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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 GEM in version 2.6.28, released in December 2008. This will be replaced by a TTM (Translation Table Maps) memory manager which supports the GEM API. TTM was developed for the ATI Radeon driver and VIA S3 Graphics chipsets. Support for Intel GMA graphic cards 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. Weston and kmscon depend on kernel mode setting.
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).
See also 
- "Linux 2 6 28". Linux Kernel Newbies. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Larabel, Michael (2008-08-26). "A GEM-ified TTM Manager For Radeon". Phoronix. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Larabel, Michael (2009-06-10). "TTM Memory Manager Gets Ready For Release". Phoronix. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- "Linux 2 6 29". Linux Kernel Newbies. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- "Linux 2 6 31". Linux Kernel Newbies. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Larabel, Michael (2009-09-30). "AMD R600/700 2D Performance: Open vs. Closed Drivers". Phoronix. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- "FreeBSD 9.1-RELEASE Release Notes". FreeBSD Foundation. 30 December 2012.
- Larabel, Michael (February 25, 2009). "Gallium3D, EGL Now Buildable On FreeBSD". Phoronix. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Larabel, Michael (March 18, 2013). "Intel KMS/DRM Driver Readied For OpenBSD". Phoronix. Retrieved 2013-04-03.