SUMMARY: AnswerBook on X-terminals

From: Kerry Kinnersley (
Date: Fri Mar 20 1992 - 17:45:16 CST

My Original Question:
Subject: AnswerBook running on X-terminal?

 I have a problem running the doc-viewer on the X-terminal when using
AnswerBook. I was told by Sun it wouldn't work because of the nature of
xnews not being extended to the X-terminals. I am running xdm. Is there
a work around? How do I get doc-viewer to work on X-terminals?

Many Thanks to:

From: todd@flex.Eng.McMaster.CA (Todd Pfaff)
From: (Mike Halderman)
From: fwp@CC.MsState.Edu (Frank Peters)
From: (Houck)
From: bernards@ECN.NL (Marcel Bernards)
From: (Rand S. Huntzinger)
From: fed!m1rcd00@uunet.UU.NET
From: (John Marsh)
From: Matt Crawford <>
From: antonson@Software.ORG (Todd S. Antonson)
From: Mike Raffety <>
From: Terry Rosenbaum <>
From: Steve Hanson <>
From: synapsis!cristian@Sun.COM (Christian Candia White)
From: censun1!fox!cb@uunet.UU.NET (Charlie Butterfield)
From: (Randy garrett)
From: (Ian MacPhedran)
From: milt@PE-Nelson.COM (Milt Ratcliff)
From: synaptx!jen!rheaton@uunet.UU.NET
From: phillips@athena.Qualcomm.COM (Marc Phillips)
From: (Kerry Kinnersley)
From: "Grootwassink, David" <GROOTWASS@hostname>
From: eric@mpl.UCSD.EDU (Eric Wolin)
From: David Fetrow <>
From: vanandel@rsf.atd.ucar.EDU (Joe VanAndel)
From: Mark.McIntosh@engr.UVic.CA
From: (Jim Knutson)
From: Simon Shickman <>
From: (William LeFebvre)

Overall summary:
   1. Sun did a bad thing in using Xnews
   2. Future releases of AnswerBook may be based on X11 only.
   3. You can't *really* do it on X-terminals

Individual Answers:

If doc-viewer is a NEWS application, it shoudl not work on an X terminal.
Sun would be correct.

I guess I marvel at how much of OpenWindows will run on an X terminal.

From: todd@flex.Eng.McMaster.CA (Todd Pfaff)

You don't unfortunately. AnswerBook relies on Sun's NeWS windowing system
which is a subset of OpenWindows. OpenWindows is Sun's implementation of
X, NeWS and SunView rolled into one system. An X terminal doesn't have the
NeWS capability and so can't display any NeWS windowing applications.

From: (Mike Halderman)
I don't think you can get it to work because the doc-viewer uses the display-
Postscript abilities of xnews.


From: fwp@CC.MsState.Edu (Frank Peters)
You can't. The doc-viewer uses NeWS calls to display the postscript
files. Since your X-terminal supports X but not NeWS the NeWS calls
won't work.

You can use GNU ghostscript to display the postscript datafiles that
Answerbook uses. But it won't interact with the navigator to display
display searched pages.

Hopefully Sun is working to publish the interface so that other people
could code a navigator <-> ghostscript interface. Don't hold your
breath though.

From: (Houck)
summarize or get off the list.
(Thanks be being so warm and helpful, Jeorg)



Vendors are committed to the notion of an open, vendor-independent
base of software (in this case a window system) only as far as
customers require them to be to sell things. In this case, Sun has
chosen to 'differentiate' their systems by (a) extending their window
system in an proprietary fashion incompatible with the rest of the X
universe, then (b) basing a desirable piece of software on the

> How do I get doc-viewer to work on X-terminals?

You don't.

> Is there a work around?

Be an informed consumer. Use MIT X. Don't become sucked into a
dependency on software you have no control over. Spend your money
that would otherwise go to purchase proprietary products on software
development that you will receive the source code for, such as
anything by the GNU, BSD, or MIT folks.

One particularly good place to spend US$2K is on hurrying up Cygnus
Support's port of gcc to Sun's SysVR4. You will have to spend this
much to get Sun's compiler for a couple machines; you might as well
get a better compiler that you receive complete source for and may use
anywhere you like. See the gnu newsgroups for details.


 Brian Bartholomew - - Univ. of Florida Dept. of Mathematics

From: bernards@ECN.NL (Marcel Bernards)

In no way you can run this one on a native X-terminal
docviewer uses the NeWS display postscript extention for this beast
Thats why I like DEC's bookreader !
Its native X11 ( just a few font problems which can be easily solved )

I use some old 3/50's as Xterminal running just /vmunix, screenblank
and xnews window server software.
Then you hav also a NeWS terminal.

Talking about open standards HAH!!!
Sun speaks against itself.

Why wont those guys use just ordinary X11R4 for this tool. ?
Just to sell more workstations !

