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Hurd Traffic #44 For 19 Apr 2000

By Zack Brown

Do you pine for the nice days of minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?
Are you without a nice project and just dying to cut your teeth on an OS you can try to modify for your needs?
Are you finding it frustrating when everything works on minix? No more all-nighters to get a nifty program working?
Then this post might be just for you :-)
-- Linus Torvalds, 1991

Table Of Contents


The list was extremely quiet this week, so there's virtually nothing to summarize. Juli-Manel Merino Vidal was working on a 'life' simulator for the Hurd, but was having trouble connecting client to server; Marcus Brinkmann tried to help, but nothing came of it. Hunter H Marshall had some trouble upgrading to Woody for the Hurd, but there was no discussion. There were a couple posts continuing the discussion about the login shell, but they weren't write-up-able.

Mailing List Stats For This Week

We looked at 13 posts in 32K.

There were 13 different contributors. 0 posted more than once. 2 posted last week too.

The top posters of the week were:


1. Berlin Windowing System For The Hurd
7 Apr 2000 - 16 Apr 2000 (8 posts) Archive Link: "Re: Berlin vs X windows port to the hurd"
Topics: GGI
People: Christopher BrowneDaniel BurrowsJason H ClouseNiels MollerRoland McGrathNiels Moller

After some discussion about the Berlin Windowing system, Wolfgang Mauerer asked for some URLs, as he didn't know much about it. Christopher Browne gave a link to his own anti-X page, and added:

Berlin is essentially a "spiritual stepchild" of the Fresco UI, with OpenGL/MESA, CORBA and GGI as the "stepparents."

*Originally*, the project was started by some assembly language hackers that *hated* X, who claimed wild things about efficiency that they then never built. All that they *did* build were pretty cool graphics on the web site. The "rebirth" of the project moved to using the three technologies mentioned above.

And it is something that will almost surely be "usable only in the far future." There are *NO* Berlin applications being deployed.

I suspect those people that are getting that "general consensus" are probably kids with short attention spans that wouldn't be up to building complex systems like Linux, Hurd, X, or Berlin. If they consider X "outdated," then they should *also* be expecting Linux and Hurd to shortly "fall" under the weight of using "outdated" development languages like C.

Daniel Burrows replied, "Actually, I was just checking their Web page out, and it has a big message stating that as of April 2, 2000, one program runs on Berlin: a Jabber client. I think maybe they wrote it themselves, and it's apparently only about 200 lines of Perl, and it only helps the ~5 people in the world who use Jabber, but.. :-)"

Jason H Clouse didn't like the comparison of X to C, and said:

Come now, comparing X to C is like comparing a-lot-of-expensive-stones-piled-together to the Taj Mahal. Perhaps comparing X to C++ would be more accurate? ;-)

However, almost everything is written for X, and people seem determined to keep extending it rather than starting over. Plus, with some of the newer advances made in XFree 4.0, it's starting to be cleaned up somewhat... Even over at GNUstep, there's really very little interest in writing a new WindowServer.

Niels Moller then objected to the comparison of X to C++, saying:

When you write this, what part of "X" are you talking about? To me "replacing X" (say, with the Berlin stuff) can mean many things, but all of them include replacing the X protocol with something different. As I have actually read the X protocol spec, that seems like a sad and very unnecessary thing to do.

The X protocol is not big and bloated. Go read it, it's beautiful! It makes it possiblee to build a distributed windowing system, with any GUI or window manager or other neat stuff you can imagine on top of that. And it does all this with quite a *small* number of abstractions and protocol requests. I think it fits the "make it as simple as possible, but no simpler" philosophy quite well.

Of course, even if X is simple and kind of elegant, it does have some warts. For example, handling of colors and visuals can be a lot of work for X clients.

I don't know who came up with the comparison of X to C, but I think it's quite right. And don't dare compare it to C++ ;-)

At this point, Roland McGrath stepped in, admonishing, "Please do not conduct a discussion of window system design on this mailing list. If you want to have that discussion, there are plenty of other places to do it. For this mailing list, please try to keep it directly germane to the Hurd. Discuss how the Hurd might facilitate some desireable window system design, but said desireability or lack thereof is outside the scope of this list." End Of Thread (tm).







Sharon And Joy

Kernel Traffic is grateful to be developed on a computer donated by Professor Greg Benson and Professor Allan Cruse in the Department of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco. This is the same department that invented FlashMob Computing. Kernel Traffic is hosted by the generous folks at All pages on this site are copyright their original authors, and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2.0.