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X GUI Graphics Software X11 Server Release 6.8 463

kormoc writes "The developers of have just release the long-desired version 6.8.0. This release brings real translucency and allows one to set values on different windows. Also, nifty drop shadows as well as XDamage, an extention that limits redrawing of windows to only the areas that were damaged. The Xcomposite extention is still not stable, but it works well for some people. Why not give it a shot?"
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  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:08AM (#10187765) Journal
    On the bandwidth requirement fromt? Frankly, I don't u'stand why we don't have a good windowing environment atleast half as good as Citrix so far. The X-Damage stuff could be the ticket though.

    • by listen ( 20464 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:31AM (#10187904)
      Citrix is a hack.

      X may not perform as well, but at least it is designed properly - so you can share per application, or even per window, rather than having a goofy desktop in a window.

      The best performing remote desktop solution for X is NX from nomachine. And yes, it does perform better than Citrix.

      They have primarily pursued the goofy desktop in a window model as well. But there is nothing in their protocol mandating this : it is merely a limitation of the current client.

      Best of all, NX is Free Software released under the GPL. Its a seperate process than the X server, so no legal viruses are going to eat up your nVidia driver.

      NX sell a proprietary packaged up version. There is a project called FreeNX aiming to produce a fully Free set of NX tools ; however they appear to be closely allied to KDE, and aim to make it a feature for KDE to lord over Gnome. I hope I'm wrong.

      • X may not perform as well, but at least it is designed properly - so you can share per application, or even per window, rather than having a goofy desktop in a window.

        What Citrix also can do, at least the per application part (never tried per window). You are thinking of MS's RDP (AFAIK derived from Citrix, but another product).
      • by Perky_Goth ( 594327 ) <paulomiguelmarques@gmail . c om> on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @09:22AM (#10188208)
        On the other hand... []

        Fabian Franz: In fact, our FreeNX implementation is only the last piece of the mosaic. 99,9% comes from NoMachines's GPL/NX components, that we simply use unchanged in FreeNX.
        Kurt Pfeifle: In the last 15 months, there have been servere misunderstandings concerning the whole NX software, which was considered to be "non-Free" by several Open Source developers, just because NoMachine also based its commercial products on top of it.
        Without having a deeper look, rejecting NX as "practically unusable, if only the libraries are released under the GPL whereas the NoMachine NX Server remains proprietary". These biases simply overlooked, that a commandline tool was shipped by NoMachine almost from the beginning, including the source code which allowed everyone who was interested to build an completely working NX tunnel.
        Fabian Franz: Our implemementation was intentionally kept simple. It's a simple Bash script...
        You are surprised? Yeah, right: FreeNX Server is a Bash script, which glues together GPL library and executable components of NX to a working whole. All that stuff existed for 15 months untouched.
        The fact that it is Bash means that every Linux developer can fix errors in our FreeNX server. ;-)
        Kurt Pfeifle: I was merely a mentor for the FreeNX development and I do the documentation. But I can confirm: Fabian isn't lying... ;-)
        FreeNX consists of less than 500 lines of Bash code (additionally to the NoMachine/NX source code parts, which are under the GPL).
        Fabian did the implementation of the FreeNX server all by himself. First of all, Fabian is a true Bash wizard.
        Secondly, this implementation should prove how "complete" the GPL components of the NX are already since 15 months.

        So, i'd be guessing anyone from Gnome can code that up in a couple of days as well, there really isn't a whole lot of magic here.
      • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @09:57AM (#10188459) Homepage Journal
        Umm. they have had that for sometime now, its called 'seamless windows' in citrix-speak. And has been out for at least a couple of versions now.. ( we expiremented with it 5 years ago, might have been beta then.. dont remember now to be honest )

        You simply "publish" a single application specify that its 'seamless', and run it as a single window.. no 'citrix desktop' required..

        We do it every day now, with hundreds of clients...
  • Gentoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:09AM (#10187771)
    Gentoo users may have access to it first, but will they be the first to be able to run it? Teeheehee!

