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SubjectRe: SVGA kernel chipset drivers.
On Mon, 3 Jun 1996, Linus Torvalds wrote:

> > Which is no good. Linux should be as cross-platform as possible,
> > right? Then we need a uniform graphics API.
> Are you really that dense?

Could be :)

> We HAVE a uniform graphics API already. It's called X.

True, however XFree86 (and any other brand running on linux) could be much
improved by taking the low-level routines and placing them into the
kernel. It makes user-level things a hell of a lot easier to program, and
the easier it is to program in, the more programmers you're going to get
doing it. Why do programmers still support MegaSucky "OS"'s (using that
term loosly ;) ? Because they're easy to program in!

> When you argue for kernel support for graphics, you argue _against_ the already
> existing, standard UNIX graphics API that does a hell of a lot more than some
> stupid frame buffer.

Not really.. I think the point is that the kernel drivers do all the
low-level stuff that requires kernel/superuser privs, and any user-level
program that wishes to perform these functions must call the kernel
routines to do it for them. It's not meant to be a REPLACEMENT for X,
after all, what CAN replace X? :) Think about it - there will be no
need for a million & one setuid-0 X server binaries that are 2-3Mb in
size! One generic server would be enough, which calls the kernel to do
the card-specific routines, and hence doesn't need to be setuid-0.

From my little understanding of operating systems, isn't the kernel
supposed to be the "process" that interfaces between the hardware it's
running on, and the software running on it? Any program that needs to be
setuid-0 so it can BYPASS the kernel is an extremely dodgy way of doing
things, IMHO. Every program that needs low-level access should request
that access from the kernel - otherwise we might as well scrap the whole
kernel idea and run an anarchist system like Messy-DOS.

Back onto the X point, the kernel routines are the low-level stuff
specific to the graphics cards. Make them VESA compliant so that as many
cards as possible are supported, and the standard kernel API can be called
by X to do whatever. X still keeps it's API, the only change is that it's
calling the kernel to do low-level stuff instead of doing them itself.
It's no different to including support for sound cards (as others have
pointed out) or any other I/O device for that matter.
If a particular graphics card becomes so obsolete as it is just taking up
space in the kernel source tree, REMOVE it! Doesn't take too much effort
to execute "rm", taking that driver out of the next kernel release.

> THAT is why this discussion is so totally useless. You're just asking for the
> kernel to support something that is _less_ capable than we already have. Do you
> think I'm so stupid that I'd go for something as braindead as that?

Nope, I'm asking the kernel to do what it's meant to do - be the hardware
interface to user-level programs.

-- Matt

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