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What is the role of the desktop environment in the architecture of a Linux-based operating system like Ubuntu?

Can anyone explain what a desktop environment is and how it relates to other components of the system?

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closed as not a real question by Uri Herrera, Ringtail, Mitch, stephenmyall, LnxSlck Oct 2 '12 at 11:44

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This isn't strictly specific about Ubuntu and I'm sure it has been answered here Unix & Linux StackExchange – Uri Herrera Oct 1 '12 at 22:34
@UriHerrera We allow lots of questions that also apply to other Unix-like operating systems. Furthermore, a good answer to this question could be posted, that addresses Ubuntu-specific aspects of the question. (For instance, it would be great to have an answer that explains what a desktop environment is and how Unity is not, contrary to what many people seem to believe, a desktop environment). – Eliah Kagan Oct 2 '12 at 4:32
We could answer a question like this on Unix & Linux, but read the Wikipedia article first. IF you still have questions AFTER READING THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE, feel free to ask them on U&L. – Gilles Oct 2 '12 at 20:00
sorry i forget linux unix stack exchange site.... – Ankur Loriya Oct 4 '12 at 13:17
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In nutshell,

  1. The Linux Kernel runs on the hardware. (init and other essential processes start)

  2. After essential processes are up and running, Kernel runs X-server (another set of software).

  3. Desktop environment such as Gnome, KDE, DWM runs using the facilities provided by the X.

Everything works in layered fashion.

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