Xorg packaging

JM Ibanez jm at orangeandbronze.com
Thu Mar 29 07:34:48 PDT 2007

Kai-Uwe Behrmann <ku.b at gmx.de> writes:

> Modularisation may have great advantage, no doubt.  As a form for
> distribution it is not good. There is simply no need to install only a
> subset of xorg. The project has one single license. And technically it
> makes a minimal difference to install completely or in single pices,
> if xorg will run the usual way. Or would you install plain vim or
> OpenOffice and install the config files and filters on demand?

If I may chime in with my 2 cents:

The X server is a whole different creature from OpenOffice.org or
vim. Yes, both OpenOffice.org and vim are modular, in that one can plug
in functionality etc.

However, the Xorg distribution is actually several different parts (and
I can see the rationale of it):

   * The actual X server (installed as /usr/bin/Xorg), with its related
     config files

   * The standard X client utilities (xdm, xrandr, xmodmap, xev, xterm,

   * Various drivers (input, video, etc.)

   * The X11 protocol libraries and extensions

Now, considering that you can have two possible use cases:

   * Say I want to be able to install a thin client, wherein my machine
     will act only as a display, and I will run all my applications from
     a remote machine, with the applications displaying via the X11
     protocol. So, I'll only be needing the X server *and* the various
     drivers for my hardware;

   * Alternatively, say I'm setting up the other end of the setup for
     the case above: I need to fill a fast machine with the X clients
     and what-not, and don't need an actual X server to drive any
     display, since the machine is headless;

   * A third case would be the common case -- the standard desktop

   * Another case would be a developer on an embedded system, wherein he
     only needs the X libraries.

In all the cases, I can see no reason for packaging the whole mess as a
monolithic block of software -- the tradeoffs are just not worth it,
even if the common case is the third one, the standard desktop.

Consider security updates:

If I were a distro maintainer, would I want to have my servers bandwidth
loaded whenever I distribute a security update to, say, just the X
server (not touching the X11 protocol libraries nor the clients) --
because I'm packaging the whole X server as one package?

In the same way, you cite OpenOffice -- nowadays, OpenOffice (at least
in Ubuntu, not sure in Debian) is broken up into several packages, so as
to alleviate the need to install *everything* or update *everything* for
just an updated to one component.


JM Ibanez
Senior Software Engineer
Orange & Bronze Software Labs, Ltd. Co.

jm at orangeandbronze.com

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