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Shan
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:02 pm    Post subject: Why use X? Reply with quote

Okay, first off,I'm not trying to start a flame war or anything, this is a legitimate question I have so please bear with me.

Anyays, if my understanding of things is correct, X[free86 | .org] are networked (EG server / client) windowing servers, correct? This means that they work over networks (eg ehternet, wifi, et al) correct?

So...how many people use this feature?....probably more than I think, but still not too many I'd imagine. Which leads me to ask the question....why is it the de-facto standard, if its big draw (Eg network setup)...isn't used by that many people? To me its kinda like buying the SUV when you really just need the compact car (but lets not get inot that shall we?)

Last time I checked, X is a roughly 60MB download (including all associated patches and such) a pretty big chunk of code if you ask me. On my AMD Athlon 3000+ 400FSB rig with 512MB DDR400, it took around 45 minutes to compile. Slightly longer than it took Firefox to compile, but not much. Compare that to my kernel (Gentoo-dev-sources 2.6.7-r5) which I can compile in a flat 5 minutes, and thats if I'm not paying attention.

So I ask again, why do we use it? Especially since despite all these years of coding (its what, a 15 year old project?) we're still playing catchup to windows, with a bloated setup? Admittedly, a great deal of the Linux community is doing so when it comes to eyecandy and such, but then again, not many of us are earning a 100G's a year working 40 hours a week on our Linux projects are we?

To me, in my 4 or so years using Linux, I've gone from using XFree 4.0 (way back in RH 6 or something) to X.Org 6.7.0-r1, and I couldn't tell you one difference between any of them (outside of better support for nVidia & ATi cards, but I think thats more in the drivers). To me this is almost as bad as the progress that the XMMS team has had, but atleast they have the excuse of being basically abandoned (Developer wise. I think its down to 2 or 3 people now for XMMS2)

Anyways, I guess what I'm asking, is, what are the alternatives? I've heard of a few, but I was always told that they were too alpha, and not worth trying to use. Am I completely offbase about my statements / information? Are there any 'lighter' servers that provide most (or more) features than X.Org but aren't so bloated / sluggish, et al? Any that support true transparency (Something Windows has had since Win 2000)

Again, a disclaimer: I'm not trying to start a flamwar, nor troll, I'm serious about my questions and concerns, and would appreciate serious and legitimate replies. I've likely gotten some things wrong, so feel free to correct me, but do it in a civil and human manner.

Edit: Karma +2 to anybody that actually reads my entire post. Didn't realize how much I ranted there.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, as for the networked stuff, I can tell you that at my university we use the client/server features of X extensively.

As for the other stuff, I've heard that X is growing old, but personally I've never had any problems to speak of... I think it's kinda nice.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use X11's networking features at home, using a couple of secondhand laptops as X terminals. But even if I didn't use X11's networking, I'd still use X because it works.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stormy Eyes wrote:
I use X11's networking features at home, using a couple of secondhand laptops as X terminals. But even if I didn't use X11's networking, I'd still use X because it works.


Yeah, and so doesn't windows (sorta) but you don't use that?

Just because something WORKS doesn't mean its right for the job.

And no offense to either you Stormy, or you erikedin, but why should the default be based on a system that a majority of people don't use? I could understand it if >50% of the people had a true server and just linked in with terminals but like the analogy I made in my initial post, its a Mac Truck when you just need a geo metro.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shan wrote:
Yeah, and so doesn't windows (sorta) but you don't use that?


I don't buy defective software.

Shan wrote:
Just because something WORKS doesn't mean its right for the job.


What would you suggest instead, DirectFB? I won't tell you how to run your computers, but for my machines, X11 is the right tool for the job. Not only is it networkable, but it has rock-solid OpenGL support on my nVidia display cards. It also supports my ancient Number 9 Revolution IV card hooked up to my SGI 1600SW widescreen LCD.

Shan wrote:
And no offense to either you Stormy, or you erikedin, but why should the default be based on a system that a majority of people don't use? I could understand it if >50% of the people had a true server and just linked in with terminals but like the analogy I made in my initial post, its a Mac Truck when you just need a geo metro.


First off, it's not your place to decide what others need. I might need a Geo Metro, but if I decide that I'd rather have a 1967 Cadillac El Dorado convertible painted hot pink with big brown baby seal eyes for headlights and I can pay for the privilege, then I'm going to have my Cadillac.

