Continued support for X11 and general road map for minimals?


This question really needs to be asked and the topic really needs to be addressed by Toradex. It is really an off-shoot of the conversation with my friend @bertin and our newest guest @bhavanihimanshu.

Can we have an official road map of what hardware and official bsp distros will continue to support X11 and, separately if necessary, WinCE? I realize NXP and other manufacturers only want to sell the latest and greatest, but, existing customer bases spend hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions per year, buying the stuff vendors claim to be “obsolete.” Personally, I was happy to seen WinCE taken out to the woods and get two behind the ear, but @bertin and soooo many others are trapped with that platform. Adding insult to injury for him, he will now have to surf eBay to purchase “obsolete” Microsoft Developer Connection CDs just to find WinCE documentation as it is being purged from online.

Many of us are having ever increasing battery life requirements which are shrinking the amount of RAM one can have in a device. That means we stick with X11 only or we use embedded DOS because we have at most 512MB. You can make some beautiful, and snappy touch screen user interfaces with only 512MB and no GPU.

That device is case in point. I worked on it. The UI is a thing of beauty. We were shooting for 10 days of operational battery life so unnecessary things like extra RAM and a GPU were removed from the design.

@bhavanihimanshu message I responded to today really rang a bell with me given some of the projects I’ve been talking to. With 220MB (roughly) as a default memory footprint for Wayland/Weston/xwayland, that’s going to keep Toradex from being considered for designs that require many days of battery life and no more than 512MB of RAM to help achieve said battery life.

Yes, there are clients that are connected to grid power and they want the resources of an entire server farm in the palm of their hand. There is also a not insignificant market wanting 10+ days of run-time battery life with a touch screen UI. That market needs pure X11 or they have to move to some flavor of embedded DOS.


  1. What are the plans for continued pure X11 (no Wayland/Weston/xwayland) support on what hardware going forward?

  2. Is Toradex going to officially support one or more Embedded DOS platforms? There are quite a few, some free, some not.

  3. When will Toradex officially jump on the Mbed OS wagon?

Yes, there are dozens, (perhaps hundreds?) of RTOS platforms out there, but Mbed is officially Arm and can run in a system having only 16K of RAM and 128K of Flash according to the minimal specs. This makes your 512MB platforms a vast ocean of space. With current Yocto builds those platforms are kind of like stuffing yourself into one-size-fits-all underwear. Roughly half of the RAM is eaten by the UI infrastructure.

I’m just asking so I can provide worthwhile guidance to those calling me to ask if I’m available for embedded projects. We always chat about what they are doing, or wanting to do, before I give them an answer.

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The questions here are relevant and I want to add some points to be considered:

The first thing is that RAM consumption analyses are sometimes not that simple. I wouldn’t be so quick to say that wayland has a bigger memory consumption than X, especially anything really significant. If there’s a strict low memory usage requirement, the customer must carefully vet everything that goes into their image and what services are started. Our reference images are meant to be used to showcase the hardware abilities of our modules in a way that makes it easy for customers to start their evaluation process. Customers are welcome to use our images as a starting point for developing their own images that fit the project requirements.

Second, I’m not very experienced in low battery consumption requirements but I would like to point out that memory technology has been evolving in this direction. For instance, our Verdin modules use LPDDR4 RAM that’s specifically designed for low power consumption scenarios. I can’t say for sure if a Verdin with 1GB of memory is comparable in power consumption to an older module with 512MB of RAM, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that would be the case.

Third, Toradex bases our BSP offers on what the manufacturer of the SoC provides. We work hard to make sure that our modules are well-integrated and all the HW features are supported. We also do extensive testing to make sure that everything works as expected. Additionally, we put a lot of effort to make sure that our modules can run with mainline kernels. At the end of the day, we usually don’t take upon ourselves to support features that are not supported officially in the SoC BSP. X support is an example of that, as NXP dropped official support for it on their BSP, we cannot keep up with this support ourselves. Our team is significantly smaller than NXP’s teams and we cannot make sure all GPU features work well on the entire range of modules we provide to our customers. On the other hand, we also try our best to make sure that our customers are not blocked from using the software that they see fit.

Now, to answer your questions directly:

What are the plans for continued pure X11 (no Wayland/Weston/xwayland) support on what hardware going forward?

We have no plans to officially support X11 anymore. Customers are welcome to use it themselves and see if the results fit the project requirements.

Is Toradex going to officially support one or more Embedded DOS platforms? There are quite a few, some free, some not.

There are no plans in this direction at the moment.

When will Toradex officially jump on the Mbed OS wagon?

For this, we also don’t have any plans.

I hope this clarifies some points,

That’s too bad. NXP has 36 Mbed OS compatible platforms.

As far as no longer supporting X11 that will definitely dimple sales over the next decade. Xwayland is rather buggy and bloated. Not being able to control screen position is a major pitfall.

Agco has their own version of embedded DOS with full source code. When specking projects for them the processor must be compatible with at least one embedded DOS version. Their White 2-195 is still my all-time favorite tractor.

We just got done using ours to side dress liquid fertilizer. Yes, I still live on the family farm I grew up on.

When it comes to my medical device work, every layer that exists between the application and the hardware creates a shiny new section in the RISK Assessment Documentation. When Wayland/Weston is out there running on its own and you cannot fully test it, that’s a big pile of SOUP (Software Of Unknown Providence) to risk a patient fatality on. Nothing may be wrong with your application but the Wayland/Weston container may have crashed rendering the UI non-functional and without a good recovery/detection option.

It’s for these reasons you are seeing Mbed OS rising dramatically in popularity with those manufacturers who cannot afford the licensing of a medically certified OS. DOS is also making a huge comeback. AGCO isn’t the only agricultural manufacturer to use a flavor of it in their equipment. Most of them have some spin-off/flavor of DR MDOS.

Thank you for your response Btw.

NXP really shot itself in the foot removing X11 support. The medical device industry simply cannot have those extra layers. Just a ticking time bomb for a personal injury lawyer to find. It’s a decision that makes less than no sense when you look at how heavily NXP is into the Mbed OS market. You won’t find Wayland/Weston there.

Thanks again for documenting current plans.

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