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X Windows


© December 2005 Tony Lawrence

X-Windows is available as an optional install from your OS X CD. When I first got OS X, I did install X11, but after playing with it briefly, never used it. Eventually I took it off, and although I thought about it briefly after upgrading to Tiger, I have yet to reinstall it.

Part of that is that I just don't need it. I have a perfectly good Linux machine sitting to my right, and if I really wanted to run some X11 app, I can do it there.

But I don't use X11 on that box either.

I probably spend about half my time in a Terminal window working at the command line. That's where I'm writing this right now. Not that I don't use the GUI, of course: the rest of my time is all accounted for in the OS X dock, with Firefox and Thunderbird probably getting the most exercise, but those are certainly not the only OS X graphical apps I use.

What do I need X11 for?

I suppose if I were doing graphics work, I might want to take advantage of open source tools like The Gimp. However, OS X doesn't suffer greatly from a lack of native apps. It probably is true that there's a little less choice available if you stick to OS X alone, and it's definitely true that third party OS X apps are more likely to be shareware rather than the completely free model seen most often in the open source world, but I have had no trouble meeting my (admittedly modest) needs.

So - for those of you who do use X11 on OS X: is the attraction of X11 simply for those of you who demand more choice? Or is is just that you were already accustomed to using it and prefer the comfort of a familiar environment?


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