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X.Org takes over X Windows stewardship

Sign that Open Group is getting back to basics

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The stewardship of the X Window system, part of the X Protocol developed in the mid-1980s, has passed to the newly-created X.Org, which is part of the Open Group. The technologies for which the Open Group has been custodian also include Motif (the graphical user interface used by more than 200 platforms), CDE (common desktop environment), and CTL (complex text layout for certain non-Latin alphabets). The executive members of X.Org are Compaq, HP, Hummingbird, IBM, Silicon Graphics and Sun, with a dozen premier members so far in the second level of membership. The Open Group has had a traumatic time recently. The vision brought in by Joseph De Feo was unsuccessful, and he left after failing to deliver on somewhat grandiose ambitions "to focus on his other business interests", according to his confidential letter to members. There was also a financial crisis brought on by the resignation or threatened resignation of several major supporters. De Feo was very keen to have Microsoft as a member, but the organisation was wrong-footed when the secretive Active Group was formed within the Open Group but failed to deliver on promises made by Microsoft at the time. Since De Feo's departure, the Group has been concentrating more on its core competencies like testing and branding, and is also continuing the licensing of open technologies. The PR spin at the time was that De Feo "re-aligned the company with 21st century technology issues" but the Group "may no longer have a large research and development function". Around a quarter of the staff, mostly those based in Cambridge, Mass. who had been developing these technologies were fired. The Open Group resulted from the 1996 merger of the Cambridge, Mass-based Open Software Foundation (OSF), and the Reading-based X/Open Consortium. The differing cultures have not mixed well, it is admitted. This move looks like a positive step to get back to the primary role of trying to be a worthy custodian of technologies developed by thousands of people over many years. ®

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