    (Take it as a joke, gentoo fans...)
    • Re:Gentoo! (Score:5, Informative)

      by IdleTime ( 561841 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:49AM (#10188003) Journal
      I accept it as a joke :)

      When that is said, the latest release, the 904 drop, compiled in 21 minutes on my machine and has been running perfectly fine for a few days. Ofcourse, I'm running an AMD64 based machine. Your "joke" is actually true if you run a P1 160Mhz box, then it will take weeks to compile ...
    • Re:Gentoo! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by huge colin ( 528073 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:54AM (#10188038) Journal
      I run Gentoo, and I've had the Composite extension working to some extent since RC2. As of RC4, it works more or less perfectly and X is just about as fast as without it.

      Future enhancements to various window managers and applications should take advantage of these new X features. (xcompmgr and transset are clumsy utilities intended only for proof-of-concept.) For example, KDE's feature plan notes that true transparency has already been implemented in Konsole.

      Runs shadows/transparency smoothly:

      GeForce FX 5900

      Athlon XP 2000+


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:10AM (#10187777)
    I run XFree, you insensitive clod
  • Debian (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:10AM (#10187780)
    I hope this finds it way into Debian soon...
    • Re:Debian (Score:5, Informative)

      by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:49AM (#10187996)
      It should, now that X developers can work with package maintainers rather than having an establishment work against them (the XFree86 way). Yay for more code and less politics.

      Previous long lead times, according the Brandon (Debian's X release manager) were brokenness on some of the platforms Debian supports about which the developers in power didn't care, as well as reams of patches they wouldn't accept (like ones from ATI supporting "new" cards that weren't accepted after 6 months).

      The whole point of FreeDesktop was to help everyone coordinate so that the process could be smoother. Most of the poeple on both sides were fed up with the politics and are working to make that the reality now.
      • Re:Debian (Score:4, Informative)

        by fred3666 ( 539394 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @10:47AM (#10188939)
        For now, Debian is tied to their heavily patched xFree86 4.3

        They have stated that they will not move to until the modular version is available. Apparently it would take a lot of work to modify assumptions made in the apt-get respositories and they don't feel that the current release of justifies the effort. Debian does acknowledge, however, that is the future. 1. html

        I am making the assumption the's X11R6.8 is still a part of the monolithic tree.

        More information here: g00084. html
    • Re:Debian (Score:2, Informative)

      by l3v1 ( 787564 )
      Quoting from one of Daniel Stone's on debian-x list in may this year:
      Changing stuff like this around (mainly, all the package renames, as well as a mass patch rediff) within Debian is actually really quite difficult, and very, very unlikely to be allowed to happen before sarge's release.

      I'll leave it you to draw consequences. All I know is that news was spread Sarge will come around september this year (on debianplanet on aug.2), but then again: Debian releases when it is time. (from

  • composite rules! (Score:5, Informative)

    by linuxpoweredtrekkie ( 659492 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:11AM (#10187790)
    I installed this from cvs yesterday. The new composite extension amazing, full shadows and transparency possible, yet everything renders faster than i've ever seen X, no flicker whatsoever.

    In order to use the composite extension i had to add:

    Section "Extensions" Option "Composite" "Enable" EndSection

    Option "RenderAccel" "true"
    to my nvidia driver section of my xorg.conf file

    then install xcompmgr to turn it on since kwin doesn't utilise it yet.
  • Gentoo fans (Score:5, Informative)

    by barcodez ( 580516 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:13AM (#10187804)
    If you want to find out when it is available in portage without sync then check the portage database []
  • Great News, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wackysootroom ( 243310 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:15AM (#10187811) Homepage
    Wouldn't it be better to wait until makes a press realease about this? That way, they can prepare for the onslaught of downloads. I seem to remember a version of FreeBSD being announced too early on /. that wasn't really a release.

