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5.2 Installing X

Getting a proper X Window System up and running used to be a real challenge on Linux, almost a rite of passage. Today, device drivers are available for a much wider array of hardware, and configuration tools to assist in the setup process have greatly improved. While still tricky at times - especially with unusual hardware - X setup and configuration is no longer the daunting process it once was, and should be relatively easy.

You'll go through two stages before you have X successfully running. The first stage involves installing the needed programs that enable X to run. These can be grouped into several categories:

  • Basic XFree86 program

  • X servers

  • Window Managers

  • Applications

  • Fonts

This stage is very straightforward and can even be done as part of the basic installation process, if you select the relevant X packages during that step.

In the second stage you configure X to run properly on your system. This is a matter of identifying an X server compatible with your graphics card, and tuning the server for your graphics card. If you have a common card and all the documentation for it, this second stage will be relatively simple. Missing information makes the process harder, but not impossible.

As shown in Appendix C, The Debian Package Management Utilities, X consists of many packages.

Once you've installed the necessary packages, you're ready to configure X.

WARNING: You should exercise due care while configuring X to run on your system. If you incorrectly or incompletely configure X, your system can be permanently damaged. In particular, if you configure your monitor for a refresh rate that exceeds its capacity, you can damage the monitor. Older fixed-frequency monitors are particularly susceptible to such damage. The author and publisher have taken pains to make this chapter clear and accurate, but their efforts don't ensure that the procedure presented in this chapter will work correctly with your hardware. Consequently, the author and publisher cannot be held responsible for damages resulting from a faulty installation or configuration of X.

If you have a card or monitor of unknown manufacture or model, and feel that you must guess, at least start with a narrow range of middle values, and gradually expand that range to see if you can find a value that works. Don't let a monitor that displays an unstable or garbled image run any longer than the time it takes you to cut power to the monitor.

Previous: 5.1 What is X? Learning Debian GNU/Linux Next: 5.3 Configuring X
5.1 What is X? Book Index 5.3 Configuring X

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