Flames to /dev/null :-)

Marcel Bernards, UNIX & Net sysadm Netherlands Energy Research Foundation ECN


Please summarize. My impression is that it's not
"doable". Rumours are that Sun are working on an


From: (Rand S. Huntzinger)
   It is my understanding that the document viewer uses the NeWS portion of
of the xnews server (which supports X11, NeWS and Sunview (sort of)). Since
an X11 terminal doesn't support NeWS, this application won't run on it. I
don't think there is a practical workaround.

 sun is correct. Whatever X terminal you are using doesnt run the
 Xnews server. Therefore doc-viewer cant work. You must be running
 on the console of the sun under openwins to do this.

 BTW, if you read the license aggreement it is a 1 user aggreement.
 Thus if you provide a way, even using X windows, so that more than
 "1 user" can access the answerbook at a time your are violating the
 license agreement.

 Personnally, I think suns stubborn addherance to NeWs is going to
 get them eventually. Express your discontent to any sun employee that
 will listen. If enough of us complain they may provide a doc-viewer
 that uses ghostscript or something.

Malcolm Strickland Martin Marietta Electronic Systems

From: fed!m1rcd00@uunet.UU.NET
X terminals don't support NeWS, a PostScript-based windowing system. X
terminals typically only support X. The documentation files displayed
by the AnswerBook are stored in PostScript format, and NeWS is required
to interpret those files. Sun is rumored to be considering changing
this, but don't hold your breath.

Bob Drzyzgula

From: (John Marsh)
SUN is right. X terminals do X. XNews is NOT X. The AnswerBook
uses XNews calls. Soooo... No can do.

I asked this question several weeks ago. The answer: No. Answerbook
depends on NeWS.

Steve (Holmes).

From: Matt Crawford <>
In theory you can do it. You need to get some display postscript
interpreter listening on port 2000 and drawing on your screen.
Since it's probably beyond your means to cook up a display postscript
driver and burn it into a new ROM for your xterminal, it would mean
hacking up a program on your computer to pretend to be the display
server but translate postscript to X and divert it to the real X

In practice, forget it.

Matt Crawford Astronomy & Astrophysics U of Chicago

From: antonson@Software.ORG (Todd S. Antonson)
It won't work unless you can get an xnews server to run on your X terminal.

Todd S. Antonson |

From: Mike Raffety <>
NO. AnswerBook is rendering PostScript to the screen, using the
NeWS side of the Xnews server; it's not doing X11 protocol, and
therefore won't work on X terminals.

Please be sure to summarize back to the list; thanks.

        I believe that unless you're able to run openwindows on
the X-terminal, with its own X-server that supports NeWS or XneWS,
your efforts are doomed to failure. The AnswerBook needs those
libraries to run, and they must be supported by the X-server in
use. Some cheap X-terminals I believe need to load the X-server
from their file server. One can probably hack the process to work
and load the OW X-server.

  = = = = Gustavo Vegas

From: Terry Rosenbaum <>
Sorry, it's very unlikely that you'll find a solution to this problem. The issue is this: Sun workstations run the xnews server (which supports postscript rendering to a window). viewdoc uses a postscript xnews canvas to display documents. Most X-Terminals run a standard X11R4 server built into them, not an xnews server. Thus, there is NO support for postscript windows. I know of no X terminals that run an xnews server. Unless Sun decides to provide some ascii display solution for the text in answerb

From: Steve Hanson <>
Sun told you right. It won't work. That's about all there is
to it.

Steve Hanson - FERMILAB, Batavia, Il.  (708)840-8043 or

From: synapsis!cristian@Sun.COM (Christian Candia White) ------------------------------------------------------- Answer Book it write using NeWS, not X11. The comunication between the NeWS server and the client is done by using Postcript language not X11 structures. I think it's impossible run NeWS applications on X-terminals ( let me know if I'm wrong ).

Christian Candia W. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: censun1!fox!cb@uunet.UU.NET (Charlie Butterfield) ------------------------------------------------------- First, there is no solution.

Second, I think we should all yell and scream at sun about this one. It is hardly in the spirit of "open systems" to provide key applications in an X-based environment that rely on special features (eg NeWS) of one vendors implementation.

| Charlie Butterfield | E-Mail: (| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: (Randy garrett) -------------------------------- THe catch is probably that Answerbook actually used Postscript for the page displays. This is supported by the NeWS part of the xnews server but not by straight X. xnews is a merger of X and NeWS. Of course, there are postscript viewers that work under X, so you could access the pages individually, but I doubt you would get the nice search and navigation. You'd just have to say display some file that lives in Answerbook.

Dr Randy Garrett ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: (Ian MacPhedran) --------------------------------------------- What you can do is use PostScript viewer, such as Ghostscript or ghostview (a better previewer based on Ghostscript) to view the PostScript files that are the basis of the AnswerBook documentation. Unfortunately, you can't use the Navigator program to find the chapters etc. for you. You have to view each file directly.

