"A pain to configure" indeed!

I bought my first PC in '94 or '95 for the purpose of running Linux on it.

My roommate and I bought the exact same model, a no name custom build from a local shop, so we could work with each other on figuring it out.

They did not have any video mode lines already written for our monitor model, so we needed to construct them manually.

I remember spending hours with pencil and paper and calculator and the manual for my monitor trying to create an adequate mode line.

And then, when you finally got something close enough to what the monitor would support that you got an image, you had to keep tweaking the numbers and restarting the X server in order to get the image appropriately sized and centered, and avoid it wrapping around one of the edges.

Even all these years later, I still remember with deep fondness how elated I was when I learned about xvidtune. 

I also remember the excitement of finding a Windows tool that could generate a mode line from the current video settings in Windows, but I cannot remember the name or find it right now online. 

This program is similar, but the initial release date is too late for it to be the one I used.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. 


On Mon, Feb 27, 2023, 12:57 PM Will Senn <will.senn@gmail.com> wrote:
While the background information on X alternatives is interesting, I
think there's some conflation going on. The distance in time between the
linux kernel being posted and X being available on it was an eyeblink,
even back then. There was no serious effort to look at other windowing
systems in between "hey, what do y'all think of my new kernel - it runs
gnu stuff" to "here it is with X and X apps".

That said, it was a pain to configure, required just the right mix of
video hardware and other hardware, and wasn't for the faint of heart. As
X was becoming available on linux licketysplit, some folks either
couldn't get it running or didn't have the hardware - those folks were
probably the first to go looking at alternatives, but that didn't
precede the x on linux effort.


On 2/25/23 3:31 PM, Paul Ruizendaal wrote:
> I think discussion of early Linux is in scope for this list, after all that is 30 years ago. Warren, if that is a mis-assumption please slap my wrist.
> Following on from the recent discussion of early workstations and windowing systems, I’m wondering about early windowing on Linux. I only discovered Linux in the later nineties (Red Hat 4.x I think), and by that time Linux already seemed to have settled on Xfree86. At that time svgalib was still around but already abandoned.
> By 1993 even student class PC hardware already outperformed the workstations of the early/mid eighties, memory was much more abundant and pixels were no longer bits but bytes (making drawing easier). Also, early Linux was (I think) more local machine oriented, not LAN oriented. Maybe a different system than X would have made sense.
> In short, I could imagine a frame buffer device and a compositor for top-level windows (a trail that had been pioneered by Oriel half a decade before), a declarative widget set inspired by the contemporary early browsers and the earlier NeWS, etc. Yet nothing like that happened as far as I know. I vaguely recall an OS from the late 90’s that mixed Linux with a partly in-kernel GUI called “Berlin” or something like that, but I cannot find any trace of that today, so maybe I misremember.
> So here are a few things that I am interested in and folks on this list might remember:
> - were there any window systems popular on early Linux other than X?
> - was there any discussion of alternatives to X?
> - was there any discussion of what kernel support for graphics was appropriate?