Second, nobody is forcing you to use X11 if you don't want it. Yes, it's the de facto standard windowing system, but Fresco's in portage, Y Window is in portage, and DirectFB is in portage. Take your pick and deal with the consequences.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stormy Eyes wrote:
Shan wrote:
Yeah, and so doesn't windows (sorta) but you don't use that?


I don't buy defective software.

Shan wrote:
Just because something WORKS doesn't mean its right for the job.


What would you suggest instead, DirectFB? I won't tell you how to run your computers, but for my machines, X11 is the right tool for the job. Not only is it networkable, but it has rock-solid OpenGL support on my nVidia display cards. It also supports my ancient Number 9 Revolution IV card hooked up to my SGI 1600SW widescreen LCD.

Shan wrote:
And no offense to either you Stormy, or you erikedin, but why should the default be based on a system that a majority of people don't use? I could understand it if >50% of the people had a true server and just linked in with terminals but like the analogy I made in my initial post, its a Mac Truck when you just need a geo metro.


First off, it's not your place to decide what others need. I might need a Geo Metro, but if I decide that I'd rather have a 1967 Cadillac El Dorado convertible painted hot pink with big brown baby seal eyes for headlights and I can pay for the privilege, then I'm going to have my Cadillac.


Calm down bro, it was an analogy. My point is that Gentoo (and linux in general really) is supposed to be about optomization and choice, but there are very little in the way of viable choices for a display server. Linux (and Open source) is supposed to operate on the "if its not needed, it'll fall away" theory, but in my experiance Networked display servers isn't that desperate a need (EG it should be available, but not by default) so why is it the default?

Quote:
Second, nobody is forcing you to use X11 if you don't want it. Yes, it's the de facto standard windowing system, but Fresco's in portage, Y Window is in portage, and DirectFB is in portage. Take your pick and deal with the consequences.


Again, my point is that either no viable options are available, or none have been pointed out. Theres an alternative for just about everything in the Gentoo Handbooks, EXCEPT your Display server (Okay, so they don't talk about display servers until you get to the Desktop guide but you get my point).
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shan, Linux and X11 weren't developed exclusively for people like you and me, who use it at home. X11 retains its networking features because people use them in settings other than home or SOHO (small office/home office). Also, if you're concerned about XFree or Xorg being a huge download, you can use Keith Packard's Xserver (there's a thread here somewhere). It's still X11 so you can run all of your graphical apps, but it's not nearly as big. Try it out; you might like it.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stormy Eyes wrote:
First off, it's not your place to decide what others need. I might need a Geo Metro, but if I decide that I'd rather have a 1967 Cadillac El Dorado convertible painted hot pink with big brown baby seal eyes for headlights and I can pay for the privilege, then I'm going to have my Cadillac.


I want to take this one down solo.

first off I'm not making any attempts at making decisions for others, quite the opposite, I'm advocating choices. Even if the handbooks don't directly instruct you on how to use an alternate server, they should atleast make mention of them so you know they exist.

Secondly, I bet you if Linus made a statement that X{.Org|Free86} was satan spawn and that everyone should use another server, odds are by the end of the week every major distro out there would either have already made the change, would have the change ready for their next CD release, or would have altered all instructions on how to use said alternate (as in the case of what Gentoo would do). Just because Linus is the godfather of Linux (if you will) doesn't mean he's got the right nor privelage to make anothers choice (ignoring the fact that he's probably closest to linux as a whole than 95% of its userbase).

Thirdly, I'll again re-iterate, I'm not trying to make a choice for anybody, I just want A) a list of GOOD alternatives {EG something similar to X but sans the networking and preverably with TRUE transparencies} B) Somebody to explain to me WHY X is the standard, besides "it was first".

EDIT: Okay, this post sounds snotty, its not meant to be, and I hold the highest regards for Linus and his accomplishments, but I'm just itterating a point
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stormy Eyes wrote:
Shan, Linux and X11 weren't developed exclusively for people like you and me, who use it at home. X11 retains its networking features because people use them in settings other than home or SOHO (small office/home office). Also, if you're concerned about XFree or Xorg being a huge download, you can use Keith Packard's Xserver (there's a thread here somewhere). It's still X11 so you can run all of your graphical apps, but it's not nearly as big. Try it out; you might like it.


