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X11 Window System Turns 25 Years Old 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the old-enough-to-rent-a-car dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The widely used X11 Window System has turned 25 years old today. Version 11 of the X Window System is likely to remain in use for many years to come for backwards compatibility with the many legacy applications, BSD/Solaris systems, and Enterprise Linux distributions. Meanwhile, Wayland is still working to unseat the X Server for the common Linux desktop."
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X11 Window System Turns 25 Years Old

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  • X12? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Greg Merchan (64308) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:11PM (#41346395)

    Potential protocol changes were noted in the documents of version 11, such as the ICCCM which notes that the FocusIn event should have a timestamp and a previous-focus field. Has anyone out there considered just taking X11, making changes known to be needed, and dropping the protocol support for what's rarely or not needed anymore?

    • Yeah, yeah, RTFA. Sorry for existing before coffee.

    • by Paul Jakma (2677)

      People have considered that, and they're working on Wayland as a result.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        and unfortunately, they're also dropping things that ARE needed.

        • by Paul Jakma (2677)

          Remote display protocols, like X11, VNC, etc., will still be able to render to Wayland displays.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            ...and will be as useless as using VNC with a Mac.

            Before you try to clone something, you should actually use it yourself first. Same goes for goading other people to clone something.

            • Re:X12? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:22PM (#41346845) Homepage Journal

              The people working on Wayland have used X11. Indeed, in many cases they are *also* X.org developers. Hell, one of the people working on Wayland is Keith Packard[1], who's been working on X.org since longer than I've been using Unix. Indeed, he's been working on X11 since before many of us had even used a computer, indeed for anyone younger than 24 make that "since before you were born". Hence, to say the people who are working on Wayland do not understand X is just a ridiculous argument, and does not suggest the person making that argument has much credibility on the subject.

              I'll be honest, I was a little sceptical when I read about some of the design decisions in Wayland. In particular, the decision to move some of the window management to the application (in general, that means the toolkit, like Qt, GTK+, etc) makes me wince a bit, because it will lead to the hung-window-syndrome we know and love from MS Windows. However, the people involved in Wayland know far far far more about the subject than I do (I have no experience of designing or implementing windowing systems), and I'm sure they know a lot more about balancing the various trade-offs for and against all these decisions than most of us.

              As for the remote displays. I was initially concerned about that capability too. However, if you look into it, well there's nothing that stops X11 being used with Wayland - indeed X server to render to Wayland already exists. Generally, there's nothing to prevent whatever style of remote display protocol being implemented for Wayland, be that in applications directly or (more sensibly) in the toolkits.

              1. Keith Packard on Wayland and X: https://lwn.net/Articles/491509/ [lwn.net]

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                indeed X server to render to Wayland already exists

                In the same sense that an X server to render to Windows desktops exists, yes, but that does NOT make it a replacement for the functionality in X11 today.

              • by dslbrian (318993)

                I'll be honest, I was a little sceptical when I read about some of the design decisions in Wayland. In particular, the decision to move some of the window management to the application (in general, that means the toolkit, like Qt, GTK+, etc) makes me wince a bit, because it will lead to the hung-window-syndrome we know and love from MS Windows.

                It causes more than that. This is a good read on the problems caused by CSD [martin-graesslin.com].

              • It's not that ridiculous. There's more than one aspect of X to understand. I know next to nothing about drivers or anything else internal to X, but I have, I believe, a decent grasp of the things above those layers which are documented. Unless the documentation is lying, there are things on X that have, especially for the sake of modern UIs, been done incorrectly for years. Focus handling is the main thing I keep harping on. Just about everything should be using the globally active focus model by default, b

              • It needs APIs the hardware people are unwilling/unable to provide and it wants capabilities for the hardware that are out of the hobbyist (used computer) range.

                It doesn't address the major EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL problem that is intended to (unsuccessfully) blackmail the video card vendors into exposing their patent and copyright violations (not the stated intent, but certainly the effect).

