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ad: x.org

seems to be some uncertainties in an recent discussion about the choice between x.org (X11 etc.) and xfree86 on this list.

this maight be illuminating.





What are Debian's plans with respect to X.Org and XFree86?

Thanks to Fabio Massimo Di Nitto for contributing much of this entry.

Because the XFree86 relicensing came at a time when Debian was trying to stabilize its XFree86 packages for the sarge release, there was some question among Debian's X Window System package maintenance team (the "X Strike Force") — and much speculation among Debian's users — as to what direction Debian would take.

There was never a serious proposal to attempt to ship anything other than XFree86 4.3.0 in sarge, so work on that continued while discussion on the debian-x mailing list took place. The following represents the consensus reached by the X Strike Force, without objection from the mailing list subscribers (among whom number many interested Debian developers and users).

In June 2004, Fabio Massimo Di Nitto, the XFree86 package release manager for Debian sarge and sid, started a thread to discuss the future of X Window System packages in Debian for an open discussion between users and the Debian package maintainers.

The discussion spanned nearly one hundred messages from over a dozen participants, practically all of it constructive and very useful to the Debian maintenance team. The outcome of the thread was farly clear to everyone: Debian will move away from the XFree86 tree as soon as possible after the upcoming stable release due to its license issues (see above).

The XFree86 package maintainers are committed to providing support and assistance to the Debian Security Team for the XFree86 4.3.0-based packages than Debian will ship in sarge. That is, our abandonment of the XFree86 Project, Inc., as an upstream source of code does not mean that we will abandon our commitment to the users of our production release.

Futhermore, there was near-consensus that Debian should switch to the X.Org source tree, with the goal of migrating to the modularized tree over time. We expect that the monolithic X.Org distribution will be modularized in a piecewise fashion; as that happens, we will "switch off" the building of packages from the X.Org monolithic tree in favor of the modularized components that become available from freedesktop.org.

While moving from XFree86's monolithic tree to X.Org's is a relatively simple technical transition of itself, the transition to a fully-modularized set of packages will take longer — indeed, an unknown amount of time which depends on the speed of upstream's progress — but we expect the process will bring the packages' quality to a higher level, thanks to the introduction of a fast release cycle for each single component. We expect to "modularize" two parts of the X.Org distribution immediately: XTerm and Xprt (the XPRINT server). XTerm is independently maintained by Thomas Dickey, and the xprint.org version of Xprt is already separately packaged in Debian.

With these changes, it will also be easier for the Debian user community to have a broader choice in X servers. At present, the Debian XFree86 package maintainers intend to support only the XOrg X server (which is based on XFree86's). The X Strike Force does not plan to discourage other people from packaging others. Debian developers that file intent-to-package notices (ITPs) for other X servers are asked to strictly cooperate with the X Strike Force to maintain similar packaging standards, simplify the bug handling on shared components (like X libraries) and discuss future changes and improvements.

As of this writing (March 2005), packaging of the X.Org X11 distribution is underway in the X Strike Force's xorg-x11 Subversion repository.





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