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The Linux desktop is built from pieces supplied by several disparate groups,
including the Linux kernel, X window system, Mesa OpenGL library. On top of
these pieces the Gnome and KDE projects build the GUI seen by the Linux
user. The capabilities of these hidden layers of infrastructure circumscribe
the overall Linux desktop experience and have, until recently, remained
surprisingly static for the last twenty years.
Recent changes in the way the operating system interacts with the graphics
hardware have unlocked new possibilities for user interaction.
Fancy desktop effects, smoother application updates and new modes for input have started to draw attention to Linux as a leader in desktop innovation, rather than lagging behind other systems.
This presentation will outline the architectural changes involved in this
transition, changes affecting the kernel, graphics drivers, window system,
and desktop environment. The current status of these projects and future
directions will be described.
Keith Packard has been developing open source software since 1986, focusing on the X Window System since 1987, designing and implementing large parts of the current implementation. He is currently a Pricipal Engineer with Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. Keith received a Usenix Lifetime Achievement
award in 1999 and sits on the X.org foundation board.