                And it fails to address the "look and feel is in the app not the window manager" problem.

                Bases covered?

                • by Paul Jakma (2677)

                  Uhm, it's hardware vendors who are paying for the work on Wayland, and the Linux graphics stack generally. Most notably Intel.

              • by laffer1 (701823)

                My initial problem with wayland was the network support. I've realized I can live with using VNC or some other monster instead. The real issue with wayland is that it's Linux only. Remember when Linux was a clone of UNIX? Now it's trying to drag us all every which way and reinvent everything. This is a real pain for BSD developers and probably lousy for Oracle, IBM and HP too. The latter can "afford" it... but still.

                • by jbolden (176878)

                  Most likely BSD will get a port of Wayland long before Gnome and KDE migrate to Wayland only.

                  If you mean Linux is now setting standards for the Unix GUIs it has been for over a decade.

                  • Re:X12? (Score:4, Insightful)

                    by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:00AM (#41350945) Homepage Journal

                    GNOME and KDE are not going to migrate to Wayland only. They're going to continue to use toolkit libraries, and the toolkit libraries will handle the details of rendering (or indeed, other libraries underneath the toolkit library will).

                    E.g. KDE does not contain an X11 protocol implementation, it isn't even written to directly use Xlib or XCB. It's written on top of Qt. And Qt already supports rendering to Wayland via lighthoutse. Ditto for GNOME and GTK+/GDK.

                    These libraries already support multiple rendering backends, from rendering to dumb framebuffers (for use on embedded devices) to rendering to X11 across a network. These libraries are simply going to acquire another such rendering backend, for Wayland. The existing rendering backends, like X11, are not going to suddenly disappear. Not any time soon. Not any time where X11 sees any kind of significant use or vendor support.

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              It all comes down to the market, and Ubuntu is for HOME users, remember the "Linux for humans" advertising? So how many home users are remoting into their desktops using X Server? My guess is you could count that number on 2 hands and still have fingers left over, remote control of desktops is just something that most home users don't even think about, much less do.

              And the simple fact is for non enterprise uses X is fricking terrible, just piss awful. I could post Thom's epic rant from OS News how simply sw

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by 0123456 (636235)

            Remote display protocols, like X11, VNC, etc., will still be able to render to Wayland displays.

            And Wayland will not be able to display efficiently to any other machine. It will require some shitty pixel-scraping technology like VNC.

            As the world becomes more networked, the Wayland fanboys are trying to copy Windows by throwing away X11's separation of display and execution.

            • Re:X12? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Saturday September 15, 2012 @03:05PM (#41347447) Homepage Journal

              And Wayland will not be able to display efficiently to any other machine. It will require some shitty pixel-scraping technology like VNC.

              No, that isn't true. Nothing prevents Wayland supporting toolkits from using whatever kind of display protocol they want, from low-level pixel grabs of windows, to using more abstract drawing commands that match the higher-level structure/behaviour of the application. Indeed, a toolkit could easily use X11 as that protocol, if it wished - and that's already possible with XWayland, I understand.

            • by jbolden (176878)

              There are 3 situations.

              A) Local desktop
              B) High speed low latency Network.
              C) Low speed or high latency Network.

              X11 is optimized for case (B). Given we can't do much about the speed of light, relative to the size of the earth (C) type problems are permanently unsolvable for X11. Moreover, given that networks are focusing on reducing jitter while increasing bandwidth to implement QoS, we might see latency increases over the next generation or at least not large decreases.

              X11 is not a solution to networked

            • by jbolden (176878)

              And Wayland will not be able to display efficiently to any other machine. It will require some shitty pixel-scraping technology like VNC.

              Actually Wayland is going to implement something like RDB but that will be at the GUI level (i.e.KDE or Gnome).

