Insider Tips: The X Window System

MISTER X11

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Thanks to automatic hardware detection, today’s admins rarely need to configure the X window system manually. But if you want to use X11’s excellent networking capabilities and tuning options, you will certainly benefit from some background knowledge.

Linux continues to spread to more and more ex-Windows desktops. A major factor in the success of Linux is the availability of easy-to-use desktops and applications. This abundance of software, however, means that bona fide admins must spend more time setting up the underlying tools that handle mouse and keyboard controls, graphics, and screen output for those applications. The X server is the component that underlies almost any graphical output on Linux. The major exceptions to this are the console and the SVGA-Lib [2] library, a legacy library that supports direct image output on Linux systems. The X server itself provides primitive routines for displaying windowing hierarchies. X server also provides simple hardware acceleration, as well as offering components that support keyboard and mouse handling.

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