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#1 2023-12-25 12:21:27

chomwitt
Member
Registered: 2019-09-24
Posts: 108  

To X or not to X ?

I read in the news that X seems to be getting into the freeze. By studying X's history(0) i think a better phrasing would be:
'Certain companies , developers and maintainers' of Xorg X11 implementation are switching their focus and energy
from X11 to Wayland' . I think that phrasing is more just because X doesnt seem to me that is a certain person(s)'s project
as it is presented usually in many news articles that seem historically blind. X has a long long history that isnt rooted only on a certain
coorporation's agenda to grab a market.  So i think with great care that history should be studied in order to better understand the present.

So in that spirit i found and old paragraph on the book  The Joy of X by Nial Mansfield (1993) that i found it interesting and helpful in giving us a better persective on what X is :

1.4 How X compares with other systems :

Microsoft Windows for DOS give you a true windowing system on PC with a consistent GUI,and multiple applications which can be more or less active simultaneously. Like X is not part of the operating system,but is a separate optional piece of software which you run on top of the operating system.
It differs from X in two important ways:
1. The user interface is fixed and build into the system, so you cannot change it. For example , if you wanted to emulate the Macintosh interface, you just can't do it with MS Windows.
2. You can only run local applications ,which means that you can only use applications written for DOS PCs. You cannot compile a program for VAX VMS , say , with the Windows GUI built into it, and run it on the VAX displaying to your PC.

That quote first highlights that initially the MS Windowing system was not part of the main OS (DOS) . That it's interesting because lately (1)  i was troubled about the relation that a Display Server can have with an OS. And looking back we see that computational functionality doesnt belong somewhere by it's nature. The relation that X or MS Windows's windowing system  has with a OS are fluid and susceptible to human and organizational needs.

Initially there was MS DOS and the first windowing system on it was VisiOn(1983) and Windows 1.0.

Secondly that quote highlights that what once was presented as a strength not available at other OSes (network transparency ,policy-free, separation from the OS -OS independence - ) now there are presented as flaws that must be get rid of.  But by doing that.. in a similar future comparison would that put a Linux windowing system more close to the MS view of how and where a windowing system works ?

Could it be that X is a functionality nucleus suitable for a distributed-network and flexible  centric-view of computing and by abandoning  it libre software community is loosing a gift that was once handed to it ? 

Wouldnt it be better to have both Wayland view on what a windowing system is and X's views ?   

(0) How X started?
(1) Should a display server contain a drawing API ? 

Last edited by chomwitt (2023-12-25 12:44:07)


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