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Linux Desktop Without X11 547

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the it-could-happen dept.
A writes "Rocklyte systems have announced the first version of their Athene Operating System. It is a desktop and embedded operating system built on the Linux kernel, but without the "aging X11". Instead, it uses the SciTech SNAP graphics system with which it is possible to completely re-theme the desktop to look like the famous AmigaOS GUI or another famous UI. For backwards compatibility, an X11 server is also available in the system. The system can run completely off the CD, without needing to be installed on the harddrive."
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Linux Desktop Without X11

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  • by Red Warrior (637634) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:36PM (#5966937) Homepage Journal
    Looks a lot like DOS.
  • Bonus points to the first one to post mirrors of the iso image.

    --
  • The system can run completely off the CD, without needing to be installed on the harddrive."

    At least that's what the server seems to be running from.
  • Woooooooooo! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by B3ryllium (571199) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:38PM (#5966955) Homepage
    I wish them luck. I want to have a choice, instead of being forced to use X11 for GUI on *nix :)
    • Choice is always good.. Emacs/VI, Gnome/KDE, X11/???
    • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:05PM (#5967218) Journal
      Most people that dislike X don't understand it.

      My favorite complaint is that it's bloated or eats too much memory. It's bogus -- X uses relatively little memory itself, but pixmaps are stored in X instead of in apps. So Linux GUI apps tend to use less memory than they would with a Windows-like environment, but X's memory usage go up.

      I actually sat down and modified some code to query X how much memory is being used by each program in pixmap memory. This is memory that would have to be used under Windows. Little things -- gkrellm, a simple dock program that I have running, caches about 2.7MB of pixmaps in X all by itself. This doesn't show up as gkrellm memory usage in top, but it *is* being consumed by gkrellm.

      X11 allows network transparency, 3d support, hardware scaling of video, support for more font formats than Windows does, zooming in and out. When combined with a window manager, the X11 architecture is incredibly powerful and flexible.

      I wish people would stop complaining about and learn to use X's features.
      • by aussersterne (212916) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:27PM (#5967405) Homepage
        Complaints about the slowness of X in Linux are also bogus and are down almost entirely to drivers. Many drivers that have been written by the OSS community tend to have been written essentially by reverse engineering the hardware, without manufacturer support. As a result, they often suck.

        Drivers which have been provided by the actual manufacturers of the graphics hardware (as is the case in the Windows world) fare much better.

        A perfect example is NVidia hardware, because both free and manufacturer provided solutions exist. The nv driver included with XFree86 is fairly slow in 2d and provides no 3d support. On the other hand, if you download NVidia's Linux drivers for XFree86, you get mind-numbing 2D acceleration and blazing fast 3D acceleration at the same speeds as the Windows drivers, with full OpenGL support.

        Unfortunately, because the NVidia drivers aren't OSS, most distributions don't install them. Users install Linux, get sub-par graphics performance, and decide that "1) Linux graphics are slow, 2) X provides Linux graphics, 3) ergo, X is slow" and never even realize that they could increase the throughput of their graphics subsystem manyfold simply by downloading a better driver.

        It's really an issue all across the Linux world -- poor driver support because of uncooperative manufacturers... it's just than in X, a poor hack of a driver is much more obvious because the user interacts with it directly.

      • by mTor (18585)
        > Most people that dislike X don't understand it.

        I think I do and I still don't like it.

        > My favorite complaint is that it's bloated
        > or eats too much memory. It's bogus -- X uses
        > relatively little memory itself, but pixmaps are
        > stored in X instead of in apps. So Linux GUI apps
        > tend to use less memory than they would with a
        > Windows-like environment, but X's memory usage go up.

        Heh, that might be true when you're using a simple windowing toolkit such as Xlib but what hap

      • Yes, it can be implemented well.

        In all the implementations I've used, however, it's been a poor hodgepodge of unstable apps, laggy display rendering (on a Voodoo Banshee, which has dandy 2D capability), and butt-ugly interfaces. I never got a chance to try 3D.

