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Dumping Aqua On Mac OS X For X11? 161

Posted by Cliff
from the a-change-in-UI dept.
Sagefire asks: "Aqua is a beautiful interface but it can be incredibly resource intensive (especially for older/low-end machines). And, though the open source community has made great strides in reverse engineering proprietary drivers from Mac OS X, I would love to be able to simply keep using the drivers that came with it, for now. Since there is a fully functional BSD variant under the hood, is it possible (using X11.app, darwinports, and/or Fink) to boot to a command line and simply startx? Would it use less RAM to bypass Aqua?"
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Dumping Aqua On Mac OS X For X11?

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  • I tried that (Score:5, Informative)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:27PM (#16979120) Journal
    But even without running Aqua OS X is extremely resource-hungry. Test it yourself by logging in as username ">console" (without the quotes) for a command prompt and you'll see what I mean. Wish I had better news...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by maynard (3337)
      That's because Mach spends a shit of of resources passing messages and servicing real-time interrupts. That has nothing to do with the difference between X11 vs. Aqua in terms of resource consumption. Stick Yellow Dog or NetBSD on that old G3 if you want performance.
    • Re:I tried that (Score:5, Informative)

      by the_humeister (922869) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:47PM (#16979316)
      Not quite. The best way to test this is if you enter the command-line directly by either going into single-user mode or editing the /etc/ttys since these methods don't load Aqua at all. If you use the >console method, I don't think the system unloads Aqua from memory.
  • Don't Bother (Score:4, Informative)

    by quanticle (843097) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:30PM (#16979148) Homepage

    Is X11 really that much better than Aqua? I don't think so. Remember, Aqua has been optimized for Mac hardware. X11 (unless you've compiled it yourself) probably hasn't been optimized to as great of an extent. You can try switching, but I don't think you'll se much of an improvement with X11 vs. Aqua.

    • by AuMatar (183847)
      X11 is a hell of a lot less eyecandy and resource heavy than Aqua. X11 has been running since the 80s- computers didn't have as much total memory then as your smallest program likely does now.
      • by quanticle (843097)

        X11 has also been worked upon since the '80s. That means about 20 years of cruft, vs. Aqua's 6. I'm just saying that X11 today isn't the same X11 from the '80s.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by maynard (3337)
          What are you smoking? DPS (and the more recent OS X variant DPDF) goes back to 1988, with the introduction of NeXTSTep on the NeXT cube [wikipedia.org]. Mac OS X is really just NeXTStep. Aqua, however, is an Apple addition and - IMO - is a real improvement. But it's also a resource hog.
          • Re:Don't Bother (Score:4, Informative)

            by mpaque (655244) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:54PM (#16979852)
            DPS (and the more recent OS X variant DPDF) goes back to 1988, with the introduction of NeXTSTep on the NeXT cube [wikipedia.org].

            The Mac OS X window system and the Quartz and PDF rendering layers are completely new in Mac OS X, and do not share any code with the Display PostScript system from NeXTSTEP.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by muuh-gnu (894733)
      > Aqua has been optimized for Mac hardware. X11 (unless you've compiled it yourself) probably hasn't been optimized to as great of an extent.

      Thats bullshit.

      How do you think you can "optimize" some widget library for the hardware? You either have drivers for the graphic card running or you dont. Just recompiling some text editor doesnt "glue" it more to the underlying hardware. Or, by going with your logic, why couldnt someone just offer an "optimized" version of X for the Mac hardware in the first place?
      • by jZnat (793348) *
        New CPUs have new assembler op codes available, and ever since MMX, SIMD (useful for graphics-related processing for one) has been enhanced with each new CPU. Programs that can use SSE, for example, can take advantage of native op codes for SIMD rather than emulating it with a lot more code.
      • by BenjyD (316700)
        Aqua is optimised for the hardware in that it is drawn using the 3d hardware of the graphics card. That's why things like window dragging are so much smoother under Aqua than X11.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by seebs (15766)
        Well, actually, that would be rather wrong. One of the innovations of OS X's GUI is closer tie-ins with the rendering hardware; the GUI really does make more direct use of the GPU than a typical X11 interface does. The X11 interface is written in very generic terms to make rendering calls which are then handled in an optimized way... But it's still a bunch of separate rendering calls. Aqua knows quite a bit about what GPU features are necessarily available to it, and tweaks the GPU directly.

