One of the most frequent
complains questions related to the Intel Linux Graphics drivers I’ve received in the past few months was: “Why Intel devs work only on the most bleeding edge, and do not give enough attention the us stable users”?
Yes, this question affects all the components of the stack – kernel, mesa, libdrm, 2D driver, and so on, but the answer to this is quite simple – this is how software gets developed. New features go into new releases, and stable releases receive bugfixes and stability improvements at most. And this is not much of an issue to the userspace components anyway – with all the LD_LIBRARY_PATH flexibility it is possible to have multiple versions of the libraries installed without any issue. But as for the kernel, indeed, it is not that easy. So most of the times, those questions were directed at the kernel part of our driver – namely, the tiny i915.ko module which is responsible for making the graphical heart of Intel-based GPU beat.
Even for the kernel, this is not exactly true – Greg’s stable trees do include most of the critical fixes for our drivers since always. But it is true to some point – most of the newest development and patching happens within the usual Linux development window – and those patches and features are then merged to the release candidates of a future kernel during the merge window. And for the kernel, it is not that easy to have multiple kernels around at the same time without having to reboot between them here and again.
So therefore, I thought on giving a small gift to the users who are not still ready to jump into the latest and greatest kernels releases – but still want to enjoy the goodies brought with the latest versions of the graphics driver. So I prepared two kernel branches on my freedesktop.org kernel repository:
- 3.0-drm-intel-backports — latest 3.0.x kernel with all the i915 patches from latest kernel release. Right now, it is 3.0.16 + 195 backported patches. Diffstat reports 78 files changed, 4988 insertions(+), 2176 deletions(-).
- 3.1-drm-intel-backports — latest 3.1.x kernel with all the i915 patches from latest kernel release. Right now, it is 3.1.8 + 104 backported patches. Diffstat reports 74 files changed, 3147 insertions(+), 1589 deletions(-).
Besides driver backports, the patches which affect multiple drivers (like, i915, nouveau and r128) were also backported in full in those branches. And all the required build and API dependencies (like HDMI/DP ELD or drm/gem API changes) are also included in full.
I’ll try to keep those branches maintained on a semi-periodic basis and synchronized with the latest updates both from -stable branches, and from newest kernel releases.
Of course, let me put an obligatory support and stability statement:
Those branches are not supported officially, are experimental and can be unstable or even broken sometimes (in which case, if you’d be kind enough to let me know about that, I’d try to fix them ASAP). So use them at your own risk.
Other than that, have fun .