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Linux desktops

Jorn Barger November 2002

desktop environments: DMoz

window managers: DMoz













Be, QNX/Photon, MGR, GEOS, NeWS, and CLIM.


twm (simplistic and ugly)


fvwm, amiwm, icewm, windowmaker, afterstep, sawfish, kwm


no-date: pseudo-teletype (pty) anticipates window-manager allowing control of multiple jobs from one terminal [info]

1963: Doug Engelbart's "A Conceptual Framework"
1968: Englebart's "Augment/NLS" hypertext sys
1980: Steve Jobs adopts Jef Raskin's Macintosh project [hist]
1981: Xerox debuts the Star, with mouse and windows
1981? PNX on Perq (Unix w/window manager) [info] [more]
1982: Rob Jacob's wm window-manager [net.unix-wizards] and Mark Weiser's wsh (Maryland Window Shell) [net.unix-wizards] [more]

1983: Jan: Apple Lisa introduced [links]

Bill Atkinson's LisaDraw is 130k of P-code, reduced to 11k QuuickDraw for Mac [cite]

1983: Apr: Microsoft's faked 'Interface Manager' demo (renamed Windows) [cite]

1983: MIT launches Project Athena (networked workstations) to replace Multics [history] [cite] [info]

1983: 10Nov: offical announcement of MS Windows [cite]

1984: Jan: Apple intros Macintosh (design team: Andy Hertzfeld, Chris Espinosa, Joanna Hoffman, George Crowe, Bill Atkinson, and Jerry Manock: more) [origins]

64k ROM includes Hertzfeld's gui 'Mac Toolbox' API, w/QuickDraw, Device Manager, Window Manager, Menu Manager, Font Manager, Resource Manager, Event Manager, Control Manager, Text Edit, Dialog Manager, Desk Manager [tech] [credits]

windows, menus, scrollbars, icons, scrapbook

1984: Jan: System V.2's 'job control' resembles wm [thread]

1984: Apr: David Cheriton's "The V kernel: A software base for distributed systems" [cite] [info] [more] [most]

includes VGTS display server? [cite]

1984: Paul Asente's "W Reference Manual" at Stanford (also Brian Reid and Chris Kent) [cite] "W provides graphics windows based on a simple display-list mechanism"

W, derived from V, will inspire X

1984: Jun: Robert Scheifler extends W and calls it X [GooJa] [crit]

1984: Jun: survey of wm's includes Nunix, WINDX, BRUWIN [net.works]

1984: X/Open formed by 5 European computer manufacturers: Bull, ICL, Siemens, Olivetti, and Nixdorf (BISON) [cite]

1985: Jan: MS's Mac expert moved to 2-years-late Windows [cite]

1985: Jan: ANSI standard for window management undertaken [annc]

1985: 18Jan: Rob Jacobs announces rewrite of wm [net.unix-wizards]

1985: X-Windows distributed as free [cite]
1985: X/Open Portability Guide [cite]

1986? early window-managers include xnwm, uwm, xwm

1987: X v11 designed in haste [crit]

1987: Mac II uses Color QuickDraw

1987: Aug: HyperCard

1988: John Ousterhout designs Tcl (Tool Command Language) at Berkeley [hist] begins Tk [GooJa]

1988: NeXT chooses Mach kernel

1989: CDE (Xi Graphics' Common Desktop Environment) started by Open Group: IBM, SUN, HP, Novell, DIGITAL

1990: 22May: Windows 3.0, supports 386 [cite]

1990: Don Libes builds Expect in 3 wks using Tcl [cite]

Xt toolkit?

1990: OSF (Open Software Foundation) creates Motif

1991: 13Mar: 1st release of Tk [GooJa]

1991: 30Jun: end of Project Athena at MIT [cite]

1992: Mar? Orest Zborowski [GooJa] [more] adopts Linux for X386 (later XFree86) [alt.os.linux] [history]

1992: Apr: Linux 0.96 can run X-Windows

1992: Qt project begun in C++ (GUI toolkit, pronounced 'cute') [cite]

1993: XFree86 released

1993: Oct: Novell gives Unix name-rights to X/Open [cite]

1993: Dec? GNUstep project begins [GooJa]

1994: May: Ousterhout moves to Sun [cite] "to evolve Tcl into a universal scripting language for the Internet"

1994: summer: NeXT publishes OpenStep specs [cite]

1994: Trolltech founded [cite] by Eirik Eng?

1995: CDE innovates 'frontpanel' (dock) [info] [more]

1995: May: 1st commercial release of Qt [cite] [intro] [multi] [tutorial]

menus, context menus, dockable toolbars, balloon help, drag and drop

3.0 widgets: QButtonGroup, QCanvas, QCheckBox, QComboBox, QDateTimeEdit, QDial, QFileDialog, QGLWidget, QGrid, QGridLayout, QGroupBox, QHBox, QHBoxLayout, QIconView, QLabel, QLCDNumber, QLineEdit, QListBox, QListView, QMenuBar, QMessageBox, QProgressBar, QPushButton, QRadioButton, QRegExp, QScrollBar, QScrollView, QSlider, QSpinBox, QSplitter, QStatusBar, QTabDialog, QTable, QTextEdit, QToolBar, QValidator, QWizard [cite]

1996: KDE project started by Matthias Etrich (mostly Europe-based) [docs]

1996: 01Nov: Linux Journal overview of Qt [etext]

1997: Stallman objects to KDE's use of Qt [history]

1997: Miguel de Icaza starts GNOME project (GNU Network Object Model Environment) [cite] GTK


1998: Jan: Ousterhout leaves Sun and starts Scriptics [cite] name changed to Ajuba, sold to Interwoven

1998: Nov: TrollTech creates non-profit KDE Free Qt Foundation to manage Qt licensing [cite] Qt Public License

2000: 17Mar: PicoGUI project started by Micah Dowty [FAQ]

2000: Sep: TrollTech gpls Qt [annc]


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