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Linux.com: The Evolution of a Free Software Toolkit

Oct 24, 2000, 08:10 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rob Bos)

"Years ago, the most important X toolkit was called Motif. Motif was the core of almost all commercial and many non-commercial X applications. This was a significant problem, because Motif was until recently proprietary software in every sense of the word: source code was unavailable, and the so-called "Open Group" was unresponsive to developers and end users. The only free alternative to Motif, Lesstif, was inadequate at the time to compile any but the most simple applications. At the time, a huge amount of rhetoric was being spilled over the subject."

"In fact, Motif was one of the first major obstacles to the progress of Linux in general. It was the most advanced toolkit of its time, and thus many applications were coded against it. Coding a replacement for Motif was an enormous undertaking. Other toolkits (QT, for instance) were either facing similar problems with licensing, or incompleteness, or simple technical inflexibility or lack of publicity."

"Among the incomplete toolkits, however, was a relatively obscure one gaining developer mindshare very quickly. The toolkit used to create the GIMP, then the most successful and high-profile Linux application, then and still one of the crown accomplishments of the Linux community, was spun off into a separate toolkit. Over time, GTK+ gained much of the functionality it required to form the foundation for a major X toolkit."

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