Tuesday, August 5, 2014

kmscon - next generation virtual terminals

KMSCON is a simple terminal emulator based on linux kernel mode setting (KMS). It can replace the in-kernel VT implementation with a userspace console. It's a pretty new project and still very experimental.
Even though gentoo provides a ebuild its rather rudiment and it's better to use the live ebuild form [1] plus the libtsm package, which is needed for kmscon, from [2]. Personally i've added those ebuilds into my private overlay.

Don't forget to unmask/keyword the live ebuild:
# emerge -av =sys-apps/kmscon-9999

These are the packages that would be merged, in order:

Calculating dependencies... done!
[ebuild   R   *] sys-apps/kmscon-9999::local  USE="drm fbdev gles2 optimizations pango unicode -debug -doc -multiseat -pixman -static-libs -systemd" 0 kB

Total: 1 package (1 reinstall), Size of downloads: 0 kB

After successfully emerging kmscon it's pretty simple to start a new vt with (as root):
# kmscon --vt=8 --xkb-layout=de --hwaccel

This starts kmscon on vt8 with hardware-accel on and a german keyboard layout.

If your experimental you can add (or replace) an additional virtual terminal to your inittab. A line like following should suffice to start kmscon everytime you boot your system.
c11:2345:respawn:/usr/bin/kmscon --vt=8 --xkb-layout=de --hwaccel

I've tested it with my amd cards (r600g and radeonsi) and it worked with some minor output corruptions. However, in certain cases it works already faster than agetty, for example printing dmesg output. So far it looks really promising, sadly development seems to be really slow. You'll find the git repository here [3]

[1] https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=490798
[2] https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=487394
[3] http://cgit.freedesktop.org/~dvdhrm/kmscon/

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