Re: [dev] Interesting post about X11

From: Ethan Grammatikidis <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 13:52:29 +0100

On 15 Jun 2010, at 09:58, Robert Ransom wrote:

> On Tue, 15 Jun 2010 10:38:43 +0200
> Alexander Teinum <> wrote:
>> That could make a web-based terminal application almost as
>> snappy as xterm if done right.
> So, you think that
> - a terminal emulator written in JavaScript
> - which produces its output by manipulating XML DOM objects
> - which in turn cause a browser to rerun its page *layout* algorithm
> - and then redraw the terminal screen
> will be as snappy as xterm? Or by ‘done right’, do you mean that you
> want a terminal written in Java or Google Native Client?
> Where's Uriel?

Indeed! Off in some less deeply disturbing thread, perhaps? >:-) Kurt
H Maier made some solid points, but these points written here so
exactly parallel the JavaStation tale I had to reply here.


If you're a little ambitious and, say, want to come up with THE next
big thing in the computing world, don't try to come up with something
yourself. Look a little way into the past, around 10 years is always a
good bet. Take an idea from that time, rephrase about half of the
terminology to sound good in present-day, and add a liberal sprinkling
of suck to make the new terms look like they fit. YOUR SUCKY

It _will_ be praised as the latest and greatest. The very few people
who notice it was around 10 years ago will be utterly ignored by the
vast flood of mindless praise you will receive. No, that's not right.
It's much worse than that. Those who notice will be taken for fools,
because the vast flock of sheep which constitutes the technology-
worshipping crowd today really, genuinely believe tiny differences in
the way something is phrased actually mean a real, deep, and complete
difference in the technology.

So, JavaStations. Hardware and software purpose-designed for zero
administration, using Java not JavaScript, a real programming language
with far fewer layers between it and the hardware than "web
technology" has. Note JavaStations, when people put Linux on them
instead of JavaOS, turned out to be quite reasonable machines. The
hardware was quite adequate for the era. Note too the timescale, it's
a little over 10 years. Note 3 the subtle change in terminology, Java
was marketed as (and thus widely believed to be) the _network_
programming language. Network, web, big difference eh?

Allow me to quote from a professor who was subjected to JavaStations
in his computing lab. This is quoted in the Linux JavaStation HOWTO. [1]

> Well, of course the old JavaStations were practically unusable.
It's not a matter of just my opinion; we used to have CU 310 full of
students using the Xterms all the time. As soon as the JavaStations
appeared there were NO STUDENTS in there at all. The JavaStations
killed CU 310. Now that the JavaStations are (thanks to you) back up
to speed, students are beginning to come back, but they've gotten out
of the habit of working in our lab, and are used to working on their
own in the dorms. I think this is a big loss -- they don't learn
anything from talking to each other in the labs anymore.

> Ghostview was slow, etc, but even vi was too slow. I am used to
typing quickly, and when the cursor can't keep up with me, I can't
handle it. I would also have worked at home if I didn't have to be
here. And there were those annoying red squares left all over the
Xterm window when you were in vi. I had to type ^L every few lines to
get rid of them to see what I was typing... The pits. The whole setup
made me lose a lot of respect for Sun (although I try to separate the
different product lines as much as possible); I also think Sun will
not get respect for hyping a product like the JavaStation so strongly,
and then just dumping it. I would wonder why anyone would not just
dump Sun...

> BTW, the JavaStations, now that they are fast, are quite fine. I
really like mine, and don't see why they aren't a viable product.

  -- Dr. Mark Barnard, Professor at Marquette University (Quoted March
2000) <>


Do not specify what the computer should do for you, ask what the  
computer can do for you.
Received on Tue Jun 15 2010 - 12:52:29 UTC

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