Converted to wiki form from original report at

The State of The X.Org Foundation 2009 Bart Massey Secretary, X.Org Foundation January 16, 2009

Abstract: 2008 has proved to be a time of stabilization for the X.Org Foundation, and a time of rapid positive change for X.Org. Some long-standing problems have begun to be addressed, and some exciting new technical developments have emerged. In particular, the Foundation has finally completed some critical reorganization activities and established a regular schedule for its annual activities. As the result of renewed developer efforts and help from corporate partners X.Org is now available on a wider range of platforms and works better everywhere. 2009 should see predictable and considered growth in X development and dissemination.

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.


Five 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, and through initiatives in community development, education, and support, and by providing a computing and communications infrastructure; in short "to develop and execute effective strategies that provide worldwide stewardship of the X Window System technology and standards." []

In the next two sections of this report, I first review X.Org Foundation activities during 2008, 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 2009 and beyond. Finally, I draw some conclusions.

X.Org Foundation 2008

2008 was a busy year for the Foundation and for X Window System developers.


In keeping with the X.Org goal of about one release per year, Release 7.4 of the X Window System occurred on September 28, 2008. This release featured revised input code, "PCI rework improvements," and support for modern ATI graphics chips. Release 7.5 is expected for early to mid 2009.

New features developed over the last year include major reworking of the server input subsystem including advanced multi-pointer and multitouch support; also the final stages of XCB integration with Xlib, enabling universal deployment of XCB as a first-class library.

In addition, manufacturers' ground-breaking announcements of open source and documentation for graphics hardware in 2007 were followed by even more in 2008; the X developers working with these disclosures are now shipping much useful code. ATI released a wide variety of documentation. Intel released still more documentation and source and provided high-quality open source drivers for almost all of its shipping graphics hardware. VIA opened the source and documentation to its graphics chips. With the notable exception of NVidia, in the near-future there should be open source X Window System support of hardware sold by all major graphics chip manufacturers.

The 2008 Intel work was notable for introducing substantial and long-needed changes into the Linux kernel to support modern graphics hardware. Kernel modesetting work advanced substantially, a new graphics memory manager, GEM, was introduced, and kernel interfaces were changed to allow the kernel to manage hardware formerly managed from userspace by the X server. These are important changes, and hopefully will be mirrored in other operating systems soon.

Funded Activities

One of the goals of the X.Org Foundation for 2008 was to continue to spend down the large cash reserve of the organization in productive ways. This mission has largely been accomplished; a goal of 2009 will be to stabilize spending around a long-term financial plan. This will require establishing a more extensive and regular income to the Foundation, something that is a challenging prospect in these tough economic times.

The X.Org Foundation once again held two developer conferences in 2008. The 2008 X.Org Developers Conference (XDC 2008) was held at the Google offices in Mountain View, California April 16-18. The 2008 X.Org Developers Symposium (XDS 2008) was held at the Edinburgh Zoo in Edinburgh, Scotland September 3-5. Both conferences were reasonably well-attended, and the interaction there served an important role in accelerating X development.

There has, however, been substantial burnout of conference organizers and concerns about mounting conference expenses as a result of this schedule. The Foundation Board thus voted to cut the major developer conference schedule to one conference per year for the near-future, alternating between XDC in the US and XDS in Europe. XDC 2009 is scheduled to be held at the end of September in Portland, Oregon.

The Google/X.Org Summer of Code 2008 was quite successful, with most projects completing and contributing to X.Org development, as well as helping to bring new developers to X.Org ( The X.Org Vacation of Code program was not run in 2008 due to organizer time constraints, but the Foundation Board voted to establish a program titled X.Org Endless Vacation of Code starting in 2009, which will provide opportunities similar to Summer of Code to selected students on an ad hoc calendar.

Foundation Activities

The Board had hoped to complete its legal transition from a US LLC to a US 501(c)3 Educational Non-Profit Foundation in the first few months of 2008. Unfortunately, a large number of delays culminated with the completion of this transition in early 2009, when the State of Delaware granted us corporate status.

The 2008 Board election was delayed; this election is now underway and expected to complete by early February 2009. This is unfortunate, and further work needs to be done to ensure that the 2009 and ongoing elections can be held in a timely and regular manner.

After experimentation with Board meeting structure, the committee structure adopted early in 2008 has proven largely a failure. The other mechanisms for increasing Board coordination and effectiveness have been mixed. The regular bi-weekly IRC meetings begun in 2008 will continue in 2009, and e-mail will continue to play a crucial role.

In late 2008 a lamentable several-year backlog of X.Org membership applications was cleared by dint of hard effort of several board members. This was the culmination of a couple of years of discussion and review of what to do about membership, and should provide a good foundation for 2009 membership activities. However, my goal of having 100 known high-quality X developer X.Org members by end-of-year may not have been reached.

2009 And Beyond

The activities begun in 2008 to advance the X.Org agenda seem to have largely headed in the right direction. However, much remains to be done, and new ideas and directions will be needed in 2009.

Foundation Activities

Membership remains a crucial issue for the Foundation.
In addition to clearing the application queue in 2008,
some preliminary work was done on removing inactive
developers and non-developers from the membership rolls.
However, this work still needs attention to be completed.
In addition, recruitment is still a high priority.

No substantial work was done in 2008 in finding recurring
sponsors for X.Org as a whole, although conference
sponsorships and other kinds of directed sponsorships were
strong.  Many on the Board believe that this may be the
future of funding for the organization, but it would be
nice if work in 2009 could establish at least a couple of
new recurring general sponsorships.

The shared infrastructure of X.Org and
was partly rationalized in 2008.  With the ongoing
efforts of Board members and others on both sides, we
are in the process of establishing a more sensible
computing infrastructure.  Work in this area needs to
continue in 2009.

Solving our banking and bookkeeping problems has largely
proven to need to wait for completion of the corporate
transition.  In early 2009 X.Org will establish a new,
more flexible bank account and payment process.

Centralized collection and archive of standards and
documentation for X has increased in the past year, but
not largely as a result of any specific Foundation
effort.  Ongoing attention needs to be paid to these

Technical Activities

Issues with the X.Org website and other documentation
need to be adequately addressed in 2009.  In addition,
better ways need to be found to improve communication
between the Foundation, its membership, and the larger
X development community.


The state of the X.Org Foundation is strong. The X Window System continues to succeed; 2009 is once again the Year of the Linux Desktop. The Foundation has made great progress in the past year, and is now consolidating some great gains. Hopefully we can continue to achieve the consistent rate of improvement that will lead to better development and wider adoption of the X Window System.