Question about +quartz vs. +x11 variants

Ryan Schmidt ryandesign at
Thu Jun 20 14:49:08 PDT 2013

On Jun 20, 2013, at 12:13, David Favor wrote:

> As these are mutually exclusive

Not in all ports. Some ports, libraries in particular, can often be installed with support for both X11 and Quartz graphics.

> someone clarify the differences.
> 1) It appears specifying a +quartz variant uses code
>   installed on a machine. Yes/No?

No, +quartz uses OS X's native Quartz graphics:

+x11 uses X11 graphics:

The "XQuartz" project is an unfortunately-named package. It is a collection of X11 software built for OS X. It provides an X11 interface for OS X. Programs communicate with XQuartz using the X11 interface, not the Quartz interface. (The Quartz interface is built into OS X and no other libraries are required to use it beyond those that come with OS X.)

> 2) How does relate to the quartz-wm port? Specifically,
>   "port install quartz-wm" + quartz-wm --version produces version 1.3.1 while the
>   XQuartz site shows version 2.7.4 + the XQuartz site implies quartz-wm is part of
>   it's code ("The quartz-wm window manager included with the XQuartz distribution...")
>   So to use latest version of XQuartz, does this require installing the .dmg file
>   from the XQuartz site?

XQuartz has its own versioning scheme. "2.7.4" only tells you the version number of that particular XQuartz collection. It does not tell you the version number of quartz-wm or any of the hundreds of other parts of the X11 system contained within XQuartz.

Apple used to include X11 in OS X. The way they did so was to include the then-current version of XQuartz in OS X. But Apple seldom updated this throughout the life of a version of OS X so it became out of date. Users could elect to update their X11 manually by installing a newer version of XQuartz. Now, Apple has removed X11 from OS X, so if you want X11 at all, and are not using MacPorts, you must install XQuartz. This ensures you'll get a current version and not an old one.

If you are using MacPorts, then installing the xorg ports is probably better, since it keeps more of your software in the MacPorts system (one place to update all your software), and it's probably more up to date than XQuartz, since each component is updated in MacPorts when it's ready, instead of having to bundle them all into a single distribution. The XQuartz package and the xorg ports in MacPorts are maintained by the same person at Apple so they are the same software.

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