Well I'm glad to see you've calmed down (if you were ever actually mad).

I understand quite well that Linux / X weren't developed primarily for home (EG single user / desktop machines) setups, but as I said in my previous post: Why are these features still prevelent in the MAJORITY of DESKTOP BASED INSTALLS where these features will go UNUSED. It goes back to the whole right tool for the right job. You want to move your furnature? Don't rent a Metro. You want to bring your cat to the vet, you don't get a moving van.

As for XServer, I'll look into it. If its like what you say it is, I just may end up using it, if only to cut down on bloat. Anybody know if its just the standard X11 cut down to no networking or if its started to develop on its own?
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What exactly is wrong with X? I mean, I see lots of people say it's slow, but I haven't really found that to be the case in general. The only noticable problems I've seen are with resizing windows and dragging them around really fast (like I do that a lot), from what I've seen, and I don't know that that's inherently the fault of the protocol.

Does X having networking features really do that much damage to you? It doesn't hurt my ability to play Quake. The nVidia drivers make X as fast and nearly as featureful as I could want.

The only thing that I can think of that's missing is transparency, and people are adding that. What's left? 3d accelleration? Evas does it on top of X.

So what's the problem? Yes, the networking support is there, and maybe you don't use it. How many features of Apache or even bash don't you use? Should everything be stripped of all features so that you have to add them all back in manually?

Or should the Gentoo docs be updated to mention DirectFB and the like? Those might not be as easy to get working as X.

P.S.: He wouldn't want to use Y windows either, because that's network transparent as well.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The fdo XServer probably has network transparency, as it is an X server. Network transparency is built into the X protocol, I believe.

As I understand it, XServer was started to test out experimental new features (like transparency), so that the improvements could later be merged back into the main codebase. It's still experimental, but it does do transparency, and it is a smaller download than all of XFree/XOrg.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shan, just to let you know, there is someone who sees your point.

Dolio wrote:
What exactly is wrong with X?

Shan isn't saying there is something wrong with X. It's like saying something is wrong with a dump truck. It is great for the job it is intended for. But I don't want to commute to work in a dump truck. That's what he is saying.

This isn't an untrue statement Shan is making. Why are people getting so defensive about it. X does include major features (network transparency) that most home desktop users will never use. The feature is good for geeks, corporations, educational institutions, but not for the average home user. So as Shan is pointing out, could something leaner be made for the home user that isn't a geek and doesn't need the network transparency?

Remember that most of us are geeks. We may want X, but that doesn't mean its good for all users. I love portage, but I know it isn't good for all users (mom, dad, grandma).

Again, please don't be defensive of X just to be defensive. There isn't anything wrong with X, and no one is saying there is. No one is saying "Death to X, destroy the code, burn the women and children." Please answer the question "Would it be beneficial to have an alternative to X that doesn't have the network transparency features?"
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm no X expert. Does XDirectFB work with network transparency? If not, then there's an alternative without it. But I don't know how it works.

But would it be beneficial? I don't know. Why would it be so beneficial? X already has the best diver support for Linux out there. Making another alternative means that there'd have to be two drivers out there for everything. That means users have to go to nVidia and figure out whether they want X drivers or Z drivers, which is more confusion on the user end.

Also, are you talking about another X-compatible option which doesn't include network transparency, or some totally different protocol which isn't compatible. If you do that then all your widget sets will have to write for two backends, and the user needs to make sure they have the correct widget set version and so on, which makes things more complicated again.

My point is: how much does network transparency really hurt the end users? Does it make it that much slower (it's plenty fast for me)? It's certainly not more complex than having two separate systems would be. Does it make it easier to add features (I doubt it. If you read Keith Packard's writeup on FreeDesktop.org about translucency in X, he says the real reason XDirectFB/MacOSX have translucency and X doesn't is because of nested windows and no one has taken the time to do it "right" for X so far -- although he is -- and this has nothing to do with network transparency).

So what's the real impact? Another megabyte wasted on the user's hard drive? Is it worth it to go to XDirectFB and have other problems just so that you have a product without the network transparency feature? Why would the end user care as long as X works fine?
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 3:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Why use X? Reply with quote

Shan wrote:
So I ask again, why do we use it?


obvious answer, because there aren't any viable alternatives. maybe a better answer s the fact that after 15 years it does (almost) everything people want to do with it.