    How about waiting until announces it? Until then, it's just a directory of files on an FTP server.
  • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:20AM (#10187836) Homepage Journal
    I'm all for innovation and all that, but I've been burned a couple of times with protocols moving around a bit too often (for example mysql protocol between 4.0 and 4.1).

    How much is XDAMAGE changing the original X11 protocol on wire ?. I have beed using something called WierdX [], which is deployed as a JNLP in our project's webserver . Do these new extensions change something fundamental or is it just not applicable for remote X11 ?.

    Hmm.. I just wish X11 would use my Video card instead of hogging CPU for those purty gradients and translucent windows.

  • Progress (Score:2, Insightful)

    by littlem ( 807099 )
    This release brings real translucency and allows one to set values on different windows. Also Niffty drop shadows...

    Ah, so now the developers will start moving away from XFree86 in droves!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:22AM (#10187848)

    Don't forget that this improves much more then just adding real tranpsarencies!

    X is a networking protocol not a gui!

    Stuff like XDamage makes it easier to use over slower connections, for example.

    The move to more and more extensions and reducing the monolythic nature of X is great. But it's slow and a evolutionary manner. But as you get more and more modular, stability will increase as will speed of developement. Each section can make changes and not worry about the impact on other parts of the X server.

    Unlike the monolythic model of lumping everything into Xlibs and making it difficult to program for and adding new features while retiring obsolete ones.

    Look forward to things like pure OpenGL enviroment! Now you have to have 2 drivers for every 1 video card... one for 2-d and one for 3-d.

    Currently each application must deal with 3-dness independantly of each other. They must deal with the hardware independantly. Does Quake3 work over a network? No! But it can if they move everything to the X server. Each window then would automaticly be hardware accelerated, even if it was originally designed for the old way of doing things. Windows and items can be 3-d straight from the desktop.

    That and dozens of other improvements are coming. This XDamage and Composite stuff is just laying the groundwork for more stuff, more progress.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      quake3 works just fine over the network. I've screwed around playing it over a 10mbit ssh tunnel.
    • Xorg roadmap (Score:4, Informative)

      by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @09:04AM (#10188109) Homepage Journal
      ISTR that one of those things Xorg wanted to do was to separate the X client and server packaging. It's generally frowned on to install an X server on a server machine, but it would be nice to have X client software available there. The current Xorg/XFree packaging isn't friendly to splitting out the X client libs, or making the package control system recognize that so you could install X clients.

      Looking at the Xorg release plan (closest I could find to a roadmap) at
      I don't see anything about separation of client and server libs and packaging. They have some other projects listed elsewhere, but nothing terribly solid about client/server separation.

      Anyone aware?

      Another thing that would be neat to see is integration of the GLX/DRM work on the S3 Savage line of chips. According to the DRI page there's some work being done on this, though it's not ready for prime time. My laptop has a Savage, and my Mom's computer uses the Via KM133, which has an imbedded Savage. Of course this is an area where perhaps I *should* be trying to help.
    • ``But as you get more and more modular, stability will increase as will speed of developement.''

      I keep hearing this argument. However, I am not all that convinced that modularity will improve stability. After all, things tend to break around the edges. More modules means more edges, thus more opportunities to break.

      Also, modules only work by virtue of well-defined interfaces. What if some of the interfaces turn out to be suboptimal? Retaining the interface can severely burden development and innovation. C
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:23AM (#10187852)
    This is awesome! From section 3.3 of Release Notes:

    The nv driver for NVIDIA cards has been updated as follows:

