20 percent is a nice surprise

I wouldn’t have thought running X-less would be quite so popular, but if you watch a poll on the Ubuntu forums, it seems around 20 percent of people replying lump themselves into the “I use Linux without X” category.

That number is likely to fluctuate, of course. And it may not be a fair indicator, since Ubuntu users tend to be more desktop users than “Linux geeks” … although the population in the cafe sometimes leans heavily in the Arch Linux direction. And that crowd can be considerably more “geeky” than others.

But still, 20 percent is a nice surprise. I was expecting something in the range of 5 to 10 percent, but it’s an encouraging result. Perhaps if more people give life without X a try, the number will spike a little bit. … :D

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7 Responses to “20 percent is a nice surprise”


  1. 1 IceBrain 2009/09/19 at 9:44 AM

    That’s a high number, no doubt. Although some people in the topic mentions not using X in servers, which could skew the results.

    I could probably live without Xorg for most of the things (I already use mostly CLI apps), but a “full featured” web browser still keeps me on GUI land, along with video playing (Xorg can use video acceleration, which decreases both CPU and battery usage).

    And the reality is that Xorg only uses 2% of my RAM, which hardly gets used to more than 50%, so there’s really no point in disabling it. Unused resources are just wasted resources.

    Sure, I could probably use an older laptop with less RAM if I didn’t use X, but then I wouldn’t have a nice CPU (absolutely needed for compilation and movie conversion), a large HD to store my music and movies, and finally a decent battery – old laptops have lost too much capacity already to be useful outside my house).

  2. 2 CorkyAgain 2009/09/19 at 9:45 AM

    It would interesting to see how many of the people using X use it exclusively.

    Do they, for example, know how to write a simple shell script?

    Know what nohup and nice do?

    Use rsync to back up their files?

    The reason I’m wondering about this is because, even when we talk about terminal programs, we almost always end up talking about programs with what ESR calls “captive interfaces”.

    Now, maybe you *can* be a “Linux geek” without having much shell-fu. But can you really call yourself a Unix geek if you don’t?

  3. 3 shae 2009/09/19 at 1:09 PM

    Wow! That is way higher than I would have expected to run without X for very long. I mean I have done some without-X in the Server environment, but other than that it is X for me. Perhaps I am a little spoiled on respectable hardware though.

    I do think, however, that it is really cool that even today you can get a lot done without X.

  4. 4 aligrudi 2009/09/22 at 1:00 AM

    Maybe not much related to this post, here is some of the framebuffer
    tools that I use.

    * fbpad: a framebuffer terminal emulator that uses libfreetype
    * http://repo.or.cz/w/fbpad.git
    * why written
    * using truetype fonts
    * bigger fonts when using LCDs at native resolution
    * easier terminal management and switching
    * similar: fbterm, fbcon
    * fbpdf: a framebuffer pdf viewer
    * http://repo.or.cz/w/fbpdf.git
    * uses poppler and cairo; no need need to install gtk/pango
    * fbff: a simple ffmpeg/alsa-based movie player
    * http://repo.or.cz/w/fbff.git
    * very basic
    * takes a magnify arg (repeats pixels); good for old machines
    * similar: mplayer -vo fbdev

    But most of them are NOT user friendly, featureful, meant to be released
    and documented ;-) Most configs (like font path and framebuffer depth)
    should be set by editting source files. Hope someone finds them useful.

    • 5 K.Mandla 2009/09/24 at 11:39 AM

      Thanks, I’ll have to give those a try. I love trying new programs! :mrgreen:

      • 6 aligrudi 2009/09/25 at 2:01 AM

        Yesterday I needed a vnc client. After having a look at the available
        clients, I decided to write my own minimal version. So I wrote fbvnc
        which is a clone of vt52vnc. It does not support vnc passwords, so I
        run vncserver without any password.

        http://repo.or.cz/w/fbvnc.git

        Like other programs in my previous post, you need to change the fbval_t
        typedef to match your framebuffer color depth (the default is unsigned
        short for 16-bit framebuffers). Also it is black and white but adding
        colors is a matter of changing a few lines. Have a look at the source
        code for its keybinding and CLI args.

        Again, hope someone finds it useful :-)


  1. 1 A quick look at framebuffer applications « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/04/16 at 12:01 PM

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