Review of Igalia’s Graphics activities (2018)

This is the first report about Igalia’s activities around Computer Graphics, specifically 3D graphics and, in particular, the Mesa3D Graphics Library (Mesa), focusing on the year 2018.

GL_ARB_gl_spirv and GL_ARB_spirv_extensions

GL_ARB_gl_spirv is an OpenGL extension whose purpose is to enable an OpenGL program to consume SPIR-V shaders. In the case of GL_ARB_spirv_extensions, it provides a mechanism by which an OpenGL implementation would be able to announce which particular SPIR-V extensions it supports, which is a nice complement to GL_ARB_gl_spirv.

As both extensions, GL_ARB_gl_spirv and GL_ARB_spirv_extensions, are core functionality in OpenGL 4.6, the drivers need to provide them in order to be compliant with that version.

Although Igalia picked up the already started implementation of these extensions in Mesa back in 2017, 2018 is a year in which we put a big deal of work to provide the needed push to have all the remaining bits in place. Much of this effort provides general support to all the drivers under the Mesa umbrella but, in particular, Igalia implemented the backend code for Intel‘s i965 driver (gen7+). Assuming that the review process for the remaining patches goes without important bumps, it is expected that the whole implementation will land in Mesa during the beginning of 2019.

Throughout the year, Alejandro Piñeiro gave status updates of the ongoing work through his talks at FOSDEM and XDC 2018. This is a video of the latter:

ETC2/EAC

The ETC and EAC formats are lossy compressed texture formats used mostly in embedded devices. OpenGL implementations of the versions 4.3 and upwards, and OpenGL/ES implementations of the versions 3.0 and upwards must support them in order to be conformant with the standard.

Most modern GPUs are able to work directly with the ETC2/EAC formats. Implementations for older GPUs that don’t have that support but want to be conformant with the latest versions of the specs need to provide that functionality through the software parts of the driver.

During 2018, Igalia implemented the missing bits to support GL_OES_copy_image in Intel’s i965 for gen7+, while gen8+ was already complying through its HW support. As we were writing this entry, the work has finally landed.

VK_KHR_16bit_storage

Igalia finished the work to provide support for the Vulkan extension VK_KHR_16bit_storage into Intel’s Anvil driver.

This extension allows the use of 16-bit types (half floats, 16-bit ints, and 16-bit uints) in push constant blocks, and buffers (shader storage buffer objects).  This feature can help to reduce the memory bandwith for Uniform and Storage Buffer data accessed from the shaders and / or optimize Push Constant space, of which there are only a few bytes available, making it a precious shader resource.

shaderInt16

Igalia added Vulkan’s optional feature shaderInt16 to Intel’s Anvil driver. This new functionality provides the means to operate with 16-bit integers inside a shader which, ideally, would lead to better performance when you don’t need a full 32-bit range. However, not all HW platforms may have native support, still needing to run in 32-bit and, hence, not benefiting from this feature. Such is the case for operations associated with integer division in the case of Intel platforms.

shaderInt16 complements the functionality provided by the VK_KHR_16bit_storage extension.

SPV_KHR_8bit_storage and VK_KHR_8bit_storage

SPV_KHR_8bit_storage is a SPIR-V extension that complements the VK_KHR_8bit_storage Vulkan extension to allow the use of 8-bit types in uniform and storage buffers, and push constant blocks. Similarly to the the VK_KHR_16bit_storage extension, this feature can help to reduce the needed memory bandwith.

Igalia implemented its support into Intel’s Anvil driver.

VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8

Igalia implemented the support for VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8 into Intel’s Anvil driver. This is an extension that enables Vulkan to consume SPIR-V shaders that use Float16 and Int8 types in arithmetic operations. It extends the functionality included with VK_KHR_16bit_storage and VK_KHR_8bit_storage.

In theory, applications that do not need the range and precision of regular 32-bit floating point and integers, can use these new types to improve performance. Additionally, its implementation is mostly API agnostic, so most of the work we did should also help to have a proper mediump implementation for GLSL ES shaders in the future.

The review process for the implementation is still ongoing and is on its way to land in Mesa.

VK_KHR_shader_float_controls

VK_KHR_shader_float_controls is a Vulkan extension which allows applications to query and override the implementation’s default floating point behavior for rounding modes, denormals, signed zero and infinity.

Igalia has coded its support into Intel’s Anvil driver and it is currently under review before being merged into Mesa.

