[nSLUG] Re: X11 is not X-Windows

Mike Spencer mspencer at tallships.ca
Thu Jun 16 16:10:00 ADT 2005

Ben> ...it is courteous to be considerate of their preference.

Donald> I don't get why "X Windows" is hooked with a negativity.

The X Windowing System may have been the last [1] great project
supported by US Government funding under the rubric which said that
stuff The People had paid for belonged to The People.  About that time
-- a decade or so ago -- the US Gummint revised policy to allow that
universities and other institutions could get big wads of public
money, develop something, then own the rights and exploit it for
private gain.

I was hanging out episodically at Project Athena, starting about the
time that the LCS was just making the transition from X10 to X11 and
Project Athena was running it on all its public, faculty and staff
workstations.  An allusion to "X windows" anywhere within hearing of
LCS or Athena hackers would get you taken aside and politely told that
"X" or "The X Windowing System" were acceptable but "X windows" was

No one actually uttered the word "Microsoft" in my hearing but my
inference was that X was a major work of public service by dedicated
persons of the highest Hacker Nature and should nowise be confused,
even superficially, with a popular commercial product produced by a
for-profit entity with a belligerent posture and a carnivorous
proprietarian attitude toward anything that might appear to intrude on
its turf. [2]

So Ben is right: this is more like whether I allow people to call me
Mickey [3] instead of Mike or Michael than prescriptive vs. practical
English usage.  

> ...nobody has the authority in the English language to "deprecate" a
> word or phrase.

But, to get all contemporary, the owners of intellectual property have
the authority to deprecate nominating their property in a way that
they, as the sole adjudicator, feel diminishes the value or repute of
their property.  I don't know about OSF but the LCS and the X
Consortium both apparently felt that the "X windows" usage diminished
the repute of X.

- Mike

[1] For very approximate values of "last".  I follow such thing very

[2] This more or less antedated the recent and on-going bun fight over
    intellectual property, software patents, open source vs. freeware
    vs. GNU Public License etc. etc.

[3] Dawn, next Guy Faulkes Day, Boston Common.  Your choice of weapons.

Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~. 
mspencer at tallships.ca                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^



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