cleaning up the x windows

Peter Jeremy peterjeremy at
Sat Aug 11 23:32:50 UTC 2007

This discussion is probably more appropriate to freebsd-x11.
Followups re-directed.

On 2007-Aug-11 21:28:13 +0300, Evren Yurtesen <yurtesen at> wrote:
>After a lot of frustration with 300+ seperate ports being installed when I 
>try to install xorg. I tried to create a xorg-base port. I say I tried to 
>because I took a lot of shortcuts and this is my first time doing a port, 
>so dont get mad at me and I dont know if you guys will find this useful but 
>it shortens the xorg installation time from ports considerably. (reduced X 
>to less than 15 ports!)

The existing xorg meta-port is (virtually by definition) overkill
since a significant part of what it installs is unnecessary for any
installation.  What is missing is documentation and tools to help
someone work out exactly what they need without having to install the
xorg meta-port.  I believe that your xorg-base port is a worthwhile
step along the road but I'm not sure it's a complete solution.

>The video and input drivers allow the user to choose exactly which drivers 
>to install.

The problem I see is that there's no guidance available to help
someone work out what options to choose.  Unfortunately,
documentation remains its weakest point and neither the website
nor the FreeBSD pkg-descr files provide any assistance in this area.
Some of the drivers don't even have documentation explaining what they
support, what functionality they provide or how to configure them.

For probably 99% of users, keyboard and mouse are adequate on the
input side.  Working out which video driver suits your chipset is more
problematic.  Not all VIA chipsets are supported by the VIA driver -
some need the SAVAGE driver.  How does J. Random User find out that he
needs the "i810" to support his 945GM chipset (and how does he work
out that he has a 945GM in the first place)?  It would be nice if the project provided a tool that could probe your system and tell
you what driver was applicable.  "X -configure" will do this but only
if you've installed all the drivers to start with.

>The stuff installed by xorg-base is enough to get an X screen up and 

There doesn't appear to be either a display manager or startx
included.  How do you start the X server?

And whilst there may be an X screen running, it's not really usable
without any X clients or window managers.

I'm not sure if the apropriate solution is:
1) OPTIONS entries to select a way to start X, a few common X clients and
   some simple window managers (eg xinit, xdm, xterm, twm, fvwm)
2) A pkg-message reminding the user that they need to select X clients
   and a window manager and some way to start X.
3) An updated X11 chapter in the Handbook.

> I tested this further by installing kde-base port(which installed 
>some more xorg ports but not so many)

At least some of those additional xorg ports may belong in your
xorg-base port.  Did you make a note of which ones it installed?

>now. setxkbmap and xauth is required for setting keyboard mapping and 
>changing identity, for example becoming root to make changes on kdm from 
>control center. Perhaps those could be installed by default by the kde-base 
>port? because kde uses them?

I don't think I've needed setxkbmap for more than a decade, though I
do need xmodmap.

Either xhost or xauth are necessary if you are going to have X clients
running on a different system to your X server, or if you want to use
X when you've su(1)d after logging into X.  xhost is probably pretty
much deprecated but I'd say xauth is pretty much essential for most

BTW, there is a copy-and-paste error in xorg-video-drivers/Makefile -
"i128 driver" is repeated three times in OPTIONS.

Peter Jeremy
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