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No Longer For Sale - Now Free!

OPEN LOOK was a specification for user interfaces, developed at the late, great Sun Microsystems with input from Xerox. XView was Sun's mainstream implementation of it (there were others), based on their earlier SunView toolkit. XView was completely open source, a first for a mainstream commercial UI toolkit.

The OPEN LOOK and XView Documentation and Source Code CD was a large but affordable collection of mostly-free software, focussing primarily on OPEN LOOK, XView, and the NeWS Window System. OPEN LOOK is a very good specification for a Graphical User Interface, or GUI, primarily popular on the UNIX and Linux operating systems. XView is an easy-to-use toolkit for writing OPEN LOOK programs under the X Window System. NeWS was Sun's Network extensible Window System, a faster, lighter-weight window system alternative to X. NeWS was designed by James Gosling, who later designed the Java Programming Language. Under the Common Open Systems Environment process, OPEN LOOK was "phased out", though it was at the time still actively used, both inside Sun and by their customers, and in the Linux and other free-software communities. And under competition from Display PostScript, the NeWS window system was also abandoned by Sun. We simply chose to provide a single source for all publicly-available material related to them.

Many people think that OPEN LOOK is a better GUI than (say) Motif. That's purely a matter of opinion, of course, but it's ours, and many share it. There are some good human-factors reasons why OPEN LOOK is more "intuitive." As well, the XView toolkit was the first free-software commercial-quality toolkit for developing full-scale X applications, and is widely used in the Sun and Linux communities (this is not to disparage Tk, QT or GTK, which came later).


The OLCD actually got one review in the Linux Journal.

Where to get it now?

The declining use of XView lead to a drop in sales of the CD. It is still listed on Amazon and occasionally copies turn up there. However, meanwhile, I have open sourced it! Here's where to get the material:

  • GitHub: Most of the documents, and the X-related program files, from the original CD-ROM image file (about 300 MB) are now archived on
  • Book - Volume 3, OPEN LOOK
  • Book - Volume 7A, XVIEW
  • Book - Volume 7B, XVIEW
  • The X Window System Source Code
  • The XFree86 fork source code
  • The MGR Window System Source Code, originally by Steve Uhler of Bellcore; a complete window system written by one person.
  • XView Programs The CD included at least these XView programs:
    src/xview:     facman         olxvman        sidtool        xvmines-1.0
    Ftptool4.6b4   faxtool1.2     owrolo         sweeper-1.1    xvnews-2.3
    NADagent       fsptool-1.6.1  painter        textedit       xvnotice
    apex-1.1       genix_ui       pan3.0         timekeeper     xvokscript
    catcher        gil2bil        phonetool      tree           xvset_0.80
    clock          graphed        privtool-0.83  videoteXt-0.5  xvtdl-5.0
    cmdtool        guide          props          workman        xwb
    coffee         index.html     props_ui       xcalentool     yamailt_ui
    disktool-2.0   mahjongg2.1    rasview        xrolo-2.06     xplan
    dstool         moxftp-2.2     robotx0.48     xvgr-2.09
    examples       ol-wais        scantool       xvirtual
There was also an OPEN LOOK Frequently Asked Questions, from Usenet, in the last century, that is probably online somewhere.
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