A. X Window System

$Id: xserver.xml 1407 2009-01-09 12:43:48Z rafi $

The X Window System is the base of most graphical user interfaces (GUI) on UNIX systems. It provides the facilities used by window managers such as WindowMaker, Fvwm, etc.

The window manager is responsible for drawing window decorations and make windows resizable and movable. Without a window manager, you wouldn't be able to position your windows on the screen.

Desktop systems such as GNOME and KDE have their own window managers along with additional utilities and tools. See Figure A.1, “Screenshot of GNOME” for a screenshot of GNOME running on a OpenSolaris box (OpenSolaris is an offspring of Sun Solaris).

Figure A.1. Screenshot of GNOME

Screenshot of GNOME

A screenshot of a GNOME session on a OpenSolaris box.

UNIX enables you to start an X application on a remote host and display the window of the application on your local host. The prerequistes for doing so are

  1. the remote host has the application in question installed.

  2. an ssh server is running on the remote host allowing X forwarding.

  3. you are logged into an X session on your local host and have an ssh client installed.

Given the above prerequisites are met, you can use the ssh command as shown in Example A.1, “Using ssh to start X applications on a remote host”.

Example A.1. Using ssh to start X applications on a remote host

$ ssh -X joe@salma.example.org
$ xterm

In the above example, you would start an xterm (a terminal in a window). Replace joe@salma.example.org with your user name and the corresponding host. The -X tells the ssh client to accept X forwarding.