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Comment: Uh, whoa. (Score 1) 84

by Balinares (#47405767) Attached to: KDE Releases Frameworks 5

I've tried a lot of desktops over the years and always returned to KDE as the most able to be useful when I need it to and stay the fuck out of the way the rest of the time. (Unity, despite its reputation, is good at that too.) But the love was no longer really there. Like a favorite old workhorse that you just no longer really ride for the pleasure of it alone.

So I've not kept track of KDE 5 developments, and honestly I expected to be way underwhelmed. It was, after all, supposed to be mainly a port of the same old thing to the new Qt 5.

But I just tried the live CD linked in the article and, uh, whoa. It looks so *tidy*. Full of that orderly neatness that Gnome, for all its faults, has generally been better at than KDE. And I find myself excited for the first time in a long while, and that's a very nice feeling to rediscover.

Comment: Re:Open Source drivers? (Score 2) 134

by Balinares (#47167639) Attached to: Testing 65 Different GPUs On Linux With Open Source Drivers

The open source Gallium3D driver for Southern Island Radeon GPUs has come a LONG way in the recent months. Given a 3.14+ kernel and the soon-to-be-released 10.2 Mesa libs, you can expect performance within 80% of that of the Catalyst driver, and it only keeps getting better. The stability is also pretty good. I love being able to flip smoothly between a full screen game and a chat window or a Web browser.

Comment: The stuff of sci-fi. (Score 2) 97

by Balinares (#47044487) Attached to: Curiosity Rover May Have Brought Dozens of Microbes To Mars

Turns out we are the Great Ancients from a million years ago that came from the cosmos to seed life. Whatever species ends up evolving there will dig into their past with wonder and trepidation to discover who we were. And then they'll find out about Honey Boo Boo. Ah, to be a fly on the wall... :)

Comment: Re:Damn Fascinating (Score 2) 124

by Balinares (#46685697) Attached to: Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions

It's a learn-as-you-go sort of deal. Don't start off with the end boss and you'll be okay. I would be pants-pissingly terrified in some of the situations described here, but some of the situations I've been in would make you at least a little queasy, I wager.

As an addendum to the press card thing: if you're working for or with any sort of official organisation that the locals would know of, find their logo, even a crappy small one ripped from a website, print it out on a large piece of paper, US Letter or so, along with the org's name in large bold letters, and tape that to the inside of your windshield. Does not open every door. But does open many doors.

Comment: Elegant code is like a great teacher. (Score 5, Insightful) 373

by Balinares (#46582393) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Consider Elegant Code?

Maybe you've been lucky enough to have that once in a lifetime great teacher. The kind of teacher who somehow explains stuff in such a way that everything makes sense to you; things follow logically from one another and it all seems obvious when he explains it. (And you may not even realize it until he falls sick and the substitute trying to explain the exact same stuff leaves you confused and baffled.)

Elegant code has the same property of apparent obviousness. You read it and just nod because it makes sense and flows logically. There isn't one single way to achieve this, of course. It's not about functional vs. imperative vs. object oriented, but how you employ them for clarity.

Needless to say, such clarity is a very hard property to achieve, and a lifetime of experience will only let you approach it asymptotically. It's still worth the attempt, though.

Comment: Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (Score 2) 77

by Balinares (#46376295) Attached to: Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12


Thank you for the additional details. You are right -- I meant to make it clear that the Wayland design was thought up by people with some serious experience of the internals and limitations of X, and not a competing team of newcomers, as appears to be assumed all too often. But yes, things aren't as simple as I made them look and there is only a partial overlap between the Wayland devs and the Xorgs devs. Thank you for the correction.

I also agree that Wayland is largely about canning the legacy in order to make current and future needs easier to tackle.

I don't agree with your opinion of the move as a technical choice, though, for three reasons.

1/ Taking X out of the rendering loop does not mean dropping X altogether. It just means that future X servers, when and where they are still needed, will run on top of Wayland. It does deprecate X as the default API, yes. But that's not remotely the same as breaking compatibility.

2/ The comments that Daniel Stone (core Xorg and Wayland dev) made in that oft linked video aren't in agreement with the idea that everything Wayland does can be done on top of X, let alone done well. In his talk, DS mentions e.g. issues with input management when one window wants to grab every input that can't be solved in X.

