[rescue] NeWS (was: FS/FTGH: Sun kit)

der Mouse mouse at Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA
Wed Jan 18 00:28:01 CST 2006

> So, what ARE the problems X tries to solve?

> Provide a device-independent coordinate system?

No; X doesn't even try to do that.

Not unless you count "pixels in X and Y" as device-independent.

> Uh huh, Postscript certainly does that, with the advantage that your
> *printed output* could be generated by the same code that drew your
> *displayed* output.

Only if you either were *damn* good at PostScript or didn't mind at
least one of them looking like crap.  PostScript's much-hyped device
independence isn't really worth much when individual pixels are big
enough to see; it's bad enough in the 300dpi range.

> What am I missing that X does that's so spiffy?

Run on just about anything, for free.

> The 35 goddamned startup files and scripts needed to even launch the
> stupid thing?

We must be talking about different systems.  My X startup scripts
number fewer than a dozen, and I consider my setup over-baroque in that

> The 400 "toolkits" and window managers to choose from, not one of
> which is half as elegant or usable as NeXTSTEP was?

Yech.  NeXTStep was not nearly as usable as X to me; indeed, I did
Mouse-X specifically so that I could get X on NeXT hardware and get
*rid* of the ugly, stuck-in-reverse-video, "it's *good* to make you
bounce back and forth between the keybaord and the mouse", "when we
want to your opinion we'll give it to you", "hell no we won't let you
look at the code" NeXTStep.  One of X's mantras was "mechanism, not
policy", and I think they got that right.

> Maybe it's the TWENTY THREE MEGABYTE executable "hello, world"
> programs when linked against the massively bloated Xwhatever
> libraries?

"There is not now nor has there ever been any language in which it is
the least bit difficult to write bad programs." - and that's equally
true if you s/bad/bloated/.  While I've never tried, I feel sure it
would be easy to write a bloated multi-megabyte NeXTStep program too.

> Have you ever used a NeXT machine?

Yes, as it happens, I have.  It was so uncomfortable to use I was
driven to port X to it in order to make NeXT's UI go away.

> Even today those lovely old 33MHz 68k boxes look better,

Eww.  This is obviously some strange new definition of "better".  They
waste screen space all over the place on fancy-schmancy pseudo-3D look
whose actual contribution is negative (nothing but wasted screen real
estate), they stick you with reverse video whether you like it or
not[%], they make you bounce back and forth between mouse and
keyboard...well, okay, that last is not a "look" aspect.

[%] A few programs could be told to get out of reverse video, notably
their terminal emulator.  It never worked right for me when I tried;
while bulk text did flip, a bunch of other things didn't understand and
persisted in trying to work as if everything was still in reverse video.

> (It takes _seconds_ for Netscape 7 to open a "save" dialog on my
> dual-300Mhz U2 with 512MB of RAM, which is just SAD compared to, say,
> Omniweb on my 128MB Color Turbo...)

This isn't comparing apples with oranges; it's comparing jellybeans
with bulldozers.  It says a lot about how horribly bloated Netscape 7
is; it says nothing whatever about X.

> To this day, however, X11 is barely more than a conduit for running
> multiple xterm windows, a clock, an old version of Netscape, and
> maybe the GUI front-end to Netbackup or Networker.

So?  If you want a Mac, you know where to find it.

If you want Mac-like programs under X, start writing.  Or hire someone
to write.  But kvetching because we (FSVO "we"), writing for ourselves,
haven't written what you happen to want, and therefore the platform we
prefer to write for is somehow flawed, is a simply astounding leap of

> Okay, maybe in fairness Linux and BSD have pushed X11 graphical apps
> more to the fore, but they still pale in comparison to say, the
> Quartz/PDF-based MacOSX, direct descendent of NeXTSTEP/DPS.

And that says far more about how much money Apple poured into OSX than
it does about the underlying systems' merits (or lack thereof).

> [...] but it's just kinda pathetic that we're still stuck with [X]
> after all these years.

So come up with something better!

DPS?  Not "better" - not even a starter - until there's an open-source
implementation I can FTP over, port to my hardware, and play around

> I just can't believe that X11 is the best the industry can do.

It's not.  But it's about the best the open-source industry cares to
bother to do, it appears.

> I still wish that OpenStep had caught on -

In some ways so do I.  But as long as it was closed there wasn't much
chance of that.  As I said, I attribute X's dominance to open source
and free sample implementations far more than to technical merit.

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