        Now, I haven't used XFree extensively in RH9, I hear it's quite nice in fact - the last time I used it was on Debian Woody (XFree86 4.2, i think). As always, I couldn't stand the Gnome and KDE interfaces - they always irritate me.

        XFree86 running Flu
      • by 10Ghz (453478)
        X is good. XFree could be alot better though.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:38PM (#5966961)
    X11 really is ancient.
  • Themes schemes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vasqzr (619165) <vasqzr AT netscape DOT net> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:39PM (#5966963)


    Instead, it uses the SciTech SNAP graphics system with which it is possible to completely re-theme the desktop to look like the famous AmigaOS GUI or another famous UI.

    Right. Because themes are the most important thing, ever. This isn't an media player, it's a GUI.
    • If I could re-theme my hardcoded windows GUI, themes would be the most important thing, ever.
      • Re:Themes schemes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NanoGator (522640) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:21PM (#5967341) Homepage Journal
        "If I could re-theme my hardcoded windows GUI, themes would be the most important thing, ever. "

        You can re-theme it. Check out this thread here [scifi-meshes.com].

        Here's what my [scifi-meshes.com] desktop looks like. It's customized with my own (in progress) artwork on it. And yes, those are buttons and multiple desktops there. Some of the stuff there is default, and some of it I added on my own.

        So yes, you can modify your 'hard-coded' theme. Somebody's already gone through all the work to do it.
        • Re:Themes schemes (Score:3, Interesting)

          by slamb (119285)
          > > "If I could re-theme my hardcoded windows GUI, themes would be the most important thing, ever. "

          > You can re-theme it.

          I disagree. Your screenshot shows that you can change the bitmaps. And that you can replace the shell. But that's not what I consider true theming.

          First of all, theming should at least be able to change the size of widgets. In Windows, that's impossible. All the software is designed with absolute positioning of widgets, so changing the sizes of widgets would make the enti

    • by ethnocidal (606830) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:57PM (#5967159) Homepage
      You seem to connect themes with simple bitmap changes, and the like. I agree that simply offering this functionality is less than important.

      However, with 'true' theming, the internal function of the GUI (and OS) is loosely tied with the graphical layout and function of the GUI. What does this means? It means that a single system, properly configured, can handle many different interface styles. You could simultaneously offer transition interfaces to users from different GUI camps - Windows, MacOS, NeXT, etc.

      This is an immensely important feature for this reason. While many see theming as eyecandy, properly implemented it can serve a very useful purpose; fit the GUI to the user, not the user to the GUI. It should also allow new interface styles to be prototyped - what better way to develop usability than to look at what people with the skillset to change the interface think works best?
    • Re:Themes schemes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NanoGator (522640)
      "Right. Because themes are the most important thing, ever. This isn't an media player, it's a GUI."

      Themes are the UI. When you customize your theme to put buttons where you need them, then you're making your UI more useful to you. I thought customization was a big whoop-dee-doo feature of Linux. Now it's being poo-poo'd?
  • by b17bmbr (608864) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:39PM (#5966964)
    why is linux so beholden to X? yeah, i love it's network transparent features ( i use in my class every day), but, look at what apple did with essentially a kernel and subsystem. they could port aqua to linux, since it already compiled under gcc anyways. that might be a huge commercial ticket for linux. certainly there is nothing that says you can't run a proprietary windowing system on top of the kernel, is there? app compatibility would be a huge issue, but like apple's X11, it could run rootless, and almost be unnoticable (except for the widgets).
    • by tuffy (10202) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:45PM (#5967029) Homepage Journal
      why is linux so beholden to X?
      Because when Linux was written in the early 90s, most Unix systems were using X11 for a GUI and that's where most of the open sourced apps were. Inventing a whole new graphic system would've been a huge waste of effort. Arguably, it still is. But for embedded systems, an alternative isn't a bad idea.
    • by m0rph3us0 (549631) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:48PM (#5967072)
      Do you realize that most of X being "slow" is really XFree86 being slow.
      In fact some X servers for Linux are FASTER than Windows.

