the biggest problem with X is that it frequently takes a _lot_ of round trip messages to do standard things.
True. Watching an X session over a dial up modem (external, with tx/rx lights) is quite interesting. Not only are there a lot of round trips, but it appears that everything happens in serial fashion with only one request or response in the pipe at any given time. In the modem's LEDs you can clearly see "request, response, request, response, request, response...".
Many people think that X needs bandwidth. It actually isn't such a bandwidth hog. Others correctly point out the round trip issue. But rarely have I heard anyone comment upon the serialized nature of the protocol. And that looks like the real performance killer to me. At least over any sort of WAN. At Ethernet latencies it's likely not a problem at all.