The X.Org Foundation has announced
release of X11R6.7. This is, in some sense, a relatively minor release
with little in the way of new features (see the release
for the details). It is, however, a milestone in the development
of the X Window System, and worthy of note.
Readers of LWN will be familiar with the tensions which have stressed the
XFree86 project over the last year. There have long been disagreements
over how the development of X should be managed, and core developers have
been leaving the project for some time. The issue came to a head with the
the adoption of the XFree86 1.1 license, which is widely seen as being
incompatible with the GPL. That move led to the formation of the X.org Foundation under the umbrella
of FreeDesktop.org. It also led to many distributors saying that they
would not incorporate the XFree86 4.4 release.
The X11R6.7 release is the first official release from X.Org, though some
distributions (e.g. Fedora Core 2 Test 2) have incorporated pre-release
versions from the Foundation. It is intended to be a transitional release,
a way for distributors to move over to the new code base. As such, it
deliberately does not include much in the way of radical new changes.
There will be a couple more X11R6.x releases this year which will add more
The real plan for the future, however, is to split the X release into a
number of components, including the server, client libraries, and
applications. This split will allow each part of the system to progress at
its own pace; it will be possible to release support for the latest
graphics hardware without dragging along all of the applications as well.
The X hackers have all kinds of schemes for reworking the server and the X
protocol to better support modern 3D hardware to to get Linux, finally, out
of its old, two-dimensional world.
Conventional wisdom says that forks in free software projects are a bad
thing. But one of the valuable aspects of free software is that it
can be forked. The X fork looks like a necessary one; with luck it
will lead to a reinvigorated development process and good things for the
future Linux desktop.
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