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GUI Software Unix Technology

CDE Open Sourced 263

First time accepted submitter christurkel writes "CDE, the Common Desktop Project, has been open sourced by the Open Group. CDE was created by a collaboration of Sun, HP, IBM, DEC, SCO, Fujitsu and Hitachi. You can find the source here. It has been tested on Debian Squeeze and Ubuntu. Testers are encouraged to join the project. Motif will follow in a few months once some legal issues are sorted out."
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CDE Open Sourced

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  • That looks... (Score:4, Informative)

    by kiriath ( 2670145 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @10:45AM (#40894625)



    (Visually speaking of course, I know nothing of the innards)

    • Re:That looks... (Score:5, Informative)

      by bigtomrodney ( 993427 ) * on Monday August 06, 2012 @10:58AM (#40894811)
      Come on, seriously. It's CDE. You know, the closed source desktop that preceded KDE. To look at it in these circumstances and say it looks "horrible" could be compared to Windows 95 being open sourced and you skipping to saying "it's out of date". There's a massive piece of the puzzle you just skipped over here.

      In fact, I'm left wondering if you'd even heard of CDE [wikipedia.org] before this article. I hate to say it, but you're reading Slashdot - we expect you not to RTFA most of the time but to be blind to something like CDE is fairly unforgivable.
      • Did they ever open source SunView?

        CDE was a much better interface at the time.

        • Re:That looks... (Score:4, Informative)

          by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @11:22AM (#40895101)
          SunView was so much more than CDE. SunView was a complete windowing system and widget set, whereas CDE was just a desktop environment built on the Motif widget set for the X-Window system.
        • by RDW ( 41497 )

          Did they ever open source SunView?

          That takes me back:

          http://toastytech.com/guis/sv35.html [toastytech.com]

          Suntools (as SunView was originally known) was my first true GUI (I hadn't used a Mac or GEM and Windows 3 hadn't yet been launched). A Sun workstation running this in the 80s, complete with optical mouse and huge monitor, looked about 5 years in advance of anything else I could get time on. Now get off my lawn.

      • Additionally, early versions of GIMP used Motif. Instead of using LesTif (which was equally ugly but FREE), they developed GTK/GDK which was the basis for GNOME.
      • I've used CDE, I was around in that era. It does look horrible. It looked out of date in the 90s and it looks out of date now. It (and Motif) was based on Windows 3.1.

        I do still use NEdit though. Fantastic regex support.

        And yeah, if they open-sourced Windows 95, I would say it's out of date. Who wouldn't? Who seriously want to build and run Windows 95 on a computer today?

        The only value to open-sourcing CDE now is for historical purposes (Motif at least still has some useful applications, although OpenMotif

        • It (and Motif) was based on Windows 3.1.

          MicroSoft were even involved in the design of Motif and CDE, which took some of its look and feel from Windows 3.1, although I don't think MS contributed to the actual development. I'm pretty sure the Motif programming manuals from O'Reilly even mentioned MicroSoft in the introductory pages.

          I do still use NEdit though. Fantastic regex support.

          I use NEdit pretty much every working day - it was even my main programming editor of choice for many years.

          • by 1s44c ( 552956 )

            I do still use NEdit though. Fantastic regex support.

            I use NEdit pretty much every working day - it was even my main programming editor of choice for many years.

            Quiet. You will restart the vi/emacs wars.

      • In fact, I'm left wondering if you'd even heard of CDE [wikipedia.org] before this article. I hate to say it, but you're reading Slashdot - we expect you not to RTFA most of the time but to be blind to something like CDE is fairly unforgivable.

        To be honest, it was pretty easy to miss. Yes, it was big in certain environments, but outside those environments it didn't make much impact. Sun shops, for example, tended not to use it. And it was very quickly eclipsed in workstation farms by Windows PCs. So if you weren't in just the right environment in just the right window of history I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't see it.

        My university was almost entirely a Sun shop, and the only machines that had CDE were a handful of god-awful DEC Alphas run

      • by J4 ( 449 )

        Actually, no. Motif looked like shit even compared to Win 3.1
        I remember.

      • I used CDE back in the day. It sucked.

    • 15 again (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ah, to be 15 again.

