Converted to wiki form from original report at http://foundation.x.org/pipermail/members/2013-February/000716.html

The State of The X.Org Foundation 2013

Bart Massey

Secretary, X.Org Foundation

February 22, 2013

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.

Introduction

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 conclusions.

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.

Development

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 enhancements.

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 St├ęphane 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 members.x.org 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 freedesktop.org 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 year.

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.

Conclusion

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.