VkRunner

VkRunner is a Vulkan shader tester based on shader_runner in Piglit. Its goal is to make it feasible to test scripts as similar as possible to Piglit’s shader_test format.

Igalia initially created VkRunner as a tool to get more test coverage during the implementation of GL_ARB_gl_spirv. Soon, it was clear that it was useful way beyond the implementation of this specific extension but as a generic way of testing SPIR-V shaders.

Since then, VkRunner has been enabled as an external dependency to run new tests added to the Piglit and VK-GL-CTS suites.

Neil Roberts introduced VkRunner at XDC 2018. This is his talk:

freedreno

During 2018, Igalia has also started contributing to the freedreno Mesa driver for Qualcomm GPUs. Among the work done, we have tackled multiple bugs identified through the usual testing suites used in the graphic drivers development: Piglit and VK-GL-CTS.

Khronos Conformance

The Khronos conformance program is intended to ensure that products that implement Khronos standards (such as OpenGL or Vulkan drivers) do what they are supposed to do and they do it consistently across implementations from the same or different vendors.

This is achieved by producing an extensive test suite, the Conformance Test Suite (VK-GL-CTS or CTS for short), which aims to verify that the semantics of the standard are properly implemented by as many vendors as possible.

In 2018, Igalia has continued its work ensuring that the Intel Mesa drivers for both Vulkan and OpenGL are conformant. This work included reviewing and testing patches submitted for inclusion in VK-GL-CTS and continuously checking that the drivers passed the tests. When failures were encountered we provided patches to correct the problem either in the tests or in the drivers, depending on the outcome of our analysis or, even, brought a discussion forward when the source of the problem was incomplete, ambiguous or incorrect spec language.

The most important result out of this significant dedication has been successfully passing conformance applications.

OpenGL 4.6

Igalia helped making Intel’s i965 driver conformant with OpenGL 4.6 since day zero. This was a significant achievement since, besides Intel Mesa, only nVIDIA managed to do this too.

Igalia specifically contributed to achieve the OpenGL 4.6 milestone providing the GL_ARB_gl_spirv implementation.

Vulkan 1.1

Igalia also helped to make Intel’s Anvil driver conformant with Vulkan 1.1 since day zero, too.

Igalia specifically contributed to achieve the Vulkan 1.1 milestone providing the VK_KHR_16bit_storage implementation.

Mesa Releases

Igalia continued the work that was already carrying on in Mesa’s Release Team throughout 2018. This effort involved a continuous dedication to track the general status of Mesa against the usual test suites and benchmarks but also to react quickly upon detected regressions, specially coordinating with the Mesa developers and the distribution packagers.

The work was obviously visible by releasing multiple bugfix releases as well as doing the branching and creating a feature release.

CI

Continuous Integration is a must in any serious SW project. In the case of API implementations it is even critical since there are many important variables that need to be controlled to avoid regressions and track the progress when including new features: agnostic tests that can be used by different implementations, different OS platforms, CPU architectures and, of course, different GPU architectures and generations.

Igalia has kept a sustained effort to keep Mesa (and Piglit) CI integrations in good health with an eye on the reported regressions to act immediately upon them. This has been a key tool for our work around Mesa releases and the experience allowed us to push the initial proposal for a new CI integration when the FreeDesktop projects decided to start its migration to GitLab.

This work, along with the one done with the Mesa releases, lead to a shared presentation, given by Juan Antonio Suárez during XDC 2018. This is the video of the talk:

XDC 2018

2018 was the year that saw A Coruña hosting the X.Org Developer’s Conference (XDC) and Igalia as Platinum Sponsor.

The conference was organized by GPUL (Galician Linux User and Developer Group) together with University of A Coruña, Igalia and, of course, the X.Org Foundation.

Since A Coruña is the town in which the company originated and where we have our headquarters, Igalia had a key role in the organization, which was greatly benefited by our vast experience running events. Moreover, several Igalians joined the conference crew and, as mentioned above, we delivered talks around GL_ARB_gl_spirv, VkRunner, and Mesa releases and CI testing.

The feedback from the attendees was very rewarding and we believe the conference was a great event. Here you can see the Closing Session speech given by Samuel Iglesias:

Other activities

Conferences

As usual, Igalia was present in many graphics related conferences during the year:

New Igalians in the team

Igalia’s graphics team kept growing. Two new developers joined us in 2018:

  • Hyunjun Ko is an experienced Igalian with a strong background in multimedia. Specifically, GStreamer and Intel’s VAAPI. He is now contributing his impressive expertise into our Graphics team.
  • Arcady Goldmints-Orlov is the latest addition to the team. His previous expertise as a graphics developer around the nVIDIA GPUs fits perfectly for the kind of work we are pushing currently in Igalia.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this blog post and we look forward to more work on graphics in 2019!

