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XFree86 Fork Gets a Name, Website 647

Posted by michael
from the politics dept.
Piethein Strengholt writes "Today the Xfree86 fork is a fact. A new project has started and is located at: xouvert.org. Xouvert has been started due to the corporate structure and the slow development of XFree86. They hope to reduce the risk to XFree86 of incorporating new drivers and features."
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XFree86 Fork Gets a Name, Website

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  • by pongo000 (97357) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:16PM (#6717389)
    ...how the hell do you pronounce it?
  • xwin.org (Score:3, Informative)

    by ultrabot (200914) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:16PM (#6717393)
    Note that this is not xwin.org... I browsed the xwin website a while ago (Keith Packards project) and people there have been complaining about how that project seems dead, while something should start happening. I applaud the effort of these guys.
    • Re:xwin.org (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBCook (132727)
      I read somewhere (a comment on OSNews perhaps) that people have been complaining about that, and the reason that it's quite is because the GNOME people have taken over the project and trying to basically combine the two, and it's been quiet to keep people from talking/complaining/discussing what they're trying to do. An interesting idea to be sure

      Is it true? Who knows, probably not. Is it an interesting rumor? Sure why not.

    • Re:xwin.org (Score:4, Informative)

      by gaj (1933) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:24PM (#6717456) Homepage Journal
      Apparently you didn't bother to actually read much of anything while over at xwin.org. xwin.org is, to quote the page (including the page title) "just a website".

      Xouvert is the project that xwin.org was put in place to instegate.

  • by mhesseltine (541806) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:22PM (#6717431) Homepage Journal

    It seems that this group wants to push the envelope of features in X. Why not just do something like the Linux kernel numbering? e.g. 2.4 -> stable, 2.5 -> testing. Then, people could make a decision as to if they wanted to run the bleeding edge in an attempt to use new features. It'd also save the hassle of building for 2 graphics systems, and merging patches between the two code bases.

    • On the first line of the page, it says: Xouvert is an experimental branch of XFree86.

      Looks like you got what you wanted.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Not really, no. Everyone associated with that project, save for the person who made the page apparently, is referring to it as a fork. And in personal conversation they're all referring to it as an eventual replacement and competitor to Xfree86.

        Looks like I got what I was always afraid might happen.
      • by mhesseltine (541806) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:05PM (#6717672) Homepage Journal

        Yes, it's starting as an experimental branch from XFree. Other experimentals include:

        • GCC/EGCS
        • Emacs/XEmacs
        • Minix/Linux
        • BSD4.4/OpenBSD/NetBSD/FreeBSD
        See a pattern yet? They are doing their own source tree, their own code control, etc. This is not a branch of the official XFree86 project. This is a fork, which will be maintained independently of XFree86. It seems that one of two things will happen here.
        1. The graphics development community splits, with some supporting this project, others supporting XFree (thus reducing the amount of development getting done)
        2. One of these projects will die out either from a mass exodus of developers (everyone leaves the XFree project) or lack of interest (no one moves to this new project)

        While I'm not against going out on a limb and doing something innovative, I just wonder if it would have been better to try and accomplish this within the project that currently exists?

        • by SilverSun (114725) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:49PM (#6717925) Homepage
          You have not understood how open source developement works. There is not a fixed amount of development power that can be distributed among the number of existing projects. A fork can ultimatively tab new sources of creativity and also the pure stimulus of competition can mean a boost for both projects.
          I strongly believe that this is e.g. true for gcc/egcs but also for KDE/GNOME. None of the projects would be where they are without the competition of the couterpart.

          Cheers
        • by lederhosen (612610) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:52PM (#6717932)
          > ...I just wonder if it would have been better to try and accomplish this within the project that currently exists?

          Maby they did not succed.
        • by stephenry (648792) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:57PM (#6717956)
          As far as I've been led to believe, there are *no* developers for the current Xfree, that being the need for a fork in the first place. Whereas now people may show an interest in working on Xfree, they have little hope of ever making an actual contribution (due to politics and the general lethargy surrounding the head honchos). So in that way, there really aren't any developers to lose.

