Dual-head config broke with update to 1.4.2

Martin Cracauer cracauer at cons.org
Tue Feb 16 18:46:30 PST 2010

> <evidence type=anecdotal>
> I do know a few people who got an unpleasant surprise when this
> stopped working for them, only to discover Xorg had taken it out a
> year or so before but their distro had only just upgraded to that
> version. They were rather upset and annoyed. (Though conceding the
> point that Xorg is a few developers desperately trying to drag a huge
> and mouldering codebase into the twenty-first century, and that the
> best refutation is patches.)
> </evidence>

Many people I work with also use the NVidia drivers, which did not
remove classic dual-head even in the releases where Xorg drivers did.
It still works.

Almost all people I know who are using a desktop in a "hardcore
coding" work position of some kind would thus even today not notice a
thing.  For myself, this is the case both at work and at home.  These
people all standardized on NVidia when ATI was blocking OpenSource
drivers and provided lousy drivers.

> The problem is that stuff gets broken and the people who care about it
> don't find out until it's way, way too late. This is an example of
> this bad thing. They're not wrong for wanting their old stuff to keep
> working, and (rightly, I think) regard it breaking as a regression,
> one that's quite important to them.

I wouldn't mind "old stuff" getting broken.  At work I am known as one
of the upgrade monkeys, and I am one of the firsts to remove code

In this case, however, replacements for the removed functionality are
just not available.  Elightenment alone isn't enough, and e17 is not
in the distribution that has now caused the problem for me

> (Hence my personal project to build X from source on as many OSes as I
> can and make it real easy for people to build and run git-master, so
> they find out about this stuff as early as possible!)

I have been burned by Xorg removing things I need too often, so I am
trying very hard to use as old versions as possible.  I actually do
have Xorg devhead on one machine but that couldn't have helped here
(see below).

FreeBSD by nature of it's ports system forces me upon newer versions
but it so happens that I had no need for dualhead on any FreeBSD
running machine during the relevant timeframe.

> Martin - have you tried building an old Xorg from source yourself and
> using that, rather than the distro version? This would solve your
> problem and let you use the rest of the modern distro. (Until an app
> relies on something in a current X ...)

Due to previous discussions about Xorg removing features I need I have
all kinds of Xorg versions here, including a Debian/testing wit
Xorg/devhead (what a pain that was).  However, my dual-head desktop
are all long-uptime (including X11 uptime), so there is no chance that
I would have spotted this problem on the machine that has devhead
Xorg.  I just can't test all my hardware in a circle with devhead.
This is not like e.g. a new Emacs version.

What I plan to do is have the X11 server version that works wrt the
things I need (7.2) in prefix=/opt/workingXorg/{bin|lib}.  Keep in
mind I don't need to put all the userland libs, include files,
userland programs etc there, so the pain seems bearable.

But we all know that sooner or later a security problem will make this
uncomfortable, or I come across some hardware that requires a new
driver.  As a user of google earth I also don't enjoy the thought of
being cut off from all DRI/radeon improvements.


I will also spend some time this week to test the available Window
managers to see where they stand wrt xrandr and report back.  I
noticed that fvwm2 seems broken enough to not even get keyboard focus
over to the added desktops, ever.  I also don't plan to go devhead
GNOME or something like that.  E17 I will build if anybody please
tells me it is more xrandr aware than E16.

I want to make sure that people understand that if there is a WM
available that does xrandr with virtual desktops, has a purely file
based configuration option and doesn't miss too much functionality I
need I will happily switch to xrandr.  It's not that I don't stand in
front of a projector every now and then and curse that I have to start
a second X11 server and can't move my clients between the two.

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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