Updated X11 on Leopard

If you’re using X11 a lot on a mac, and you’ve upgraded to Leopard, you might have run into several issues. Some of the niceties include:

  • yellow cursor bug on Intel
  • multi-monitor support is broken (you can’t drag an X11 window to a second monitor)
  • crashes galore

Simply put, stock X11 on Leopard sucks. This is due to the new X11 being based on the new x.org codebase, while the old Tiger X11 was based on the xfree86 codebase. The new codebase is (in theory) much better than the old, since it’s supposed to be modular, which allows for an easier development process, but it’s also less stable. Bummer.

Understandably, there’s been a lot of discussion going on at the X11-Users Apple mailing list about this. A workaround involves getting rid of the Leopard X11 and re-install the Tiger one, but this is not a perfect solution as it involves messing with some system-level stuff and the end result is pretty flaky – in my case I got two X11 icons in my dock, and one of them kept bouncing forever.

Fortunately, all is not lost, as an updated version of Xquartz has been posted at X11-Users, which fixes the most glaring bugs (most notably, the multi-monitor support is restored). This version works a lot better, meaning it is usable, while the plain Leopard X11 is not… It is also already compiled, so all you have to do is download it and replace the old Xquartz with it. Simple and efficient. It’s still rough (I had several crashes, and there are some weird focus issues) but at least it works.

Update: Apparently, there’s now a wiki devoted to X11 on Leopard, where you can get up-to-date binaries to upgrade your X11… and an extensive FAQ hosted at macosxhints.

Note that there are also nice things to be found in the new X11: you should never need to launch it manually, since it automatically detects when it’s needed and launches itself when required. AND (this is a big one) it even works over ssh connections 🙂 No more need to close remote logins to start X11…

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