Kenton Lee

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

PC Motif Update

Kenton Lee, October, 1996

With over one million web hits to date, my most most popular The X Advisor column of 1995 was my September column, "Developing Motif Application Programs on Your Home PC". That column discussed my experiences in installing a low-cost Motif application development environment on my home IBM PC clone. That environment included:

Reader feedback has been very positive. I'm glad that you found that interesting and useful.

A lot has changed in the year and a half since I wrote that column, so I thought I'd take a moment to update it. Much of the software version information in that column is now out-of-date. The rest of the material should still be accurate, however, so please review it before continuing.

New Hardware

I have a new PC now. Prices for Pentium chips, RAM memory, and disk drives have gone way down, so I my new PC is 10 times faster than the old one, but cost only a little more. I now have:

I bought the (core of) the machine from a local PC clone shop. Clones tend to use more standardized (and often better quality) components, so are often more popular with Linux users, than are proprietary PCs.

New Software

I've also upgraded to the latest version of Linux Slackware, version 3.1, also known as Slackware 96. This version of Slackware includes the new Linux 2.0 kernel. The Linux 2.0 kernel includes a number of improvements, including support for many of the newer PC hardware components.

Slackware 3.1 also includes XFree86 version 3.1.2. This implementation of the X Window System is based on the X Consortium's X11R6 distribution.

Linux 2.0 fully supports the (now stable) ELF executable file format. The Infomagic Motif package I used last year used the older a.out file format and contained an obsolete version of the ELF format libraries. I upgraded this to the latest Infomagic Motif release. The new version, like the older version, is built from OSF's Motif 2.0 source code.

Everything works fine so far. The Linux installation procedure is essentially the same as I described in the TXA column. The Pentium PCs make pretty good UNIX workstations.

I run both Linux and Microsoft Windows 95 on the PC. I use the loadlin program, supplied with Linux, to switch between the two.

Other Considerations

Slackware is not the only Linux software distribution worth considering. The Red Hat Linux distribution is also very popular and their new version 4.0 is comparable to Slackware 3.1. Both Slackware and Red Hat Linux have received good reviews in comp.os.linux.setup.

Many vendors other than Infomagic are selling Motif for Linux. I've listed them on a separate web page. That page is updated regularly.

If you're interested, Xi Graphics (formerly XInside) is now selling the Common Desktop Environment (CDE) for Linux. Note that CDE is currently based on Motif 1.2.5, not Motif 2.0. I haven't tried this yet.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Linux still makes a great, low cost X/Motif/UNIX software development environment. If this interests you, give it a try.

If you'd like more information on the X Window System and OSF/Motif, please visit my home page.


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Kenton Lee, kenton @ rahul.net
Last modified October 31, 1996.