Quote:
To me, in my 4 or so years using Linux, I've gone from using XFree 4.0 (way back in RH 6 or something) to X.Org 6.7.0-r1, and I couldn't tell you one difference between any of them (outside of better support for nVidia & ATi cards, but I think thats more in the drivers). To me this is almost as bad as the progress that the XMMS team has had...


XMMS does the job and it's stable. Kind of like how there haven't been any recent developments in screwdrivers, they just work.

Quote:
Anyways, I guess what I'm asking, is, what are the alternatives? I've heard of a few, but I was always told that they were too alpha, and not worth trying to use.


you heard right. If you have an nvidia card then none of the other xservers will provide any sort of acceleration for it, so unless you like running a framebuffer based Xserver at 60Hz XFree86/Xorg is your ONLY real choice.


Now here's what I think is crap about the current state of XFree/Xorg:

1) No sensible hardware acceleration /double buffering -- XServer is starting to do this with the XDamage / XComposite extensions, but since it has no nvidia support it's worthless. Hopefully these extensions will get stuck into Xorg, then all will be good and we can kiss goodbye to ugly window refreshes.

2) No autodetection of gfx card /monitor -- most monitors nowadays send a signal to the gfx card telling them what resolutions they support, I shouldn't have to setup a monitor section in the config file. Also things like gfx card drivers should be changeable on the fly so If I stick an unknown card in my pc it will startup in standard vga mode and when I tell it it's a geforce it will load that driver and continue working.

3) Xinerama is a bit pants - I tried using it recently but gnome-terminal refused to open on my primary monitor... probably not XFree's fault. It also crashed my pc a few times which was something I hadn't experienced before with linux.

4) more to do with the way the kernel handles consoles and input devices, but I'd like to be able to plug in two gfx cards, monitors, keyboards and mice and have effectively two completely seperate usable X servers running off one machine.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
XMMS does the job and it's stable. Kind of like how there haven't been any recent developments in screwdrivers, they just work.

at first: there HAVE been recent major developments in screwdrivers, and there WILL be in future. Really. And xmms (like every piece of code) has of course potential to be improved. Anyway, back to Topic ;-)
I like the idea of using another, less bloated and more configurable xserver, but i didn´t get directfb to work, and i didn´t find any alternative. Till now. I´ll try out and maybe i´ll find it good ;-)
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 7:29 pm    Post subject: Networked X is way behind everything else. Reply with quote

I work in a company that has several offices all over the world running both Windows and Linux. Often I need to do remote GUI work on one or more of those machines. For Windows, I use pcAnywhere, Remote Desktop (built-in since Win2000), and VNC. For Linux, I use remote client-server X, and VNC.

I really must say that for network performance at WAN speeds, X is embarassingly slow compared with all of the other options above. Even with a full 1.4 megabit symmetrical tunnel it is barely useable. In situations like this I use vncserver on gentoo - it brings that X graphics in nice and fast.

However, it does make me shake my head. It is really disturbing how network-inefficient X is, compared to Windows remote desktop and VNC. When it comes to networking, X is truly stone-age. As such a great OS, Linux is definitely worthy of a better GUI.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 7:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Networked X is way behind everything else. Reply with quote

thepustule wrote:
I work in a company that has several offices all over the world running both Windows and Linux. Often I need to do remote GUI work on one or more of those machines. For Windows, I use pcAnywhere, Remote Desktop (built-in since Win2000), and VNC. For Linux, I use remote client-server X, and VNC.

I really must say that for network performance at WAN speeds, X is embarassingly slow compared with all of the other options above. Even with a full 1.4 megabit symmetrical tunnel it is barely useable. In situations like this I use vncserver on gentoo - it brings that X graphics in nice and fast.

However, it does make me shake my head. It is really disturbing how network-inefficient X is, compared to Windows remote desktop and VNC. When it comes to networking, X is truly stone-age. As such a great OS, Linux is definitely worthy of a better GUI.


pipe it thru SSH and turn on ssh compression. helps alot. Normal X puts uncompressed imagery across the network (which is sensible, because when the network consists of localhost talking to localhost, you don't want to encrypt or compress the data, only to decrypt or decompress it later.)
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well shan, i partially agree with you.
but i dont believe you see the whole picture.

the network transperancy is useful and given the choice myself i would allow it to be removed before compilation if it would allow for a radical boost in performance. however that is not the case.

if you look at Y-windows for example which also implements networking transperancy, its binary size is currently less than
1MB (i know its not a perfect analogy since its an infant project
i just want to illustrate that implementing that feature does not cause bloat).

