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News from the X11 Working-Groups

  Arnaud Taddei CN/DCI (on behalf of the UMTF-X11 and HEPiX-X11 working-groups)

Whilst Graphical User Interfaces such as the X Window System are attractive, it is not always easy to ensure that all users have a well configured, preferably standard, environment.

Moreover, in contrast with the usual terminal access which is ``well-known'' and does not consume too many resources, X terminal access in particular and graphical environments in general are new and consume more resources.

With this in mind, two working groups have been formed to coordinate the work on some aspects of the X Window system, now the ``de-facto'' UNIX graphical system. Although it is mainly UNIX oriented, we are looking closely at other ``realms'', like the PC world, and are checking the integration of some solutions with Windows because a lot of PCs are accessing UNIX servers. Thus, we hope to be able to provide a system like the HEPiX startup scripts which provide a common user environment at the shell level. See:

The first group is the so called UMTF-X11 working group which is a CERN specific group in the context of the Unix Migration Task Force. The second group is the HEPiX-X11 working group where HEPiX is the group of UNIX users in the High Energy Physics community. The necessary coordination is ensured by regular relations and communication between these two working groups.

These groups are in a ``learning'' and ``design'' phase, and our goal is firstly to list and understand the experience and problems met at CERN and in the HEP community concerning strategies and deployments of X11 services for a (small or large) group of users. Thus anybody who feels close to this problem (somebody who customised an X session file for a ``production service'' for X Window for example) can contact us to share their experience and give us their requirements and expectations. The second phase is to make a proposal of how we intend to solve the problems, how we allow sites, systems, groups of users and users to customise and tune the default HEP settings.

Indeed, the overall aim is to provide a HEPiX standardised way for users to customise their graphical environment (X Window), the HEPiX shell startup-scripts project being a model for this new project.

A certain number of meetings and presentations have been held already and you can consult the minutes, reports and studies in:

In the HEPiX context a first meeting has been held at DESY and another working group session will be held in Prague at the end of May. See:

You will find that various topics are being discussed, investigated and developed. They are listed below. It might be a bit cryptic but it gives a feeling for what is going on.

What are the System recommendations? X11 Components
How do we specify the overall architecture?
How do we define a User Graphical Environment?

The latest version of the HEPiX scripts include a first protoype of Xsession support for some systems (AIX, Solaris), and they are already used by some services. The CERN SP2 service for example, is using a HEP_Xsession which will evolve in the future to converge to an agreed HEPiX and CERN Xsession. (By the time this article is published, the first draft of a HEPiX proposal will have been shipped.)

We will try to provide regularly to a wider audience all the results of these working groups which might be of general interest to the user community. This can be done, for instance, as tutorial sections in the Computer NewsLetter, as is the case in this issue of the CNL with the article

``Setting X Window Resources on POSIX-based Systems''

produced from the UMTF-X11 working group document CN/UMTF/95/21 available in WWW/Mosaic with URL:

You can contact us at the following mail address:


next up previous
Next: X Terminal Boot Up: Desktop Computing Previous: Project space

Janne Saarela
Fri May 19 16:03:15 METDST 1995