[ubuntu-x] gnome-settings-daemon: the new Xserver?

Tormod Volden lists.tormod at gmail.com
Thu Sep 30 22:41:35 BST 2010

Over the last years the autodetection abilities of the Xserver has
been improved to the point that in most cases X detects all screen
connected and chooses the best resolution available, with no
configuration needed. However, on the Ubuntu desktop another friend
increasingly wants to have a say: The gnome-settings-daemon and its
magic use of xrandr. g-s-d has been useful to let the user choose his
own screen settings and let them be remembered over sessions. But now
it wants to overrule the Xserver even in the default configuration,
before the user even gets a chance to configure anything.

One of the latest changes (gnome_settings_daemon 2.31.91-0ubuntu3)
introduced more xrandr manipulation ("turn on external screens by
default") and caused a family of regressions like 643118 and 640807. I
have a couple of issues with this change:
1) It was pushed into Maverick just before Final Freeze, without
explanation, without reference to any bug it may fix. I know that
gnome packages are exempted from upload freeze rules, but I think that
is to allow upstream bug fixes to flow in, and not to lightly add
Ubuntu changes.
2) If external screens need to be enabled for some reason, why
shouldn't the Xserver do it instead? This smells of plastering and
workarounds to me. And do for example Xubuntu and Kubuntu users not
want the same display modes by default?

Note that although (2) reveals my personal opinion, it is not meant
rhetorically, I have not been following closely lately and have missed
out on much information. A changelog bug reference would probably have
helped :) What is exactly the way we want this to work, both as in
user experience and in the strategics of distributing logic between
Xserver and g-s-d? Also, is this well coordinated and communicated
between X team and gnome/desktop team?

I am sure some of the reported bugs boil down to bugs in the graphic
drivers and that the above g-s-d changes would otherwise have been
fine, but this is a minefield to be treaded carefully, especially in
these days of KMS migration.


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