      Check out the benchmarks [xig.com]
      • by tuffy (10202) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:56PM (#5967144) Homepage Journal
        Even Xfree86 isn't all that slow - so long as it's got decent drivers to work with. But people tend to load lots of Gnome/KDE stuff to get their machines to look/act more like Windows, then complain that their machines run at Windows-like speeds. But X11 is easy to blame because few understand what it is or what it does; kindof like a "not invented here" syndrome for the open source world.
        • I'm happy with XFree (Score:5, Interesting)

          by pivo (11957) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:18PM (#5967312)
          Yeah, this was sort of a revalation to me recently. I just got a new machine at work. Of course it came with Windows (XP Pro) installed on it so I played with it for a few days before blowing it away and putting RedHat 9 on it. I was sort of hesitant to do so because windows in XP seemed to pop up fast and the whole system seemed very responsive (not that I was doing anything heavy duty.) Another plus is that font rendering is actually better than Windows, and about equal with Macs. That's really nice.

          Anyway, now that I've got RH installed (w/XFree 4.3.x) I am very happy to say that X seems just as responsive as Windows, even when I am doing something heavy duty, and I'm using KDE as well. This was the first time in about five years I've used any kind of Windows, it was a nice validation of X as far as I am concerned.

          XFree, at least without propriatary drivers, might not be great for games, but it makes my development life a lot more joyful than other non-networked windowing environments would, and that includes the kludgy windows terminal services crapola.
    • amen. i have been saying they need to market the desktop seperately for a while now. I would gladly pay for Aqua ontop of Linux for the few desktops I use. Don't need it on the servers, fine.

      Sad part is MS's prior experience with unix, they would be marketing "Windows for Linux" before too long. "All the widgets, none of the security!" It would be consistant with 'embrace, extend, extinguish', after all.
    • Aqua is the most dog-slow, RAM-hungry POS in existence. I've always considered it the biggest *problem* with using OS X, since you can't use OS X without having to have this huge beast bogging down your machine.
      • Aqua is the most dog-slow, RAM-hungry POS in existence. I've always considered it the biggest *problem* with using OS X, since you can't use OS X without having to have this huge beast bogging down your machine.

        I was a NeXTStep user in the early 90s and loved it. Fast forward to 2003. I recently got fully OSX'ed and think this new NeXTStep is a severly dumbed down and spray-painted and obfuscated Frankenstein.

        I suppose Carbon was needed because none of the corporate commercial software houses would por

  • One comment: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's ok to emulate something else if your familiar or comfortable with it, but I'd like to see an OS released that allows you to create your UI just how you want it, and not just pretty borders, colors, etc. Stuff like how it handles file structures graphically, selection of tiled, paned, or stretched work panels. Total control over ALL aspects of a GUI!
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:41PM (#5966990) Homepage
    Hmm, I've been using an embedded linux with a NON X gui for at least 2 years now....

    it's called picogui [picogui.org]

    Plus you dont have to buy it, and it's much smaller.
  • Competition... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zzxc (635106) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:41PM (#5966993)
    Competition in open source projects is mostly a good thing. This new GUI may make X11 developers improve to keep up. However, different projects like this also create lack of standards. This may require people to use two GUIs, with different applications running on each one. With Windows, every version retains legacy compatability for almost all applications written for a previous version. However, this becoming popular would make it required to run two GUIs to run all Linux applications. Rather than expecting developers to conform X11 emulation should be implemented.
    • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

      by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:54PM (#5967124) Homepage Journal
      With Windows, every version retains legacy compatability for almost all applications written for a previous version.

      When Rob Short, the vice-president of Windows Core Technology, was asked [zdnet.co.uk], "How many applications will transfer over from [Windows] NT4 or 2000 [to Windows Server 2003]?" he answered: "I'm not sure what the exact number is for taking an NT4 application and running it -- it's in the high 60 percent. It's not 90... Most of the time, if the application is following the [security] rules then it will run. But I must admit the rules haven't been well publicised."

