State of X.Org Report

Bart Massey bart at
Fri Feb 22 01:39:23 PST 2013

Here's my 2013 X.Org Foundation "State of X.Org" Report, covering
activities in 2012. Enjoy.

Bart Massey
Secretary, X.Org Foundation
b at


The State of The X.Org Foundation 2013
Bart Massey
Secretary, X.Org Foundation
bart at

Abstract: 2012 has been a year of proceeding apace for the
X.Org Foundation.  Key administrative milestones have been
reached, and some new initiatives have begun.

Note: The Bylaws of the X.Org Foundation require the
Secretary to prepare and deliver a State of the Organization
report within 60 days of the start of the calendar year.  It
is my pleasure to discharge that responsibility by preparing
this report.  While I have prepared this report in close
consultation with the X.Org Foundation Board of Directors,
all views contained herein are ultimately my own.


  Nine years ago, the X.Org Foundation was re-formed and its
  first officers elected.  Since then, approximately one X
  Window System major release has occurred per year.  The
  mission of the modern X.Org Foundation Board is to support
  this work: through raising and allocation of funds;
  through recruitment and support of Foundation members;
  through initiatives in community development, education,
  and support; and by providing a computing and
  communications infrastructure. In short, the mission of
  the Foundation is "to develop and execute effective
  strategies that provide worldwide stewardship of the X
  Window System technology and standards." [1]

  In the next two sections of this report, I first review
  X.Org Foundation activities during 2012, and report on our
  successes and challenges; I then suggest something of the
  goals, needs, and plans for the future of the X.Org
  Foundation in 2013 and beyond.  Finally, I draw some

X.Org Foundation 2012

  In 2012 X.Org development proceeded at a steady and
  reasonable pace.  Several new things have happened
  that are worth noting.


    In keeping with the X.Org goal of about one release per
    year, Release 7.7 of the X Window System occurred 6 June
    2012. Release 7.6 was about 1.5 years earlier, in
    December 2010. However, there is some feeling among the
    developer community that the "katamari" point releases
    of all of X are no longer terribly useful, yet are a big
    consumer of developer resources. Thus, it is likely that
    these releases will be farther apart in the future, or
    will cease altogether--not because development pace is
    decreasing, but because point releases of individual
    components are a better mechanism in the "new" world of
    modularized X development.

    Release 7.7 featured multitouch support, improvements to
    the Xinput extension, reorganized and modernized release
    documentation, fence objects for sync, pointer barriers
    for multihead, partial support for GLX and XKB in XCB,
    and the usual wide range of video and input driver

    The Wayland project gained some momentum in 2012. The
    Board has agreed that supporting Wayland, Mesa, and
    other affiliated X.Org projects is a high priority. Some
    envision a Wayland-based future for open source
    graphical infrastructure; the Board's role is to ensure
    that open source graphical environments have a healthy
    future, whatever technical direction the community
    chooses to pursue.

  Funded Activities

    For the last few years, the premiere event hosted by the
    X.Org Foundation has been the annual X.Org Developers
    Symposium / Conference. In 2012, the Board voted to make
    the name X.Org Developers Conference (XDC) the official
    name for this event, regardless of where it is
    located. There has been a tradition of alternating
    between the US and elsewhere for travel reasons;
    this is not a hard-and-fast rule, the Board has agreed
    that it may be violated in the event that there is a
    particularly good opportunity in one place or another.

    XDC 2012 took place 19-21 September in Nuremberg
    Germany. Important topics for XDC 2012 included
    modernization of X for newer graphics and input hardware
    and newer UX models, as well as discussion around
    Wayland. XDC 2013 is planned to be held in Portland,
    Oregon USA in late summer.

    X.Org applied to Google Summer of Code for 2012, but was
    not invited to participate. The reason given by Google
    was lack of quality of the student-facing "ideas page".
    The Board has not yet made a decision as to whether to
    apply for Summer of Code in 2013.

