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Re: Future of X packages in Debian

Around 14 o'clock on Jun 19, Martin Michlmayr wrote:

> I thought X.Org was the monolithic while FreeDesktop.Org the modular
> release.  Since you mention X.Org and the monolithic release, I guess
> this is not correct.  Can you explain the difference between X.Org and
> FreeDesktop.Org?

The current X.Org release (6.7) is monolithic.  And, it may be that the 
next release (6.7.1? 6.8?) will be monolithic as well. 

There are many people interested in seeing X.Org move to a modular
structure, as well as a few dinosaurs interested in preserving their
existing world views. Unfortunately, the most vociferous dinosaur, Egbert
Eich, is also a very important maintainer.

The biggest migration issue is the transition from imake to autotools;
imake just can't handle a modular environment and so must either be
radically altered or replaced.  I don't know of anyone seriously interested
in spending the effort needed to make 'imake' do this, and I know of many
people (myself included) who would like to rid the world of it forever.  
If autotools were really dramatically better, this would be a no-brainer,
alas they are only differently disabled, making transition from imake 
something of a learning experience for all involved.

The projects I started at freedesktop before X.Org decided to do their own
release were (originally) strictly for my own research efforts.  Of course I
made them work the way I wanted using autotools and a very modular 

Many other people have joined in to help efforts in this tree.  A few
have started exploring how to build the XFree86-based modular driver
architecture within the X server, including replacing the custom ELF/COFF 
loader with dlopen.  That work is now actually making progress; things 
seem to be coming together and you can run that server with at least two 
of the drivers.

So, the big question is how to get everyone back into a single tree.  
Ideally, Egbert would let us just ditch the imake build system and move 
X.Org to autotools in one big jump; we have almost all of the build 
infrastructure ready and waiting in my 'research' trees.  

Alternatively, we would slowly modify the X.Org tree imake build
infrastructure so that we could lay a modular autotools build system
alongside and build either way.  That's the current plan, but no-one has
gotten started doing the work; I was going to look into it, but I really 
have other things I think I should be working on instead.

One thing is clear -- the disagreements among the participants are amiable 
and there is a strong desire to make the build system work for everyone 
with a minimum of pain, and an absolute resolve to get to a single tree
that is DFSG free as well as GPL compatible.


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