Kenton Lee

How to Get Motif


Copyright © 1996-2000 by Kenton Lee, Palo Alto, California, USA. All Rights Reserved.

What is Motif?

Motif is a user interface system developed by the Open Group. Motif has become the de facto standard user interface for UNIX workstations. Motif includes:

The latest version of Motif is version 2.1.

Motif is based on the X Consortium's X Window System. More information on Motif is available on my home page.

Where to Get Motif

Motif Source Code

On May 15, 2000, the Open Group announced that it is releasing the source code of Motif using a public license to the Open Source community. See their web site for more information, terms of the license, and to download the source code.

UNIX Workstation Vendors

Most comercial UNIX workstation vendors (Digital, HP, IBM, Silicon Graphics, Sun, etc.) include Motif with their base operating systems (or offer it as an optional package). Commercial versions of UNIX for IBM PCs (SCO, Sun, etc.) also have versions of Motif for their systems. Contact your workstation vendor for more information.

Commercial Third Party Vendors

Some third party vendors also sell Motif for UNIX workstations. Compared to the vendor versions of Motif, the third party products may have additional features, older or more recent versions, or different support policies. I have no personal experience with most of these packages. See their web sites for more information:

Motif for PC UNIX

Several vendors are also selling Motif for the freeware personal computer versions of UNIX (Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD). These use the X libraries from XFree86. All of these are compiled from the Motif source code, though some are not called "Motif" because the vendors do not want to pay the Open Group's licensing fees. Note: many of the following pointers are to the Linux versions; look through the vendors' web sites for other versions.

More information on X and Motif for PCs is available. This subject is also regularly discussed in comp.os.linux.x.

Note that some current Linux packages primarily support libc5 while others primarily support glibc. Motif development environments will be compatible with one or the other, but usually not both. Make sure you choose one that is compatible with your system. The Motif vendors should be able to help you make your selection.

Motif for Microsoft Windows

Some vendors are also selling Motif development environments for some versions of Microsoft Windows:

Lesstif: A Free Motif Clone in Development

For the adventurous, a free clone of Motif 1.2 called Lesstif is being developed for XFree86 platforms. It is currently incomplete and no completion schedule has been announced. More information on Lesstif, including current status, lists of applications known to work and known to fail, and how to get the source code, is available from the Hungry Programmers. LessTif is also available for XFree86/OS2.


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Kenton Lee, kenton @ rahul.net
Last modified May 15, 2000.