Anyone running X11 apps on Mojave?

Ryan Schmidt ryandesign at
Sun Nov 25 08:49:07 UTC 2018

On Nov 23, 2018, at 23:59, Fred Weinhaus wrote:

> I use Xquartz on my Mac OSX Sierra just fine. But I got it from I do not think Apple supports X11 any longer, only Quartz.

Let's make sure we're not confusing terms. Your last sentence makes it sound like X11 and Quartz are somehow related or equivalent things, but they have nothing to do with one another. There have been some unfortunate naming choices, however, which can lead to confusion.

"X11" is the X window system, a framework for creating GUI applications on UNIX-like operating systems. Apple used to bundle a copy of X11 with macOS, but hasn't done so for many years now. The extent to which Apple supports X11 on those systems on which they bundled it probably amounts to verifying that it launches, and maybe helping you reinstall it if you removed it. The extent to which Apple supports X11 on systems it was not bundled with would be the same as their support of any other non-bundled third-party application, which is to say not at all. Whether or not Apple supports X11 or any other third-party application has no bearing on whether or not it will work.

"Quartz" is a macOS API for drawing two-dimensional graphics. It's also known as Core Graphics. Most any macOS app that draws anything on the screen will use Quartz / Core Graphics at some point.

"XQuartz" is a standalone build of X11 for macOS by Jeremy Huddleston Sequoia, an evolution of the X11 Apple used to bundle. (Jeremy is an Apple employee.) It has nothing to do with Quartz, except to the extent that it uses the Quartz graphics routines. It might have been less confusing if it had been called "X11 for macOS".

You can get the same software as in the XQuartz distribution by installing the MacPorts xorg-server port (or the xorg-server-devel port, if you'd like a newer development version rather than the latest stable version). In this case the application will be called instead of but it is the same software. The MacPorts xorg ports are also maintained by Jeremy.

Many MacPorts ports that use X11 (or more precisely, ports that use GTK, which usually uses X11) can be changed (by selecting the +quartz variant) so that they use Quartz graphics directly, bypassing the X11 routines. This lets those ports provide a mode macOS-native GUI experience and eliminates the need to launch the separate X window environment.

More information about the macports-users mailing list