Igalia

How to use Debian’s reportbug with Evolution

This is mostly a note pad for myself with quick instructions about how to create a bug report for Debian and edit it and send it with Evolution.

reportbug is Debian’s tool for sending bug reports. Although it is a nice tool that automatizes most of this process, it only supports some email clients for the final steps of editing the message (and send it). Among these programs is not Evolution, my preferred mail application.

Fortunately, there is a way to work around this problem. The way of doing it is by placing the mbox file created by reportbug into Evolution’s local Drafts folder. As we can read on its manual, Evolution stores the user’s data files at $HOME/.local/share/evolution.

By doing a simple check around that path, we can conclude the following solution: first, we generate the bug report and place the output in the proper location, as in this command:

After finishing walking through reportbug‘s wizard, the only action left is launching Evolution and opening a new email that has appeared in the local Drafts folder, finish editing it (attaching files, etc.) and send it.

Switching between nouveau and the nVIDIA proprietary OpenGL driver in (Debian) GNU/Linux

So lately I’ve been devoting my time in Igalia around the GNU/Linux graphics stack focusing, more specifically, in Mesa, the most popular open-source implementation of the OpenGL specification.

When working in Mesa and piglit, its testing suite, quite often you would like to compare the results obtained when running a specific OpenGL code with one driver or another.

In the case of nVIDIA graphic cards we have the chance of comparing the default open source driver provided by Mesa, nouveau, or the proprietary driver provided by nVIDIA. For installing the nVIDIA driver you will have to run something like:

Changing from one driver to another involves several steps so I decided to create a dirty script for helping with this.

The actions done by this script are:

  1. Instruct your X Server to use the adequate X driver.
    These instructions apply to the X.org server only.
    When using the default nouveau driver in Debian, the X.org server is able to configure itself automatically. However, when using the nVIDIA driver you most probably will have to instruct the proper settings to X.org.
    nVIDIA provides the package nvidia-xconfig. This package provides a tool of the same name that will generate a X.org configuration file suitable to work with the nVIDIA X driver:

    I have embedded this generated file into the provided custom script since it is suitable for my system:

    I would recommend you to substitute this with another configuration file generated with nvidia-xconfig on your system.
  2. Select the proper GLX library.
    Fortunately, Debian provides the alternatives mechanism to select between one or the other.






  3. Black list the module we don’t want the Linux kernel to load on start up.
    Again, in Debian, the nVIDIA driver package installs the file /etc/nvidia/nvidia-blacklists-nouveau.conf that is linked, then, from /etc/modprobe.d/nvidia-blacklists-nouveau.conf instructing that the open source nouveau kernel driver for the graphic card should be avoided.
    When selecting nouveau, this script removes the soft link creating a new file which, instead of black listing nouveau’s driver, does it for the nVIDIA proprietary one:

    When selecting nVIDIA, the previous file is removed and the soft link is restored.
  4. Re-generate the image used in the inital booting.
    This will ensure that we are using the proper kernel driver from the beginning of the booting of the system:

With these actions you will be already able to switch your running graphic driver.

You will switch to nouveau with:

And to the nVIDIA proprietary driver with:

It is recommended to reboot the system although theoretically you could unload the kernel driver and restart the X.org server. The reason is that it has been reported that unloading the nVIDIA kernel driver and loading a different one is not always working correctly.

I hope this will be helpful for your hacking time!

NSLU2, Grilo and UPnP in Ubuntu’s GNOME

Going quickly to the “ham”, if you are running Ubuntu Precise on your machine and want to have Grilo support including its UPnP plugin in totem and rhythmbox just add Grilo Team‘s PPA:

Then, pull down the latest list of software including the PPA you just added:

Install the needed packages and upgrate any old one:

That’s it! Enjoy your Grilo powered totem and rhythmbox!

Now, the long boring story 😉

Last weekend I found some time to resurrect my dear NSLU2 which passed away some months ago when its attached USB hard drive started failing. I have reports from several USB hard drives dying while being attached to a NSLU2 so I may have to take a look to that at some point, but that would be in another moment.

