Dual-head config broke with update to 1.4.2

Martin Cracauer cracauer at cons.org
Tue Feb 16 08:53:55 PST 2010

Dave Airlie wrote on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 12:27:49PM +1000: 
> On Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 12:19 PM, Martin Cracauer <cracauer at cons.org> wrote:
> > Thanks for all the clarifications, Alex.
> >
> > I understand the desire to drop the lesser used of two similar
> > subsystems, but it does present a real problem for me.
> >
> > To elaborate a little.
> >
> > Alex Deucher wrote on Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 06:16:25PM -0500:
> >> > That there will be no way to have different virtual desktop switching
> >> > on the two screens? Just Microsoft Windows style big span screen
> >> > support?
> >>
> >> It can be done with zephyr or vnc I think.
> >
> > What I do with dual screens is this:
> > - my right screen, the main screen, has virtual desktops, each of them
> > ?holding one "project", where a project is something like:
> > ?- bunch'a xterms and emacsens for hacking project 1
> > ?- a gimp session
> > ?- bunch'a xterms and emacsens for hacking project 2
> > ?- bunch'a xterms for debugging a network problem
> > - the left screen has one of them things:
> > ?- a bunch of machine monitoring, IRC client, IM and assorted other
> > ? ?status
> > ?- or else a movie in xine
> > ?- plus other virtual desktops that might holds things like google earth
> >
> > So when I work I want to switch the left screen between my projects,
> > but the right screen should stay static.
> Thats actually a desktop environment/window manager issue, not a
> driver issue. I think only one wm can do this so far, enlightenment.

But don't you (Xorg team) think that it is a little early for dropping
classic dual-screen support if:
- only one window manager really supports xrandr
- that one window manager is not GNOME or KDE
- that one window manager is not the one I have piled up 717 lines and
  14 years of of dotfile config for and that does things that none of
  the other do?

And I don't see that my current window manager breaks any rules in the
ICCCM that are relevant to this problem.  

As far as I am concerned, Xorg simply walks in the direction of
dropping capabilities, breaking existing applications that do conform
to the relevant protocols and has no answer WRT replacements, all in
the name of enabling things I'm not really interested in and that
-my impression- are purely to attract people from other operating
systems that I couldn't care less about.  I need to get my own work


The real problem I have with this is that Xorg is absolutely central
to Unix and OpenSource.  Every time some udev developer doesn't know
what he's doing and wipes the memory on my GPS or disables my sound
recording setup on an `apt-get upgrade` or if the Linux kernel forgets
about a couple of dirty pages here and there I can just shrug it off
and say "hey I can always use FreeBSD if these Linux guys go too

With Xorg I can't.  In fact the major reason why I have so many Linux
machines now is that FreeBSD, due to it's ports development style,
forces me to upgrade to newer Xorg sooner than a Linux does.  I just
got broken too often by Xorg updates, so a central point of choosing
an OS is "who updates to newer Xorgs latest?".  I don't think that is
a satisfactory solution for anybody involved.

But alas your removal of working classic dual-head support made it
into Debian/stable now, so I got to deal with the situation one way or

Now you tell me the only way to deal with the situation is to pick one
single Window manager? And that one isn't even particularly popular?
Didn't you just argue that you do all this for what you think is the
majority of the users?

> Basically my theory was if enough people as you claim the majority of
> people cared about your use case then one of them would have produced
> this patch in the 2 years this has been like this, esp if they are hacker types,
> who don't do presentations with Powerpoint and run FreeBSD, but maybe
> they just Apples now.

The problem is, as I said, that previous instances of Xorg breaking me
has led me to use as old Xorg releases as possible, on all my
OS installations.  So no, I just didn't notice, and neither did I
expect that you could just make a decision to drop what I consider
"working" dual-screen support.

I just wonder what Xorg's intended endgame is? The direct equivalent
of what MS Windows had for a decade or longer, with everything that
made Unix/X11 stand out being removed? What's the point of that

Martin Cracauer <cracauer at cons.org>   http://www.cons.org/cracauer/
FreeBSD - where you want to go, today.      http://www.freebsd.org/

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