X server for original PC (8088/8086)

Chris Hanson cmhanson at eschatologist.net
Fri Aug 19 16:54:07 CDT 2016

On Aug 19, 2016, at 2:40 PM, Zane Healy <healyzh at aracnet.com> wrote:
>> On Aug 19, 2016, at 11:08 AM, Chris Hanson <cmhanson at eschatologist.net> wrote:
>> Back in the day, did anyone produce an X11 server for DOS-based 8086/8088 systems, say with support for Hercules or CGA graphics? Or was that strictly a 286-or-better thing, given the overall constraints of the 8086 architecture?
>> (There were plenty of mouse-and-window systems for the PC/XT back then, I expect black & white X11 over a serial link would not be *that* bad…)
>> -- Chris
> The only thing that comes to mind is DESQview/X, and IIRC, that required a minimum of a 386.  

There was plenty more than DESQview/X, and there were X11 servers that ran on 286.

> I tend to think that X11 over serial would be nothing short of nightmarish.  After all, that’s why we have VNC.

I'm very specifically talking about pure black & white, with server-side bitmap-only fonts, and also (though I didn't originally say so) with an X client itself written in the 1980s that only really bare-bones X11R3 or so and only uses black & white. And running on a workstation of that era, of course.

While I wouldn't want to use such a combination over, say, 1200bps dialup, it doesn't seem like it would be utterly awful via a direct connection at whatever the serial port on a PC with an NEC V20 (8086-compatible and around 8 MHz) could handle reliably.

  -- Chris

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