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I'm curious, I believe that one of the ways that OSX make the GUI experience of *nix more 'snappy' was to ditch X and run the window manager more directly on the hardware.

If I'm looking to run Linux on a desktop, and have no interest in sending Windows to other machines on the network, can I run KDE or Gnome with no 'X' to eliminate that ever-so-slight lag with the window manager experience.

I guess basically what I'm asking is is there an equivalent of quartz for Linux?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

What makes you believe that the GUI experience would be "more snappy" by ditching the X Window System?

Modern X servers use hardware acceleration where available (for OpenGL, for things like Compiz, for video, etc), so they do run "directly on the hardware" where appropriate.

As to alternatives to X: Yes, they exist; a few that come to mind are

  • Qtopia
  • framebuffer graphics

But they are meant for specific niches, and are very probably not faster than X.

So rather than saying meaningless things like "I believe we need something that runs more directly on the hardware", try to identify specific areas where X does not perform well. Then it may be possible to find a solution.

BTW, the network transparency of X does not have much of an overhead when X is used locally. For local use X will not use the network (instead, it uses Unix sockets and shared memory), so it should not be slower than other forms if IPC.

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It's not just that alternatives to X are likely to be slower than X (because fewer people work on optimizing their drivers). Gnome, kde, and any other windowed program requires a windowing environment, and X is the windowing environment. X itself is the Linux equivalent of Quartz. – Gilles Oct 14 '10 at 23:06
The note about local X speed not depending on the network system is important, but it is also implementation dependent. It's just true for all the current systems with any market share. – dmckee Oct 14 '10 at 23:28
many Thanks for clarifying. – phatmanace Oct 17 '10 at 9:06
And what about the lack of vertical synchronization (see here)? I'm still finding a way to overcome it... – cYrus May 30 '11 at 17:18

I believe you are being misled by X's non-standard use of "server". An X "server" is equivalent to a Windows "Video Driver" in most ways. They don't necessarily use the network and aren't in general slower than (say) MacOS's stack.

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The short answer is the KDE and Gnome depend on X. They use X's feature set and talk to X's API.

In theory you could provide another underling system that offers the same API and just plug it in.

In another--even harder--theory you could provide a different system and port one of those desktop environments to it.

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The primary cause of rejection of the X11 windowing system is that it's large and complicated, and the use of the word 'server' for video drivers when coupled with it's offer of network transparency.

The general defense is that X is reasonably well performing, and fits with the existing toolchain. The fact is though, that that toolchain developed around X, so of course it does.

Generally, the codebase is too big and is therefore assumed to be exceeding it's scope at some expense.

What I think people expect is to have just a graphics driver abstraction layer, much like HAL or VFS offer to those types of devices. Instead X seems to come as a large all-inclusive package of everything including a latte frappacino mixer app.

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There is a discussion about Shuttleworth's decision on removing X11 from Ubuntu, gaining following benefits:

  • no network transparency.
  • no authorization support.
  • another layer of hardware (kernel panics) problems
  • greater incompatibility.

You are thinking of something like SVGA console or DirectFB. However, being hardware-centric in a Linux world means getting undetected hangs each 5-10 minutes just because noone wanted to debug platform-specific drivers meant to support a GUI which will never become transparent, network-ready and will support any better means of 3D acceleration.

Think of Android, it indeed uses Linux's framebuffer - no X.

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-1 That's not an answer, and also so confused that I hardly know what you're talking about. – sleske May 30 '11 at 18:51
beer patch reversed – kagali-san May 30 '11 at 19:36
Downvote reversed. – sleske May 30 '11 at 20:56

I think that perhaps Wayland could fit your needs. I'm willing to investigate further on the matter too.

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