      Full Windows backward compatibility is a myth.
    • With Windows, every version retains legacy compatability for almost all applications written for a previous version.

      Longhorn should change all of that- and I cannot wait to see Microsoft's attempt at a solution to the problem!
      ...."The application you are trying to access was made nearly one year ago, please enter your credit card number and place your thumb on the scanning pad and the longhorn compatible application will be downloaded immediately"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:41PM (#5966994)
    Alternate graphics layers have been around for a long time. Some of them have significant advantages over X11.

    So far the only one which has really gained prominence is the frame buffer device that most modern Linux distributions use when booting. There is even a port of QT to that, and it is sometimes used as the only graphics device in embedded platforms. It has the great advantage of being really lightweight, but it is probably even slower and much less featureful than X11.

    Another one is the Y server, which was used in some PDA's until public outcry over lack of source compatibility forced the manufacturer to put in X11 instead (remember that, Slashdot?). Before that there was also svgalib. I don't think anyone cried over that going away.

    The issue is support--there are tons of toolkits and applications available for X11, and the networking features are neat and useful once in a while (very often for some people, including myself). Others start with a base of pretty much nothing. That means that it is really hard for them to gain acceptance, even if they are superior from viewpoints such as being smaller, faster, and easier to program.

    I personally think that we are going to be stuck with all the cruft and slowness of X11 for a very long time.
    • What is slow about X?

      It plays my OpenGL games just fine. Plays my movies and TV shows just fine. Flips between virtual desks faster than I can blink. What's this slowness everyone keeps talking about?

      Maybe everyone buys the same video cards or something, I don't know. I don't have any complaints.
  • I hope they're not running their webserver on Athene...because it looks like we already /. it. Anyone know what they're running?
  • for the frame-buffer-based KDE that we've been promised to come out.
    ...any day now...
  • X11 alternatives (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hajoma (161358) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:43PM (#5967013)
    What's so amazing about not having X11? There are already many alternatives, like PicoGUI [picogui.org] and DirectFB [directfb.org]. PicoGUI in particular seems quite similar to SciTech SNAP, but is free while SNAP is proprietary.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:44PM (#5967020)
    Thats like a pillow without rocks.
  • by codeguy007 (179016) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:44PM (#5967021)
    I have my doubts that quake 3 arena or any other opengl program would run on SNAP. Sure maybe X11 needs to be replaced but 3D support would be a requirement.
  • Always Wanted This (Score:2, Interesting)

    by weston (16146)
    The system can run completely off the CD, without needing to be installed on the harddrive

    I've always wanted a CD or disk I could carry around and use to turn a public computer temporarily into my own little net workstation ... a terminal app, with telnet/ssh, and modern web browser (modern meaning good support for CSS, Java, and Flash) and maybe something else like VNC. Never found an easy solution, though...
    • by yanestra (526590) *
      You should try Knoppix www.knoppix.org or it's derivatives.
    • /. talks about live CD distros every week. Where have you been?

      Check out knoppix [knopper.net] or GoboLinux [gobolinux.org] which was just talked about on /. a few days ago.
    • by gosand (234100) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:23PM (#5967361)
      I've always wanted a CD or disk I could carry around and use to turn a public computer temporarily into my own little net workstation ... a terminal app, with telnet/ssh, and modern web browser (modern meaning good support for CSS, Java, and Flash) and maybe something else like VNC. Never found an easy solution, though...

      You must be hiding out with Bin Laden in a cave then, because there are many out there.

      Knoppix is just one of them. While other posters have suggested this, I would like to add that you can customize a Knoppix bootable distro to have what you want on it. There are howto's out there, and even a modularized version called Morphix.

      I could give you a bunch of links, but you should be able to find them by using Google. Oh, there is this new website called google.com, which is a search engine on the information superhighway. You type in criteria of what you want to find, and it will find it for you.

  • X11 is an albatross most of the time. Very few make use of it, it's bloat to everyone else. It's showing its age.

    I've long believed it needs to be removed from the nuts-n-bolts for something smaller and faster. Let X11 support be a strap-on application for those who need it, like it is for OSX.

