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I have been using Ubuntu for quite some time but, I have no idea what the X server is? I hear it quite often.

I would like to know what the X Server is and what it does. How ~/.xinitrc file is used and knowing what the does in the realm of X Server.

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Not really an ubuntu question. – enzotib Oct 17 '10 at 8:38
May be. But i am on Ubuntu, and if there was something specific to X regarding Ubuntu, I would like to know that. – chetan Oct 17 '10 at 11:39
Hm, I'd say personally that this is a fair question, IMO. A new ubuntu user, I think this is relevant information, and it's not really something he'd know where more properly to look for otherwise since he doesnt know what it is. – emf Oct 17 '10 at 19:18
@enzotib seeing how ubuntu is linux... this is a ubuntu question. see… – WalterJ89 Oct 18 '10 at 2:35
up vote 12 down vote accepted

X is an application that manage one or more graphics displays and one or more input devices (keyboard, mouse, etc.) connected to the computer.

It works as a server, i.e. other applications, running on the same computer or on other computer on the network, can communicate with the X server to display graphical interfaces and receive input from the user, using the X server services.

Worth to know, a common component used with an X server is the Window Manager, an application that manage the decorative elements of windows (title bars, minimize and close buttons), the resizing and moving of windows.

The X server can be started from user with startx, or more commonly can be started from a display manager, as gdm.

~/.xinitrc is a shell script used by xinit, that start the X server when not using a display manager, to define some application to start automatically in the X server.

/etc/X11/xorg.conf is a configuration file used to give the X server information about the hardware components used, but now the X server can avoid using it, because it is capable of autoconfiguring itself.

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i am on Ubuntu maverick, it must be using gdm right? so ~/.xinitrc will help or something else? – chetan Oct 17 '10 at 11:41
you can avoid using it, for startup applications just use the System->Preference->Startup-applications menu item – enzotib Oct 17 '10 at 15:06

As the above poster mentioned, X is a server (meaning a program which other programs call upon and be called by) it is responsible for creating a graphical environment and should it fail for whatever reason, you'll be greeted by the command line interface.

The term server can also said to apply to PulseAudio, which is the sound server; again it calls applications and is called upon to produce sound.

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