State of X.Org Report
bart at cs.pdx.edu
Fri Feb 22 01:39:23 PST 2013
Here's my 2013 X.Org Foundation "State of X.Org" Report, covering
activities in 2012. Enjoy.
Secretary, X.Org Foundation
b at x.org
The State of The X.Org Foundation 2013
Secretary, X.Org Foundation
bart at cs.pdx.edu
Abstract: 2012 has been a year of proceeding apace for the
X.Org Foundation. Key administrative milestones have been
reached, and some new initiatives have begun.
Note: The Bylaws of the X.Org Foundation require the
Secretary to prepare and deliver a State of the Organization
report within 60 days of the start of the calendar year. It
is my pleasure to discharge that responsibility by preparing
this report. While I have prepared this report in close
consultation with the X.Org Foundation Board of Directors,
all views contained herein are ultimately my own.
Nine years ago, the X.Org Foundation was re-formed and its
first officers elected. Since then, approximately one X
Window System major release has occurred per year. The
mission of the modern X.Org Foundation Board is to support
this work: through raising and allocation of funds;
through recruitment and support of Foundation members;
through initiatives in community development, education,
and support; and by providing a computing and
communications infrastructure. In short, the mission of
the Foundation is "to develop and execute effective
strategies that provide worldwide stewardship of the X
Window System technology and standards." 
In the next two sections of this report, I first review
X.Org Foundation activities during 2012, and report on our
successes and challenges; I then suggest something of the
goals, needs, and plans for the future of the X.Org
Foundation in 2013 and beyond. Finally, I draw some
X.Org Foundation 2012
In 2012 X.Org development proceeded at a steady and
reasonable pace. Several new things have happened
that are worth noting.
In keeping with the X.Org goal of about one release per
year, Release 7.7 of the X Window System occurred 6 June
2012. Release 7.6 was about 1.5 years earlier, in
December 2010. However, there is some feeling among the
developer community that the "katamari" point releases
of all of X are no longer terribly useful, yet are a big
consumer of developer resources. Thus, it is likely that
these releases will be farther apart in the future, or
will cease altogether--not because development pace is
decreasing, but because point releases of individual
components are a better mechanism in the "new" world of
modularized X development.
Release 7.7 featured multitouch support, improvements to
the Xinput extension, reorganized and modernized release
documentation, fence objects for sync, pointer barriers
for multihead, partial support for GLX and XKB in XCB,
and the usual wide range of video and input driver
The Wayland project gained some momentum in 2012. The
Board has agreed that supporting Wayland, Mesa, and
other affiliated X.Org projects is a high priority. Some
envision a Wayland-based future for open source
graphical infrastructure; the Board's role is to ensure
that open source graphical environments have a healthy
future, whatever technical direction the community
chooses to pursue.
For the last few years, the premiere event hosted by the
X.Org Foundation has been the annual X.Org Developers
Symposium / Conference. In 2012, the Board voted to make
the name X.Org Developers Conference (XDC) the official
name for this event, regardless of where it is
located. There has been a tradition of alternating
between the US and elsewhere for travel reasons;
this is not a hard-and-fast rule, the Board has agreed
that it may be violated in the event that there is a
particularly good opportunity in one place or another.
XDC 2012 took place 19-21 September in Nuremberg
Germany. Important topics for XDC 2012 included
modernization of X for newer graphics and input hardware
and newer UX models, as well as discussion around
Wayland. XDC 2013 is planned to be held in Portland,
Oregon USA in late summer.
X.Org applied to Google Summer of Code for 2012, but was
not invited to participate. The reason given by Google
was lack of quality of the student-facing "ideas page".
The Board has not yet made a decision as to whether to
apply for Summer of Code in 2013.
The X.Org Endless Vacation of Code (EVoC) was
established in 2009 to provide opportunities similar to
Google Summer of Code to selected students on an ad hoc
calendar. Over the last couple of years, the Board has
had three successfully-completed EVoC projects. The
number of applicants to EVoC continues to grow, and the
program appears to be doing its job of attracting
students to become serious X developers.
A couple of Book Sprints were held in 2012 to produce
new developer documentation, with the hope of making it
easier to get started in X development. The first Book
Sprint, in March, was a "virtual" online event that
produced an "X.Org New Developer Guide" that has not
been officially released yet due to lack of final
editing, but which is a good summary document. The
second Book Sprint, held in September at XDC, was work
on a device drivers and graphics hardware guide, based
largely on a document by Stéphane Marchesin. This book
is currently farther from completion. The small
participation in the Book Sprints was a serious problem:
it is unlikely that future ones will be attempted unless
bigger participation can be assured.
The Board finally completed all aspects of the
transition of the X.Org Foundation from a US LLC to a US
501(c)3 Educational Non-Profit Foundation in 2012. This
was a huge effort over many years; we are extremely
grateful to the Software Freedom Law Center for making
this transition possible, and to those Board Members who
took on the hard work on our end.
The X.Org Foundation became a member of the Open
Invention Network (OIN) in 2012. OIN "is an intellectual
property company that was formed to promote the Linux
system by using patents to create a collaborative
ecosystem."  While X.Org holds no patents that could
be contributed to OIN, the Board was approached by OIN
leadership due to the large amount of "prior art"
embodied in the X Window System.
The 2012 X.Org Foundation Board election was completed
in January 2012. There is little to report: the new
Board, like the old, is strong, and its Members are all
sharing in the work of the Foundation.
Membership in the Foundation is currently at about 72
active members, down from about twice that number two
years ago. The decline is largely due to folks leaving
that are no longer active in X: this is actually
deliberate and somewhat positive, as it makes it easier
to get quorum in elections. However, the continuing work
on encouraging current X.Org participants to join the
Foundation is now even more important. Membership is
free, easy to apply for, entails few responsibilities,
and has minor benefits in terms of access to
documentation not available to the public; anyone who is
participating in the development of X in some way is
highly encouraged to sign up.
2013 And Beyond
No substantial work was done in 2011-2012 in finding
recurring sponsors for X.Org. The current funding
situation is such that we need to make a more serious
funding effort this year. Several folks in the community
have pointed to a lack of a mechanism for crowdsourced X
funding: we are currently exploring alternatives in this
direction, since the US IRS requires that 10% of our fund
come from individual donations to X.Org each year.
The heavily-hacked legacy members.x.org PHP codebase is
well past due for replacement. In addition, the X.Org
wiki has been subject to spamming and become increasingly
unreliable. Joint efforts with freedesktop.org to improve
or replace all of this infrastructure have begun.
X.Org has needed to change banks for years for various
reasons; the ongoing issues of the 501(c)3 transition have
kept us from proceeding. Hopefully, we can get there this
The Board has voted to commission a new X.Org logo, and to
trademark that logo once it has been designed. This will
give us a more attractive and usable mark, and will
protect the new mark from abuse.
There are discussions underway among the Board about
proposed amendments to the Bylaws of the X.Org Foundation.
These changes are partly a response to US IRS 501(c)3
requirements, and partly due to normal changes in the
operation of X.Org. While it is still early to know what
will be proposed here, and when, it is possible that some
of this will happen during 2013.
The state of the X.Org Foundation is strong. The X Window
System continues to be the go-to graphical infrastructure
for Open Source desktops.
Building on previous prognostications, I quite confidently
predict that 2013 will be the Year of Mobile Wayland. I'm
looking forward to it.
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