      (You have no clue what CDE is or what era it comes from, do you?)

      • He doesn't need to. I know where it comes from and even used it and it still looks like crap.
        • Re:15 again (Score:4, Insightful)

          by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @11:42AM (#40895299) Journal

          Yep, that pastel color scheme may have looked really high-tech during the Reagan administration, but even by the mid-1990s it was seemed like a museum piece.

          However it's too bad the source code wasn't released back in the 1990s, people could have modernized the look and possibly avoided much of the KDE versus Gnome nonsense.

    • by Meeni ( 1815694 )

      At the time, it was the prettiest of all. I mean it was so much better than XT or Athena.

    • actually i like the clean look of CDE and the fact it uses a fraction of the memory of all of your modern desktops with the memory hogging graphics and disgusting, nauseating, and ugly aqua themes.

    • Re:That looks... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @01:04PM (#40896335)

      The time it was made it was a different era.

      1. Monochrome Displays were quite common (Black and White, Black and Amber, Black and Green, Black and Red (rare)). So they used a rather minimal color scheme. Unix systems were for businesses so they had to get hundreds of displays, and they weren't willing to pay extra for a color display. Windows was designed for the PC, where kids at home played games and spending $100 more for a color monitor was worth it.

      2. Low Color depth. Most systems supported 4 bit color (16 colors), so you didn't have that many colors to choose from. If you had 8 bit color then there was a lot a pallet shifting to get different colors... Every app you ran once you switched the window you colors would change.

      3. Slow Bandwidth. What a lot of people forgot or don't even realize X-Windows is designed to display graphics over a network connection. This was its huge features. (and today it can be considered it biggest drawback) CDE was designed on 1 Megabit or less networks and usable over dial up.

      Plus we have difference in styles that change over time...
      We tend to go with more 3D and back to 2D and back to 3D again. CDE was made when 3dish styles were more attractive.

    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      Speaking as a former CDE user, I can assure you that it is horrible. I used it when I worked at Sun in in 1998, and it drove me crazy. Eventually, Sun replaced it with GNOME (branded as "Java Desktop" of all stupid names).

      From there, I went to using KDE and GNOME. The change was a powerful argument for the advantages of Open Source development as opposed to the committee-based design model used to create CDE. Not that KDE and GNOME didn't have their problems (and still do) but they showed creativity, cohere

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@nosPAM.hackish.org> on Monday August 06, 2012 @10:49AM (#40894669)

    "CDE was created by a collaboration of Sun, HP, IBM, DEC, SCO, Fujitsu and Hitachi" in 1993. It's interesting historically, but even commercial Unices have phased it out. Sun dumped it from Solaris ten years ago.

    Open-sourcing Motif at least makes it easier to maintain some legacy apps, though sucks for the LessTif [sourceforge.net] guys that they put so much work into cloning it that could've been avoided if Motif had been open-sourced years ago.

    • CDE is now distributed under the LGPL. So is LessTif. But as I lack the time to download and evaluate both, are there any v2 vs. v3 blockers that would get in the way of a merger between the projects?
      • by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @11:30AM (#40895189)
        LessTif is the (buggy, unmaintained, incomplete) equivalent of Motif. CDE was a dekstop environment that built on top of Motif, providing a kind of task bar and various applications. The only app that Motif provided was a window manager. KDE started as an attempt to provided something similar to CDE, but under an open source license and built on top of the C++ based Qt widget set. Just to confuse things, Qt was open source, but could not be independently distributed with modifications. This licensing quirk, and a preference for C amongst some developers, prompted the creation of the GNOME project to create an alternative desktop environment built on top of the GTK+ widget set. GTK+ had started life as a toolkit for the GIMP image manipulation program - which to take things full circle, was initially written with the Motif toolkit.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          CDE would run kind of OK on pretty old machines, so maybe it will enjoy a renaissance. But probably not.

          Motif being released for free is way more exciting than CDE. I actually paid for CND back in the day to get a Motif license...

      • by fm6 ( 162816 )

        Trust me, you shouldn't waste your time evaluating CDE. Not with a gazillion Linux desktops under active development — as opposed to legacy software that's going OS because its creators can't be bothered to maintain it.

