Kernel mode-setting is more flexible and allows displaying of an error in the case of a fatal error in the kernel, even when using a user-space display server.
User-space mode setting would have needed superuser privileges for direct hardware access, so kernel-based mode setting increases security because the user-space graphics server does not need superuser privileges.
The Linux kernel got the prerequisite for kernel-based mode setting by accepting Intel's GEM in version 2.6.28, released in December 2008. This will be replaced by Tungstens Graphics TTM (Translation Table Maps) memory manager which supports the GEM API. TTM was developed for the free and open-source drivers for Radeon and S3 Graphics graphic chipsets (see Graphics hardware and FOSS). Support for Intel GMA graphic chipsets has been accepted in version 2.6.29 which was released on March 23, 2009. Support for pre-R600 ATI Radeon graphics cards has been accepted in version 2.6.31 which was released on September 9, 2009. Support for R600 and R700 was in development within DRM and has been merged in version 2.6.32. Support for Evergreen (R800) has been merged in version 2.6.34. As Nvidia did not release all the needed documentation for its graphics chip, the development is under the nouveau project which uses reverse engineering to get it to work. Nouveau has been accepted in version 2.6.33 of the kernel which was released on December 10, 2009. This will allow to use kernel-based mode setting for Nvidia cards with this driver. Wayland compositors (e.g. Weston) and kmscon depend on kernel mode setting via ioctl.
OpenBSD, which has a strong focus on security, is interested in getting kernel-based mode setting in order to run X without superuser privileges. Support for kernel-based mode setting for later generations of Intel GPUs was added to OpenBSD in March 2013 (so should be available starting with the 5.4 release).
- At the Linux Plumbers Conference 2013 it will be suggested to split GEM and KMS.
- There is the Atomic Display Framework; it was presented by Google's Android-Team at the Linux Plumbers Conference 2013
- There is the Common Display Framework 
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