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Updated Debian XFree86 4.x mini-FAQ and status report

Feel free reproduce this mail anywhere you like.  Reply to the list
<debian-x@lists.debian.org>.  Do not send mail to me privately.

* To use DRI you need a proper kernel version (not to mention a card
  supported by current DRI code).  Unfortunately there is no official Linux
  kernel with the proper support.  Use the latest 2.2.18pre or 2.4 test

* There was a problem with the MIT-SHM (shared memory) extension at one
  point in the phase2 Debian packages, but it has been resolved.

* The X Strike Force webpage is offline due to a disk crash, but it will be
  back when the machine is recovered.  The unofficial XFree86 .debs are
  available at <http://samosa.debian.org/~branden/woody/>.

* Where to send mails: this part is very important.

    personally harassing since I've asked people thousands of times (plus
    once in nearly every message I send to the Debian lists), but it keeps
    other people who may have seen the same problem, or know of a fix, from
    helping you.
  * <debian-user@lists.debian.org> is the proper support list for problems
    with the officially released Debian XFree86 packages (3.3.6).
  * <debian-x@lists.debian.org> is not in general a user support list at all;
    only Debian-specific problems with my XFree86 4.x test packages should
    be sent here.  In other words, problems with the *packaging* belong
    here.  Problems with X itself should go to the XFree86 lists.
  * <newbie@xfree86.org> is the proper support list for problems with XFree86
    from users who don't know much about the X Window System, diagnosing
    problems, or fixing them.  This includes most of the people who send me
    private mail asking for help.
  * <xpert@xfree86.org> is the proper support list for problems with XFree86
    from people who knowledgeable and motivated enough to help fix them
    (by, e.g., compiling X themselves from source, trying different versions
    from CVS to try and narrow down problems, or hacking source code
  * The packages I have made available of XFree86 4.x are not official, and
    not stable.  I do not support upgrades between versions of these
    unofficial packages.  If you have problems, downgrade to 3.3.6 or purge
    the X packages before changing versions.  I *do* want to hear about
    package overlaps and other problems experienced when installing the
    phase2 .debs on a system "naked" of X, or when upgrading from official
    3.3.6 packages.  Mail reports of such to <debian-x@lists.debian.org>.
  * Impatience and complaining from people not motivated to contribute some
    of their own effort to solve problems will delay, not speed, the
    process of creating official debian packages for XFree86 4.x.  I'd like
    to have stable packages of XFree86 4.x out myself.  Life would be
    hunky-dory.  But they're just not ready yet.
  * Stop complaining about the size of these experimental packages,
    particularly xlibs-dev; they contain everything that they are supposed
    to per Debian policy, and will get much smaller when I do the official
    release because I will be stripping them.  I am presently not stripping
    these packages because I am hoping some enterprising users might be
    willing to help track down bugs by providing backtraces.  (In any case,
    the gargantuan xlibs-dev package is not even necessary unless you're
    compiling X clients -- but keep in mind that you MUST NOT compile
    official Debian packages against these libraries until XFree86 4.x
    .debs are officially released.)

Here is a list of issues that are delaying official Debian XFree86 4.x

  * The Mesa problem (specifically, the lack of libGLU.so) really has to be
    sorted out upstream if Debian is going to have a sensible handling of
    Mesa in our distribution.  Alternatively, I can stop shipping the Mesa
    stuff altogether in the XFree86 packages until support is ready, but
    this will pretty much leave DRI out of the picture.  I'd appreciate
    feedback on doing this.  The XFree86 versions of the Mesa and OSMesa
    libraries can be added into woody at a later date without causing any
    real disruption.  I'd appreciate feedback on the possibility of
    releasing 4.0.1-1 (or 4.0.2-1, or whatever) without the XFree86 version
    of Mesa.  What little feedback I've had so far indicates that people
    would rather wait for upstream to resolve this, so that we ship XFree86
    with its own version of libGLU.
  * Another big issue is support for all of Debian's (released)
    architectures.  This really sucks right now because I can't get patches
    merged myself, Dan Jacobowitz (PowerPC), and Ben Collins (SPARC) are
    both very busy with other things, and I'm staying on bleeding edge CVS
    so it's impossible for these guys to keep up.  Portions of the
    architecture-specific patches are being made to some of the most
    volatile areas of the XFree86 source tree, and involve hairy stuff like
    varying architecture-specific details in PCI bus management.  I really
    don't like being i386-centric but upstream is changing very rapidly
    right now, and it's hard to pick a flag day for Debian.  4.0.1 is
    practically ancient by now.  Over four and a half megs of patches have
    been applied upstream since then.
  * I have merged the fonts previously in xfonts-cjk into the xfonts-base
    package (in anticipation of extension of many of the fonts in the -base
    package to include characters beyond those in ISO-8859-1).  However,
    apt wants to *remove* xfonts-base entirely, leaving the old, obsolete
    xfonts-cjk package.  This really sucks since I've got all the package
    relationship fields correct per the Packaging Manual.  When I mentioned
    this to Culus he waved his hands and started mumbling about
    NP-completeness, which is what he usually does when someone finds a
    problem with his problem resolver.

Thanks for listening.

G. Branden Robinson             |    You should try building some of the
Debian GNU/Linux                |    stuff in main that is modern...turning
branden@debian.org              |    on -Wall is like turning on the pain.
http://www.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- James Troup

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