3/ As a more general philosophical principle, the world moves and everything changes. Everything has a shelf life, up to the universe itself, and there is a point where resisting change for the sake of keeping past things going becomes harmful. And this is the actual reason I've been so active in this thread. Not just because I've got a pretty good hunch that once the dust settles Wayland will largely work better than X. But because I think that we, Slashdotters, Linux users, geeks and nerds, are becoming fearful of change, and that's not a good thing. This, here, is an entire new toy and it opens entire new possibilities! It may break shit and it may be awesome and it will probably be a bit of both. Let's freaking check out the code and play with it! Is this not exactly what we should be about? :)

Have a safe flight, and thank you for the constructive reply!

Comment: Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (Score 1) 77

by Balinares (#46375037) Attached to: Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

> Nobody uses Weston so the fact it has RDP support is dick all use to anyone using GNOME or KDE.

Ding ding ding. This, here, is what I think is the main problem with the Wayland ecosystem as it currently exists.

As things currently stand, the Wayland protocol is designed to give compositors a lot of flexibility in what kind of buffers they support, with what capabilities.

The drawback is fragmentation.

So okay, the Unix world at large is not a newcomer to fragmentation issues. But it's still a problem that will have to be addressed.

As I said in another comment, I think that things will probably converge on the common ground of either a de facto standard compositor, or a set of common libraries. Wayland itself will probably ship with a generic, non-optimized implementation for common capabilities like remoting.

But until then, it is an issue, and it would be dishonest not to acknowledge it.

Comment: Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (Score 1) 77

by Balinares (#46374989) Attached to: Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

> It will, however suck just as hard as all the other pixel-scrapers.

You are doing the same thing again.

You are asserting, without proof, that Wayland remoting will necessarily have to work as a pixel scrapper.

Wayland is designed to be extensible with regards to supported buffer types. For instance, YUV video buffers were merged into the reference compositor at some point in 2012.

And remoting specific buffer types can be done vastly more efficiently than with a generic pixel scrapper.

For instance, in case of a video buffer, the content can be streamed from the remote app to the local YUV buffer as a lossy video stream without impacting the quality of the other, non-video buffers of the application. (In fact, I think I remember something to that extent being demonstrated somewhere, although I can't find the link, so don't quote me on this.)

Meanwhile, because Xorg's current rendering extensions are not network-transparent, remoting X applications that use those extensions (which will be most of them, these days) does already boil down to filling generic pixel buffers and pushing them down the wire, which works with the approximate efficiency of... a pixel scrapper.

A Wayland stack should therefore be no worse than a current Xorg stack in most cases, and can theoretically be made to work vastly better. (I don't, however, think we are there yet. See below.)

If you're using only pure-X11 apps, though, stick with Xorg for the time being. At least until the Wayland stack supports X buffers sufficiently seamlessly.

> This leads old X11 users to believe they are either liars or incompetent (and hence the lack of trust) because having experienced them all over many years, I know for a fact it is a long way from the worst.

Only if you are willing to make the mental jump of generalizing the one data point of your own limited experience to the entire world and all the use cases that the Xorg developers have to contend with.

If you're gonna give that much weight to single data points, well, I'm afraid that my own long experience of X11, which has most recently involved telecommuting over a VPN and having to use tools like x11vnc and xpra because Xorg remoting on its own works too poorly, neutralizes your own single data point, and we're back to square one. :)

Unless, of course, you are the sort of person who thinks that their own personal experience constitutes the One Overriding Truth, in which case I don't think there is anything whatsoever to be gained for either of us in this discussion.

> The remote windowing is built into the compositor/windowmanager? I really, really hope someone is making a more sensible architecture than that out there

You appear to think yourself an authority on sensible architectures, so I would suggest you prove it with some actual design and implementation. Otherwise, I hope you will forgive me if I don't trust you nearly as much as I do the guys who are doing the actual work based on actual experience with actual issues. :)

That said:

> otherwise we're going to wind up with a lot of deficient compositors or a lot of duplicated code.


While it could be argued that the many composers/WMs on X already constitutes a lot of duplicated code, I DO agree that the Wayland stack is probably going to be somewhat fragmented for a while, at least until the dust settles.

In practice, I suspect Wayland stacks will end up converging over a shared common ground: probably one display server/composer will emerge as the de facto standard, like Xorg has become the de facto standard of X11 display servers; or Weston itself will evolve into a set of libraries that display servers/composers will be built upon.

But this is only a possible future, and until then, I do think that fragmentation and mismatched composer capabilities is the one big issue with the Wayland budding ecosystem.

Time will tell how big an issue it turns out to be in practice, though.


> The nice thing about X, you see is that it all just works like magic.

