X.org: Flicker-Free Boot by Migrating Mode Settings

Apr 21, 2008

The X.org developers are working on moving a less prominent component from userspace to kernel space: mode setting controls.

In contrast to the trend of migrating functions from kernel to userspace, some X.org developers are working on moving mode setting controls into the kernel. This approach will lead to improved, flicker-free boot behavior among other things. The mode settings code is responsible for changing to and returning from suspend state and for the change to and from the graphical interface on the virtual terminal. These changes will benefit most from migrating the code. The ugly switch between different resolution modes will disappear, avoiding driver-specific freezes at the same time.

The drawback with the new mode settings is that they are currently only available for Intel's GMA 915 graphics chipset – the manufacturer took an active role in development. However, work is in progress on kernel space drivers for ATI Radeon chips.

More drivers may be added before the new feature makes the kernel. The developers have not yet introduced the mode settings code to the mainline kernel, and do not anticipate doing so before the end of the Linux 2.6.26 merge window. The next kernel 2.6.27 seems a more reasonable target. Interested users can still grab a sneak preview of the new feature; the next generation of Fedora Core 9 will include the Intel kernel space driver.

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