    The X.Org Endless Vacation of Code (EVoC) was
    established in 2009 to provide opportunities similar to
    Google Summer of Code to selected students on an ad hoc
    calendar. Over the last couple of years, the Board has
    had three successfully-completed EVoC projects. The
    number of applicants to EVoC continues to grow, and the
    program appears to be doing its job of attracting
    students to become serious X developers.

    A couple of Book Sprints were held in 2012 to produce
    new developer documentation, with the hope of making it
    easier to get started in X development. The first Book
    Sprint, in March, was a "virtual" online event that
    produced an "X.Org New Developer Guide" that has not
    been officially released yet due to lack of final
    editing, but which is a good summary document.  The
    second Book Sprint, held in September at XDC, was work
    on a device drivers and graphics hardware guide, based
    largely on a document by Stéphane Marchesin. This book
    is currently farther from completion. The small
    participation in the Book Sprints was a serious problem:
    it is unlikely that future ones will be attempted unless
    bigger participation can be assured.

  Foundation Activities

    The Board finally completed all aspects of the
    transition of the X.Org Foundation from a US LLC to a US
    501(c)3 Educational Non-Profit Foundation in 2012.  This
    was a huge effort over many years; we are extremely
    grateful to the Software Freedom Law Center for making
    this transition possible, and to those Board Members who
    took on the hard work on our end.

    The X.Org Foundation became a member of the Open
    Invention Network (OIN) in 2012. OIN "is an intellectual
    property company that was formed to promote the Linux
    system by using patents to create a collaborative
    ecosystem." [2]  While X.Org holds no patents that could
    be contributed to OIN, the Board was approached by OIN
    leadership due to the large amount of "prior art"
    embodied in the X Window System.

    The 2012 X.Org Foundation Board election was completed
    in January 2012.  There is little to report: the new
    Board, like the old, is strong, and its Members are all
    sharing in the work of the Foundation.

    Membership in the Foundation is currently at about 72
    active members, down from about twice that number two
    years ago. The decline is largely due to folks leaving
    that are no longer active in X: this is actually
    deliberate and somewhat positive, as it makes it easier
    to get quorum in elections. However, the continuing work
    on encouraging current X.Org participants to join the
    Foundation is now even more important. Membership is
    free, easy to apply for, entails few responsibilities,
    and has minor benefits in terms of access to
    documentation not available to the public; anyone who is
    participating in the development of X in some way is
    highly encouraged to sign up.

2013 And Beyond

  No substantial work was done in 2011-2012 in finding
  recurring sponsors for X.Org. The current funding
  situation is such that we need to make a more serious
  funding effort this year. Several folks in the community
  have pointed to a lack of a mechanism for crowdsourced X
  funding: we are currently exploring alternatives in this
  direction, since the US IRS requires that 10% of our fund
  come from individual donations to X.Org each year.

  The heavily-hacked legacy PHP codebase is
  well past due for replacement.  In addition, the X.Org
  wiki has been subject to spamming and become increasingly
  unreliable. Joint efforts with to improve
  or replace all of this infrastructure have begun.

  X.Org has needed to change banks for years for various
  reasons; the ongoing issues of the 501(c)3 transition have
  kept us from proceeding. Hopefully, we can get there this

  The Board has voted to commission a new X.Org logo, and to
  trademark that logo once it has been designed. This will
  give us a more attractive and usable mark, and will
  protect the new mark from abuse.

  There are discussions underway among the Board about
  proposed amendments to the Bylaws of the X.Org Foundation.
  These changes are partly a response to US IRS 501(c)3
  requirements, and partly due to normal changes in the
  operation of X.Org.  While it is still early to know what
  will be proposed here, and when, it is possible that some
  of this will happen during 2013.


  The state of the X.Org Foundation is strong.  The X Window
  System continues to be the go-to graphical infrastructure
  for Open Source desktops.

  Building on previous prognostications, I quite confidently
  predict that 2013 will be the Year of Mobile Wayland. I'm
  looking forward to it.


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