        On the other
  • Why bother? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chrisv (12054) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:34PM (#16979172) Journal

    Yes, there are already comments along the lines of "why use OS X if you're not going to use Aqua?"; that's basically what it amounts to. You get few, if any, benefits from ditching Aqua if you're still running OS X - the only thing that you get from it is the drivers that came with the system in the first place, and if that's all you want, you can always run Darwin instead and copy in the necessary kexts for the hardware that doesn't already have drivers with it, especially since, under the hood, Darwin and OS X are the same, except that Darwin comes configured to run primarily as a *nix-type command-line based system instead of as a desktop with a nice GUI.

    Could it be done? Yes, but it would probably take a larger investment of time to figure out how to remove or disable the stuff you don't want than it would be to start from a system that comes ready to run the way you want it anyway.

    • by delire (809063)

      You get few, if any, benefits from ditching Aqua if you're still running OS X

      There may be benefits. OS X is extremely resource intensive and has terrible memory management. A fine place to start if you're interested in a performant machine would be to strip back Aqua.

      I work with 3D alot and have been surprised by just how much of an under-acheiver OS X is (Core Duo or PPC) compared to a Linux install on the same machine. OS X won't ever compete with Linux in 3D workstation market until it makes it eas

  • You can log in as >console, and get to a pure text interface. I assume you can run X from there, though I've never actually tried.
  • by Channard (693317) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:37PM (#16979212) Journal
    .. ever since I heard 'Barbie Girl' in fact.
  • It's possible (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:37PM (#16979214)
    But you're better off using something else (eg some Linux variant, BSD, etc.)

    However, if you really want to try, do the following:

    1) open /etc/ttys. The first two lines that begin with "console" has one which is commented out. Uncomment that one and comment out the second one. Now the next time you reboot, you'll enter the console directly

    2) Install XDarwin [xdarwin.org], which can be started from the command-line as opposed to the X that Apple provides which can only be started alongside Aqua.

    Have fun, but it's not really that interesting.
    • by Xyde (415798)
      For anyone wanting to try this out, it's unnecessary to fiddle with the ttys file. You simply log into the system as ">console" without the quotes into the username, and no password. This will exit Aqua and dump you back to a text based console, allowing you to log in and startx.
  • Yes, it's possible (Score:5, Informative)

    by baryon351 (626717) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:38PM (#16979226)
    Since there is a fully functional BSD variant under the hood, is it possible (using X11.app, darwinports, and/or Fink) to boot to a command line and simply startx? Would it use less RAM to bypass Aqua?"

    Yes, it's possible. At least, it was a few years ago, when I first installed KDE via fink then logged in at the login prompt as user ">console" (with no password) and performed a startx. I didn't use it for a terribly long time as a KDE-only box, and it was more an experiment to see what was possible - but it worked just like any other KDE setup. I didn't use Apple's own X11, but had XDarwin installed instead.

    A note too - Aqua is only the default theme with OSX, and just describes the look of the OSX GUI. Quartz is the engine underneath that performance depends on. There was no noticeable difference in speed with XDarwin over Quartz, but perhaps that could be improved with more work on XDarwin.
  • What for? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kosmosik (654958) <kosNO@SPAMkosmosik.net> on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:43PM (#16979270) Homepage
    What for you would like to do it? Just for the sake of it? None of Apple/OSX strenghts would really show up in such setup:

    1. Drivers - If you need, a decent BSD with X11 go use FreeBSD and craft yourself hardware that works with FreeBSD. It should not be hard to specify a set of fully working hardware with great drivers for FreeBSD. I think you have much more options with PC hardware and FreeBSD (working decently) than with OSX. Or maybe go Linux, not much different from BSD really.

    2. Software - None of OSX software (such like Photoshop, Office etc.) will work under X11. And in fact it is less decently packaged X11 software than for FreeBSD or Linux.

    3. Support, quality etc. - you won't get any of this from Apple in such setup. With FreeBSD or Linux you will get decent quality and community support because running kernel and userspace/X11 on top of it is what we do with Linux/FreeBSD.