    • Sun dumped it from Solaris ten years ago.

      I was just going to say that they're only about 10 years too late!

    • by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @12:19PM (#40895727)

      You could use CDE today, Why not? It uses a fraction of the memory and is still completely functional. The age of something has no impact on its usefulness. If someone likes to use CDE, it doesnt matter how old it is. Many people like CDEs modern solid coloured graphics over the nuasiating aqua themes and memory hogging 3d nonsense. It is often the case that newer software is worse. Back when CDE was written, programmers were much more careful since they had to be to make something that was memory efficient. Nowadays everyone is sloppy and lazy today leading to buggy memory wasting software.

      • You'd have to completely rewrite it from scratch, possibly using something like Cairo, for it to work at a tolerable speed on modern hardware. CDE expects everything to be a flat unaccelerated bitplane. It's slow as hell.

  • 15 years too late. (Score:4, Informative)

    by iguana ( 8083 ) * <`moc.sysdnetxe' `ta' `pevad'> on Monday August 06, 2012 @10:51AM (#40894699) Homepage Journal

    Open Sourcing CDE? Seriously? Would have possibly made a difference in 1998. But now? Except for historical interest, there's no point.

    Was a so-so environment on HP-UX back in the day. Gloriously ugly.

    • by noldrin ( 635339 )
      I heavily used the Motif Window Manager in 96 and 97 when I was using Digital Unix. It was a nice improvement from TWM. I would have liked it on Linux, but FVWM was good enough. I doubt this will get me to switch back.
    • by DdJ ( 10790 )

      Historical interest is worthwhile.

      Plus, this allows the possibility of open-sourcing additional software that was built on top of this stuff back in the day. In the late 80s and early 90s, I worked on library automation software, and the Unix version of it was built on top of the libraries that were part of CDE. That code can in theory now be dusted off and released.

    • You are wrong. Many people would like to use CDE because onlike modern stuff it does not use a lot of memory. Everything old is new again. CDE works fine and there is no reason someone could not use it.

    • Open Sourcing CDE? Seriously? Would have possibly made a difference in 1998. But now? Except for historical interest, there's no point.

      I see the historical interest exactly as the main point here. Source code releases are an excellent addition to preserving the history of computers and software.

    • by Jonner ( 189691 )

      Open Sourcing CDE? Seriously? Would have possibly made a difference in 1998. But now? Except for historical interest, there's no point.

      Was a so-so environment on HP-UX back in the day. Gloriously ugly.

      Unfortunately, some companies only see Open Source as a way to gain good will or prestige by releasing code that's no longer of value to them. It's better than nothing, but it's entirely missing the main goals of both the Free Software and Open Source movements.

  • by Jethro ( 14165 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @10:53AM (#40894753) Homepage

    Wow. CDE is one of those things that... yeah, it was better than the nothing or the OpenWindows we had before it... kinda... but has there been anything done with it that's in any way an improvement to anything going on today? Or in the past decade?

    Same with MOTIF. It used to be the only game in town, but we have stuff like gtk and qt now. Are these things even relevant anymore?

    • Are these things even relevant anymore?

      Motif was modernized to use the new X font mechanism while maintaining compatibility.

      There are other relatively minor steps that can be taken that will dramatically improve the visual experience.

      The compelling advantage of this, is a code base that runs well on 30 MHz SPARC machines of 1993. Just imagine how snappy it would run on a Raspberry Pi.

    • The fact it is not GTK and not modern desktops loaded down with hundreds of megabytes of graphics is its appeal. I think people want to use it becasue it is not modern and that it does things the old way, like, not using 100s of megabytes. Not everyone wants to spend tons of memory on some poorly written Gnome UI so they can have some ugly looking graphics.

      • by 1s44c ( 552956 )

        So use XFCE, Fluxbox, or one of the other lightweight windows managers.