X11 has networking built in its protocols and you cannot change that because X11 is a standard.

as for the ultimate question. I would say that X is an old bloated hack that manages to get the job done. but thats not the real argument for why people havent made anything better.

the real reason in my opinion noone made anything better than X that is widely developed as an alternative windowing system for the desktop are:
a. we are too lazy to start porting everything to a new windowing system and it might not be possible to do this ..think about porting kde, gnome fluxbox..all the commercial apps that work on X..huge work.
b. new windowing systems will base themselves on hardware accelleration alot more than X does. the problem is that the poor drivers that we have in linux were built to work only with X so the result is a chicken and egg problem.

i hope the linux community will sober up because if not microsoft will gain at least the performance and "looks" gap on the desktop market with the upcoming longhorn (which will have such windowing system).

i remind you all that this is just my opinion :) and i dont mean to offend anyone by it. and if i have im sorry :roll: .
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 11:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Networked X is way behind everything else. Reply with quote

thepustule wrote:

I really must say that for network performance at WAN speeds, X is embarassingly slow compared with all of the other options above. Even with a full 1.4 megabit symmetrical tunnel it is barely useable. In situations like this I use vncserver on gentoo - it brings that X graphics in nice and fast.

However, it does make me shake my head. It is really disturbing how network-inefficient X is, compared to Windows remote desktop and VNC. When it comes to networking, X is truly stone-age. As such a great OS, Linux is definitely worthy of a better GUI.


it amazes me as well, its amazing that Y or VNC the first is such an infant project written by just one man and the second is a very small general purpose binary have beaten X in network performance almost hands down.

http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~ajf/Teaching/Projects/Distinguished03/MarkThomas.pdf on page 48 (look at the gnome results)
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
XMMS does the job and it's stable. Kind of like how there haven't been any recent developments in screwdrivers, they just work.


Ever hear of torque screwdrivers?

with the loose ended cap on teh end so you can keep turning the screw without twisting your wrist?

ONE recent development ins credwrivers.

then tehre's new and improved materials to use. (stronger plastics & metals)

now i know you were just making a point, but this was TOO easy a potshot to let go :)
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 11:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Why use X? Reply with quote

Okay, I'm going to try and hit everbodies points (Damn, it sucks working nights and getting all these replies when your sleeping)

Angrybob wrote:
Shan wrote:
So I ask again, why do we use it?


obvious answer, because there aren't any viable alternatives. maybe a better answer s the fact that after 15 years it does (almost) everything people want to do with it.


Fair enough, but saying it does even nearly everything people want is naieve, and its that line of thinking thats keeping the Linux community playing catchup to the other two major OS's out there.

AngryBob wrote:
Quote:
To me, in my 4 or so years using Linux, I've gone from using XFree 4.0 (way back in RH 6 or something) to X.Org 6.7.0-r1, and I couldn't tell you one difference between any of them (outside of better support for nVidia & ATi cards, but I think thats more in the drivers). To me this is almost as bad as the progress that the XMMS team has had...


XMMS does the job and it's stable. Kind of like how there haven't been any recent developments in screwdrivers, they just work.
As many people before me have already pointed out, screwdrivers have changed a whole hell of alot in the past 50 years or so. Admittedly some of those changes (Battery operated screwdrivers?) Required advancements in other fields (micro-electronics for one) to be accomplished.

AngryBob wrote:
Quote:
Anyways, I guess what I'm asking, is, what are the alternatives? I've heard of a few, but I was always told that they were too alpha, and not worth trying to use.


you heard right. If you have an nvidia card then none of the other xservers will provide any sort of acceleration for it, so unless you like running a framebuffer based Xserver at 60Hz XFree86/Xorg is your ONLY real choice.
I've tried framebuffer (I had FB & bootsplash running on my 2.4 kernel) its not bad when for when I just need to do something quick or check a website in links.

AngryBob wrote:
Now here's what I think is crap about the current state of XFree/Xorg:

1) No sensible hardware acceleration /double buffering -- XServer is starting to do this with the XDamage / XComposite extensions, but since it has no nvidia support it's worthless. Hopefully these extensions will get stuck into Xorg, then all will be good and we can kiss goodbye to ugly window refreshes.


