Re: "Almost 40 years ago I ported applications"
Oh my god, another graybeard still thinking 40 years ago he learned all he needed to learn, and nothing changed from the days Unix was carved into animal bones with a C shaped stone.
40 years ago stuff was much, much easier. Not surprisingly even NT run on Alpha and MIPS.
There are a lot of Intel highly optimized SIMD libraries around, which are not simple to port to ARM.
And today you need SIMD for a lot of stuff, of course when you are not writing 40 years old applications. Even your C compiler today can use SIMD instructions to speed up computations even when you're not aware of it. Very often, the FPU is not used and SIMD kicks in. And today graphics manipulations does need very fast computations. Motif-like UIs are long dead.
Just recompiling them it's not enough. Threading and synchronization primitives could be another issue. How many highly concurrent applications were you writing 40 years ago?
Your average application today is far more complex than whatever you wrote 40 years ago.
Why Linux lacks so many GUI applications? You named already two different libraries you have to cope with, plus the different versions and often lack of compatibility. Plus the libraries that attempts to be a layer atop them like Qt or wxWidgets. Heck, even with web applications you may have browser compatibility issues.
Put a very different hardware architecture into the mix and things becomes even more complex.
Write once, run anywhere it's still the Graal of IT - and nobody ever got close to it - especially for complex, highly interactive applications.