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X Graphics

X Window System Turns 30 Years Old 204

Posted by timothy
from the wax-nostalgic-below dept.
An anonymous reader writes "One of the oldest pieces of the Linux desktop stack still widely in use today is the X Window System that today is commonly referred to as X11 or in recent years the X.Org Server. The X Window System predates the Linux kernel, the Free Software Foundation, GCC, and other key pieces of the Linux infrastructure — or most software widely-used in general. Today marks 30 years since the announcement of X at MIT when it was introduced to Project Athena." X wasn't new when I first saw it, on Sun workstations the summer before I started college. When did you first encounter it?
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X Window System Turns 30 Years Old

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  • by Admiral_Bob2000 (1222180) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @10:05AM (#47272421)

    I've been using Linux/UNIXes for 15yrs now. One of the beauties of X11 has been the fact that the application programmer typically does not even have to /plan/ for network transparency - it's built in right from the start (in the various graphics toolkits), no special APIs to .

    This means that whenever the users have a need for displaying X11 apps remotely (e.g. needing to deploy new thin clients at short notice to accommodate new staff in a corporate environment - very quick setup time), you just simply set $DISPLAY and away you go. I've long come to count on this feature and I value having that option kept open all the time.

    I believe in the future fibre optic LAN equipment will come down in price and will offer much lower-latency and higher-throughput than today's copper-wired Ethernet. It may even get to the point where transmit times of sending bitmapped real-time graphics over fibre may be as fast as a CPU writing to a reasonably modest PCI/AGP graphics card.

    I think the Wayland project is making a SERIOUS mistake in treating network transparency as a second-class citizen, and will likely see the project relegated to a toy-like status (useful only for gaming and entertainment, or apps that need extremely low video latency like video editing suites) and shunned by the corporate world.

    If the current X11 protocol makes it hard to do anti-aliased text, glossy/brushed GUIs, zooming fading menus, wobbly exploding windows and the like, then what we need is a new set of core drawing primitives, much like Apple's Display Quartz system (IIRC). Call it X12 if you will, but keep the network transparency in and that decision will pay off many times over.

    I personally have no need for such resource-hogging eye-candy - I turn all of that off and prefer a minimalistic slick-but-functional snappy inteface. I am perfectly happy with X11, and all the current-version applications I use work well with it. It has its quirks and faults, but I believe they can be reasoned with and there is certainly room for improvement: http://www.x.org/wiki/Developm... [x.org]

    I also think the Wayland proposals of polling (pixel-scraping) window buffers and sending them over rdesktop for remoting is only going to lead to massive CPU overhead on shared application servers, for one thing.

    At the very least, I'd like to see the major graphics toolkit groups (Qt, GTK, WxWindows et. al.) collaborate on designing a standard remote drawing protocol that has similar transparency to X11 - then I might have more respect for Wayland attempting to replace X11.

    (sorry for double post - accidentally selected wrong formatting mode. Mod my other post into oblivion if you wish).

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