Re: About the future of X (Windows)

On Thu, Mar 20, 2003 at 11:06:17PM +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan was heard to remark:
> (If you are interested in the status, I'd suggest reading
> the xfree86 ml archives (

OK, that was a very interesting read.  There seem to be several issues
all tangled together:

-- has abdicated control over the future direction of X11; not
   formally, but by means of inactivity.  All innovation is now 
   de facto in the hands of XFree86 and related developers/projects.

-- As a result of this, there is now a significant pressure on XFree86
   to innovate, to handle patches more quickly, to implement new and
   cool extensions, and to generally expand its speed and level of 
   activity and involvement.   These pressures are driving a tectonic 

-- A significant part of the XFree86 Core Developers seems to 
   think that what they do and how they do it and the process that 
   they use is just fine and needs no changes.  An equally significant 
   faction beleives that things are going too slowly, that innovation 
   is being discouraged, that XFree86 is not rising to the challenge 
   of leading the future of X11.

-- Keith Packard is central to the debate.  He seems to be well
   regarded technically, an important contributor and personality,
   with a good talent for expressing himself, and understanding
   the laws of politics.   And he stands accused of attempted 
   treason to the XFree86 organization, and of deviousness, and 
   of lying to cover his tracks.  I have no idea if these charges 
   have any merit,  but that's what's feeding the debate.

Much if this is relevent to Gnome and to KDE.  Gnome does depend on 
X11, and Gnome would benefit from lots of lively innovation in X11.
Gnome should side with the forces pushing for innovation and
responsiveness and growth.

The 'who's in charge of the future of X11' is a valid question,
but there's nothing that I can add to that.  Gnome has a vested 
interest in making sure that X11 development is 'on the right track'.
Insofar as some of the XFree86 Core Team do not (or cannot, or don't 
want to, by their own admission) picture themselves as the leaders
and standard bearers of the future of X11, that's a problem, and 
Gnome must take note.  

Whether or not Keith Packard is a slimeball, I don't know, and I'm 
pretty sure that Gnome wants to keep its nose out of that.  

As to being for or against a fork, maybe that's an 'abstain' issue 
too.  Some of the kinds of forks that people envision would be a good
thing.  Some other kinds of forks sound like a bad thing.  Keith's
fork is covered with political mud, and so one can't tell.  I don't
see any way out but to wait for the fork issue to resolve a bit.

But the tangled issue of 'what is the future of X11, and who controls
it' really really is important, and its one to watch.


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