Interview: Jesse Barnes, Linux and Open Source Graphics Developer

Great_Wall_of_China_smallJesse Barnes is a long time Linux and open source developer. He’s worked on projects ranging from porting and scaling the Linux kernel to high end, SGI Itanium based servers, to graphics stack development on Intel chipsets. Jesse currently works at Intel, doing Linux graphics stack development and maintaining the Linux PCI layer.

Dawn: What do you like about working in Intel's Open Source Technology Center (OTC)?

Jesse: There are a lot of great things about working in the OTC. It's really fun to make open source projects shine on Intel hardware, but it's a lot more than that. We have a lot of freedom to help define the direction of many open source projects since we tend to be large contributors. The best part though is all the great people we have in the OTC. We've grown many great open source developers internally, and hired a large number from outside as well. Our shared purpose and common experience makes the team a lot of fun to work with. We also tend to work well together despite our geographic dispersion due to our experience with mailing lists, shared source repositories and text based communication.

Dawn: What some of Intel's top priorities for Linux graphics development?

Jesse: Our highest priorities these days include power management, performance on Atom based platforms like Netbooks, and new hardware enabling. On a higher level, we're continuing our work on re-architecting the Linux graphics stack to be more flexible to meet the needs of many more users and customers.

Dawn: At the Linux Plumber's conference in September, you talked about how OpenGL, compositing window systems, and vertical refresh synchronized buffer swapping combine to make a giant mess. Why is this such a mess and what are some plans to make it better?

Jesse: Some of our more recent architectural work has really changed the way graphics works in Linux. This left some of the old (but important!) functionality by the wayside. In the process of addressing these deficiencies, we've actually improved things a lot, and are now well beyond where we were even a year ago. Due to some of the design changes we've made, like DRI2 and GEM, we've been able to add advanced features like page flipping and asynchronous OpenGL operations, things which were very difficult in the past.

Dawn: What do you do for fun when you aren't working on open source software at Intel?

Jesse: I like to read a lot. I'm currently re-reading "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. His writing always entertains, even if he's a bit over the top in his caricatures! I just finished reading some books on financial history as well, "The Ascent of Money" and "Globalizing Capital", which helped me put the current global financial situation into perspective and taught me a lot about the evolution of various financial instruments.

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