          I personally applaud this fork, anything that encourages support, and let's be honest, momentum, to a application as critical as X, can't be anything but a good thing. One thing is for certain, these guys have made an effort to changes things; and that's far more than those in Xfree, or the aborted mess of a website, xwin, have done!
        • by Mark Bainter (2222) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @04:35PM (#6718723)
          While I'm not against going out on a limb and doing something innovative, I just wonder if it would have been better to try and accomplish this within the project that currently exists?

          Well, maybe because the XFree team isn't interested in anything except improving graphics drivers? I mean, I love X, I think it's a great concept, but XFree86 needs improvement. Not necessarily in overal concept, but in implementation. Lots of cleanup and rewrite work to be done that could make X a lot better than it already is.

          But if nobody in the core team is interested in any of that, then you have no choice but to try other methods of getting it accomplished. However, I'm disappointed that I don't see any of the X developers I"d expect to see listed on the project page. It makes me hesitant to jump on this thing as a great move. Regardless, I don't think it's a bad move, but it's not the fork I've been waiting to see. I guess we'll have to see how things play out.

          I'm encouraged by their choice of repositories though. It'll be good to see how Arch works for them. I anticipate they'll be very happy with it.

  • This is good. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AntiOrganic (650691) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:22PM (#6717435) Homepage
    I think XFree has been lacking a lot of things for a long time, like true alpha blending between windows and such. Aside from things like the Render extension, this is a project that really hasn't gone much of anywhere in several years. Getting the features we need into the window system itself would position Linux much more prominently on the desktop.
    • I think XFree has been lacking a lot of things for a long time, like true alpha blending between windows and such.

      Furthermore it is likely that ideas which are useful will be integrated to the other fork, as we see with SAMBA and SAMBA TNG. This may very well be good for all parties involved.
    • Re:This is good. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mark Bainter (2222)
      I think XFree has been lacking a lot of things for a long time, like true alpha blending between windows and such

      I disagree. This is not, or rather imo it should not be, a high priority. It's very pretty, but not exactly XFree's biggest problem. They need to solve the issues surrounding configuring X, and handling various input devices. They need to move it to a halfway usable build system. They need to stop forcing me to build and install a driver for every video card in the world even though I r

  • by divec (48748) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:22PM (#6717436) Homepage
    If they're trying to include useful third party contributions, they could do worse than include NX [nomachine.com], a revolutionary new compression and proxying technology that makes it possible to run an X session over a 9600 modem at a useable speed. But I didn't completely understand their policy on licences (the NX infrastructure is GPLed, whereas X is under the MIT licence).
    • by listen (20464) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:34PM (#6717507)
      Only the proxy is GPLed, the Xlib stuff is X11. The proxy is a separate program, so thats ok.

      What is really needed is a driver for the XServer that will duplicate the current X command stream. This could then be sent to the NX proxy, and actually use it as a remote desktop. Also could use VNC, and it could also be useful for providing desktop pagers with full update capability.
      • What is really needed is a driver for the XServer that will duplicate the current X command stream. This could then be sent to the NX proxy, and actually use it as a remote desktop.


        If I'm understanding you correctly, that's exactly what "nxagent" does - it appears on your local machine as a remote desktop, either in a window or full-screen. A "rootless" option, which will run individual remote applications under your local window manager, is apparently on the way.
  • by nomis80 (181676) <nomis80@@@nomis80...org> on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:22PM (#6717439) Homepage
    "ouvert" means "open" in French.
    • French? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So would it be safe to say they are *overtly* trying to to draw a connection in the public's mind between the xouvert project and the Quebec separatists?

      Because that was my first thought, dunno about anyone else...
    • French?! I thought we were renaming anything French into its American equivalent! Are we digressing?

      (j/k btw)
  • by FreeLinux (555387) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:24PM (#6717449)
    By doing release early, release often, we hope to reduce the risk to Xfree86 of incorporating new drivers and features.