Ghostscript is written by L. Peter Deutsch and is available via anonymous ftp from in /pub/gnu

ghostview is written by Tim Theisen, and is available by anonymous ftp from

Funny, your message appears to be from BC. Isn't Sidney, Canada in Nova Scotia? >>> NO, Sidney is in BC! not to be confused with NS <<< Ian. THE Saskatoon, Canada (not to be confused with Saskatoon, Alberta, Canada) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: milt@PE-Nelson.COM (Milt Ratcliff) ---------------------------------------- Trust Sun. The doc-viewer requires the X11/NeWS server with the emphasis in the NeWS. This is a postscript based server and is not available on any X-terminals to my knowledge.

Milt Ratcliff ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: synaptx!jen!rheaton@uunet.UU.NET -------------------------------------- Basically, as far as I know, you don't. The AnswerBook software uses the NeWS extensions to the X server which are only in the OpenWindows server. NeWS is this formerly separate window system from Sun which uses PostScript in some integral way. That means it's relatively easy to get a doc-viewer to work with it, since it's easy to get documentation into PostScript form. Unfortunately, the X window system doesn't understand PostScript at all, unless you write a PostScript-interpreting client such as ghostscript from GNU.

If you could get AnswerBook somehow to output its PostScript to some pipe to some X PostScript client (like ghostscript), then you might be able to display stuff. I doubt, however, that you could do that without sources to the AnswerBook software.

If, however, I turn out to be wrong, I'd really love to hear about it. I've got some X-terminals that I would like to run this software on too.

Rick Heaton ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: phillips@athena.Qualcomm.COM (Marc Phillips) ------------------------------------------------- Doc Viewer wont run. The problem is you are not running xnews built by Sun which has a post-script interpreter built into it which talks to the graphics card.

Marc Phillips --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Grootwassink, David" <GROOTWASS@hostname> ------------------------------------------------ I'm afraid that it won't work (at least not very well) on an X terminal. The reason is that it is not an X program. It is based on the NeWS side of the XNeWS system. All the answerbook stuff is in postscript, I have heard of some people using some PD postscript viewers (i.e. ghostscript) with a limited amount of sucess. -Dave -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: eric@mpl.UCSD.EDU (Eric Wolin) ------------------------------------ Please do summarize if there is a work around. What I have heard is that you need to run openwin as the server task but can then run xterm clients.

Eric Scripps Inst. of Oceanography La Jolla, California -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: David Fetrow <> ------------------------------------------------------- I'd be interested in a workaround. Answerbook currently uses NeWS and you are sitting an Xterminal. THose are different windowing systems.

NeWS is technically nicer than Xwindows but it never caught on outside Sun (It's quite similar to NeXTstep)where they merged the servers for 3 different windowing systems (X11, NeWS and Suntools) into a single server (OpenLook).

I believe they plan on moving Answerbook to pure X11.

-dave -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: vanandel@rsf.atd.ucar.EDU (Joe VanAndel) --------------------------------------------- Yes, Sun in their policy of "open computing" (heavy sarcasm), uses the Postscript features of OpenWindows for AnswerBook. Your X terminal doesn't understand this protocol, so there is NO hope that you can read Answerbook on your X terminal. I have the same agravation, since I run X11R5 on my systems, not OpenWindows.

So, no workaround exists. -- Joe VanAndel -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Mark.McIntosh@engr.UVic.CA -------------------------------- No X terminal that I know of has a NeWS server component. You must run the Sun Openwindow 2.0 or 3.0 xnews server to have Answerbook work. You can run Postscript previewers (such as GNU's Ghostscript) on your X terminal, but the Answerbook isn't simply the Postscript you print on a Laserwriter. It uses NeWS extensions for display and user interaction as well. Sorta like the Display Postscript on NeXT machines.

I'd like to pour a ton of bricks on Sun for doing this. Online docs are great, but not everyone using a Sun has one on their desk, or wants to use xnews even if they do. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox.

Mark J. McIntosh <Mark.McIntosh@engr.UVic.CA> ____________________________________________________________________________

From: (Jim Knutson) ---------------------------------------------- It won't run on X-terminals. AnswerBook uses NeWS.

Jim -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Simon Shickman <> ----------------------------------------------- I've read somewhere that Ghostscript, GSPreview and Ghostview may do the work for you. Please sent me a summary.

Thank you.

Ghostscript is on ( in /pub/gnu GSPreview is on ( in /contrib Ghostview is on ( in /pub

Simon Shickman ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: (William LeFebvre) ---------------------------------------------- NeWS != X.

AnswerBook uses NeWS.

Sun's X server is called "X11/NeWS" for a reason!

I have heard a rumor that future versions of AnswerBook will use straight X and will not rely on NeWS. Until that time, you will only be able to use it with a server (terminal/computer) that supports NeWS.

William LeFebvre Computing Facilities Manager and Analyst Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Northwestern University <> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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