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Re: Elektrified X.org released (was: X configuration paradigm, and a proposal)
- From: Kyrre Ness Sjobak <kyrre solution-forge net>
- To: Avi Alkalay <avibrazil gmail com>, Development discussions related to Fedora Core <fedora-devel-list redhat com>
- Subject: Re: Elektrified X.org released (was: X configuration paradigm, and a proposal)
- Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 19:05:06 +0100
tir, 30.11.2004 kl. 14.25 skrev Avi Alkalay:
> For people that still don't know the Elektra Project
> (http://elektra.sourceforge.net), it provides an alternative back-end
> for text configuration files. So instead, for example, the
> human-readable-only xorg.conf file, we'll have a hierarchy of
> key/value pairs easily and precisely accessible by X.org and also any
> other programs through an API or command, and human beings too.
> Same concept as GConf, but designed for system-wide use.
> We've been working on X.org source code to do exactly what we just
> described above. And it is ready for use, tested even with very
> complex X.org configurations. A patched X server will convert your
> xorg.conf file automatically, even the most complex ones, including
> non-documented parameters.
> It is available at
> You'll find there the patch against X.org source, the patch against
> Fedora Core 3 RPM spec file (to see how to build it), and the README
> file, which is pasted in this e-mail bellow.
> We'll write patches for other software, and everybody is invited to
> join this integration effort.
> Thank you,
> Avi Alkalay
> Elektra Project <http://elektra.sf.net>
> ELEKTRIFIED X.ORG: PRECISE AND PROGRAMATICALY EASY X CONFIGURATION
> Your X server has to work with your installed video card, monitor, find
> your font server and dirs, modules, extensions, drivers, plugins.
> You have to tell him how to integrate it all through its xorg.conf file.
> If you need to change something, you start a text editor and use your
> human brain and eyes to find the correct line, understand it, have the
> skills to change it, and change it in order to work.
> This is good for advanced technical guys, but very bad for people that
> don't have this skills, and in fact, don't really want to. He just
> wants to change the screen resolution to make that projector work with his
> laptop, and go ahead with his sales presentation. This is just an example.
> The point is: it is very difficult to make simple programs or scripts
> that make simple changes to X configuration. Another example is a monitor
> vendor that wants to support X, and for this he'd like to provide easy
> installation of his product, without having to ask his user to read
> documentation about horizontal Sync, and vertical refresh rates. For him
> again is difficult to write some simple software that preciselly changes X
> configuration to work correctly with his product.
> The xorg.conf file (as most Unix configuration files) was designed for
> human beings.
> The Elektra Project (http://elektra.sourceforge.net) introduces a new way
> to handle configurations through a clean API (or command line
> tool) that accesses atomic configuration data, into a standarized
> hierarchycal tree of key-value pairs. It is similar to GConf, but
> designed for system-wide use, which also implies it does not have
> And this is what this patch is about: to make the X server look for its
> configurations into a machine-ready tree of key-value pairs, instead of
> the human-ready xorg.conf.
> So where you had to look for "Device radeon" into a "Section Device",
> with the key/value tree, X and other programs can look for it
> preciselly at
> system/sw/xorg/current/Devices/Videocard0/Driver = radeon
> Where you once had to "vi" your "Section Monitor", now X and other
> programs can do it accessing the keys:
> system/sw/xorg/current/Monitors/Monitor0/HorizSync = 31.5 - 48.5
> system/sw/xorg/current/Monitors/Monitor0/VertRefresh = 40.0 - 70.0
> system/sw/xorg/current/Monitors/Monitor0/ModelName = IBM T40 LCD Panel
> system/sw/xorg/current/Monitors/Monitor0/VendorName = IBM
> Where once the salesman above had to "vi" the Screen Section to change
> the resolution, color depth, etc, a program can help him accessing:
> And so on....
> We believe an elektrified X server can leverage more plug-and-play
> configurations, providing configuration power to HW vendors in a
> very simple way, and making users experience less painfull.
> BEHAVIOR OF AN ELEKTRIFIED X SERVER
> A patched X server will look for its configuration keys under the
> system/sw/xorg/current first, then if not found it tries
> If not found, it will default to some xorg.conf file, parse it, and store
> in its internal structures, then convert and commit it to a set of
> keys under system/sw/xorg/current, and reload these keys.
