Is there a reasonably easy way to run NeWS (Network-extensible Window System, a PostScript-based window system made by researchers at Sun in the 1980s) on current computers?


There have been 2 efforts to make an emulator that I'm aware of. Rbuss was a project to emulate NeWS on the original Sun hardware.

And my own project xpost was intended to be a clone of NeWS. But it's an immense undertaking. After 5 years, I almost got the IPC mechanisms working for multitasking, but never got events or window classes implemented.

For many years, the documentation was hard to come by. Until US libraries started purging their tech books about 2014 when they finally showed up for purchase. And shortly afterword, they were up on bitsavers.

AFAIK, Display Postscript is still available from Adobe for X11. DPS doesn't offer everything from NeWS but does give you PostScript output for C applications. Some of the really nifty features of NeWS like running lightweight processes right on the server are missing.

Older versions of ghostscript had DPS extensions, but I believe it is no longer included in mainline.

Last time I looked into it, NeWS itself was available from Sun with full sources for $1000. So with an old Sun machine, or possibly an emulator, the real thing could be resurrected.

Edit: there is a new project to create an emulator for NeWS, called noticias. Early days, but it is written in Dart hence compilable for various platforms including the web.

  • Awesome project - thank you for your efforts! Is there some original source release or documentation that are publicly available, and if so, would you mind adding those to your anwswer for the benefit of future explorers? Are there web links to xpost and Rbuss? – Lassi Aug 21 '19 at 6:44
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    I'll try to dig up the materials I have about Rbuss. I may not even be spelling it correctly. Xpost is on github – luser droog Aug 22 '19 at 5:22
  • We should find someone who knows Gosling or Rosenthal personally and convince them to influence Sun to release the code as open source. I doubt they've sold many of those $1000 packages in recent years :) – Lassi Aug 22 '19 at 9:06
  • When i worked for a company that tried to license it, a difficulty was that Sun didn't own all of it - Morisawa owned the Folio fonts and AT&T owned parts too i think. For sure you could run OpenWindows on SunOS 4.1.3 or an early Solaris in an emulator though. – barefootliam Jan 22 at 5:34

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