Only to be greeted with a leak in the water main from the street to my house. Nothing a few trips to the hardware store, some digging, gluing and clamping couldn’t fix though (my patch has been holding so far at least). Hopefully next month’s water bill won’t include over 20,000 gallons of leaked water…
But I digress. Plumbers turned out to be a great conference. Kristen & co. had some ambitious plans for the event, but they didn’t disappoint. The conference was extraordinarily informative and productive, with many of the “talks” being more like working sessions, where everyone shared information and fixed or solved problems on the fly. The highlights for me were the Audio, Boot and Graphics tracks.
At the Audio track I learned a lot about how ALSA works from Takashi-san; I think we all agreed that some of the ALSA bits should be pushed upstream a little more aggressively, to support new hardware and fix configuration problems. Also I got Lennart to promise me that mixer settings would suck at least 100% less in future versions of Pulseaudio, which although better than straight ALSA is still lacking in some areas. There was also some discussion of adding virtual output devices to the ALSA library plugin API. I think this makes a lot of sense, since when I associate my bluetooth headset I want to be able to see it in application drop downs immediately.
The Boot sequence track was interesting because we got to see a demo of Arjan & Auke’s work to reduce boot time to 5 seconds on an Eee PC running Moblin. Some of their work was added to Fedora and Ubuntu immediately following the talk, and if nothing else I think they’ve given the distros something to shoot for. Dave and Kyle talked a bit about initrd and startup services; hopefully we’ll see some unification (mkinitrd in the kernel tree basically) sometime soon, assuming Dave makes it home.
Maybe I’m biased, but I thought the Graphics track the most interesting. Dave and I started out with an update on the kernel mode setting work. I demoed panic under X (and it worked!) and got some applause, which was nice. Most of our time was taken up with an argument with Linus about our development process, however. The discussion went something like this (paraphrasing here):
Linus: “You guys are idiots, you should have developed this incrementally and pushed it upstream a long time ago”
Us: “No, you’re a pinhead, we’ve done the incremental development and this is where it took us. We’ll be pushing upstream soon now that we have APIs we can actually support.”
Linus: “No, you guys don’t get it, you should have done the development like this, x, y, z”
Us: “Oooh, we see what you mean now. Yeah we tried that, it sucked real bad.”
Linus: “You’re dumb.”
Us: “Well you’re a pinhead.”
And then we agreed.
Ultimately, after some offline conversations I think we came to the conclusion that yes, developing out of tree for as long as we have sucks, but on the other hand there aren’t any great alternatives with sane kernel APIs that we can support along the way. All of this means that we should see kernel mode setting upstream soon; even if it’s not fully cooked the interfaces are in good shape so all that’s left is bug fixing.
The other topics we discussed were interesting too: Carl went over what happens when you try to draw text to the screen, and all of the ways it can end up being slow (which it has done for a long time now with EXA), then Jaya talked about some of the unique aspects of E-paper graphics support. It was a really interesting topic, with some unique problems (some of which we found solutions to on the fly during Jaya’s “open issues” time). Ian concluded with an overview of OpenGL 3.0 features and what it’s going to take to get Mesa to support them. All in all, good stuff and a great conference.
But with all of that out of the way, it’s back to the hard work of getting GEM, kernel mode setting, and GTT mapping merged, along with fixing bugs in xf86-video-intel prior to release, managing the PCI queues, and doing some power on work for an upcoming mobile platform. No problem.
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