Google Summer of Code – USB Multiseat

Plugable is offering mentoring and donated hardware for USB graphics projects that are funded as part of Google Summer of Code 2010. Plugable is working through X.Org as a sponsoring organization.

The main focus is USB multiseat, and the details are on the xorg wiki for SoC 2010

With all the pieces that are just coming together now, there is a potential here to do a project with huge impact, without a massive amount of engineering. There is already a very solid proposal coming from a student in Brazil who has previously been involved with the MDM multiseat project.

Google’s deadline for applications is now just a few days away: April 9th.

If there’s interest from other parties, we’ll get everyone talking – or there are other related proposals that we might be able to get in at the last minute. Foremost among those is conversion of the DisplayLink USB driver udlfb and matching X server from a fbdev driver to the KMS model.

Here’s the basics of the USB multiseat opportunity:

USB Multiseat Refinement

Linux Multiseat setups have potential to significantly reduce the cost of computing, but can be hard to configure. Some progress has been made on USB multiseat, where all components of the “terminal’ (display, keyboard, mouse, and more) are on USB, so configuration can be fully plug and play – you can just assume that all devices on the same USB hub constitute a terminal.

Some early prototypes of this are working (see The underlying kernel drivers and X servers are largely in place.

But recent changes to the X Server, ConsoleKit, and other components open the possibility for a cleaner implementation.

This SoC project would constitute the refinement/creation of configuration scripts to enable a standard Linux or *nix computer to automatically launch additional seats when a USB terminal is plugged in

* udev rules to detect hubs/devices which should be collectively treated as terminals
* udev attributes to label the set of devices with a common seat id
* udev triggers for on-demand generation of the appropriate Xorg config files, to allow seats to coexist with the primary display/devices.
* ConsoleKit scripts to launch independent GDM/X sessions for each USB terminal seat
* InputClass rules to cause the primary X session to ignore multiseat-assigned devices, and the appropriate seat to use them
* udev rules and X init scripts to grant access to audio, storage, and other devices to the person logged into the matching seat

The one-sentence goal of this project: To make USB multiseat fully plug and play for the end-user, and ready for any distro to safely and cleanly drop in at any time.

Know any aspiring software engineering students that might be interested? Check SoC info from Google and the SoC guidelines from xorg.