    Linux users like strap ons almost as much as Apple fanatics.
    • by tuffy (10202)

      I've long believed it needs to be removed from the nuts-n-bolts for something smaller and faster. Let X11 support be a strap-on application for those who need it, like it is for OSX.

      Please make up your minds, people. X11 was certainly fast enough on this [majix.org] speedy beast, and hasn't inherently gotten slower since. If you want something *smaller* than X11 to drive graphics, you'd better be prepared to write lots of code to handle niggling details like window displaying - in the graphics libraries. Ick. P

  • Milestone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigjocker (113512) * on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:54PM (#5967129) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure that this will set a milestone in the Linux development history.

    We have multiple distributions (SUSE, RH, MDK), multiple WM (Gnome, KDE, E), multiple Office Suites (KOffice, OpenOffice, AbiWord), imaging software, network tools ... even multiple kernels where to choose from, but we are stuck with only one graphical environment.

    I know there has been a lot of advancemente in the FB handling, but officially, if you want to have some windows you need X.

    Personally, I love X, but I for one can see (and have seen a lot of) people complaining about X; and from efforts like this one only good things can happen.
  • by Rick.C (626083)
    OK, the pool starts... now!

    How long before someone writes a successful virus for the runs-from-CD implementation?

    Never say "never"
  • by jacobb (93907) * on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:59PM (#5967176) Homepage
    AmigaOS [tinyurl.com] , WinTel [tinyurl.com], and More [tinyurl.com] Screenshots, all thanks to The Internet Archive [archive.org]
  • KDE for framebuffer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:05PM (#5967216)
    Would it not be possible to port KDE to QT/Embedded so that you could run KDE in the framebuffer without X11 at all? There would be a lot of work to do, but the toolkit which KDE is based on already works in the framebuffer.
  • by headbulb (534102) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:13PM (#5967279)
    X11 isn't as Bad as everything thinks.
    The way I see X being slow is that widgets need to be on server-side instead of client-side. Right now the client Draws everything useing X primitives, sending the raw data (pixmaps, whatnot) to the server over the network. Now if the server had the widgets on its side the client would just have to tell the server the type, size, position of the widget, Instead of sending a pixmap.

    This would help things such as less bandwidth, less cpu overhead for eash client.

    Maybe this could even be implimented in a X-
    extentsion

    Maybe I am just showing my ignorance here, But an idea is an idea.
    • The way I see X being slow is that widgets need to be on server-side instead of client-side.

      Don't forget that because of an idiosyncrasy in the way X client/server communications are conceptualized, the X SERVER is the thing with a display and input devices, and the CLIENTS are the machines running applications (which may or may not be remote to the X console) that request I/O services from the server.

      So you've got it backwards, unless you think X has it backwards, in which case you've got it forwards.
    • by billstewart (78916) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @05:44PM (#5968571) Journal
      NeWS was Sun's Network Extensible Windowing System, written in large part by James Gosling, who later went on to write Java. It was a Postscript-based windows system, so what you saw was really what you got when you printed things, and characters could be any size you wanted, and you could download programs to the display server so that work could happen at whichever end of the wire made the most sense, and mouse tracking worked really well because it ran on the server instead of the client. That's not a big issue if you're running clients and servers both on your desktop, but it matters a lot more when you're operating remotely across a slow network. Of course, being Postscript meant that debugging was a Black Art, and security was a serious risk, and the things could explode into a mess of pretty colors if you weren't careful, but it was still really really cool. And it could be stripped down to run on a Sun3, and was ported to the Mac, back when Macs had real 680x0s in them. It was happier on machines that had at least 8MB of RAM on them, but you could get away with a bit less.

      NeXT also did some Display Postscript things that weren't as cool as NeWS, but still were good display environments.

  • by wfmcwalter (124904) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:20PM (#5967328) Homepage
    IMNAMD (I am not a marketing dweeb) but I have to ask - what's their (Rocklyte's) value proposition?

