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Xorg in Solaris

Alan Coopersmith
Senior Principal Software Engineer

I mentioned a few posts back a big project integrating into Solaris 10, and promised to explain it later. Unfortunately, getting it in is only half the work, and I've been busy ever since and never got around to explaining. (And getting our lab ready to move to a new building this week didn't help time wise.) So here goes - it was a lot of work, but can be summed up in one word: Xorg.

Okay, that's not much explanation, so here's a few more words - the Xorg X server, from the open source release by the X.Org Foundation (including a lot of work from the XFree86 Project before they changed their license terms) is now integrated into the Solaris x86 OS. Xsun is still there as well for those who want features such as Display PostScript® that aren't in Xorg, but now you have a choice of which to use. Xorg isn't there on SPARC yet, since the SPARC graphics drivers have to be rewritten from the Xsun interfaces to the Xorg ones, while on x86 there's a huge body of drivers ready to ship right away from the open source release.

Why would you want to use Xorg? A few reasons off the top of my head...

  • Much much much closer to the open source release if you want to see what's under the hood
  • Supports the module interfaces from the open source release to allow easier porting of third party extension and driver modules
  • Wider range of hardware support
  • Better performance on many machines/video cards
  • Additional X extensions, such as Xv (video decoding/streaming) and Xrandr (dynamic screen resizing)
  • Better support for extensions such as XKeyboard (XKB) and Render (alpha blending)

It's late, so I'll save further details for future blog posts, but that should satisfy some curiosity for now. You should be able to see it in a Solaris Express release in October or November, depending on how the release schedule lines up for those.

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Comments ( 3 )
  • Roland Mainz Sunday, September 19, 2004
    Drawbacks of using Xorg:
    - Xinerama support in the Xorg server isn't nearly as good (just think about GLX and Xinerama - right now only the Xsun server in Solaris gets this right)
    - The Shared Memory transport isn't supported by the Xorg server (which means: slower communication between client and server, usually resulting in lower rendering performance and higher latency)
    - The SolarisIA stuff (a special class in the Solaris kernel scheduler which gives the application of an active window a priority boost) is not supported by Xorg
    - DPS is gone. BAD. And the SUN_OVL (overlays) and SUN_ALLPLANES extensions are gone, too... ;-((
  • Laurent Blume Monday, September 20, 2004
    Sounds promising :-)
    Does that mean that it'll be possible to switch X servers just like that? No impact on the applications linked to X libraries?
    Or would they need to be linked specifically against one of the two?
  • tsips Friday, November 19, 2004
    X.org isn't working for me. the login screen couldn't come up despite
    kdmconfig recognising my card on X86 laptop. i had to switch to Xsun.
    even then the fonts suck big time. please dont force me to install linux.!!!!!
    This morning i upgraded my u5 to solaris 10. bad mistake. The resolution still sucks when i tried jds. will try Xsun soon, but this is causing concern. Sun needs to fix this.
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