  • What the hell took them so long. I remember using CDE on GenRAD test stations way back in 1994-95 and wished it would run on linux then FVWM95 came out and I never looked back
  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @11:09AM (#40894939)
    I think the last system I saw with CDE on it was a Sun desktop about ten years ago. Since the same machine also had KDE installed, I CDE might have been removed at some point and I wouldn't have known.
  • So, I take it we've come full circle with Unix desktops and we're right back to where we started? I can only ask myself why this has happened after all this time and inactivity and I can only think that CDE is making a comeback amongst all the ex-CDEers. They just want some basic crap they can pass off a a graphical environment.
    • by 1s44c ( 552956 )

      CDE is not making a comeback. It was open sourced because it has no commercial value.

      Install XFCE if you want something lightweight, nothing to see here.

  • I remember having that as the default desktop when I first got my account at university. One of the first things I did was replace it with something else because it was so frustrating.

    At least now that it's open source, someone may find some small gem of code in the base that is genuinely useful and can be ported to another project.

  • by emil ( 695 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @11:22AM (#40895103)

    In its time, CDE was a reasonably fast desktop environment on a 75 MHz processor. CDE and Dillo would be great for the DSL/Puppy crowd.

    CDE also includes a Korn shell ('93 version) that Novell hacked with Motif extensions. Everybody should start bundling that, assuming that the licensing is reasonable. It would be a great addition to pdksh, and is hands-down better than bash.

    • I've been running customized DSL implementations on my older PC's as well as the odd Puppy VM for a while now and JWM is quite fine for these mini distros (as is Flux/OpenBox which both include).

  • I used it, as "early" as 2003, on HP-UX. Not sure what happened to HP-UX after that, our projects switched mostly to Solaris, which also had CDE but soon switched to Gnome.

  • by tstrunk ( 2562139 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @11:26AM (#40895155)

    So many negative posts here. So let me be the first to say: Good job!

    It's very good they open source it, even if only for legacy apps (Motif). The open-source code base for CDE is also nice to have in Patent lawsuits for prior art mining. It's nice they went out of their way to clear the legal issues, now that no money can be made anymore with either.

    So thanks to the Open Group!

  • by christurkel ( 520220 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @11:47AM (#40895347) Homepage Journal
    I'm the submitter and documentation lead for the CDE project and I'll answer any questions you might have.

    1. CDE wasn't open sourced years ago because The Open Group had a steady income stream from it. Losing that income stream would have meant people losing their jobs.

    2. This The Open Group's CDE, without any code from Sun/HP/IBM.

    3. Motif will be open sourced soon. We couldn't get contributor agreements from everyone so that's still to do. CDE builds with OpenMotif just fine.

    4. A FreeBSD port is in progress
    • Hi Chris, Thanks for the information. Do you know if The Open Group continued to work on the Motif code after it was partially open sourced as OpenMotif? In other words, are their likely to be changes in The Open Group code that aren't in the 2.3.3 version of OpenMotif that ICS maintain? I assume that The Open Group provided a reference implementation of Motif and CDE to companies like Sun and HP, and that these companies then made their own modifications as they ported it to operating systems like Solaris
      • I am not aware of any changes to Motif that wasn't released in OpenMotif. CDE is a different story and it's highly unlikely the Open Group got any vendor specific changes back.
    • I know Motif has modern font support, but is there any roadmap for support of modern rendering? The look could be much more modern and stylish without breaking APIs...

  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Monday August 06, 2012 @11:52AM (#40895391) Homepage

    I really hate to say it, but CDE, the clunkiest desktop environment in the history of computing, is still better than GNOME 3.

  • (if we are generous about things).

    I would have killed for CDE on Linux in 1996. But now?

    What could possibly be the point? And Motif next? Seriously?

  • Woohoo, this is great news! Ah wait... it's 2012, not 1999...
  • Complete with being hosted on source forge. They should have done this a long time ago.
  • That's just wonderful. Now all we need is a time machine to take the now open source back to 10 years ago.

    CDE may have been great a few years ago but in 2012 this code is obsolete. It's light years behind KDE, GNOME, and most of the lightweight windows managers.

  • by AaronW ( 33736 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:33PM (#40897461) Homepage

    Back in 1999 I started working on a project using a Sun computer running CDE. It was so bad I worked on getting KDE to work on Solaris (I wrote the Solaris ARTS sound support). In the next several years I supported KDE running on Solaris and many people in my group installed KDE rather than use the horrid CDE interface.

The one day you'd sell your soul for something, souls are a glut.