    So I don't really see benefits of such setup. Go get yourself decent PC or laptop with supported hardware. Install FreeBSD or Linux on it and you will have that what you are seeking in quite polished form.
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Drivers - If you need, a decent BSD with X11 go use FreeBSD and craft yourself hardware that works with FreeBSD. It should not be hard to specify a set of fully working hardware with great drivers for FreeBSD. I think you have much more options with PC hardware and FreeBSD (working decently) than with OSX. Or maybe go Linux, not much different from BSD really.

      I have never gotten 3d acceleration working in FreeBSD on PPC Macs. I do notice the difference in the desktop speed when I don't have them on X11.

      • by kosmosik (654958)
        PPC Macs are out. ;) Didn't you know that?
      • by argent (18001)
        I have never gotten 3d acceleration working in FreeBSD on PPC Macs.

        I think you missed this bit. or you missed the implications of it: and craft yourself hardware that works with FreeBSD. If that means "not a Mac" that shouldn't be an issue...

        Odds are you can get more money selling your Mac as a Mac than you'd pay for a well-supported non-Mac that exceeds its performance in every respect.
  • just install Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oohshiny (998054) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:51PM (#16979344)
    There are several Linux distros for Mac hardware, just install one of those. I'd give regular Ubuntu [ubuntulinux.org] a choice, and if that's too heavy-weight, try Xubuntu [xubuntu.org].

    Ubuntu comes with a lot of software pre-installed, it feels a lot more responsive than OS X on the same hardware, and it has very much a Mac-like feel. I'm running it on an old iMac and have been quite happy with it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What you're talking about doing practically speaking wouldn't allow you to run any of the GUI apps that come with OS X or those that are sold for it. If you take that away it's not really OS X. As some have already said, one wonders what the point of that is.

    There's no way of knowing what part of the system is the cause of your performance issues without profiling it. ( You could do a 'System Trace' with the latest version of Shark. )

    Aqua is part of the Apple HIG. It defines what UI elements look like an
  • by coaxial (28297) on Friday November 24, 2006 @08:12PM (#16979974) Homepage
    Why would you want to do this? Seriously. Why? You bought a mac, but you want to remove all the mac specific stuff from it. Why didn't you save you're money and just by a PC and install linux on it. If you're not using the mac apps, (and let's be honest, Darwin doesn't count. It's just another BSD clone, which is essentially just another unix.) then you bought the hardware to look cool. If you absolutely have to look cool, but not run any of the macosx apps, then just dual boot.

    The whole point of a unix guy owning a mac is that it's unix in all the way he wants (command line, symlinks, standard unix tools) and none of the ways he doesn't (insmod, recompiliing kernels, fucking with wpasupplicant and buggy ass drivers). It Just Works(tm). You seem bent on ignoring THE advantage of the mac, and turning it into just another piece of commodity hardware, only at luxury prices. It's absolutely pointless.
    • The article wasn't about the new machines but the older ones. The new machines, even the cheapest ones sold new, run OS X exceedingly well, though it helps to have a good amount of memory. Given that memory is pretty cheap for the most part, I don't think that's really a problem.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``And so you bought a mac because?''

      Maybe because he likes the hardware? I know that's why I've been buying iBooks (unfortunately, they have been discontinued). Good battery life, easy to carry, well supported by Linux, and, as far as I can tell, pretty durable.
    • by dwater (72834)
      6-pin firewire? This is important for portable firewire drives, since the extra two pins provide power, and if it's a laptop we're talking about, you'd need a separate power supply to run the drive - very inconvenient at the best of times.

      Show me *any* other laptop with a 6-pin firewire port...
  • It is possible to run an X server on Mac OS X that will display all of your X applications straight to your Aqua desktop. This way you can run Aqua and X11 applications side by side, and it is very easy to get it running. For more information:

    http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/x11/ [apple.com]
  • other services (Score:3, Informative)

    by fermion (181285) * on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:26PM (#16980540) Homepage Journal
    I have OS X running on older G4 machines. I find the X11 performance on these machines, for instance OO.org, to as bad as the OS X performance, although the performance of most applications is good. Really, the only applications that are horrible are the iLife application, which run slow even on the high end G4 machines.

