This chapter helps you install, configure, and use the X Window
System (often known simply as X). Once X is up and running, you can
choose how to start X. This chapter explains your options and also
gives some tips on optimizing the performance of X.
X is the standard graphical user interface for Linux. Like other
graphical user interfaces such as Microsoft Windows and Mac OS, X lets
you interact with programs by using a mouse (or other pointing device)
to point and click, providing a simple means of communicating with
Originally implemented as a collaborative effort of Digital Equipment
Corporation and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, X was first
released in 1987. Subsequently, the X Consortium, Inc. became
responsible for the continued development and publication of X.
Despite its age, X is a remarkable and very modern software
system: a cross-platform, network-oriented graphical user
interface. It runs on a wide variety of platforms, including
essentially every variety of Unix. X Clients are available for use,
for example, under Windows 3.x, 9x, and NT. The sophisticated
networking capabilities of X let you run a program on one computer
while viewing the graphical output on another computer, connected to
the first via a network. With the advent of the Internet, which
interconnected a sizable fraction of the computers on the planet, X
achieved a new height of importance and power.
Most Linux users run XFree86, a freely available software system
compatible with X. XFree86 was developed by the XFree86 software team,
which began work in 1992. In 1994, The XFree86 Project assumed
responsibility for ongoing research and development of XFree86.