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Why X11 still rocks

For years now, I've heard from Linux developers about why the venerable X11 is an obsolete piece of crap that needs replacing. The Wayland project aims to do so, real soon now, kinda like Perl 6. It's a tough problem, so I can hardly complain.

Still, when I hear the complaints about X11, I always feel like the individual doing the complaining has no appreciation for how amazing X11 really is.

The first complaint is that it's old. Yes. And? Nice logic there.

The next complaint is that it is network-aware. Yes, I know. And that has been infinitely useful to me over the years. When bandwidth was scarce and I was using dial-up (yes, I'm that old) to connect to work, if I needed a remote window all I had to do was set my DISPLAY environment variable, and I could open remote xterms. There was even a program for X protocol compression to reduce the network demands even more.

Today, I still appreciate the bandwidth savings, as there is never enough in a house with a wife and three kids. Opening an individual window instead of a full-screen, clumsy, scrolling VNC session is much preferrable. Microsoft's RDP is better, but still overkill if I just need a single window, and tunneling it is more complex than with X.

The last complaint I hear is implementing efficient kernel-level drivers for high performance graphics. I'll admit I know little about this, but it seems to me that a division of work makes sense, with a kernel module for the driver (which is done today) and a communications protocol to X from the kernel. There are complaints of X running in userspace, but for reliability, isn't that a good thing? If X crashes I'm only logged out, I don't get a full kernel panic.

I realize I'm not an expert on the topic, I'm just a user of X11 for 20 years or so, and I'm not convinced that those criticizing X understand just how useful it can be before wanting to throw it away. VNC and RDP are poor replacements, and I hope that you can see why. Is Wayland being developed because the Xorg code is unmaintainable? If so, that's really a different issue to the complaints about X itself. Fix Xorg then.

I can see the arguments for say, small, portable devices, but on my desktop?

I'm willing to be convinced, but so far, I'm just not.

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