    I will say this. Make sure that services that do not need to run, like the dock or Apache, are not running. If you want to run X11, things like emacs are great, if you get to know to use them. There is really no reason to not have most things running in X11, although I have gotten used to mail.app.

    Of course, the big issue in these machines seems to be memory. *nix likes memory and always has. It has seldom been the OS for small footprints. Most G4 macs can accommodate at least 512 MB, and if you running a G3 mac, you likely have other difficulties.

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``*nix likes memory and always has. It has seldom been the OS for small footprints.''

      Must be because it was originally written on a lowly, mostly abandoned PDP-7. Seriously, I'd argue that *nix systems are pretty light as operating systems go. Even today, you can get *nix systems to run in under a megabyte of memory (e.g. MINIX 2).

      ``Most G4 macs can accommodate at least 512 MB, and if you running a G3 mac, you likely have other difficulties.''

      My desktop setup normally uses around 128 MB of RAM, and CPU spee
  • by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:50PM (#16980734)
    is if it's possible to run Aqua / Quartz apps rootless on an X11 desktop (exactly the opposite of what X11.app does). This way I can use xlogin, GNOME, etc. for the default desktop UI, but still be able to run Mac-specific programs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      It's not exactly what you asked, but I just wanted to point out that, if you run Linux on a PowerPC Mac, you can run OS X (and OS 9, and earlier) apps. Using Mac-on-Linux [maconlinux.org], you can boot other Power Mac operating systems in their own virtual machines.
  • 1)Get YDL from http://www.terrasoftsolutions.com/tss_home.shtml [terrasoftsolutions.com]

    2) Have fun on your X11 running optimised PPC Linux

    Sorry but why don't we discuss the Disk image mounting exploit ( http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2006/11/22/mac_zero_d ay_bug/ [reghardware.co.uk] ) , some real stupid "Spyware experiment" ( http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2006/11/24/mac_os_x_a dware/ [reghardware.co.uk] ) on Slashdot Apple?

    I understand the slow news due to Thanksgiving but I can't figure the meaning of discussing of X11 on Apple hardware. Yes, if you have nothing to do wit
  • It's a real PITA to install, but once you're there I think you'll be happy. Whether to install Linux or BSD depends upon what you're going to do with the machine.

    I've got a couple of Macs running NetBSD, and they are quite responsive.

  • I tried to use Aqua for a few years on my TiBook G4/800 DVI. It was nice and pretty/etc, but I could never get used to the GUI. All that 'single menu at the top of the screen', 'click to focus', and 'focused window has to be front window' crap they forced on me. Some of these things could be worked around with 3rd party hacks, but I never managed to fix all of them. IINM, MS Windows managed to allow all these things to be fixed, but "Apple knows better how I should work" - pah.

    So, I switched to ubuntu earli
    • The HFS+ filesystem, like NTFS, is readonly


      Maybe with Ubuntu's default kernel, but my Gentoo PPC box has read/write HFS+ support just fine. I use it whenever I need to mount the Mac OS 9 partition to install a new kernel (it's an Old World PowerPC 603 machine, so the Linux kernel sits in the Mac OS 9 System Folder).
    • Regarding typing Chinese, I think it is partially what you're used to, as MS Window's default input methods all suck for me, and Apple's seem even worse. I use either SCIM or fcitx, what do you use?

      SCIM's simple pinyin method is quite good. Of course, if you use traditional characters or aren't a Mandarin speaker or both, this might not be ideal. If you type Wubi, as I do, fcitx is a better option, and its pinyin mode is pretty usable, although not as good as SCIM's.
      • by dwater (72834)
        > Regarding typing Chinese, I think it is partially what you're used to, as MS Window's default input methods all suck for me, and Apple's seem even worse. I use either SCIM or fcitx, what do you use?

        I don't use either (I don't know much Chinese). It's my wife (she's a native), and any of the other Chinese people who happen to want to borrow my computer for a moment. They're (of course) all used to using MS's input methods and are very frustrated by anything unfamiliar.

        It also isn't the most straightforw
  • The biggest "casual" overhead of Aqua/Quartz on older machines is the "shadow" around windows. There's an application extension (APE//Haxie) called "shadowkiller" that removes the shadow and significantly improves response time on older Macs.

    http://unsanity.org/ [unsanity.org]

    (no relationship, just a former user of shadowkiller)

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