    * Support added to the nv driver for the GeForce FX 5700, which didn't work with XFree86 4.3.
    * The driver now does a much better job of auto-detecting which connector of dual output cards the monitor is attached to, and this should reduce or eliminate the need for manual xorg.conf overrides.
    * The 2D acceleration for TNT and GeForce has been completely rewritten and its performance should be substantially improved.
    * TNT and GeForce cards have a new Xv PutImage adaptor which does scaled YUV bit blits. S3.html#3 []
  • yum? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Whispers_in_the_dark ( 560817 ) * <rich.harkins@gmail.COMMAcom minus punct> on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:24AM (#10187856)
    Anyone know when this will get released via yum repositories or is there a repository that has more current stuff for Fedora?
    • Re:yum? (Score:2, Informative)

      by LiENUS ( 207736 ) has a yum.conf replacement that is faster than the main repository and has the updated stuff.
  • the Xpixmap issue with the ATI drivers, where Xv refuses to work very often :(
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:30AM (#10187895)
    Will future versions of allow me to specify an alterntive backup graphic card driver in my xorg.conf?

    Use "nvidia", but if that fails use "nv".

    This feature would be worth a thousand dropshadow effects :)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You could have mutliple layouts.

      That way you could switch between drivers without having to edit your xorg.conf file. That's been possible for a while.

      you'd specify a default layout and a alternative layout (call it unaccl for example) and go like this:


      if that doesn't work then go:

      startx -- -layout unaccl

      there are examples on the web if you look around. I use one setup for my dual screen, but some games don't like that, so I have a second layout for just one screen.
  • by lrandall ( 686021 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:33AM (#10187914) Homepage
    I think that this release, just (about) 9 months after the fork from XFree, shows what talented X developers we have, who were being stifled by the XFree politics.

    I am glad to see the amount of progress that is being made, and can only imagine what time will bring now that there is a way to actually contribute code to the X codebase again.

    Kudos to KP, JG et al...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      People fail to realize that a lot of this work has been going on for years. I mean, sure we are making significant progress, but Keith has been investigating a possible "X translucency extension" since a paper he wrote in 2000 demonstrating its feasibility. Remember that because of his grand ideas and the fact that he wasn't sharing information with the incompetent XF86 board of directors, he was exiled from the group.

      So these extensions didn't happen in the last 9 months. They have been brewing for a whil
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So many people crap all over XFree. We should thank that group for getting us this far. was not written from scratch. Thanks to open source, a new group was able to build upon their excellent work and create an even better product.
      We stand on the shoulders of giants.
  • by dom1234 ( 695331 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:38AM (#10187933) Journal
    Could somebody clarify it all ?

    There's and there's . What's the difference between both ? And about the version numbers ? What do they stand for ? I have X11R6, v. 4.3 or something like that installed on my computer, and now they announce X version 6.8.0 ?! What does the 6 mean ? The 11 ? The 6.8.0 ? (And where the hell does the X come from ?)

    Thanks in advance !
    • They are different projects, split from XFree86 since they didn't like how it was being run, so 4.3 means you are most likely running XFree86..


    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:55AM (#10188046) Journal
      X is the protocol. X11 is the 11th version of the X protocol (the first version of the X protocol I saw was X10, and that was some time ago on an already ancient machine). X11R6 means the X Window System, Version 11, Release 6 - that's the basic protocol level.

      The .8.0 bit at the end is X.Org's specific version numbers for their implementation of the X11R6 protocol. (Other organizations implement X11R6, such as Sun - they call their version of X11R6 OpenWindows).

      I believe there was a prototype windowing system called W that preceeded X, but that's now ancient history (the first X Window System implementation to run was in the mid 1980s).
    • I'm not satisfied with the above answers, so I'm going to try one myself.

      The X Windowing System was originally an MIT project for unix (not linux specifically, it works with linux because linux carries on with the unix specification) that was made open source and turned into open source. X is just the name of the system, the 11 is the current version of the specification. 11 has been active since 1988.

      The XFree86 organization managed the X-Window-System until version v4.3. Earlier this year, though
    • Let me try to put things simply.

      X is the name of the windowing-system project invented at MIT in the 1980's. It was the successor to 'W' (stood for 'Window')., formerly the X Consortium, a bunch of industry-types (HP, Dell, DEC, IBM), tasked with developing X. started as a port of the X code to PCs, and for much of the late 1990's and early 2000's, was the standard-bearer of X development. is an umbrella project for *NIX GUI development.