  • What is Wayland? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:15PM (#41346421)
    Posting AC cuz I'm not a karma whore

    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Wayland [ubuntu.com]
  • xeyes ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:17PM (#41346437)

    ... needs bifocals. But otherwise, it all runs fine.

    I can remember back in the 'old days' running X over a 28K dialup. But now, with 100 Mbit and up LANs and decent broadband, I can run most apps without being able to differentiate between local and remote clients.

    It still just works.

    • by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:30PM (#41346519)

      One thing I love about X has always been the ability to run gui apps remotely via ssh using your local X via X11 forwarding. For those who haven't tried (or haven't tried lately) it's even pretty easy to get a shell running within X in Cygwin and run remote gui 'nix applications under Windows...too cool.

      • by lindi (634828)

        X11 forwarding is not very nice since the remote server can fully control your client machine in many cases (e.g. in Debian/Ubuntu "ForwardX11Trusted" defaults to true). I prefer xpra instead.

        • by Paul Jakma (2677)

          Pedantry: The X *clients*[1] may be able to snoop on all your keystrokes, including to other applications, and read what is on your display.

          1. The X clients are the applications you run, which connect to the X server. The X server is responsible for co-ordinating drawing to the display. X client may run remote from the X server. The X server typically runs local, on the machine you're sitting in front of, and whose display screen you're looking at. I.e. in X, the server is the local bit (on your machine) an

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by barjam (37372)

        And it is awful. All remote desktop access to unix/Mac is awful. X, Vnc, no-machine. Windows excels at this which is funny because they started out not having this functionality at all and unix folks would make fun of them for lacking it. Now it is the unix variants that largely lack a usable technology in this space. Of course it is rarely needed as unix servers excel at being administrated via shell and windows sucks at that.

        Rdp over ssh works well and is many times faster than X or VNC.

        • If you like RDP that much, then use it on OSX or Linux. There are clients for both.

          Personally at work I use both RDP and VNC to remote into various servers, and neither one is particularly better than the other. I get the job done with both.
          • AFAIK, there are ways to connect to a Linux box "using" a RDP client, but at the nuts & bolts level, all they're doing is scraping bitmaps just like VNC and wrapping them in RDP to kludge it into working.

            Their only advantage is that you can use the RDP client you already have instead of having to download and install a VNC client first.

        • by armanox (826486)

          I've found that NoMachine (or just the NX protocol in general) runs at least as fast as RDP.

        • by caseih (160668)

          I beg to differ with you that "it is awful." On a LAN, X11 over ssh just works, works fast, and is the most transparent of the solutions you mention. I use it every day to access apps on my virtual machine, my server, and other machines in the house. And when I worked for a university, we used it all the time and it was plenty fast. Just as fast as VNC or NX (on a LAN mind you).

          If you need to run remote X11 apps over anything less than 100 Mbit LAN, then yes NX is the ticket. It can display individual

      • by mpol (719243)

        One thing I really like is the aspect of 2 cut-and-paste buffers. When I explain it to tech-friends of mine they really are amazed.
        There's a primary buffer and a secondary buffer. The secondary buffer is like the buffer in Windows and MacOS. You have Ctrl-C for copy and Ctrl-V for paste. Or you can use the context menus.
        The primary buffer however is everything you selected, and then ofcourse only the last selection. Pasting is done with middle mouse button.
        This way you can use 2 buffers. Like you Ctrl-C the

        • Speaking of the primary buffer, I can't live without my parcellite copy history app. There are others like it of course, like Klipper etc....but I use parsellite because it's nice and lightweight and works well with fluxbox. On the increasingly rare occasions that I use windows, I have a hard time getting used to NOT having my highlighted text copied automatically.

