X11 changes in the 2010.11 release

Another OS release came out today, 2010.11, and as usual, it has a number of X11 changes. The biggest change in X is probably... Hmm, I can see by the look on your face, you're not buying the casual use of “as usual” there. Okay, you caught me, this OS release isn't quite following our previous pattern, so I guess we better get that out of the way first. Please remember I am not an Oracle spokesman, and can't speak on behalf of Oracle, so don't even think of quoting this as “Oracle says...”

In many ways, this release is simply the continuation of the OpenSolaris distro releases of the last few years. It's built the same way, using the IPS packaging system and repositories, and Caiman installers, as the OpenSolaris 2009.06 and prior releases were. Where OpenSolaris 2009.06 (the last full release) was the biweeekly build numbered 111b, and the release we'd planned to put out as OpenSolaris 2010.03 earlier this year (and which made it to the package repository, but was not put up as downloadable ISO's) would have been biweekly build 134b, this release is 151a. You should be able to upgrade to it from OpenSolaris 2009.06 or OpenSolaris /dev builds via the package repository following the instructions in the 2010.11 release notes.

So what's different about this OS release? Well, it's not named OpenSolaris anymore for starters - it's Oracle Solaris 11 Express. We'd always said that OpenSolaris releases were leading up to Solaris 11 eventually, and this name emphasizes we're getting closer to that (though still not there yet). It also recognizes that this release is built by Oracle, not Sun nor the OpenSolaris community. While it's built on the work done by the OpenSolaris community, and many portions of it are still developed as open projects on opensolaris.org, the kernel and core utilities are once again being developed behind closed doors, and the final assembly and testing are similarly done in house. The license terms for the free downloads have changed as well (though it's still offered under support contract for commercial production use as well), and the OS images include some of the encumbered packages we'd had to keep out of OpenSolaris in order to allow OpenSolaris to be freely redistributable. (Not all of them, since some were simply EOL'ed as they were for hardware well past the end of its supported lifetime, like many of the old SPARC frame buffers.)

So with that out of the way, back to the topic at hand - what's new in the X Window System in this release? Well that depends on how far back you're coming from. You can browse the complete changelogs for X going back to the point we branched the Nevada branches from the Solaris 10 release, so I'll try to stick to the highlights.

Changes since the last OpenSolaris X11 source release

None, since the X sources on opensolaris.org are still updated automatically from our internal master gate on each commit. (In fact, since the source gates currently reflect a point between biweekly builds 153 & 154, they have changes newer than this release, such as the integrations of libxcb and FreeGLUT.)

Changes since the last OpenSolaris developer build release (b134)

There were 17 biweekly builds between the last one published to pkg.opensolaris.org/dev in March and this release. The biggest change in the X packages in this period was their packaging. Previously we built our packages using the old SVR4 package format that was used since Solaris 2.0, and in many cases following the breakdown used in the old Solaris 2 releases (SUNWxwinc for most headers, SUNWxwplt for most libraries, SUNWxwman for most man pages), and then the release team converted those to the IPS format used in the OpenSolaris releases. Like several of the other consolidations, X has now converted to building IPS packages directly, and in the process refactored the X packages to better follow the way the upstream X.Org sources were split into modules at X11R7, which also happens to be more similar to the way most Linux distros break them up. This should allow easier creation of minimized environments with the subset of X packages you need.

As for headers and man pages, they are now included in the packages they are used with - for instance all the libX11 headers and API man pages are directly in the x11/library/libx11 package. System admins can still decide to include or exclude them in their installs though, since they are tagged with the devel and docfacets”, which are the IPS mechanism for controlling optional package components. To read more about how to use these with X or the other changes in the refactoring, see the heads up messages I posted when this work integrated.

Of course, there were also the usual updates to new upstream releases - Xorg 1.7.7, freetype 2.4.2, fontconfig 2.8.0, among many others. The X server packages now also include the mdb modules and scripts for getting client and grab information from the server that I blogged about back in April.

Changes since the last OpenSolaris stable release (2009.06 / b111b)

This period saw the completion of our multiyear project to completely replace the old Solaris X code base with the X11R7 open source code base from X.Org. Solaris 10 and earlier shipped with Sun's proprietary fork of X11R6, with bits of X11R5, X11R6.4, X11R6.6, & X11R6.8 mixed in. We're now set up to much more easily track upstream and are deviated from upstream in much fewer places than before (partially due to pushing a number of our previous fixes back upstream, in other cases, we determined the upstream code was better and went with it).

We also had a very large user-visible change in build 130: all the files moved from /usr/X11 directly into /usr/bin & /usr/lib, following the work done in other parts of Solaris to move files from locations like /usr/ccs/bin and /usr/sfw to the common /usr directories. We still have symlinks in /usr/openwin and /usr/X11 for backwards compatibility, so we shouldn't break your .xinitrc calls to /usr/openwin/bin/xrdb or /usr/X11/bin/xmodmap.

Since 2009.06, we moved from Xorg 1.5 to 1.7.4. Of course, with this upgrade, we got the HAL support for input device configuration working just as X.Org started moving off HAL upstream, something we still need to deal with for Solaris - for this release, input devices are still configured in HAL .fdi files. The xorgcfg and xorgconfig programs did go away as part of this move though - fortunately more and more systems are working without any xorg.conf at all, and when one is needed, only the sections being changed have to be included, lessening the utility of programs to generate full configuration files. The new Xorg also includes support for virtual consoles on systems with the necessary kernel driver support (all x86 systems and SPARCs with frame buffers supporting “coherent console”).

We also added the synaptics touchpad driver, synergy software for sharing input devices with multiple systems, the simple xcompmgr composite manager, the xinput client for input device configuration, and finally provided IPS packaged versions of the classic xdm display manager and xfs legacy font server. The Xprint server and several related commands did go away, but the libXp library was kept for binary compatibility.

Our VNC implementation was converted from RealVNC 4.1.3 to TigerVNC 1.0.1, which is being kept up-to-date with new Xorg releases, unlike RealVNC, which hasn't really been updating it's open source release in the last few years. xscreensaver was finally updated from 5.01 to 5.11, and was actually moved out of the X gate in OpenSolaris to building as a RPM-style pkgbuild spec file with the other higher-level desktop software - hopefully in the process we fixed some long-standing bugs in our forked code.

Graphics updates included Nvidia's driver support for various new devices and OpenGL 4.0, and Intel's DRI updates, including GEM support in their DRM module. Mesa was added on SPARC to provide a matching OpenGL implementation, but with only the software renderer, no hardware acceleration.

What else has changed?

Besides the official Solaris 11 Express release information, you can find more details on changes in this release on a bunch of other blogs, such as:

But here's some changes in other parts of the OS you may not see listed on those:

Of course, that's just a small sample, the full changelogs are a few thousand items long (and unfortunately, some of the consolidations haven't published theirs outside the firewall).

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