State of the Desktop Infrastructure

Jamey Sharp, Software Architect / Code Terrorist, The TOVA Company

Track: Desktop Apps
Date: Thursday, July 27
Time: 2:35pm - 3:20pm
Location: Portland 255

Since the revival of, the pace of innovation in core X Window System development has recovered from the prior decade of stagnation. The changes most visible to end users, such as translucent windows and the eye-candy possible with Cairo, have gotten a lot of attention. What's going on under the hood, and how will it affect you?

We'll discuss the present and future of the free desktop infrastructure, giving you a high-level view of the many components that make up the X Window System today. You may even leave this talk knowing some developer buzzwords: the details aren't as scary as they might at first seem. Other topics discussed:

  • How applications get drawing commands to the screen: 20-year-old Xlib and its new light-weight replacement, XCB
  • How windows get translucent, and why making games faster is good for your office suite and web browser too: Composite, XAA, EXA, accelerated indirect GLX, Glitz, and Xgl
  • How the X server interacts with your hardware, and what people are doing to make it better: user-land mode selection, hardware auto-detection, and hotplug

The free desktop is rapidly returning to being a hotbed of innovation, and if you attend this talk you'll be in a position to keep up.