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Chapter 19. X Window System Applications > Introduction to the X Window System

Introduction to the X Window System

In attempting to explain the X Window System, in many ways it will be easier to explain how it is different from the interface that you're accustomed to than it will be to explain how it is similar. Certainly, whether you're from a Mac or a PC background, you're used to a graphical user interface, and both the X Window System and the interface to which you are accustomed display windows with program content and information in them. But beyond this, the X Window System is fundamentally a very different interface than the GUI present on either of the popular desktop operating systems.

At the most obvious, the X Window System is not a built-in part of the operating system. Whereas the Mac OS and Windows graphical user interfaces are intimately tied to the underlying OS, the X Window System is a completely separate system, with no real attachment to the operating system underneath it. This separation makes for inefficiencies in the way the window system interacts with the OS, and is the cause of certain performance issues that will be of some annoyance. As will be shown, however, it also provides a level of flexibility that cannot be readily accomplished with integrated systems.


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