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For Those Who Care About X (Bits from the X Strike Force)

Hi everyone,

the X Strike Force, as you may know, is the team responsible for the
packages forming the X Window System.  That means the X server, all
video and input device drivers, as well as client libraries and various
client applications.

Over the Lenny release cycle, the configuration of the Xorg server has
been considerably simplified.  In many cases the only configuration
needed is to set the desired keymap.
We've also switched to the new "intel" driver, which handles modesetting
natively, instead of "i810".  This driver, as well as "radeon" and "nv",
provide the RandR 1.2 extension to configure video output at runtime.
One of the nice things that happened recently is the packaging of the
"nouveau" driver[0] (thanks to Chris Lamb and Matthew Johnson), a
reverse-engineering effort for nVidia cards.  It's not release-quality
yet, so won't be part of lenny, but please go and test it in
experimental!  The "openchrome" driver has also been packaged (thanks to
Raphael Geissert) to support via chipsets instead of the unmaintained
"via" driver.

Next steps
xorg-server 1.5 and mesa 7.1 are being prepared in experimental, and
will hit sid soon after the lenny release.
At around the same time, we'd like to enable hotplugging of input
devices, and their configuration through hal.  This means using the
"evdev" driver for mice and keyboards instead of the traditional "mouse"
and "keyboard" drivers, which will for example use of different keymaps
for different keyboards, per-device configuration (not only statically,
but also at runtime), etc.
/usr/share/doc/hal/examples/10-x11-input.fdi and
/usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/10-keymap.fdi in the hal package
contain an example config, which you can modify to suit your needs and
install in /etc/hal/fdi/policy/ to get a feel for this.

Help needed
A quick look at [1] will show you that the XSF is responsible for quite
a few packages.  A quick look at [2] will show you that those packages
need help.

Some of the packages or areas have dedicated maintainers, and are
maintained better than the rest.  But we need more people to handle the
rest of the packages: we have hardly enough manpower to do basic bug
triaging and keep up with upstream, but most bugs don't get forwarded
upstream or otherwise addressed.

We would love to hear from people interested in improving this state.
You don't need to know much about X to help, just be willing to learn a
bit and sometimes dig in unholy C code. :)  The code base is pretty big,
but it's quite easy to ignore the parts one doesn't understand.  It's a
very good opportunity to learn many very fun things going from
hardware-dependent graphic programming (modesetting, DRI, ...) to fancy
user interfaces (Compositing/Compiz, RandR 1.2, ...).  X is also
severely lacking documentation, so work on that front is very much

You don't need to be a DD, anyone who's interested is welcome.  You can reach
us on #debian-x on irc.debian.org, or on debian-x@lists.debian.org.

The upstream developers are friendly and responsive, which is a big help
for a stretched team such as ours.  And it's even very easy to get
involved upstream if you feel like contributing some patches.

[0] http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/
[1] http://qa.debian.org/developer.php?login=debian-x@lists.debian.org
[2] http://bugs.debian.org/debian-x@lists.debian.org


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