      At MIT, X went through several inco
  • What?! (Score:3, Funny)

    by doob ( 103898 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:40AM (#10187954)
    From the release notes:

    "OpenGL is now supported for printing"

    Anyone care to explain this bizarre concept? Can I now connect my graphics card directly to my printer? :)
  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @09:11AM (#10188152) Journal

    I think it needs to be made clear (no pun) yet again, that all this work is not just about drop shadows (they are just one thing you can do with it) or "useless" eye-candy (sometimes beautification is critical to the user). This work is about new options in enhancing usability and improving performance. These new extentions do far more than just add shadows and transparency (no, not translucency, that is something else).

    Off-screen compositing allows new effects that can add emphasis to certain user interface elements. They allow for windows with arbitrary shapes that do not appear "jagged" and "rough". Better performance means we can create more fluid effects in windowing systems. For instance, users are much more comfortable with things that slide around or fade smoothly rather than just snapping into position. It allows the eye to keep track of what's changing. Tools like Exposé [] are now possible. Overall, there are more possibilities for open source user interface developers to add significantly more polish to the desktop without resorting to cheap hacks (such as the static transparency found in KDE, Eterm [], and Aterm []).

    And just to reinforce the classic uses of this: drop shadows really do add emphasis to the current focused window (I write this on an OSX box). Also, it can be really convenient to have window transparency in many cases (for example, when I have multiple Terminals open I can read a man page behind the console I'm currently typing in). Again, keep in mind that these features are not the goal but simply benefits of the new extentions.

    The future of the F/OSS desktop is really looking up thanks to new technology like this. Eventually these things will be hardware accelerated (like Quartz Extreme []) and then some really cool things will be possible.

    So, in conclusion, don't knock or belittle the work that's going into these days. In the future, most of you will appreciate them the same way you appreciate the flexibility you have now with choosing how to configure your window managers to your liking. No doubt a lot of people will take this stuff and produce a lot of crap, but we'll definitely see a lot of excellent work that will use it to improve the user experience.

  • by xiando ( 770382 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @09:14AM (#10188164) Homepage Journal
    Check out the 6.8 Screenshots at LinuxReviews [], showing off the new real transparency and drop shadow technology. These things may not increase your shareholder value, but it will allow you to impress people in a big way.
  • Archaic build (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sunspire ( 784352 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @09:41AM (#10188331)
    Man I can't wait for the autotooled releases sometime in the future (debrix or whatever the branch name is called).

    Building this beast is a trip down memory lane to the bad old days. Half way trough it bombs out on me because it can't find bison (now there's a program I haven't yet needed this century). So you install the program and continue on with "make World". What follows is the longest "clean" operation I've ever seen. Forget about just picking up compiling where it left. You're better of deleting the whole tree and unpacking the sources again, trust me, you'll save time.

    Imake was a piece of shit when it was new and unsuprisingly it still holds true in 2004. However if it wasn't for and Freedesktop I bet we'd still be compiling XFree86 5.0 with this pos a few years from now, at least someone at is working on moving to the autotools for the next release.
    • Re:Archaic build (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Progman3K ( 515744 )
      Agreed Imake is very difficult to understand and use.

      But it IS brilliant.

      If your environment files are set properly, you can install packages MUCH faster than using Auto*

      The reason is that for EVERY package you install with the auto-tools, the SAME checks will be performed each time: Does the compiler support yadda yadda yadda and other tests that are already processed and stored in your local Imake configuration files.

      The cool thing about Imake is that you are able to specify targets very simply, and i
  • by GweeDo ( 127172 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @10:23AM (#10188647) Homepage
    I wrote up a guide [] to setting up Xorg 6.8RC4 + X Composite with shadows and transperency the other day. These steps should also hold true for 6.8 final of course. Enjoy.

APL hackers do it in the quad.