Thanks to good Martin Michlmayr I only had to follow quickly his installation guide and I could have the Debian Squeeze firmware image he provides running smoothly in a matter of minutes.

Afterwards, I followed the counsels of Juan and Mario to tweak my Slug.

The customization to highlight was adding a MediaTomb server since one of the main features that I wanted to add to my Slug was the possibility of serving audio and video through UPnP.

Everything seemed in place but, when I checked in my desktop running Ubuntu Precise how to access my music from rhythmbox and my videos from totem I had a sad surprise. None of them have UPnP support and, what is worse, none of them have Grilo support out of the box in Precise. And I say worse because, among other plugins, Grilo already provides UPnP support and AFAIK, totem and rhythmbox have upstream Grilo plugins for quite some time already.

So, what was the problem? Why weren’t they in Precise?

Well, in the case of rhythmbox it seems just a small mistake in the debian packaging, as it is pointed in this report in Launchpad’s bug 973295. Astonishingly, it has not yet been fixed!

Hence, I downloaded the sources for the precise-proposed rhythmbox’s package and I did the proper changes and uploaded it to the Grilo Team PPA.

Rhythmbox and Grilo 0.1

“Rhythmbox and Grilo 0.1”

In the case of totem what happened was that Grilo’s plugin was removed as for the version that was packaged for Precise, in the road to add a new and better plugin for Grilo 0.2. Which is what it is in totem upstream nowadays.

Therefore, I re-took the old patch for totem’s Grilo 0.1 plugin in GNOME’s bug 628648, downloaded the sources for the precise-proposed totem’s package, patched and uploaded it to the Grilo Team PPA.

Totem and Grilo 0.1

“Totem and Grilo 0.1”

In the path for all these changes I joint the Grilo Team at gitorious and made also some changes to its packaging.

Now I can enjoy my UPnP served music and videos from my favorite applications in GNOME!!!

Hopefully, for the next Ubuntu’s release we will have Grilo 0.2 already integrated and totem will come with its plugin out of the box. By now, rhythmbox’s Grilo plugin has yet not been migrated.

Grilo 0.2 is a great library for accessing the media content from several resources. Juan, the Grilo master, has been working in Igalia writing a new, clean, easily extendable and powerful API that is ready for use and which keeps enhancing everyday. However, Grilo’s adoption is coming surprisingly slow. Out of GNOME other projects have shown quite some interest as it was the case of Media Explorer, but in GNOME I only know of its support by the 0.2 version in totem. Anyone willing to bring the power of Grilo to Music, rhythmbox, banshee and the like? 😀

Update: It seems I rushed too much since Jonathan Matthew migrated rhythmbox Grilo plugin to 0.2 pretty recently. Thanks Matthew!

Extending the life of your N8x0: Second update for Automatic Skype Launcher

Back again with a new release, the 0.0.3, of Applications Fullscreener and Automatic Skype Launcher.

Just download and install them in your N8x0 for making it become a good 24/7 Skype phone. For more information about the goals and features of this project you can check the previous post Extending the life of your N8x0: Automatic Skype Launcher.

Skype Tango Icon

I took the chance to update also the artwork used in these two applications. First thing, I created a Tango-ized version of the Skype logo.

Then, I used the previous magnificent art works from Andreas Nilsson and Jakub Steiner to create the new icons, and these are the result:

Applications Fullscreener Icon Applications Fullscreener Debian Package Icon Applications Fullscreener Icon Applications Fullscreener Settings Icon

Anyway, going to the actual changes.

The most important change for Applications Fullscreener is:

  • There was a second bash helper to launch a certain application and send the fullscreen key event some time afterwards. It was not fully featured but now it is.

You can, also, check the complete ChangeLog for Applications Fullscreener.

The most important changes for Automatic Skype Launcher are:

  • The Automatic Skype Launcher service was not stopping when uninstalled. Now this is corrected.
  • The init service was not starting correctly in some scenarios due to some uninitialized variables. This has been corrected.
  • In the previous version, I added an alarm triggered by the alarmd daemon to restart Skype (and the service). This was not working always. Now, killing Skype is forced.

You can, also, check the complete ChangeLog for Automatic Skype Launcher.

That’s it. Comments and patches are welcomed!

Extending the life of your N8x0: Update for Automatic Skype Launcher

I’ve just released the 0.0.2 version of Applications Fullscreener and Automatic Skype Launcher.

As I was already commenting in my previous post Extending the life of your N8x0: Automatic Skype Launcher, just download them and install them in your N8x0 for making it become a good 24/7 Skype phone.

