fbdev is the primary in-kernel generic video system.
It is an alternative to the driver layer in X; that can only be used by
X, which is very heavyweight -- and then X can use fbdev instead if the
user just wants something that works.
fbdev also provides fbcon, which is an alternative to the simple text
mode console. Yes, this means that we get a console with (potentially)
arbitrary resolutions and fonts. That's actually really useful when you
are debugging a problem on a system causing X to not come up.
More importantly, on some platforms the more basic video consoles do not
work -- this is more common in embedded or esoteric (relative to x86)
I don't think there is a single silver bullet -- but X and its clients
are not the only software on the system that want a video display.
* Chris Jones <cga2000@...> [2008-11-18 19:22]:
> I'm finding it difficult to "place" the framebuffer project.
> What is/are its objective(s)?
> Is it meant to be an alternative to X?
> Is it just a generic low-level package that complements X in the event
> no specific driver for a given video chip is not available?
> Most people appear to think in a vague kind of way that the framebuffer
> is just a bunch of tricks that let you use a higher resolution on the
> linux console.
> This seems to make little sense in the light of all the activity on the
> fbdev development list where patches (both corrections & enhancements)
> are published on a daily basis.
> I just cannot imagine a number of high-end programmers spending their
> time providing enhancements for the linux console - especially when you
> consider how very few applications can actually run in that environment
> and usually with some feature loss as compared to running them in an
> xterm, for instance.
> There seems to be something much more important at stake than the linux
> console but after reading the few available docs and being subscribed to
> both fbdev lists for a number of years, I still don't get it.
> Apologies if this post makes little sense to some/most.. I'm hitting a
> wall and I guess that I am just too ignorant to ask the right questions.
> Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will help reformulate and maybe
> come up with the question(s) I am incapable of asking.
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