[TUHS] X and NeWS history (long)

Bakul Shah bakul at bitblocks.com
Wed Sep 13 11:34:42 AEST 2017


> On Sep 12, 2017, at 5:56 PM, Jon Steinhart <jon at fourwinds.com> wrote:
> 
> Bakul Shah writes:
>> 
>> Unix still needs a decent graphics API (ideally one that can work over a network).
>> Any thoughts on that?
> 
> Wow, big topic.  Rather than getting into it in detail at the moment I'm curious
> as to why you think that it's important for it to work over a network.

Heavy number crunching generating some data for display may be far
from the one displaying the data.

[sensor input | storage] => [computation} <=> [display/user input]

> Before you bite my head off for that question, I'm not suggesting that there's
> no value in taking data from somewhere on a network and using it on a local
> machine.
...
> So before getting off into graphics APIs I think that it would be interesting
> to hash this out.

Indeed. The question really is where in the pipeline from gobs 
of raw data to number crunching transformations to display
does the network split lie.  In a sense we already have a
split (GPU vs CPU) but it is highly specialized.
 
Camera, mouse, graphics tablet, keyboard, other sensor inputs 
will be (or should be) near the display but may be processed far
away in an application specific manner.
 
I suspect here too we may go through Sutherland's wheel of 
reincarnation.  We can offload more GUI processing in the
server but as GUI becomes more sophisticated (or complicated),
it will feel slow.
 
I can envision using a RaspberryPi as a "graphics processor"
but we still need a protocol between the 'Pi and the
"backend". If done right, I wouldn't want to touch the innards
of the s/w running on the 'Pi when writing a game or something
needing visualization.

> BTW, one of the best things about NeWS was the fact that with a reasonable set
> of conventions the user interface personality could live in the server and be
> applied to all applications.  Contrast that with X where each application links
> in a UI library, and if your screen looks anything like mine there isn't a lot
> of consistency because different applications use different libraries.



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