This is partially due to nVidia having binary only drivers. Kinda hard to add in 3d acceleration for the most common 3D card on the market when you don't know how it works. I'll give you that one.

AngryBob wrote:
2) No autodetection of gfx card /monitor -- most monitors nowadays send a signal to the gfx card telling them what resolutions they support, I shouldn't have to setup a monitor section in the config file. Also things like gfx card drivers should be changeable on the fly so If I stick an unknown card in my pc it will startup in standard vga mode and when I tell it it's a geforce it will load that driver and continue working.



This ones due to X sucking major donkey balls. I've looked at there codebase (admittedly several years ago back when I remembered what little C/C++ I knew) and it was disgusting. Hack upon hack upon hack. Reminds me of a line in Weird Als song "Its all about the Pentiums" where he says "In a 32-bit world, you're a 2-bit user", well in this case, X is a 2bit windowing server built up with 32bit hacks. It wasn't designed to do what its doing, so if course its going to do it crappily. I'll give them credit, it does what it does nicely, but its done the wrong way.

Maybe they should do what Mozilla / Netscape did. Start over. Use what they need to from current versions as a base (so we wont need to port everything over to it), but re-design it so that the things it does now are done RIGHT, not hacked in.

AngyBob wrote:
3) Xinerama is a bit pants - I tried using it recently but gnome-terminal refused to open on my primary monitor... probably not XFree's fault. It also crashed my pc a few times which was something I hadn't experienced before with linux.
Not directly XF's fault, but its probably something that should be built INTO X, not a side program you need to run.

AngryBob wrote:
4) more to do with the way the kernel handles consoles and input devices, but I'd like to be able to plug in two gfx cards, monitors, keyboards and mice and have effectively two completely seperate usable X servers running off one machine.


You can do that now, but with just a single GFX card (assuming its got dual out). There was a thread I posted in a few weeks ago where someone was doing just this. Not sure s/he got it working 100% but they were close.


thepustule wrote:
I work in a company that has several offices all over the world running both Windows and Linux. Often I need to do remote GUI work on one or more of those machines. For Windows, I use pcAnywhere, Remote Desktop (built-in since Win2000), and VNC. For Linux, I use remote client-server X, and VNC.


The company I work for happens to be the largest company to support Unix and Linux. Yet 90% of our dummy terminals are running windows 2000 remotely. Wanna know who I work for? Big Blue. Every bit of work I do is done through a remote Win2k desktop...where I then use SSH connections to run fabricaiton machines. If they're going to provide me with a desktop, why not a linux one. After all, they support Linux right? Yeah, but apparently they decided it wasn't good enough for desktop use.

thepustule wrote:
I really must say that for network performance at WAN speeds, X is embarassingly slow compared with all of the other options above. Even with a full 1.4 megabit symmetrical tunnel it is barely useable. In situations like this I use vncserver on gentoo - it brings that X graphics in nice and fast.


Aside from using ssh compression, I don't think theres much you can do. They tried doing this at one of my previous employers. 15 dummy terminals running off of a quad Xeon setup (IIRC they were 1.8Ghz Xeons too) with something in the area of 6Gigs of Ram all on massively fat pipes (Big server, small staff) and even that couldn't handle the load. If X can't even properly do something it was DESIGNED to do...why don't they either A) fix it, or B) phase it out entirely?

thepustule wrote:
However, it does make me shake my head. It is really disturbing how network-inefficient X is, compared to Windows remote desktop and VNC. When it comes to networking, X is truly stone-age. As such a great OS, Linux is definitely worthy of a better GUI.
Amen

To be continued in another post....
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rhadar wrote:
well shan, i partially agree with you.
but i dont believe you see the whole picture.

the network transperancy is useful and given the choice myself i would allow it to be removed before compilation if it would allow for a radical boost in performance. however that is not the case.


