Fosdem O'Reilly
2004 Edition Free and Open Source Software Developer's European Meeting


2003-12-14 - Stefan Seefeld


An interview conducted by Alain Buret
FOSDEM - First and traditional question : Please present yourself ...

Stefan Seefeld - Computer graphics has always been one of my hobby horses. When I bought my first computer, I wanted to translate a history book into a digital library, and I dreamed up ways to visualize these data in new ways.
During my physics studies I wrote visualization software to render simulations we were running. Now I'm working for a company doing Computer Assisted Surgery, and the central goal is to assist surgeons to visualize the treatment they are applying to their patients.

FOSDEM - How and when did you start looking at Fresco ?

Stefan Seefeld - I followed the 'original' Fresco project a bit, when it was still hosted by the X Consortium. In '98 I joined the Berlin project convincing them that Fresco had a lot of answers to their questions. At this point the Fresco project had come to a halt, i.e. wasn't actively developed any more.
Some time later the old maintainer handed over the archives to us, and we changed our name to 'Fresco', as that's what we really stood for design-wise.

FOSDEM - What do you think about the X consortium ? Too big, too slow ?

Stefan Seefeld - Are you really talking about the consortium here, or the X protocol, or the XFree86 implementation ?

FOSDEM - Wa talking about the consortium ... how do you see the future X evolution compared to Fresco ?

Stefan Seefeld - A project with the scope as large as Fresco or X is a huge undertaking. Fresco was born as an academic research project, which later demonstrated how to do things better compared to X11.
In recent years there has been a lot of work on one particular X implementation, and lots of ideas very central to Fresco have become integrated into X (Cairo, in particular).
It is well possible that with the impetus that the X development currently has, it will provide all what Fresco stood for within a couple of years.
I honestly can't tell how Fresco itself will evolve. My interest always was more on the academic side, i.e. experimenting and trying out new approaches, instead of getting it installed on everybody's machine.

FOSDEM - Do you interact with other projects like DirectFB ?

Stefan Seefeld - Fresco requires some low-level ('console') support for the interaction with the hardware. The first console backend we used was provided by the GGI project. Later we provided adapters for other such backends such as SDL, and DirectFB. It happens that we send enhancement requests to those projects, as they are generally not targetting the same audience as we are (SDL for example is mostly a gaming library, which has quite a different set of requirements than we have).

FOSDEM - Introduce in few words what you're going to talk about during your presentation ...

Stefan Seefeld - Fresco has been subject to a lot of debatte. I'd like to present the history of the project from a technical point of view, and outline some of the challenges we are facing, as we try to provide an alternative display server architecture, from specific questions concerning client server interaction, to more general questions concerning hardware abstraction, and the leveraging of existing work.

FOSDEM - What are you expecting from your talk at FOSDEM and from the interactions with other developers present at the event?

Stefan Seefeld - Conferences like this are always a wonderful way to get together and meet with developers of other projects. Ideally more developers would get interested in what we are doing, and joining the project.
I'd also like to get in touch with other related projects (such as Cairo and DirectFB) to better understand their approach.


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