    There are several free, reasonably mature windowing environments available for linux already, many featuring hardware acceleration. Several are suitable for embedded use. Why do I want to spend $40 for this? (I'm not being rhetorical - the site isn't accessable). There are innumerable linux distributions, several of which boot straight from CD without install.

    Frankly, the speed differentials Scitech quotes (over Xfree) aren't really all that impressive for most graphics adaptors. Sure, there's a big difference between unaccelerated (e.g. vesa) access and accelerated, but a 20% differential between the 2D performance of one accelerated solution and another just isn't that compelling. Now many applications are _that_ dependant on 2D performance? If I'm that 2D bound I can spend that $40 and get vastly better graphics performance by buying a better card.

    The "foo is old fashioned", "foo is too complicated", "foo is SO last century" claims that some make (I dunno if these guys do, as their site is still down) aren't value propositions. Is something significantly faster? Significantly smaller? Significantly more useful features? Significantly cheaper? Those are.

    Parenthetically, note that I don't apply this standard to free projects. Someone can go code a new OS just for their own pleasure, and doesn't have to pass a customer-value-proposition test. Why? Cos they don't have customers, and so they're not obligated to provide value to anyone.

  • NOT FREE (Score:3, Informative)

    by baudtender (80377) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:21PM (#5967342)
    They want $99NZ (approx $42US) for each machine
    running Athene in a commercial environment.

    Baudtender
  • by MikeFM (12491) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:22PM (#5967345) Homepage Journal
    I've used X for many years and it still works well for me. IMO it is far better than Windows and is better than MacOS. What benefit does this new gui (or any of the others) have over using X? Themes are no big deal. If one feels like it they can theme just about anything in X. X boots from cd too. The page seems to be /.'d so I can't dig to deep.

    For any opposing GUI to make ground I'd say it'll need all the features of X and a compatibility layer to let X apps run on them. At the minimum they'd need to make something like a wxWindows port for their gui.
  • by njdj (458173) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:23PM (#5967362)
    People bad-mouth X because their PC happens not to use its power. They complain about its "bloat", because they see it taking 10MB of their 256-MB machine's precious RAM, most of which is idle. They complain about it being "slow", which tells me that they have nothing better to do than play video games.

    X is many times better than anything else in the marketplace; X is many years ahead of anything that Microsoft offers; it may be old, but so what? The Internet is old. Is that a reason to ditch the internet?

    There is value in having alternatives. For mobile phones, the power of X is not needed and something lighter might be appropriate. But to all those who persist in bad-mouthing X, I say: look beyond what 's good enough for the PC in your bedroom right now. Find out what X is really about. It's still leading-edge and is one of the advantages Linux has over its competitors. Does it need improvement? Of course, like pretty much everything that's used. But it's the best base we've got for building on. Discarding it and going back to a Microsoft-like GUI would be a giant leap backwards.
    • > They complain about its "bloat", because they see it taking 10MB of their 256-MB machine's precious RAM, most of which is idle.

      This is certainly not a worst case scenario, and you know it. That you adress the problem in this way furthermore attests that you don't know how X works. The answer isn't "blah! You don't need that RAM anyway" but "it doesn't use more RAM!" The reason it appears as if that's the case is that much of the memory it consumes is actually used by applications running on it, since
  • by neo (4625) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:38PM (#5967507)
    I'm so happy to hear someone finally ditched the X windows. Now maybe we can get some decent applications without needing to code the whole UI experience every time.

    This may be the one.
  • by DeadVulcan (182139) <dead.vulcan@po[ ].com ['box' in gap]> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:53PM (#5967676)

    The UNIX-HATERS Handbook [art.net] has a chapter called The X-Windows Disaster [art.net]. Near the end, there is a hilarious bit about colours. The durned lameness filter prevents me from posting it.

    Search for the word "circus" in that chapter, and you'll find it.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:57PM (#5967725) Journal

    What's really needed in a non-X GUI (in fact, all GUIs) is support for higher level APIs so we don't have to care about the underlying GUI. That begs the question, what do developers use most often?