Whose to say it wont provide a boost in performance? It may not be a radical one anymore because computers have gotten so much faster, but it could very well be the key to keeping that old 450 Celeron as a desktop machine, instead of in the dump. Performance gains grow bigger, the slower the computer, but that doesn't mean we should still keep bad or useless code around, just because it doesn't hinder performance much. In most linux friendly 3d games, I get performance EQUAL to Windows, or at most a few (under 10) FPS better. If X is so much better than the way windows does things (atleast in games) why dont we see a drastically improved performance (And for the record when I game, I either use Fluxbox, or TWM)

rhadar wrote:
if you look at Y-windows for example which also implements networking transperancy, its binary size is currently less than
1MB (i know its not a perfect analogy since its an infant project
i just want to illustrate that implementing that feature does not cause bloat).



Small binary doesn't mean lack of bloat. At the same time, big source doesn't mena loads of bloat, look at the linux kernel. I believe its currently hovering around 30 megs (Atleast for gentoo-dev-sources).

rhadar wrote:
X11 has networking built in its protocols and you cannot change that because X11 is a standard.



Its standard because we MADE it standard. It used to be that trains were the "standard" of transportation (cross country atleast) now its either bus, car, or plane. Standards can be changed, very fast, and very easily.

rhadar wrote:
as for the ultimate question. I would say that X is an old bloated hack that manages to get the job done. but thats not the real argument for why people havent made anything better.

the real reason in my opinion noone made anything better than X that is widely developed as an alternative windowing system for the desktop are:
a. we are too lazy to start porting everything to a new windowing system and it might not be possible to do this ..think about porting kde, gnome fluxbox..all the commercial apps that work on X..huge work.
b. new windowing systems will base themselves on hardware accelleration alot more than X does. the problem is that the poor drivers that we have in linux were built to work only with X so the result is a chicken and egg problem.



Your right, people are as a whole Lazy creatures. If we didn't have windows and Microsoft to "fight" odds are, it would be mac. And if linux suddenly became THE OS that EVERYBODY used? Well...we'd probably turn into the next Windows, where nothing every really changed, just a few skins, and adding alot of bloat. Atleast until some young upstart named snoopy made snoopix and repeated the whole process all over again.

rhadar wrote:
i hope the linux community will sober up because if not microsoft will gain at least the performance and "looks" gap on the desktop market with the upcoming longhorn (which will have such windowing system).


I concurr, whole heartedly. I recently read an articcle that proclaimed Linux "fat" and that it was losing its edge, and I agree with that too. I used to be able to run a fully functional desktop environment (EG KDE or Gnome) on my Pent II 266. Now I can barely get running nicely fluxbox on it, and even then it takes me several days to compile everything. I hate to imagine what its like with some other distros binaries. Hell, I used to be able to run RH 7.3 nicely on my old 950 Athlon with 512 RAM; I tried it with RH 9, and it ran, but it ran like WinXP would run on my Pent II.

rhadar wrote:
i remind you all that this is just my opinion :) and i dont mean to offend anyone by it. and if i have im sorry :roll: .
No harm no foul; if anybody gets offended well then they just need to step back and realize what there getting offended over: Sombody elses opinion :)

rhadar wrote:
thepustule wrote:

I really must say that for network performance at WAN speeds, X is embarassingly slow compared with all of the other options above. Even with a full 1.4 megabit symmetrical tunnel it is barely useable. In situations like this I use vncserver on gentoo - it brings that X graphics in nice and fast.

However, it does make me shake my head. It is really disturbing how network-inefficient X is, compared to Windows remote desktop and VNC. When it comes to networking, X is truly stone-age. As such a great OS, Linux is definitely worthy of a better GUI.


it amazes me as well, its amazing that Y or VNC the first is such an infant project written by just one man and the second is a very small general purpose binary have beaten X in network performance almost hands down.


Again, IMO its because X is now a hack and slash job. I'm not saying its the coders fault directly, the codebase they're working with simply wasn't designed to do what it needs to do now,which likely explains the piss poor performance you get with networking (unless you use something like ssh compression).

Anyways, keep the replies coming all, I love hearing your opinions, and I hope nobody gets gnarled up over my picking yoru replies apart, jsut my way of making points.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay,I lied. Sorta. It looks like some of the machines in our testing labs use Linux and FVWM, but thats a minority here.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shan wrote:
It may not be a radical one anymore because computers have gotten so much faster, but it could very well be the key to keeping that old 450 Celeron as a desktop machine, instead of in the dump.


You should take a look here. For example:
delta407 wrote:
Pentium 133 with a whopping -- ready for this? -- 24 MB of RAM. It idles at 9 MB used, which is quite impressive.

