Together Again

For the NeXT user who wants to run X Window applications, there is a new contender in the NeXT market. Cub'x Systémes, located in Paris, is offering Cub'X Window. Fully compliant with the MIT specifications for X11R4, this X Window system provides true X11 client/server architecture on the NeXT computer. The Cub'X Window product includes the run-time environment, the development environment, Motif 1.1.3, and on-line documentation.

X Windows is an outgrowth of MIT's attempt to find one graphical environment to run on all platforms ("X on the NeXT," NeXTWORLD Fall 1991). Cub'X offers three server options: X11 running simultaneously with NeXT applications, running in a parallel virtual screen, or running without NeXTstep.

Since X is meant to be the same across platforms, there are three main areas of comparison. The first is installation, a giant issue for a program as complex as X. The second is the method for interfacing with the NeXT, and the third is raw performance.

Installation is easy with Cub'X Window – it takes up just 25MB of disk space. The number of disks can be intimidating, but the Cub'X manual has easy-to-follow instructions. And the engineers at Cub'x have done a good job of automating the installation process.

The executable app installed on each machine requires a license number provided by Cub'x Systémes that is keyed off that particular machine. Each machine that runs the software must have a license number, introducing problems at the system-administration level. This copy-protection scheme is aggravating.

The mode of interaction with NeXTstep is changing. The current shipping version, 2.01, runs with NeXTstep and X Windows in separate, parallel screens, between which the user toggles. In this paradigm, the NeXT and X worlds don't really mix; moving between X and NeXTstep requires a mouse gyration. This can be confusing when you are mousing around the NeXT Dock, although command-key shortcuts do help the situation. Alternatively, you can run without the NeXTstep environment at all. The NeXT and X pasteboards interact for cut, copy, and paste between environments.

Version 3.0 (seen in alpha) is a real advance on either of these models. It treats each X window as a separate NeXT-type window within the NeXT environment. This "rootless" model greatly enhances the everyday utility of running X on the NeXT.

Cub'X comes complete with many X Window development tools to build custom X Window applications. Standard libraries are supplied. Although the manual describes many common problems with running and developing X applications on a NeXT computer, you must purchase X development documentation separately.

Cub'X claims to be fast, and our tests bear this out. On a NeXTstation with 32MB of RAM, it took 5 seconds to display a standard X background and cursor, 20 seconds to display the Cub'X background, and 5 more seconds to display X applications – 30 seconds total. Cub'X, especially with 3.0 in the future, is a strong candidate for any installation that needs X Window functionality. Based on the current shipping products, Cub'X is the best X implementation we've seen so far.

by Joe Borello

Cub'X Window 2.01

4 Cubes

A very solid X11R4 X Window system for the NeXT computer. Fast and complete version of this popular workstation system software. Includes Motif 1.1.3 tools and libraries and has excellent installation software. Works with or without NeXTstep. Annoying copy-protection scheme.

$590 per business site license

$354 per education site license

Cub'x Systémes 8 rue F›lix Pyat, 92043 Paris La Def›nse, France.

33/1/46-93-29-25, 33/1/46-93-29-21 fax.