Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The X Window System - Post 1

X window System components

  1. X Server
  2. Window Manager
  3. Desktop Environment

X Server

The x server is responsible for Raw display, Character Placement, Pixel Placement etc.

Window Manager

The window manager is responsible for placing a border around raw graphic output and providing some basic controls on that border to control the graphical output from X Server. You can say that window manager provides the look and feel of your linux operating system.

There are different window managers, a few among them are KWM, Rawfish, Ice window manager etc.

Desktop Environment

The Graphical utilities, Configuration programs etc fall under the desktop environments. Desktop environments provide these tools so that you can control your linux operating system using your mouse. A few examples of most used desktop environments are KDE, Gnome, CDE, etc

Installing and Configuring X Server

You can install or upgrade your own, from
If you need to manually configure the X server, there are several
possible methods:

  1. Try to use the XF86Setup program, which can help identify the correct X server and monitor timings for the video hardware.
  2. Make sure that the X server has the correct options. If you log in as the superuser, you should be able to use X --probeonly to get a listing of the video card chipset, memory, and any special graphics features. Also, refer to the manual page for the X server. (E.g.; man X), and try running the X server and redirecting the standard error output to a file so you can determine, after you can view text on the screen again, what error messages the server is generating; e.g., X 2>x.error.
  3. With that information, you should be able to safely refer to one of the references provided by the Linux Documentation Project. ("Where can I get the HOWTO's and other documentation? ") There are several HOWTO's on the subject, including a HOWTO to calculate video timings manually if necessary. Also, the Installation and Getting Started guide has a chapter with a step-by-step guide to writing a XF86Config file.


These are some good resources for X window system

  1. http://www.linuxdevcenter.com/pub/a/linux/2005/08/25/whatisXwindow.html?page=1

The X window system video lectures on http://www.youtube.com/

An X Window System Tutorial (Part 01)

An X Window System Tutorial (Part 02)

An X Window System Tutorial (Part 03)

An X Window System Tutorial (Part 04)

An X Window System Tutorial (Part 05)

An X Window System Tutorial (Part 06)

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