Not just a theme...

Here's the breakdown of what makes The MaXX Interactive Desktop a true successor of the great IRIX Interactive Desktop only found on SGI systems and not just a theme or skin on top of an existing window manager. As per the detail below, you will realize the extent of which it took to implement a true IRIX Interactive Desktop experience and to continue its evolution as if SGI was still in business...  


At the heart of any SGI system is the IRIX operating system, the IRIX Interactive Desktop a.k.a. IID and its 4Dwm window manager which was an enhanced version of Motifwindow manager. Similarly the MaXX Interactive Desktop sits on top of the operating system, has its own 4Dwm compatible window manager called 5Dwm which is based on OpenMotif window manager.   The development of 5Dwm started as early as March 2000 and was entirely done by Eric Masson in his free time. 5Dwm provides an identical user experience to 4Dwm and is even compatible with 4Dwm's protocols and configuration files.  5Dwm comes with its own tellwm and telldesktop command tools, also found on IRIX.   5Dwm is lean, fast and ultra responsive. It supports multi-screens, HiDPI resolutions, UTF-8 encoding,  Asian fonts and can use FreeType font rendering for crisp texts if the user desires.

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IRIX Interactive Desktop running on a SGI system.


The distinct SGI look and feel was powered by SGI Schemes and it was specific to SGI systems, until the MaXX Desktop comes along.  SGI Schemes are based on X11 Resources mechanism and C Preprocesspor allowing the definition of standardization of colors, widget sizes, margins, alignments, fonts and other UI behaviors throughout the user experience. Those settings are auto-magically injected into every X11/Xt/Motif application at startup. The changes required to support this "injection" goes deep into the X Toolkit Intrinsics Library (libXt) and therefore required our own version of libXt called libXt-maxx.  Fun fact, this is how SGI did their own implementation as well. We even reuse the SGI Scheme files in our implementation and MaXX Desktop distributions.

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Early version of MaXX Desktop running on a Linux system demonstrating SGI Schemes.

The SGI-Motif library found on SGI systems offered a nicer+smoother look and feel than the regular Motif from Sun/DEC/HP.  This lead to the creation of our own SGI-Motif libraries for version 2.1.32 (same as IRIX) and 2.3.8 (for MaXX Desktop Modern Look) allowing a drop-in binary replacements on most Linux Distributions without sacrificing stability and compatibility. 


The Viewkit Motif C++ application development framework is at the heart of many commercial SGI applications and even part of the actual SGI Desktop applications. The initial plan was to offer ICS's Viewkit license (for a fee) but sadly it failed short right after SGI declared bankruptcy and the several attempts to resurrect the company.  ICS is a really cool company by the way and we kept a good relation. Shut out to Mark and Peter.

Enters ViewKlass, a from scratch implementation derived from the Hungry ViewKit project originally written by Chris Toshok. It aims  to be source code compatible with a large subset of SGI's ViewKit library.  We are in the process of forking ViewKlass into VueMaXX and extend it  and bring it to the modern age of distributed computing and is a big part of our strategy. More to come on this exciting roadmap.

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Beta version of MaXX Desktop 2.0 running on a Linux system demonstrating ViewKlass in modern look and feel.


Other SGI technologies like Open Inventor and OpenGL Performer are part of MaXX Interactive Desktop.  Most of the code came from oss.sgi.com (Open Inventor, OpenGL Performer and other OSS projects).

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So hopefully by now you have a good idea of the kind of commitments and disciplines we put into this re-implementation of the SGI Desktop and that we are just starting... Join us in this exciting revival journey.