I suspect even what with Wayland making the rounds, there'll probably be X around for a looooong time. My guess anyway. I just recently built an X setup from scratch on Linux, it wasn't too much of a pain save that the protocol headers have merged into the xorgproto package. I didn't realize this until I had already installed older versions of all the individual packages.

I was surprised to learn in the process that xterm is not distributed by XOrg, but by someone else. It even features in the default xdm session along with xconsole and xsm, so certainly considered a standard component of X, but distributed and maintained independently it seems.

Aa for the questions of the UNIX-ness of X, it started in Athena, which as I understand it was supposed to be relatively OS-agnostic distributed computing? In any case, the predecessor ran on a different OS, not sure how significant that is to the genesis of what would be called X or what OS it "started" on.

Aside from the ubiquitous X books (which I mean to add to my library...) USL also shipped a handful of books with SVR4 concerning both X and NeWS. I've only got the Xlib one but it seems to cover the basics pretty well. I'd be curious to compare it to the other set. One of these days I mean to round out that SVR4 documentation set.

There were probably materials in the SVR4.2 era as well but I haven't focused as much on those books. Dunno what if any documentation Novell then Caldera/SCO kept up with. I'd love a fresh round of print books, I much prefer paper for reference, but nowadays new tech material is most certainly second/third-hand rather than thoughtfully crafted by the team and those adjacent to whatever is being described. I love me a good primary source....

I've played with XQuartz a bit, mainly remote X from one of my Linux boxes. Kinda slow...but I did zero tuning so not sure what the expected performance of X-over-ssh is. In any case, given the ubiquity, I doubt we'll see X going anywhere soon, and even when it does eventually start to sunset, there'll probably be shims and wrappers for compatibility for a while longer. Plus, I don't know what the prospects are regarding Wayland and SVR4 derivs, but they're all happily running X still, and aren't necessarily getting any new large-scale development love, so likely will ride out with X.

- Matt G.
------- Original Message -------
On Tuesday, January 24th, 2023 at 5:46 PM, Will Senn <will.senn@gmail.com> wrote:


If you think unix ends without x, just move along, nothing to see here. Otherwise, I thought I would share the subject of my latest post and a link with those of you interested in such things.

Recently, I've been tooling around trying to wrap my head around x windows and wanted to give programming it a shot at the xlib level... on my mac, if possible. So, I bought a copy of Adrian Nye's Xlib Programming Manual for Version 11 R4/R5, aka Volume One of The Definitive Guides to the X Window System, published, get this... 30+ years ago, in 1992 :) and started reading like a madman. As usual, this was an example of great technical writing from the prior millenium, something rarely found today.

Anyway, I hunted up the source code examples as published, unpacked them, did a few environmental things to my mac, and built my first xlib application from that source. A few tweaks to my XQuartz configuration and I was running the application in twm on my mac, with a root window.

To read about it and see it in all of its glory, check it out here:


The same sort of setup works with Linux, FreeBSD, or my latest environment DragonFly BSD. It's not the environment that I find interesting, but rather the X Window System itself, but this is my way of entering into that world. If you are interested in running X Windows, not as an integrated system on your mac (where x apps run in aqua windows), but with a 'regular' window manager, and you haven't figured out how, this is one way.

On the provocateur front - is X part of unix? I mean this in oh so many nuanced ways, so read into it as you will. I would contend, torpedoes be damned, that it is :).