    I'd be willing to wager that there is a large percentage of Windows software that uses the GUI's APIs directly--Win32 or one of the popular wrappers like MFC or OWL. On *NIX, GTK is probably the most popular.

    There are high-level wrappers that will allow you to target Win32 and *NIX with just a recompile. wxWindows leaps to mind. However, I wager that the percentage of people using them is small, although the following is growing (doesn't AbiWord use wxWindows?).

    Given that, I'd probably want to see GTK and wxWindows apps running on top of a non-X GUI before I'd use it. A Win32 subset would be sweet. No, not Wine. I don't want to swallow an elephant just to get a peanut. Full Windows emulation is overkill. I would just like to have Win32 API functions so I could recompile apps that use the APIs directly. I (and thousands of others) have written our own Win32 wrappers. For alternatives to succeed, they need to be able to pull in as much software as possible.

    Oh crap... I can't even check the website to see what higher level APIs it supports. D#$% /.

  • $40 for this? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@@@gmail...com> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @04:03PM (#5967786) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so they've got this microgui environment. It's not significantly faster than X (20%, according to *them*). It can't run nearly as many apps as X. Oh yea, it offers *nothing* that isn't already offered by a solution that is free as in beer and free as in freedom (PicoGUI). So, why exactly should I waste $40 on this piece of shit, when it isn't that much faster than X, can't run many programs, probably isn't going to be the future of the FOSS community, and offers nothing that isn't offered by Pico's FOSS solution?

    There is no reason.

    As for performance, the $40 you spend on this crap could be spent getting a better graphics card. I believe you can get a GeForce 2's now for $30-$50 [pricewatch.com]. That's what I use on my current Gentoo GNU/Linux system (with WindowMaker). Guess what, no performance problems -- at all [qualifications: 1GHz CPU, 256MB SDRAM, 7200rpm ATA-100 HD].

    People are really stupid when it comes to buying the latest greatest whatever. Here are the specs on my current PC:

    1.1GHz AMD T-Bird CPU
    256MB SDRAM
    60GB 7200rpm ATA-100 hard drive
    64MB GeForce2 GTS
    19" Monitor

    Guess what? It was fast when I bought it (a year ago). And guess what? It's still fast. It has not magically been transformed into a lumbering beast. For the home user, there is really no reason at all to buy anything other than that which sits at the best performance/price ratio. You can get an excellent system today for under $1000 that will be able to do anything you want as far as productivity goes, and will play most all games just fine.

    My general plan -- and I think it's a good one -- is to upgrade once something 10 times better than what I have is available at an optimal price/performance ratio. And that's only if I have some need.

    It's amazing to me how many home users are tricked into believing that a 2GHz CPU is somehow going to make their internet browsing experience any better, or make programs load faster and make Word work better. For almost all typical uses of a computer, you will *never* need to ugrade. You will only need to upgrade if you want to keep up to date with the latest games or if you want to do computationally intense computational work. Even then, you can still do so at the best price to performance ratio.

  • "aging X11" ??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @04:26PM (#5967990) Homepage Journal
    Bah, X is an established standard that works well.

    So few people truely understand what makes X tick is why so many people bash it..

    X is wonderful, its the crap that runs on top X that tends to suck and give X a bad name.
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @05:03PM (#5968305) Homepage
    Isn't it about time that the windowing system was directly implemented into the kernel?

    It certainly could be done without breaking compatibility with current console applications. After all, linux IS a monolithic kernel. I'd go as far as reccomending that some sort of graphical interface be intergrated into the POSIX standard. Limiting unix to a 640x480 console is ridiculous. Apple's been doing this since 1984 - long before X11 was drafted or Linux was created.

    X has so much potential to be great, but after 11 years, it has failed to show it. To me, that is a flawed system.
  • by ProtoStar (575347) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @05:05PM (#5968316)
    Athene [archive.org]
    MS Pict [archive.org]
    Omega Pict [archive.org]
  • by PotatoHead (12771) <doug.opengeek@org> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @07:00PM (#5969043) Homepage Journal
    the less useful machine. I thought Bill was the leader in this area. Must we emulate everything?

