On the first day of the 2012 X.Org Developers' Conference, Bart Massey
kicked off a short presentation from the Board of Directors of the X.Org
Foundation, running through the current status of the foundation and its
recent achievements. He began by noting that, with much assistance from
the Software Freedom Law Center, the foundation has now
achieved 501(c)(3) tax status as a US nonprofit. In addition, the
foundation is now a member of the Open Invention Network
(OIN). Although the foundation can't offer any patents to OIN (because
it owns none), "we do have a lot of prior art". Much of
what the X developers are doing is innovative and potentially patentable
[by others], and "if you want that not to happen, you should talk to
us and OIN".
X.Org did not have any Google Summer of Code (GSoC) projects approved
this year, and Bart noted the need for a rethink about how to approach GSoC
in the future. On the other hand, in the last year there were four
successful projects (and one failed project) in X.Org's own similar
"Endless Vacation of Code" (EVoC) program, and all of the successful EVoC
students were funded to travel to Nuremberg for the conference. (A session
on day one of the conference reviewed the status of the EVoC program,
looking at the goals of the program and how its implementation could be
improved; video of the session can be found here.)
In the two days immediately preceding the conference, there was a book sprint. This
followed on from an earlier book sprint in March, which worked on the
creation of a developer's guide that was to some extent client-side
focused. The more recent sprint aimed to complete Stéphane Marchesin's
Driver Development Guide. There are now 119 pages of documentation that is
still rough and in need of editing, but a version should be on the wiki in a few days. He noted that one of
the explicit points of adding more documentation was to attract new X
developers by lowering the barriers to understanding the X system.
Bart noted that the foundation currently faces a number of challenges.
The financial organization is better than it has been for a while, but the
once large budget surplus is now starting to run down, to the point where
some real effort needs to be spent on fund raising. In a brief treasurer's
report, Stuart Kreitman expanded on this point: at the current rate of
spending (US$20k to US$30k per year), there's about three year's buffer.
The old days when several large UNIX workstation vendors gave large
donations have—along with those vendors—long gone. New funding
sources will be needed, and X.Org may need to rely more on smaller
Bart pointed out a number of other challenges that X faces. As with
many projects, but perhaps especially notable because X is such a
fundamental part of our day-to-day infrastructure, X needs more developers,
and Bart emphasized the need for ideas on how to attract new developers.
There remain some infrastructure problems to be resolved (notably, the X.Org web site was down a number of times in the
lead-up to the conference). Then there is the whole "future of Wayland thing". Although the
Board does not set technical directions, "it's clear that Wayland is part
of the X world", and the question is how to support the transition to a
potentially "Wayland world".
But, notwithstanding these and other challenges, Bart stressed that "I
couldn't be more excited about what's happening", and certainly the level
of interest and detail in the three days of presentations seem to justify
A pointer to a video that includes the status session can be found here.
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