XQuartz was always the goto for running X applications on a MacOS desktop. It's been a couple of years since the last version of Quartz and there is no activity on the github, so we may assume that the XQuartz project is dead. Are there any alternatives for running X application on a MacOS desktop?

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    Do you have a particular issue with a X application? Generally, if it aint' broke then don't fix it. – fd0 Sep 21 '19 at 16:08
  • Yes and no. No because all X apps from my Linux box start properly on my MacOS desktop. Yes because i am trying to run a full Linux desktop on my Mac and XQuartz crashed when i try to do this. – Ton Machielsen Sep 21 '19 at 16:11
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    Well, any extensions build into X/Wayland in the last years are not in Xquarz. Maybe try a simpler desktop, or ask a question specific about the problems you run into. – nohillside Sep 21 '19 at 17:50

There are really no strictly better alternatives.

XQuartz is usually the best option for running an X server on a Mac.

If you're running older OS X versions, you might prefer X11.app from Apple.

If you're using older Mac hardware with PowerPC CPUs, you can also run XFree86 in the Darwin/PowerPC port (note that Xorg.org is originally a forked XFree86).

If you simply looking for alternatives - you could also take a look at WeirdX. It is old, it is slow and doesn't have as many features as Xorg - but it is an alternative:


Besides that - there's always the option of running for example Linux in a virtual machine on your Mac, and then run your X server in there (for example Xorg).

Also you could look at alternative ways of connecting to your Linux desktop. For example you could use Xpra:


There's a macOS client - but there's also a HTML5 client for accessing the desktop through a browser.

Another alternative would be to use VNC instead of the X protocol.


You can use MacPorts. X11 from MacPorts are newer than others.

Quote from FAQ for MacPorts

MacPorts does not use the X11 client libraries provided by the system and installs its own copy. This allows for more consistent support for older machines which are not as up to date (especially Tiger which doesn't have a pkg-config compatible X11 SDK). Most X11 packages in MacPorts are newer than those shipped by Apple and usually reflect the latest work from the ​XQuartz Project.

e.g. xorg-server from MacPorts

  • From what i hear Homebrew and MacPorts don't play well together on the same machine. I am using Homebrew so i'm a bit hesitant to install MacPorts just for this. – Ton Machielsen Sep 22 '19 at 8:18

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