    Translated: By doing release early, release often, we should be able to produce a window system that is buggy enough to rival Windows 95a.
    • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:11PM (#6717716)
      But when done right, they can release often but still have stable released. See the GNOME project. They have a very strict policy in not breaking compatibility between minor versions and not changing big things during freezes. As a result, the GNOME 2.x series are more stable than any previous GNOME releases. Compare the stability of GNOME 1.0 with 2.0: huge difference!
  • by reynaert (264437) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:25PM (#6717465)
    What kind of a name is Xouvert?
    Xouvert is named after the ancient Babylonian goddess of open windows, wooden digging implements, and moonlight. A notorious ritual among the higher levels of Freemasonry has kept her memory alive until now. Xouvert, awake!
    Or maybe, just maybe, "ouvert" is the French word for "open". Bunch of wankers.
  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "They hope to reduce the risk to XFree86 of incorporating new drivers and features" ????

    Idea dislexia? Are they really trying prevent new drivers and features?

    Heh, if that were the case, I suppose they could stop at their name change and say they're done:)
    • Re:What? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Deusy (455433)
      "They hope to reduce the risk to XFree86 of incorporating new drivers and features" ????

      Idea dislexia? Are they really trying prevent new drivers and features?

      Heh, if that were the case, I suppose they could stop at their name change and say they're done:)


      The only one with dyslexia here is you.

      "to reduce the risk"... let's put it in baby english for you... "to make it easier"...

      Rewritten: "They hope to make it easier for XFree86 to incorporate new drivers and features"

      You quote something reasonable
  • Name sucks. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chromodromic (668389) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:32PM (#6717496)
    ... From a marketing standpoint. That's it. It's hard to immediately discern how it's pronounced, it's got seven uneven letters, it's relatively long and it has no obvious immediate meaning or collection of related possible meanings based on the roots of the word.

    So what if 'ouvert' is 'open' in French. I didn't know that. Lot's of people don't know that. Learning that doesn't make you go "ooooo, that's so cool". It just makes you go, "oh".

    Open source projects, especially projects of any magnitude should try, from time to time, for some true open source marketing. Unfortunately, engineers, no matter how smart they may be at one thing, are frequently not as smart as they think they are at many things, and so they drop the ball in some areas. This is a decent example.

    Of course, 'Vim' and 'Emacs' aren't exactly stellar examples of naming, either, but on the other hand they haven't had much success outside certain circles, and they're both pretty amazing editors. Someone might say that has more to do with their vertical learning curves compared to, for example, 'Word' but their names certainly didn't help ...
    • Right you are. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FreeLinux (555387) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:45PM (#6717568)
      I've often said that open source software projects need to do better or at least some marketing. Seemingly little details mean a lot.

      For example, most commercially marketed software packages have web sites whose opening page clearly dewscribes the function of the software and then goes on to elaborate on what the software can do for you. Conversly, most open source project homepages start with a change log. Compounded by the fact that most have rediculous names that are not at all intuitive, many do not describe what the software does in a sensible fashion. Then worst of all they go on to compare their incomplete feature set with Windows, gleefully noting "Soon" or "In Progress" next to the missing feature.

      You've got to put a marketing spin on your project if you want people to use it. Always highlight and stress its features and strengths. Never advertise its weaknesses. Don't compare the project to better or more feature rich works. If you must offer comparisons, compare the project with known products that are indeed inferior in quality or feature sets and use products that are generally well known ion the comparisons. Finally, and this is perhaps most important, bury the zealotry. DO NOT so much as imply that people should use your project because this other one sucks. If you must post this type of zealotry, save it for the developers page, somewhere that regular users should have NO reason to ever go.
      • Re:Right you are. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FooBarWidget (556006) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:48PM (#6717916)
        You're making the problem look bigger than it really is. The names of individual apps are *not* the biggest problems!

        Who are you trying to market Xouvert to? To end users? Do you think they care? What are you going to tell them? To install an entire windowing system? As far as the end user is concerned, they shouldn't even *have* to know what the windowing system is called. There's no point in marketing Xouvert to end users. The only thing that matters is marketing "Mandrake Linux" or something to the end user.