X runs, too, and I still have about 700 KB free. The swap is only used on things like kernel compiles (which take over an hour).


Now, granted, X probably isn't fast on there, and you probably can't run much more tha TWM and XClock. But if you can run X on a Pentium 133, I imagine it'll run on your Celeron 450 with 64 - 128 MB ram. You might be able to actually do stuff, too.

Shan wrote:
I recently read an articcle that proclaimed Linux "fat" and that it was losing its edge, and I agree with that too. I used to be able to run a fully functional desktop environment (EG KDE or Gnome) on my Pent II 266. Now I can barely get running nicely fluxbox on it, and even then it takes me several days to compile everything.


KDE and Gnome aren't designed for your Pentium II 266. They're trying to be the latest-and-greatest all-in-one eye-candy wazoo desktop. Do you expect Longhorn to run smoothly on your Pentium II 266 when it comes out? If not, then you probably expect KDE and Gnome to work on it. That's just not what they're trying for.

I don't know about fluxbox, but I can't imagine it took you days to compile it. But, if that's the case, maybe you should use binary packages (unless you're posting in that thread I linked to earlier, in which case you'd have bragging rights. :)).

Shan wrote:
Hell, I used to be able to run RH 7.3 nicely on my old 950 Athlon with 512 RAM; I tried it with RH 9, and it ran, but it ran like WinXP would run on my Pent II.


Really? I'm typing this on an Athlon 1400 with 768 MB RAM, which I guess is old these days (3 years. I need a new one! :)). free says that with -/+ buffers/cache, I have 154 MB used, no swap used. I'm running KDE in full-on-eyecandy-to-the-max mode with 3 transparent kickers, Konqueror, KMail and Kopete open, and superkaramba themes telling me the time and the weather outside. Even when I have the Gimp and Firefox open -- which means I have to have all the GTK and all the QT/KDE libs loaded at the same time, my memory usage peaks at about 400 MB, and I rarely have stuff slow down on me too much.

I don't know what Red Hat could be doing to make your Athlon 950 obselete, but I think I can say that it's not the fault of Linux or KDE in general.

Shan wrote:
Again, IMO its because X is now a hack and slash job. I'm not saying its the coders fault directly, the codebase they're working with simply wasn't designed to do what it needs to do now,which likely explains the piss poor performance you get with networking (unless you use something like ssh compression).


I'm certainly no expert, but in my experience VNC sucks without compression as well. I tried using krfb to share my desktop, but it was nearly impossible to do anything useful with it. Maybe that's just a poor VNC implementation, though.

I switched to tight VNC which does compression (I believe), and it's usable. I could be totally wrong about this, though (I know I read somewhere that tight VNC does compression :)).

Y Windows has support for widget sets, which probably makes the network transparency a lot faster. Instead of sending instructions for drawing the button, you just send a request for a button. In a manner of speaking, that's a sort of compression too. :)

I'm not saying that the X protocol is perfect. But it's not necessarily as bad as you imply. Considering it was designed so many years ago, yet still allows all the modern stuff to be done, I'd say it's pretty good, in a manner of speaking.

Another problem is that if you want to make sweeping changes, you're going to piss a lot of people off. How do you reconcile GTK versus QT if you include your own widget set? You can make it like one or the other, and either way you're going to alienate half of Linux users.

And do you really think that a next-generation windowing system will run on your P II 266? "Hey, since we're starting from scratch... Well, everyone's going to have pixel shaders these days. Let's use those." Y Windows doesn't have that, but it's goal was to specifically stay close to X11 and support all the minimal stuff it does along with all the nice stuff it does. If someone's building some next-generation super-fast-eye-candy system, do you really think they're going to care about you and your 8 year old graphics card?

Shan wrote:
Anyways, keep the replies coming all, I love hearing your opinions, and I hope nobody gets gnarled up over my picking yoru replies apart, jsut my way of making points.


:) I love a good argument too.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The XFree86 developpers have been lazy fuckers the last 15 years. The only one who wasn't sleeping there was Keith.
It's great that we can still use our old video card. But it's no fun to know my cpu is doing 150 redraws while dragging a window over another one and my video card's gpu is getting a cold.
There is nothing wrong with X11 in fact, there isn't just a stable alternative for the old and bloated implementation of it, called XFree86.
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