Red Hat’s Adam Jackson, project owner for the X.Org graphical and windowing system still widely used on Linux, said the project has been abandoned “to the extent that that means using it to actually control the display, and not just keep X apps running.”
Jackson’s post confirms suspicions raised a week ago by Intel engineer Daniel Vetter, who said in a discussion about enabling a new feature: “The main worry I have is that xserver is abandonware without even regular releases from the main branch. That’s why we had to blacklist X. Without someone caring I think there’s just largely downsides to enabling features.”
This was picked up by Linux watcher Michael Larabel, who noted that “the last major release of the X.Org server was in May 2018… don’t expect the long-awaited X.Org Server 1.21 to actually be released anytime soon.”
The project is not technically abandoned – the last code merge was mere hours ago at the time of writing – and Jackson observed in a comment on his post that “with my red hat on, I’m already on the hook for supporting the xfree86 code until RHEL8 goes EOL anyway, so I’m probably going to be writing and reviewing bugfixes there no matter what I do.”
Jackson said the future of X server is as “an application compatibility layer”, though he also said that having been maintaining X “for nearly the whole of [his] professional career” he is “completely burnt out on that on its own merits, let alone doing that and also being release manager and reviewer of last resort.”
He also mentioned related projects that he says are worthwhile such as Xwayland (X clients under Wayland), XWin (X Server on Cygwin, a Unix-like environment on Windows), and Xvnc (X applications via a remote VNC viewer).
When a response to Jackson’s post complained about issues with Wayland – such as lack of stability, poor compatibility with Nvidia hardware, lack of extension APIs – the maintainer said that keeping X server going was part of the problem. “I’m of the opinion that keeping xfree86 alive as a viable alternative since Wayland started getting real traction in 2010ish is part of the reason those are still issues, time and effort that could have gone into Wayland has been diverted into xfree86,” he said.
The hope then is that publicly announcing the end of the reliable but ancient X.Org server will stimulate greater investment in Wayland, using Xwayland for the huge legacy of existing X11 applications.