      • OK, big, honest question... you have a computer running Mint 13 with Cinnamon. Or KDE, if it makes things easier. You want to connect to it over the LAN from a laptop running Windows using a win32 X server. What, exactly, is the proper way to do it? Is there any way to use X11 remotely in a RDP-like manner (passing primitives over the LAN instead of scraping bitmaps like VNC)? Or do you basically have to set up each and every single application you want to run remotely over X, and configure the Win32 X serv

        • by armanox (826486)

          Before I can answer I have to ask what you're trying to do. Are we running the whole gnome-session (or KDE or w/e), or just individual apps? And do we want it in a Window,.full screen, or managed by Windows? Because all are possible with X11 (either XDMCP or X over SSH) and some with NX (which runs much nicer then VNC or X over network). (See this pic [photobucket.com] for an individual app having been called over SSH to run on Win32 X).

    • by Animats (122034)

      I can remember back in the 'old days' running X over a 28K dialup.

      Right, when the only tools used were XTerm and XClock. XClock wasn't very useful, but at least it was "graphical".

  • Solaris is based on System V, The rebranding from SunOS to Solaris (back in 1991!) coincides with the move away from a BSD-based OS.

  • by ADRA (37398) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:20PM (#41346461)

    I only met you 12 years ago, but I've been obsessed with you ever since. Its been so long, that I just had to say something now.. Please please don't jump the shark like so many others these days... I just love you the way you are!

  • by mickwd (196449) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:25PM (#41346485)

    Surprisingly level-header article, given the source (Phoronix).

    I really do hope Wayland sorts out a good scheme for remote access. At the moment it seems to be just ignored.

    I wish people who set out to *replace* an existing piece of software would endeavor to replace it in its entirety, not just the subset of features that they happen to be interested in.

    • by Balinares (316703)

      Err... What's wrong with the X11 protocol as a remote access scheme?

      Just because we're taking it out of the rendering loop in Wayland doesn't mean we can't still use it outside.

      • by fikx (704101)
        So, How do I run a Wayland app remotely using X11?
      • by CajunArson (465943) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:49PM (#41347021) Journal

        X11 as a remote access scheme is actually craptacular in many ways, with two listed below as a non-complete list:

        1. Ever try actually using X11 for anything even remotely graphically complex over even a rather decent broadband connection? You could also gouge your eyes out for a similar effect! Before you say how great X11 is over your cable modem:
        a. If it were so great, then Nomachine would never have come into existence and NX would not exist.
        b. If I had a dime for every time somebody says that X11 is great *because he is forwarding X-terms over it using an @#K%JJ SSH tunnel* then I'd be rich and they'd be put into a mental asylum where they belong. I'm talking about *real* graphical applications being shot over a broadband network here, otherwise there is no point to "network transparency" to begin with.

        2. Real simple scenario that I've known can't work for over 10 years and for which there is no solution available using X:
              a. I run a program remoted to my desktop. Yay network transparency (blah blah blah).
            b. I get up from my desk and grab my notebook/tablet/smartphone/etc. and I want to simply transfer the remotely displayed application to the other device.. *cannot be done*.
        Note how I spotted this problem 10 years ago? That was long before everyone was carrying around smartphones/tablets/etc., I was way ahead of the curve and this issue has only gotten more important over time.
          c. What's really hilarious is how many people have called me stupid or moronic for thinking that actually have *real* network transparency over X instead of the crap version from 1985 we are stuck with now would be a good thing.. and many of these same people lovingly brag about how they use screen all the time....

        That's 2 issues.. there are many more. People who seem to despise any OS other than Linux for "not innovating" really tick me off when they try to kill the first real piece of innovation in the Linux graphics stack that we have seen in this century.
             

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          a. If it were so great, then Nomachine would never have come into existence and NX would not exist.

          X11 was designed for LAN use, hence the excessive reliance on round-trip messaging. As NX and other proxies have proved, there's nothing particularly difficult about fixing the protocol for WAN use.

          People who seem to despise any OS other than Linux for "not innovating" really tick me off when they try to kill the first real piece of innovation in the Linux graphics stack that we have seen in this century.

