. fredblogggs

    Simple misunderstanding

    When he said of X.org that "using it to drive your display hardware and multiplex your input devices is choosing to make your life worse" this was really just a poor transcription. What he actually said is that it's "...choosing to make your life *work*". It's an easy thing to get wrong in a telephone interview, but anyone who's ever tried to use Wayland would have known at once what he was saying.

  11. iced.lemonade

    a question on X

    my work depends on remote desktop into the workstation at office, and generally rdp is really performant - with my broadband link at home it's responsive. i primarily use various intellij ide and i almost forget that i am actually remoting, instead of working at local machine.

    nomachine comes next but when i use ftp on the remote machine it slows down to a point where it is unusable - it seems windows prioritize rdp over other network operations.

    then come rest of the remoting solutions, like team viewer, vnc etc., where i find those generally unusable for daily driver. maybe it is my niche use case, but running ide remotely with solutions other than windows rdp is painful in general, as responsiveness is crucial (for example, in code suggestions, where small difference in responsiveness makes a big difference).

    then a question: X was designed with non-local access in mind, so it is supposed (or not?) to be at least on par with windows rdp performance?

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: a question on X

      I'm nor that familiar with RDP performance now, but I would like to add something about how X11 and RDP differ.

      X11 was designed back in the days of low performance networks, so the design is much more client-server than, say RDP. The Client runs on the remote system, and the Server is on your local system, controlling the display and input devices.

      For traditional X11 clients, the bulk of the heavy lifting is done by the Server. The Client sends through graphics primitive operations, and the Server then renders these requests onto your local display. This means that for traditional X11 Client programs, the network bandwidth was less of an issue, and the performance of the system running the X11 Server was more important.

      I say 'traditional' because many application writers didn't like the constraints placed on them by the X11 protocol and it's supported primitives. What many did was to locally render on the Client into a pixmap (X11's name for a bitmap image) what they wanted to display, and then send the whole pixmap to the Server. This allowed them to use whatever methods they wanted to manipulate the image, at the expense of loading the network with large amounts of data for each displayed frame.

      In comparison, RDP, which is really a remote control application of the frame buffer of the console of a remote system, always just sends bitmaps over the network. Because of the inherent inefficiency of this, RDP evolved to just send deltas of the screen, with compression and many other tricks to increase efficiency.

      What this means is that traditional X11 clients are probably more efficient and faster than RDP, but clients that render into an X11 pixmap are probably less efficient and slower than RDP.

      But X11 has many other advantages. You can have many people running Client programs on a remote system without having to set up lightweight virtual machines or virtual consoles on the remote system. You can also have client programs from many different remote systems displayed simultaneously on your local screen, and cut and paste (as far as it works, it's less flexible than cutting and pasting on Windows) works seamlessly across all clients.

      Also, if correctly set up (which is the default on most Linux systems running an X11 server), you cannot easily tell from the appearance which window on your display is local and which is remote. They can overlap, be displayed side-by-side, and behave pretty much the same. There is no "desktop in a window" which is often the case with RDP and VNC, or having to open the remote desktop full screen, obscuring local windows.

      But X11 will almost certainly be slower than Wayland (and MS Windows applications) if the Client runs on the same system as you are working on, even though a number of speed-ups have been added to the X.org server since the days of MIT X11 (before XFree86 and the X.org fork of that). X11 has been around a long time in one form or another, and some of it's benefits are also it's weaknesses.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: a question on X

      One further point. When X11 was written, bussed (i.e. all systems on a network segment share the available bandwidth using CSMA/CD) 10Mbs was a common speed for on-premesis networks, with limited speeds for packet forwarding over the simple bridges and routers of the time.

      This conditioned how X11 had to work, requiring efficient use of the network resources.

      We now have more than this, and on a switched (i.e. bandwidth not shared except in and out of specific systems) running across WAN/DSL networks to our homes. We have hugely more bandwidth available, even in our homes and to remote systems.

      Maybe the network efficiency is less of an issue now.

  12. Paul Johnston
    Pint

    Dear Povilas Kanapickas

    Please see icon

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