X11 on MacOS X

There are currently two choices, Tenon's Xtools or XFree86 for darwin. As of 2002/01/21, XFree86 officially provides an X server that supports rootless mode. Both of XFree86 and Xtools thus support rootless mode, in which X11 applications and MacOS X applications can coexist in Aqua. I am now using XFree86's rootless mode and so far it's working OK. Both Tenon's Xtools and the latest (ver.4.2.0) XFree86 for Darwin support dynamic (shared) libraries.


You can get a trial version (1.0 in my case) from

which can be downloaded via IE.  Once you get the installer package, clicking on the installer icon does everything for you.


If you have already installed Xtools and want to keep it, do

# cd /etc
# mv X11 X11.tenon
# cd /usr
# mv X11R6 X11R6.tenon

You can download precompiled binary packages from

or you can compile it for yourself. The XFree86 binary package is now available with a GUI installer. Its installation is just as easy as Xtools: clicking on the installer icon does everything for you.

In addition, if you want to install RPM packages that depend on X11's dynamic shared libraries, you need to install a dummy X11 package as:

# rpm -ivh <somewhere>/X11-1.0-2a.ppc.rpm

in order to resolve unsatisfied dependencies.

You may also need to install the Xaw3d library as:

# rpm -ivh <somewhere>/Xaw3d-1.5-4a.ppc.rpm

if you want to install packages such as gv, xdvi, etc.

Customization of X11

Optionally, you can add more fonts as you need: in my case, I added small fonts for my PowerBook's LCD.

# cd <somewhere>/fonts
# ls
6x12rk.pcf.gz             fonts.alias.75dpi.added   s5x8.pcf.gz
a12.pcf.gz                fonts.alias.misc.added
elisau10.pcf.gz           k12.pcf.gz
# cp *.gz /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/
# mkfontdir /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/
# cat fonts.alias.75dpi.added >> /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/fonts.alias
# cat fonts.alias.misc.added >> /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/fonts.alias

To switch from Xtools to XF86, or vice versa Swap

That's it. Be careful for key and mouse button assignments. Be also careful that /private/etc/X11 is a real directory unlike in Xtools where it is a symbolik link.

Back to Keisuke Fujii's HEP on X Page
fujiik@jlcuxf.kek.jp March 18, 2001