Proposal: fps discussion group

This is a proposal for a new discussion group called 'fps' (Frames Per Second). Its focus is to obtain consistently high frame rates for Linux desktop applications.

The goal of consistently high frame rates cuts across many areas of Linux development, including application development, Gui toolkits, X server issues, a number of areas of the Linux kernel (mtrr and scheduling being the most visible), hardware design and configuration, and possibly the design of new hardware that is optimized with Linux in mind. Consequently, the focus of the list addresses people from many different communities. Thus, the fps discussion would not fit easily within any single existing forum (that I know of, anyway).

The purpose of the mailing list is to improve communication between the different groups involved, and to foster the knowledge that's needed to bring truly high performance to the general Linux desktop. I've definitely experienced the lack of communication - the first time I heard about mtrr write combining is when someone posted results to my GdkRgb survey page. Yet, this is perhaps the single most important improvement in Linux graphics performance in a while. As the developer of GdkRgb, I should have found out about this earlier.

One of the primary elements of the 'fps philosophy' is that a high frame rate isn't simply the number of frames that can be displayed in one second, but also includes delivering those frames at a consistent rate and with low latency. Thus, a better working definition of 'frames per second' might be the inverse of the maximum delay between frames. This effect is especially visible in jerky animations, but shows up as uneven cursor motion, jerky scrolling, and a feeling of sluggish response.

Lots of applications can benefit from high frame rates. Animation and games are simply the most obvious. My own personal interest is in highly responsive desktop applications with relatively sophisticated graphics displays (i.e. antialiased fonts and vector graphics, "themes," transparency, etc.). Image editing applications (such as the Gimp) primarily need an absolute minimum latency, so that they appear to respond instantly to the artist's pen. Some of the issues carry over into other areas of multimedia, especially sound.

Here is a list of some of the open areas I percieve:

Because the topic brings together people from diverse communities, keeping a consistent focus is important. Yet, it must be open, to be consistent with the Linux spirit and to make sure that everybody who can contribute is able to. Here's what I propose, based on past experience with mailing list administration:

Thus, I hope that this will be a good list for getting maximum performance out of Linux, while respecting that the people who are doing this work are busy.

Comments welcome.

Raph Levien <>

The list has provisionally been set up on, and you can subscribe on the web:

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