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X11 for Mac OS X

Home Page Release Notes License:

Current Version: 1.0 (October 28, 2003) / 1.1.3 (November 14, 2006) / 2.1.6 (May 12, 2009)

X11 for Mac OS X - from Apple itself - offers a complete X Window System implementation for running X11-based applications on Mac OS X 10.3 Panther (users of prior versions of Mac OS X should use XFree86, and Tiger users have the latest version on their installer DVDs). Based on the de facto-standard for X11, the open source XFree86 project, X11 for Mac OS X is compatible, fast and fully integrated with Mac OS X. It includes the full X11R6.6 technology, including a window server, libraries and basic utilities such as xterm.

X11 for Mac OS X takes advantage of the Mac OS X Quartz graphics system to deliver hardware-accelerated 2D and 3D graphics. Quartz provides snappy scrolling speeds for text, live drag and resize of windows, as well as 3D animation through OpenGL Direct Rendering. X11 for Mac OS X combines the display and client libraries into a single download and install, so getting X11 running on Mac OS X is easy. The installer sets up your environment with your path and DISPLAY. It also makes it simple to start xterm sessions and other popular X11 utilities. Additionally, you can use any three-button USB mouse with X11 for Mac OS X.

Version 1.0 - the latest version for Mac OS X 10.3 - adds/changes the following:

  • GM v1.0: Panther compatible and included as an optional install on Mac OS X v10.3 Panther CDs.
  • Bundled: Optional install from the third Mac OS X v10.3 Panther CD.
  • XFree86 4.3: Includes latest enhancements from the Open Source community.
  • Full Screen Mode: Show X11 root and application windows on their own screens
  • X11 Dock Menu: Activate X11 applications or windows directly from the Dock icon.
  • Double-click applications: Launch X11 applications in the Finder
  • Application Menu Command Keys: Define keystrokes for launching X11 applications.

Version 1.1.3 - the latest version for Mac OS X 10.4 - adds/changes the following:

  • This update addresses several issues in the X11 for Mac OS X package, enabling it to better handle GLX stereo visuals and offscreen rendering to GLX Pbuffers and Pixmaps.
  • To tell X11 to take advantage of stereo visuals, enter $ defaults write enable_stereo -bool true
  • Also addresses font issues present in X11 1.1.2

Version 2.1.6 - the latest version for Mac OS X 10.5, and available only as part of the Mac OS X 10.5.7 update (and which reports itself as version 2.0 in the Finder) - makes unspecified changes.

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Also See . . .

Can't find what you're looking for? Try a search:

Also, if you have an older Mac, be sure to check out the "Classic" applications page for more options.

Finally, take a look at ALEMIA if you think you know that name of an application, but aren't quite sure.

Built Into Mac OS X

Mac OS X has a huge amount of TCP/IP-based server software built into it that I don't specifically cover here. Your "Sharing" Preference Pane allows you to enable and disable these services with a click of the mouse. The software running behind the scenes to provide many of these services is generally of the open source variety. The standard release of Mac OS X includes, among many others:

  • Apache httpd (web server; enabled via the Sharing Preference Pane).
  • Postfix (mail server; see Mac OS X Hints for more information).
  • tnftpd (FTP server; enabled via the Sharing Preference Pane).
  • OpenSSH (Secure Shell server; enabled via the Sharing Preference Pane via "Remote Login" but additionally configurable via selected applications listed on this page).
  • BIND (Domain Name System server; see Mac OS X Hints for more information).
  • Samba (Windows file sharing; enabled via the Sharing Preference Pane).
  • XFree86 (X Window server; enabled via the "X11" application in your "Utilities" folder, if you elected to install it with Mac OS X).

Of course, Mac OS X Server includes many more, in addition to offering more recent versions of many of the above servers.

Related Links

Graham Orndorff has written a superb collection of articles on setting up email servers and secure email clients on Mac OS X.

Also Consider . . .

These are applications that are newer and of potential interest, but which I haven't yet selected for permanent inclusion. Have a look, and let me know if you think they deserve to be part of the permanent collection!