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Xlife image
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Purpose Life simulation
Created by Jon Bennett
Platform X Window System

Xlife is a popular freeware Life simulation program that runs under the X Window System and was originally written for Unix workstations.

It was one of the first implementations of Life (@1989) to try something other than a naive approach, which results in it being able to handle large patterns on relatively modest computers, such as Bill Gosper's famous breeder. Xlife since version 4.0 (@1992) supports n-state rules and some Prisoner's Dilemma models—it was also one of the first in these fields.

Xlife has uneasy development history[1]. The first three versions were developed mainly by Jon Bennett at CMU. The development was also participated by Chuck Silvers, Paul Callahan, Eric S. Raymond, and by Achim Flammenkamp. The xlife development also involved Daniel E. Lovinger during at least 1989-2005[2]. The most widespread version of xlife is 5.0—there are many variants of it fixed for the modern compilers standards. The longest xlife patches development history (1996-2009, 8 patches) had Debian Linux distribution. OpenBSD contains version 5.3 of xlife. The versions 6.x are released since 2011. They are based on Debian patched version 5.0 and OpenBSD version 5.3 of xlife.

Modern xlife support up to 256 states with Moore neighbourhood and generated rules. It also supports up to 64 states n-state rules. It allows to use different topologies. Xlife has several special modes (historical, pseudocolor, ...) for 2-state automata. It has several other unique features and is one of the fastest for the several classes of cellular life.

Xlife has been updated and ported for many different platforms. Xlife 3.5[3] has been ported to Windows, as has Xlife 2.0[4].


  1. a preliminary edition
  2. at Microsoft Blog
  3. Xlife at David's web pages
  4. at Heriot-Watt University

External links

  • Xlife at Linux software directory
  • Xlife at the Life Lexicon