        I'd say the "marketing target" for Xouvert is developers. Do most developers care about the name? No, they care more about the code an openness of the project. So the name is not a big problem.

        As for individual apps and the commercial world: do you think names like "Outlook Express" or "Powerpoint" are intuitive? There are only 2 reasons why people know what those apps do:
        1) People told them.
        2) They read the website or menu item description.
        If people can tolerate those non-obvious names, why can't they tolerate open source software with non-obvious names? Distribution already add a description to menu items. Examples:

        * Galeon Web Browser
        * Evolution Email
        * Gaim Instant Messenger
        * kedit (Text Editor)
        * Konqueror (File Manager)
    • Re:Name sucks. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zzendpad (84506)
      I've been saying for quite a long time that I think this is a big reason that Ogg Vorbis has not caught on. And people can argue all they want, claiming that it has caught on... But it really hasn't.
    • Re:Name sucks. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fiddlesticks (457600) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:50PM (#6717590) Homepage
      Name sucks...from a US English viewpoint, you mean

      Many people (gasp!) don't have English as their first language - or do, but speak other languages - certainly enough to know that 'ouvert' means 'open'

      Many other people don't judge apps by their name, either.

    • It doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooBarWidget (556006) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:18PM (#6717755)
      It doesn't matter whether the name "sucks" or not. Does it matter to users? No: they don't actually care! Heck, they shouldn't even have to care. All they should know is that it works.
      Does it matter to distributors? No: if Xouvert is good, Linux distributions will include it, no matter whether the name "sucks" or not.
      Does it matter to developers? I don't think they, they care more about the code and the openness of the projects.

      So, where is the problem?

      "Of course, 'Vim' and 'Emacs' aren't exactly stellar examples of naming"

      Vi and Emacs are not popular outside the Unix commandline community because they're console apps, not because of their names! You can rename Emacs to "PowerEdit 2000" but it's marketshare won't change!

      The name is certainly not the most important thing. Many people say that Ogg Vorbis will fail just because of it's name. And what do we see? More and more MP3 player manufactures are adopting Ogg Vorbis. And again: users don't care. If they can use the technology easily, they will, no matter the name.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:36PM (#6717512)
    Frankly, it may be worth jettisoning a lot of the XFree86 baggage and starting anew.

    Y [ic.ac.uk], an X Windows replacement, looks extremely well designed and this guy wrote a pretty complete implementation for his thesis.

    Why not port the useful bits of X - like the hardware drivers - over to this already-established well-designed base instead of trying to hack XFree86 into something of similar quality?

    (Well, the obvious answer, ``to keep the applications`` is fair enough. But a compatibility module wouldn't be too hard, and worth the benefit in the long run.)
  • I think for them to put out a good product, they should not hope to "release early, release often" but to "release quality, not quantity". Many projects have gone under because the products are buggy. If the developers always feel pressured to get lots of code out there very fast, they're going to be releasing buggy code that they never get time to fix.
  • Branch not fork (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So I just checked out the IRC channel, and they emphasized that Xouvert is an experimental branch of X, not a fork.
  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:39PM (#6717535) Homepage
    My biggest worry about this fork was that the developers were going to announce a "practical" approach to drivers, one that would include non-free drivers etc.

    From the website:
    "All code that enters the project is under the standard X11 license, or compatible free license as specified by the Free Software Foundation"

    Public mailing lists should have been the method of communication for the xfree developers right from the start. This is great news. The use of Arch as the version control system is iceing on the cake.

    Ciaran O'Riordan
  • by DominicDuval (698994) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:12PM (#6717723)
    I applaud this initiative. Might be what X needs to get back to life. A bit of competition always sounds like a good thing.

    But if they are really serious at encouraging developpers to join this project, the first sensible thing to do would probably be to forget about the IMake crazyness that has been used for years by XFree86 and switch to something else for building the whole project.