I think the entire point is, it's a lot of work for the Xorg developers to make it appear to work 'like magic'. And they'd rather achieve the same result in much saner ways. I don't think I am qualified to claim I know better than them in this, and frankly, you have not convinced me that you are either.

Comment: Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (Score 1) 77

by Balinares (#46374679) Attached to: Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

Hi! I would have liked to thank you for taking the time to reply, but I find it difficult to do sincerely, because your comment adds nothing to the discussion, and even detracts from it.

You appear to be trying to imply, with some aggressiveness, that Wayland precludes remoting.

You could have expressed this concern as an interrogation, and I would gladly have tried to share what I understand about the topic.

Instead, no, a bold, unsubstantiated, sarcastic claim with no room for discussion. This is exactly what I meant about the peanut gallery.

Likewise, the fact you refer to the issues the Xorg developers themselves -- you are aware that they are who you refer to as 'the Wayland folks', right? -- have claimed to have with X as 'FUD' makes you look like someone who dismisses contrary opinions instead of addressing them. That really doesn't help the discussion either.

Unless you do, in fact, know better than the Xorg developers themselves. In which case I'm sure you'll step forward to take over the maintenance of Xorg. Won't you?

As to your implied claim, I addressed it in my reply to Uecker below.

Comment: Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (Score 2) 77

by Balinares (#46374635) Attached to: Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

Hi! Thank you for taking the time to reply.

I don't personally know the X protocol well enough to comment either way; I can only report on the opinion professed by the X developers themselves.

Here is what I understand are the answers to the points you raise. You'll probably want to check out the talks by Daniel Stone (core Xorg developer) that have been linked elsewhere in the thread, in case I missed something.

Essentially, their opinion is that the X protocol is unsuited to what computers do nowadays. From what I understand, the only task that X11 still performs in current graphic stacks is IPC for the actual rendering extensions, and sadly, IPC is something it's very poor at.

Core X11 is network-transparent by design, but rendering is done through non-core, non-network transparent extensions nowadays. This appears to be a common misunderstanding about the meaning of network-transparent; remote display of application does in fact not require network-transparency because transparency means a lot more than just "remote capable". And Wayland as a protocol is already as remote capable as Xorg because Xorg was already filling buffers remotely and feeding that into SSH connections.

So if you want network-transparency, you'll have to disable all those rendering extensions in your Xorg configuration. But, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe what you really want, is to fire up apps remotely and have them display locally, right? And this has already been implemented in the reference Wayland compositor.

Until then, you will probably not miss the loss of network-transparency because you already lost it in current Xorg servers. I think that this, there, is the number one misunderstanding about both Xorg and Wayland.

You are correct about a window system being more than just about sharing buffers. All the things you mention are being redesigned as part of Wayland with the purpose of fixing issues that the X developers claim were unsolvable with X. (Don't take my word for it, though. Check out those talks.)

So in essence, the X developers think that Wayland stacks will be better than Xorg stacks at everything that Xorg does. Including remoting.

I do actually have one reservation about that general claim, and interestingly, it's one that I haven't seen come up from the aforementioned peanut gallery. But time will tell.

But until then, the X developers think that designing a new API from scratch is more straightforward than monkeypatching the old one into doing the same things. If you sincerely think they are wrong, maybe you'll want to step forward and take over the maintenance of Xorg? I'm sure some people out there would be grateful.

I, for one, am going to trust that they know what they are doing, but you may feel otherwise about that, and that's fine. There's just a "put up or shut up" line there that people who share your opinion seem unwilling to cross, and I think that's worth pointing out.

Comment: Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (Score 4, Insightful) 77

by Balinares (#46370521) Attached to: Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

The story so far in a nutshell:

The Xorg developers got tired of spending their time working around the way X was designed in 1980 (which made sense at the time) to try and make it fit 2010 workloads and hardware.

They started to think about how to do the stuff that actually needs doing in an efficient manner, while removing the roadblocks they currently have to contend with.

Turns out that when you take what Xorg actually does nowadays, streamline the fuck out of it, and take away all the needless obstacles, you end up with a pretty straightforward buffer sharing protocol. They called it Wayland and started to work on an implementation.

And then the countless people in the peanut gallery who obviously know X much better than the X developers beheld the notion and started giving... loud feedback, shall we say. Without ever stepping forward to take over the maintenance of Xorg, mind you.

TL;DR: Xorg developers make what they concluded is the soundest technical choice. People on the Internet lose their shit. Business as usual.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito