Problems with and incompatibilities with in-house software

Luc Verhaegen libv at
Sun Feb 28 16:26:40 PST 2010

On Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 05:48:50PM -0500, Richard Brown wrote:
> Dear,
> I work for a large corporation which has used X Window System in its  
> internal systems since the 1980s. We have code going back to since the  
> mid 80s which has used X which are a critical part of our corporations  
> internal infrastructures and information systems. We have dozens of  
> applications written using xlib involving millions of lines of code. We  
> have significant investments on in house applications written with Xlib  
> and have used at various times, dumb terminals, then XFree86, and now  
> on the display end. is now the standard server on Linux  
> systems which we would have liked to use. We make extensive use of X's  
> network transparency as we run major server farms which run applications  
> which are displayed over our networks to terminals throughout our office  
> complex.
> Recently, however, we have been shocked and dismayed at what we consider  
> extremely poor design decisions made by which show indifference to  
> backwards compatibility and the needs of many users.
> We have always depended on the high degree of backwards compatibility  
> that X provides, as we have applications directly tied to xlib and to a  
> number of extensions and as well clients which run on older server  
> systems using older versions of X connecting to new and more recent  
> Linux X servers.
> Our applications make extensive use of a large number of X extensions,  
> these include, but are not limited to, MIT-Sundry-Nonstandard (many of  
> our oldest programs from the early days use this) ,TOG-CUP, Xtrap,  
> Xfree86-Misc, XEvIE, EVI, PEX, (for many of our 3D modelling and CAD  
> applications), Appgroup, Xprint (many of our apps use this to print out  
> forms, documents and schematics), and Ximage (we use this heavily to  
> display images). Xlib is very much intergrated into all of our programs  
> and we make extensive use of every single feature in xlib. and of every  
> extension. I do not believe that there is an extension anywhere or any  
> feature of xlib that we have not utilised in some way.
> To our much dismay we have recently found after attempting to install  
> new Linux boxes that these extensions no longer appear to be available.  
> This has caused most of our internal applications to blow up and to be  
> completely ruined and unusable in the process. Dozens of applications  
> have now blown up and are not able to be used, involving millions of  
> lines of code. Thousands of dollars already invested in upgrade to new  
> Linux systems appears to be completely useless now, as none of our  
> applications can be used on these new systems.
> This has caused great harm to our company and a loss of vast investments  
> we have made of millions of lines of code written over a period of over  
> 22 years, heavily interlinked with these X extensions and dependent on  
> them have been rendered completely non functional due to's bad  
> design decisions.
> It is well past time that your organisation make backwards compatibility  
> with core X11 and all extensions to it a primary principle of your  
> organisation. To many have invested too much money into developing  
> software to utilise these extensions than to have them mindlessly  
> removed and thus blowing up dozens of our internal applications.
> We have decided that we will probably move to an entirely Win32 platform  
> instead of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into an extensive  
> rewriting of our existing X applications, as it seems like, from what we  
> have already seen, it no longer seems as though we can count on this  
> platform to provide the backwards compatibility we need. We have been  
> talking to Microsoft extensively about this issue and they have indeed  
> provided us with huge resources and have iron clad commitments to  
> maintaining compatibility with their older interfaces, so we can rest  
> assured that with them that code we write today will still work years  
> and years from now.
> It is very sad that it has come to this, and that X no longer seems to  
> be taking the need for backwards compatibility seriously. Backwards  
> compatibility is ESSENTIAL! We used to find X the perfect platform, but  
> it seems those days are gone.
> Needless to say we have been burned badly by and its lack of  
> concern for its users applications and their need for backwards  
> compatability.
> I feel very badly that a once sound platform such as X has resorted to  
> such shoddy, ignorant, and poorly thought out actions and behaviours. I  
> am sure your platform will suffer greatly as a result.
> Sincerely,
> Richard Brown

It would be interesting to know what corporation this is, so that 
enterprise linux distributors and other enterprise service providers see 
what sort of big clients, who are now investing a ton of money and 
manpower in a windows based solution, they just lost out on.

Richard, who provided you with support before? As i doubt that such a 
move means that everything was done in-house before.

Luc Verhaegen.

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