    Replacing it by the autoconf/automake mix would make the source tree much more appealing to potential developpers. And just to back up my claim, someone else also made the same comment on the xfree-xpert mailing list [theaimsgroup.com] a few months ago:

    (...)
    [ I also hope that somebody with more drive than I have will some day decide that the X Makefiles are such a mess that they'd be willing to get rid of all that horribly broken imake crap and just fix them. What a broken build system! ]

    Linus

    (...)
    Just my 0x02 cents...
    • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Sunday August 17, 2003 @03:56PM (#6718490) Homepage
      Sorry, but the GNU autobuild tools suck. They start with a broken idea (Hey, let's give everybody a *different* makefile, so that you can't debug makefile problems! Hey, let's build the Makefile itself from a file which is automatically created, so you can't tell which of the four levels has the build problem!) and break things from there.

      As usual, djb's got the innovative ideas. Google for djb and redo.
      -russ
      • by ddilling (82850) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @11:10PM (#6720324) Homepage

        I don't know about the djb tools, having never used them, but as far as the GNU tools go, I couldn't agree more.

        I think my favorite part of the autoconf documentation is the part where it touts using the m4 macro system, claiming it is quick, and easy to learn. Maybe it is. I don't happen to agree, but that's not really even the point. When you're writing GNU build files, that it's m4 is only incidental; you're really writing into the autoconf/automake macro API and it's one of the most byzantine, insensible tools I've stumbled across.

        Not to mention how much I love having to wonder if I need to look in Makefile.am or Makefile.in for something. Or maybe aclocal? Or hey, where did that autogen.sh file come from? Wait, no, maybe it's config.h? Now, was it automake before autoconf? Did acmkdir work right, or am I just confused? Why doesn't it know what LF_CPP_PORTABILITY means when it's right in the documentation? Oh shit, I must need to run reconf. And didn't I read a paper titled "Recursive Make Considered Harmful [tip.net.au]" somewhere? Then why is it so hard to not use these directories? And why will it completely fail if I don't have internationalization support, when my customer isn't paying me to internationalize it? Hey! Where did acconfig go?!?

        *pant* *pant* *wheeze* Eh, you get the idea.

  • by Nice2Cats (557310) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:07PM (#6718000)
    ...should be shot, then cut up into very little cubes, fed to the fish, and the fish flushed. Network transparency is the single best thing about X, and the basis for such brilliant creations as the Linux Terminal Server Project [ltsp.org], (LTSP) which just won the award for Best Open Source project 2003, thank you very much.Network transparency gave my old K6 a new life as a Linux Terminal, and will save me from buying a whole new computer for my parents.

    Anything that wants to have a snowball's chance in hell to replace X is going to have to be network transparent, too.

    • Network transparency is the single best thing about X

      On that, no argument. X's implementation of network transparency is quite possibly the worst part of X, however. The X server is dumb and cannot be helped without some grotesque hacks. I'd really like to not cause a zillion expose events to happen every time I resize or move windows. I'd like to be able to program events locally and not have every single damn keystroke roundtripped. Wouldn't it be nice to have a terminal window that actually knew t
      • I've used X over a dialup link. IT works for the most part just fine. Well programed apps have no problem. XV did just fine for instance displaying a picture on my screen. It took a while to display, but not that long really. Not something I'd like to do often, but considering I was on a dialup it was surprizingly useful.

    • You don't want X to be network transparent, because it is highly inefficient. X is transmitting at the level of "draw this line", "draw this rect", which is simply the wrong thing to do.

      Instead you want a display server that has the capability to execute local programlets, perhaps written in Postscript (as Nextstep did), or in Java or Parrot Bytecode. Then you want to transmit over the network calls to the procedures stored in your display server. That would be calls at the level of "display dialogue box w
  • by Nice2Cats (557310) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:20PM (#6718044)
    Every time the discussion about replacing X comes up, somebody mentions Fresco [fresco.org] (formerly named "Berlin"). However, I haven't heard anything for a long time about that project, and the last news [fresco.org] is from March. Anybody know what happened? Our are they just hacking away so hard that they don't have time to update the webpage...
  • by euxneks (516538) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @08:40PM (#6719800)
    Due to the "french" nature of the name (ouvert means open in french) some Americans have decided to call the new X fork, Xfreedom.

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