          X11 was innovative. There's nothing innovative about Wayland, it's throwing away everything that separates Unix graphics from the rest of the world.

        • by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Saturday September 15, 2012 @02:31PM (#41347259) Homepage Journal

              b. I get up from my desk and grab my notebook/tablet/smartphone/etc. and I want to simply transfer the remotely displayed application to the other device.. *cannot be done*.
          Note how I spotted this problem 10 years ago?

          Actually, I was able to do this just fine, 10 odd years ago with iPaqs handheld and GPE, which was X based. I could bounce GPE applications from my iPaq to main computer, so that I could use my main keyboard and display with the application (much handier than the pen based input on the iPaq). There's nothing in X that stops this from being implemented. It's the clients (i.e. there toolkits) which have to learn to switch between servers. Alternatively, it can be done done with an X server proxy - at least architecturally. (I can't actually remember which way the GPE solution did it).

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by shiftless (410350)

            It's the clients (i.e. there toolkits) which have to learn to switch between servers.

            Sounds trivial.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Wayland from what i can tell is short sighted and more of a throw back to the island mentality. People who think RDP scenarios can replace network transparency really need to get a clue.

      Its the wrong way to head.

      • Agreed. And we lose all the window managers, and if you want to write a new one, too bad! You have to write a compositor instead! And don't get me started about the decorations being controlled by the app instead of the WM. Grrr...

        • by causality (777677)

          Agreed. And we lose all the window managers, and if you want to write a new one, too bad! You have to write a compositor instead! And don't get me started about the decorations being controlled by the app instead of the WM. Grrr...

          Anyone who has ever used Lotus Notes on WinXP can understand why that's a terrible idea.

          "Oh is it checking for new mail? Yeah I can tell because the window is blank, featureless, and won't respond to input for several seconds..." Letting the apps have this control is why so many Windows systems feel subjectively sluggish and less responsive. At least when you're used to X with a low-latency kernel.

          I'm aware that it is possible to write Windows applications that don't suffer this problem, so it's no

          • yea! something called Firefox has this problem. Maybe they'll finally get their act together and fix it.

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            I'm an actual fan of Lotus Notes/Domino, and I will agree that that is definitely one of it's warts.
      • by markdavis (642305)

        +1

        People who don't understand what you said have never used thin clients. We still use them at work and they are great for particular situations. For example- one host manages the login process and window manager and apps are launched on various different hosts and displayed and the user doesn't know they aren't all local on their machine.

        X11 might be old, but the architecture is still completely valid. Instead, people are trying to away and destroying forward compatibility. All they chant is how it wil

        • by Paul Jakma (2677)

          All they chant is how it will be possible to run Wayland apps in an Xserver running under Wayland. But that does NOTHING for apps that are designed for and compiled for Wayland. THEY will have zero network transparency and will not run on remote Xservers

          Where are these apps? Why will their authors have chosen to write their applications directly on top of a low-level rendering library? It's pretty unlikely. Rather, they'll be writing using a toolkit, like GTK+/GDK or Qt, etc. And these toolkits *already* support multiple rendering backends, from bare-framebuffers, to X11 (via Xlib or XCB or whatever).

          • by markdavis (642305)

            There are none right now (since there is really no Wayland). But the whole point of Wayland would be to compile the apps without X11 support. Otherwise, why bother with Wayland at all?

            • by Paul Jakma (2677)

              You seem to have completely missed the point of my reply. Again, apps for Wayland will almost certainly be written to use a toolkit library like GTK+/GDK or Qt. The app itself will *not* be written directly for Wayland - that'd be insane, because that'd require the application to completely re-implement its own child-window and input handling, as well as widgets (i.e. re-implement the stuff Qt, GTK+, etc already provide). So the app will be Wayland agnostic. Instead it will be GTK+/GDK or Qt that does the W

          • by jbolden (176878)

