Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This upcoming Ubuntu move to Unity as its Desktop Manager, got me wondering where the modular line lies between a Desktop Manager and X.

My understanding is that X is a window manager, and window = GUI.

Is the Desktop actually needed at all, to run GUI apps?
eg. Can X exist without a Desktop Manager, and can GUI apps be launched from the terminal running in X (which may have to be auto-started with X)...

I can launch a GUI app from the terminal now (Gnome desktop), but I don't know if that is based on a dependancy to the Desktop.

I may be completely on the wrong track here... but that's what questions are for ;)

share|improve this question
    
To give an example: Using X11-over-SSH and Xming I can use Eclipse on Windows and have everything compile and run on my Linux installation, that by just installing X11 and nothing on top of that. –  Tom Wijsman Oct 26 '10 at 12:59

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

X is a service that listens to requests from its clients (= applications) to paint windows and also passes on input device events to those applications. One of these applications is the window manager (e.g. in case of GNOME that's Metacity or Compiz).

And a desktop environment like GNOME, etc. is actually a collection of applications that are meant to be used together to provide a more or less comfortable user experience; usually it includes a window manager, a session manager, some sort of application launcher, etc.

And yes, it's possible to start any GUI application (if it is an X client of course) on a bare X, but e.g. without a window manager all windows will have no frame (no border, no titlebar) and are put in the same position by default (the upper left corner). X itself is rather "dumb" when it comes to such things...

share|improve this answer
1  
Great... So unless I exclusively want a non-gui terminal (which I don't) I need one of the desktop managers to work all the different windows and apps into a usable and typically consistant style... hence the different Desktop Managers styles; like different makes of cars. They do the same thing (more or less) but have a different look and feel... and X is the low-level graphical engine under the bonnet/hood... (and you have answered another of my un-asked questinns too: I had been wondering where Metacity fitted into the picture, and now I know) ... Thanks –  Peter.O Oct 26 '10 at 8:58
2  
You need a window manager or even a DE to make an X session somewhat usable, but there is a whole range of them, from rather simplistic (say, dwm or icewm) to very complete/complex (GNOME & KDE). –  JanC Oct 26 '10 at 9:19

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.