> So you get automatic one-time conversion from xorg.conf to the
> hierarchycal configuration key/value pairs
> Very complex examples of xorg.conf files were tested for conversion. Even
> undocumented configuration parameters (because the original source was
> used as the reference).
> The Elektrifyied X server also works for the Red Hat Graphical Boot,
> where you still don't have mounted partitions, network, etc.
> ELEKTRIFING X.ORG
> You'll need the elektra-devel package installed in order to build X with
> Elektra support.
> 1. Download and unpack X.org source code from
> 2. Download the xorg-x11-6.8.1-elektra.patch file from
> 3. Apply it:
> ~/src/xc$ cd ..
> ~/src$ patch -p0 < xorg-x11-6.8.1-elektra.patch
> ~/src$ cd xc
> ~/src/xc$ # ...configure your build in host.def
> 4. Enable the patch:
> ~/src/xc$ echo "#define UseElektra" >> config/cf/host.def
> 5. Build X.Org
> You'll find the new X server as file xc/programs/Xserver/Xorg .
> The patch will add the following files:
> elektra.h (exported methods)
> elektra.c (key fetching and X structs integration business logic)
> xorg-example.conf (a very complex conf file to test conversion)
> xelektrify.c (cmd to convert xorg.conf->keys and vice-versa)
> README.Elektra (this file)
> And it will instrument
> to trigger the one-time conversion, and key fetching logic.
> And instrument the Imakefiles for correct builds:
> If "#define UseElektra" is not present in host.def, the patch is
> completelly disabled, and you'll get a binary-identicall built as before
> applying the patch. All patched code are surrounded by #ifdefs.
> ELEKTRA MEETS X.ORG SOURCE CODE
> or how we wrote the patch....
> X.org has an xorg.conf parser that takes this steps to handle
> 1. Lexically parse the xorg.conf file
> 2. Put each Section info in an equivalent struct
> 3. Encapsulate all structs together and pass them to a validator
> 4. Use structs to define X behavior
> This process is triggered by the xf86HandleConfigFile() method from
> Each xorg.conf Section has an equivalent structure defined in
> and the lexycall analyzer code to parse each Section is under
> A fully parsed file has its equivalent structures encapsulated in a
> parent XF86Config struct. We have:
> struct XF86ConfModuleRec for the "Section Modules"
> struct XF86ConfMonitorRec for the "Section Monitor"
> struct XF86ConfDeviceRec for the "Section Device"
> These structs are a pure computer representation of the text in each
> Section, so the methods under "parser/" convert text to structs, and
> the structs to text. This is how original X.org source handles xorg.conf.
> The Elektrification add methods that act in steps 1 and 2 above. And also
> include methods to convert each struct to a KeySet. Both old (xorg.conf)
> and new (Elektra) ways to get configuration information can live together
> and they are actually used to automatically convert xorg.conf to keys. So
> at the first time you'll run your elektrified X server, it will:
> 1. Not find configuration keys (because it is the first time)
> 2. Parse xorg.conf into structs
> 3. Convert structs to Keys
> 4. Commit the keys to key database
> 5. Reload configurations from the key database
> See the behavior in the previous section.
> After assembling the XF86Config C structure, X will decode all its info
> into more practicall parameters for its further operation.
> As a side note, with a key/value pair configuration hierarchy paradigm,
> the XF86Config assembling code (the parser) could be avoided, making X
> look for its configurations in a programatically easier, yet
> human-readable, configuration organization.
> We worked at the parser level to keep compatibility and to not go too
> deep in X.org source code.
> The Elektra Project
> Avi Alkalay
> November 2004
While i am all for the *idea*, what happens if your X11 server breaks
down and you *have* to use VIM to "save" it? While i am not opposed to
creating an easily learned api for config-file configuration, i am
*strongly* opposed to not be able to hack into that xorg.conf file from
a crude command line (hell, i have vim'ed config files with /bin/bash as
my init process and a half borked kernel that would boot 1/5 times...).
I don't want my config's to be put all in the hands of some program, to
*have* to use a config program (with all the odds and ends it migth
have...) in order to fix a broken config. Now imagine that program
needed another program, which needed a service wich needed ... the thing
you where just trying to fix.
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