[TUHS] X and NeWS history (long)

Adam Sampson ats at offog.org
Wed Sep 13 09:41:23 AEST 2017


Jon Steinhart <jon at fourwinds.com> writes:

> I think that I'm the only person to write an X server outside of the X
> Consortium.

When I was doing my PhD a few years ago, one of the case studies I used
was an X11 server that was written in occam 2 by Colin Willcock at the
University of Kent at Canterbury. I managed to recover Colin's source
code for the X server (in Transputer Development System format), which
is dated November 1988, from a very dusty machine backup...

I also found the sources for Colin's 1991 report to the funding body on
the completion of the project, and his 1992 PhD thesis which describes
the same work. I rebuilt these in 2010 using a modern version of TeX, so
the appearance is probably different from what Colin intended (and the
cover-page dates are definitely wrong), but they're quite readable:

https://stuff.offog.org/cw3-report-rebuilt.pdf
https://stuff.offog.org/cw3-thesis-rebuilt.pdf

Note in particular the motivation stated in the report: "The worst of
these problems was the MEiKO C compiler, which (by mid-1988) proved
incapable of making any significant headway when presented with the
public-domain X-sources. [...] After consultation with the project
monitoring officers at RAL, we took the decision to investigate the
prospects for a complete re-implementation of the X-server in occam 2,
making no use of the public domain C sources."

There have of course been other X server implementations more recently,
but they're less historically interesting!

-- 
Adam Sampson <ats at offog.org>                         <http://offog.org/>


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