            I would imagine by Gnome 5, KDE 6 they will be Wayland only. The reason will be the enhanced possibilities / features once the video buffer and the application are sharing RAM. That's what's going to drive the move to Wayland only apps.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          Ultimately there are 3 situations:

          a) Running an application on a machine sharing ram with the video card.

          b) Running applications on a machine close enough to the video card that the latency between them is lowish and the bandwidth is plentiful and performance is irrelevant.

          c) Running applications on a machine where either the latency is high or the bandwidth is limited

          X11 does terrific for (b) in exchange for damaging (a) and (c). X11 was designed in a world where (b) is common. The entire X11 approach is o

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:33PM (#41346539)

    It only took three years to go from X1 to X11

    Of course. First X1, then X10, then X11 (to be followed by X100, then X101, then X110, then X111, then X1000, etc.)

    You must be new here.

  • by gdav (2540) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:39PM (#41346585)

    The first time I used it was in 1993 when NCSA Mosaic came out. There was a copy on the university Sun box, my office boasted a spare 286 running DOS - some packet drivers and Vista-eXceed for DOS and I was away!

    • by antdude (79039)

      For me, it was in my university's CS lab [apu.edu]. I never used Linux/UNIX's GUI before (only dial-up shell accounts during my high school days) and I think I also used NCSA Mosaic web browser on the school's fast pipe (fractal T1!). Years later, I used my own X11 and Linux on my home computers. :)

  • I still have my original copies of the beta 8.5x11 in spiral bound O'Reilly X11 manuals. My wife was going to thrown them out last year but I saved them.
  • by at10u8 (179705) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:06PM (#41346751)
    I remember the first vendor demo workstation arriving with X running on it. I remember GraphOn X terminals, and NCD X terminals. I remember rewriting the Keck CCD image display program not to send each image 3 times and getting live readouts over 28k modem to my living room.
  • by StripedCow (776465) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:07PM (#41346759)

    Any speculations on the future of windowing systems?

    Personally, I wonder when we'll get the first windowing system based entirely on HTML5.

    • by bobs666 (146801)

      I wonder when we'll get the first windowing system based entirely on HTML5.

      That would be a web browser. Browsers can run in lots of windows. You can have that already. (right?)

      NextStep tried using postscript to render window content. I never got to use one, ... as I understand the problem was the hardware was under powered. Perhaps an idea before its time.

      • > That would be a web browser. Browsers can run in lots of windows. You can have that already. (right?)
        Pretty sure they mean the WM is written in HTML

        >NextStep tried using postscript to render window content
        Yes, and Quartz 2d uses something somewhat related to Display PostScript (though it is PDF, not PS).

        And Sun wrote NeWS entirely in an extended PS, including WM functions, which NeXT never did with DPS

        • by Misagon (1135)

          Yep, on NeWS the client could upload Postscript code for widgets that would execute as entities on the server, responding to user input without any round-trip to the client as in X (and Wayland).

          NeXTStep and MacOS X Quartz used Postscript only for rendering. BTW, the core of PDF is an extended subset of Postscript, so a lot of it is the same.

    • by Paul Jakma (2677)

      Well, GDK (low-level library used by GTK+) has support for HTML5, apparently: http://blogs.gnome.org/alexl/2011/03/15/gtk-html-backend-update/ [gnome.org]

    • >windowing system based entirely on HTML5.
      Shoot me now.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @02:29PM (#41347249) Homepage Journal

    Something like X-windows could have allowed for desktop-like GUI's over HTTP, but it doesn't handle latency well because it micromanages individual keystrokes and characters. Contrast with an HMTL text-box.

    We wouldn't have to fart around with DOM and JS and Microsoft IE unstandards if they did it right.

  • XOrg's X11 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [kapimi]> on Saturday September 15, 2012 @03:16PM (#41347507) Homepage Journal

    ...is just a "reference implementation". It is NOT the be-all and end-all.

