Mikkel Høgh

X11 nevermore

Thursday, 12th of June, A.D. 2008

Thom Holwerda has posted an interesting piece on the state of X11 development.

This particular passage made me smile:

For such an important piece of software, this is not an ideal situation.

Besides the obvious understatement, the part about it being an important piece of software makes me realise how little i miss it. Because X is no longer important to me. Since I got my Mac, the only thing I run in X11 is Internet Explorer 6.0 and below, using Darwine. So I get to use two pieces of software that should have died long ago, simultaneously.

Why go hatin’ on X, you might ask? Well, five years of full-time Linux desktop use has given me nothing but hate for X.

Because no matter how nice and subdued it might be under the tight wraps of the newest Ubuntu, it’ll use whatever chance it get to jump out and party like it’s 1984.

If you could enumerate the amount of human time that’s been wasted on developing around the limits of this system, on lost productivity from X crashes, on fixing your config files again and again, on trying to get multiple displays, mice with more than three buttons, modern display adapters or just simple keyboards to work, it would amount to many lifetimes.

It is the great exception to the rule that Linux-developers (the OS in general, not the kernel) are more willing than Microsoft to break backwards compatibility to get rid of awful legacy systems and use better solutions.

It is the bleeding ulcer in the belly of each and every Linux installation. And instead of fixing it, Linux and other Unix-based system just pile layer upon layer of extra stuff on top of it to try and work around its flaws.

The brave souls that work on X deserve the greatest respect, but the free software community needs more dictators able to do a Steve Jobs and say ”That sucks, lets’ start over“…

Mikkel Høgh

My name is Mikkel Høgh, I've worked with web tech for the last 20 years. These days, I work with e-commerce in Central Switzerland.