The most important change for Applications Fullscreener is:

  • I’ve added a helper to launch a certain application and send the fullscreen key event some time afterwards.
    This is specially useful for launching an application through the DSME watchdog daemon in Maemo4.x. Using this helper as a wrapper, the application will receive the fullscreen event some time after being launched while the watchdog keeps track of the helper. In this case, if either the helper or the application dies, both die and, hence, the DSME will relaunch them both.

You can, also, check the complete ChangeLog for Applications Fullscreener.

The most important changes for Automatic Skype Launcher are:

  • I’ve added a Control Panel plugin for setting several behaviors of the application: starting an init service, using a watchdog for keeping it alive, trying to fullscreen Skype after launching it as a service and the time at which the service will be restarted, if so.

Automatic Skype Launcher Control Panel plugin snapshot

  • I’ve added a Home Desktop applet for making it easier to launch manually Skype, not having to get into the applications menu.

Automatic Skype Launcher Home Desktop applet snapshot

  • The Automatic Skype Launcher service was not stopping when the N8x0 was turned off while charging. Now this is corrected.
  • In the previous version, I added a cron.daily script to restart Skype (and the service). Actually, the N8x0 doesn’t have a cron daemon, by default. This is now corrected through the usage of an alarm triggered by the alarmd daemon.

You can, also, check the complete ChangeLog for Automatic Skype Launcher.

That’s it. Comments and patches are welcomed!

Taking back the old scrollbars in Ubuntu

Today I couldn’t take it any more and I had to do it …

I’m a Thinkpad Lenovo X61s owner with which I don’t use nor miss a mouse thanks to the awesome TrackPoint included. Because of that, the new Ubuntu’s scrollbars are, from the user interactivity point of view, just not usable.

Leading quickly to the “ham” 🙂 , disabling them is just a matter of writing in a console:

and reboot.

I’m not saying that the new scrollbars aren’t an enhancement. They allow a better usage of the display but, from the functional point of view, they only work as positioning indicator. They will tell you the progress in the scrollable window but, necessarily, you will need a wheel in your mouse or a way to emulate it. If you often have to grab the scrollbar, from a functional point of view, they are just a failure.

Hence, you will miss in Ubuntu a way to tune on or off its usage without having to use these kind of “hacks“.

Of course, another alternative would have been “to emulate” the mouse wheel through the middle button. I my case, this is not an option since last time I walked this path I decided to have a better “select and paste” experience with this button rather than use it as modifier for the vertical/horizontal scrolling.

Anyway, if you want to use the middle button this way, you had to do some changes to the “XOrg” config file before. Now, you just have to install the “gpointing-device-settings” package:

and select the proper options after launching its UI from “System -> Preferences -> Pointing devices“.

This and many other tricks can be found at ThinkWiki.

Who knows, maybe, in some time, I will change my mind and retake this functionality (and the new Ubuntu scrollbars) …

gnuLinEx flies on AirNostrum

gnuLinEx promotional LiveCD

As Quique, one of my colleagues from Igalia, had previously posted, gnuLinex was in the Spanish local Iberia’s flights last summer (I don’t know if there are copies of gnuLinex still in this kind of flights), as a present for every passenger.

I think this is a great idea in order to spread free software and I hope other initiatives, like inserting OpenOffice.org as the default office application for public worker appliances would be followed by other Spanish public administrations.

debian lists

Last months I’ve being doing some tasks in order to become a Debian Maintainer.

First, because of some requirements at work, I have being repackaging some pieces of software so I’ve learned about the Debian packages architecture. Once I was confident with what I was doing and I needed to know more about customizing a package (not just rebuilding one) I read the Debian New Maintainers’ Guide and the Debian Policy Manual, I made some new packages and subscribe myself to the Debian mailing lists I thought they would be profitable.

Some weeks after that I realized the amount of mails I was receiving was so huge that I hadn’t the time to even skim them in order to read the interesting ones so I desubscribe myself from the lists I knew I wasn’t going to read ever.

Indeed, some weeks ago, the amount of mails received from the lists I thought I could read was so big that now I’m starting to think of desubscribing myself from all the mailing lists but the mentors one.

In the end, I’ve not found the time needed to start the race to become a Debian Maintainer. I think the dedication needed is so high that I should spend a cople of hours everyday.

I hope I could find an orphaned package interesting enough to give me the energy to retry to be a Debian Maintainer ;-).