    If someone were to produce a wholly new windowing system that had a compatibility layer for the standard X11 API, support for the X11 configuration files, and the option of sending X11 packets over a network, you would have something that was compliant with the reference implementation. It would be a superset, but the reference specification would be 100% implemented according to the standard, agreed?

    Indeed, since the current reference implementation is highly modular, you could replace one module at a time with something that solved the problems inherent in X but which remained 100% backwards compatible.

    Let us call this new implementation X12, since it's a stepwise upgrade, similar to (but less crippling than) the upgrade from X10 to X11.

    What would I imagine this X12 to look like?

    Well, X is still horrible for games, so sprites and shaders make sense. (Nothing stops environments like Gnome or KDE from implementing their own, but to make games viable, you've got to have one API that always works even if you have other APIs for each desktop environment.)

    Also on games, but also for multimedia, sound would be good. The challenge is that you want a universal "front end" API where you can switch between engines (such as PulseAudio or Jack) without having to change the code. You'd simply get the characteristics you want. The reasoning there is that different sound systems do have different characteristics and you want a different set for different circumstances. But, again, manufacturers don't care about your freedom to choose, they care about being able to sell to the most people with the least variation in the codebase. No problem. If there's a single universal API that forwards what applies, translates those things that are translatable, and ignores the rest, then the manufacturers are happy and the freedom people are happy. Everyone is happy. That's good.

    For scientific and engineering work, you get the best results by converting from vectors to pixels at the last possible moment. Metafont/metapost have a good way to describe shapes (though you'd want to "compile" these descriptions into bytecode for efficiency), and transformation matrices aren't complicated. It would take a bit of work to get the system to work efficiently in 4D, but it would make life a lot easier.

    The legacy X11 protocols aren't very efficient OR secure. They're needed because there's so many X11 terminals out there, but X12 should only use X11 to talk to X11 systems. X12 to X12 should be designed from the start to be secure, compact and extensible. It should also be transport-independent. Why should X care if it using TCP, UDP, DCCP, SCTP or something yet to be developed? Or what version of the IP protocol is involved? (If it IS involved! What's wrong with X over Infiniband?) So long as both sides of the connection know what to use, and things that have to be reliable are kept reliable, it's just a port as far as 99% of the code is concerned. Only when it comes to building it in the first place will there be any difference and that can all be hidden in an abstraction library.

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      Sounds like a good idea to me.

      I'd settle for any improvement that'd solve a problem I've had - once or twice a year a major x11 update makes it necessary for me to re-install Crossover, then Steam, then my games. (I've tried abbreviating that process with snapshots, archives, local copies of relevant stuff but that never works. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, or I haven't found the right combination.)

      For that matter, I'd be happy if my curiosity didn't drive me to try to understand things I either don't want to

  • by BalkanBoy (201243) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @05:25PM (#41348163)

    "Unseating X" is not what Wayland will do, at least not anytime soon. Even X's developers realize that X's architecture has gone a little stale given the current desktop use cases, so they are working to make X a Wayland client. X is likely not going to go away for another 10+ years at least, provided every X app ever developed gets converted into a native Wayland app... And that's a LONG time off on the horizon.

    Wayland NAILED it where every attempt to replace X outright prior to it, failed miserably. Wayland is the future only because it allows X programs to run -unmodified-, while at the same time providing a new, more performant window server.

    Wayland is the bridge to the future, along with X.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      The X developers are the Wayland developers. Wayland came out of the people working on X being asked to do things that were too hard or impossible with X.

  • by ydrol (626558) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @06:23PM (#41348499)

    Whenever I see "X11 Window System" I think of the UNIX Haters handbook. A bit dated but well worth a read - even if you like UNIX/linux - http://m.simson.net/ugh.pdf [simson.net]

  • I am being a stickler I know, but can we please call it properly the X Window System, X or X11. Conflating the X Window System and X11 into the X11 Window System just sounds silly. Much like X Windows. That is all.

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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