    The X window system is what makes a Linux machine multi-user. It also makes it useful as a multi-user machine at the same time.

    The core of UNIX power comes from the multi-user philosophy. X was crafted with the same goals in mind. That is why they both have been around for such a long time.

    Both of these things come at a small price; namely, a requirement for some basic literacy with regard to the system and how it works.

    YOU CANNOT HAVE THE POWER WITHOUT PAYING THAT PRICE.

    I did not spend the last 7 years learning these things only to have my environment dumbed down for the sake of those not willing to step up and actually learn something about the machines they say they need.

    All of those folks wanting a frame-buffer only system really don't want multi-user systems --or at least don't want useful ones. Or, more likely, just flat don't know better.

    As for those folks asking for X emulation, I ask this?

    If the X window emulation does what X is supposed to wouldn't you have what you have with X right now plus added overhead? Why not consider using a toolkit to make the X development easier while not ruining the multi-user nature of Linux?

    Win32 machines are multi-tasking machines. Sure, you can run processes as more than one user, even run applications on your machine as more than one user, but in the end, you still have only one desktop.

    Many of the problems come from that one desktop and its close intergration with the rest of the OS. This is the same shit that Microsoft and Apple to a degree have been pushing all along. We don't need this.

    For those that think we do, read again. WE DON'T.

    Common arguments:

    - The network display capability makes X slow.

    Bullshit. The fastest graphics systems around have always used X. Want to see a sweet X server that does the network display thing nicely. Get any SGI IRIX machine and examine the X environment. 3D capable display, both in a window and full screen, on screen video in real time with sizeable windows, network applications, speed. All have been present for longer than the more capable win32 environments have existed. Local display requests do not go through the entire network stack. This combined with the excellence of UNIX and Linux network stacks make this a moot point anyway.

    X is hard to configure.

    Each year this is much less so. Soon it will also be a non issue. We have gone from hand tweaking our display to spin the CD and choose the type of display. Give it a bit more time and you will soon get all the little features you think you need as well. All without any sacrifice of the multi-user values that make Linux and X what they are; namely, better than everyone else.

    Nobody needs all that extra capability.

    Well, that is because most of them do not know what they are missing. We need to keep the power in the box by default; otherwise, we will end up running the same way others on more limited systems do now. Is that worth it?

    X is old.

    Well so is UNIX. Does that make it bad? No, if it were, it would be dead long before now.

    This is long enough. If you actually want to see more take a look at my journal, there is plenty more in there for the reading.

    To sum this up:

    If you really don't understand what X and UNIX is about, just spare yourself and get a nice wintel PC and get it over with. Maybe split the middle and get an Apple. (I *like* Apple BTW, that's not the whole point here...)

    If you want to actually take some control over your computing environment and have the ability to exercise choices, step up and shut up and start using X.

    It will be worth your time in the end.
  • Problems with X (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binaryfeed (225333) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @08:51PM (#5969576) Homepage
    Okay. I've read so many damn threads on this topic that I decided it's time I post my own opinion. Facts about X speed:
    • X is not slow
    • Some X video drivers are slow.
    • The slowdown caused by Network transparency is negligible.
    • KDE and GNOME are piggishly slow. I use both because I'm willing to sacrifice speed for functionality.
    Facts about X usability:
    • Configuration is difficult, even for experienced users.
    • Cut-and-paste style should be configurable.
    What X needs:
    • A way to send less data over the wire for toolkits such as QT / GTK+.
    • Easier configuration and setup.
    • Pluggable cut-and-paste architecture that can be more easily used by the other toolkits.
    • Better video drivers*.
    * I know ... we're out of luck here without help from the video card manufacturers.
  • by g4dget (579145) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:14PM (#5969900)
    So, instead of an aging client/server, network-transparent window system, you can now be transported all the way back to 1960's technology: direct frame buffer access. If that isn't progress, I don't know what is.

How many Unix hacks does it take to change a light bulb? Let's see, can you use a shell script for that or does it need a C program?

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