Compositing, OpenGL, double-buffering, and dragons

Short Talk
Scheduled: Friday, September 25, 2009 from 2:45 – 3:10pm in Salon E


Overview of the current state of compositor interfaces and their interactions with OpenGL double-buffering.


Currently, OpenGL, compositing window systems, and vertical refresh synchronized buffer swapping combine to make a giant mess. The current interfaces provided by GLX to synchronize buffer swaps don’t work well with multi-monitor displays and don’t really provide the functionality that applications want. Compositing window managers aren’t able to get or provide the necessary information to ensure tear-free buffer swaps to all applications in a performant manner. At the intersection is disappointed users and frustrated application developers.

This talk will present a brief overview of where we are and how we got here. The deficient software interfaces will then be enumerated, and possible enhancements to these interfaces will be presented. The talk will conclude by soliciting input from the audience. The problems highlighted by this talk have been growing over the past several years. It is clear that more input is needed to create a robust solution.


OpenGL, compositied desktop


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    Jesse Barnes



    Jesse is a long time Linux and open source developer. He’s worked on projects ranging from porting and scaling the Linux kernel to high end, SGI Itanium based servers, to graphics stack development on Intel chipsets.

    Jesse currently works at Intel, doing Linux graphics stack development and maintaining the Linux PCI layer.

  • Ian Romanick



    Ian Romanick is a Software Engineer in Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. He is also one of Intel’s representatives to the OpenGL ARB. For the past 8 years he has been working very diligently to make OpenGL on Linux better. He has been doing graphics programming for 18 years, having released his first Amiga demo in 1991. Ian holds a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from Portland State University. In his spare time, he teaches graphics programming in the Visual and Game Development program at the Art Institute of Portland.

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