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I'm rather new to Linux, as all I've used are Ubuntu and Xubuntu (and looked at DSL). I'm working on compiling a Gentoo installation, and I was just wondering: Are ...
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  1. #1
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    Question X alternatives?


    I'm rather new to Linux, as all I've used are Ubuntu and Xubuntu (and looked at DSL). I'm working on compiling a Gentoo installation, and I was just wondering:

    Are there any alternatives to the X Window system?
    Are they any good?
    Are they compatible with the X Window system?
    How hard to use are they?
    and:
    Where can I get them?

    Thx!

  2. #2
    oz
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    Welcome to the forums!

    Check this article and drop down to the "Competitors to X" section to see some of what is out there.

    Hope it helps.
    oz

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    Your question is too general, what make me wonder if you really meant what you said, or not.

    X is the graphics server, and you usually don't interact with it directly, so, the answer to this question:

    How hard to use are they?
    Is non-relevant, because you really interact with your Desktop Environment or your Window Manager, which is an independent layer and has nothing to do with the server itself.

    Are there any alternatives to the X Window system?
    The standard nowadays is Xorg. There's also XFree. And minimal servers like Kdrive. There might be many other servers implementing the X protocol to a more or less compatible degree. I never bothered with them.

    Are they any good?
    Since we have no clue of what the purpose of your question is, I can't really tell you. But if you are looking for a modern desktop system, your natural choice is Xorg, since it's where you will find all the latest extensions like compositing, which is needed for the fancy desktop effects that we see nowadays.

    Are they compatible with the X Window system?
    All the implementations of X are supposed to be compatible at least with the X protocol (that's why they are X-Window, and not something else). However, each one has its own peculiarities, I guess.

    Where can I get them?
    Your distro repositories might have support for Xorg, XFree and Kdrive maybe (Xorg for sure, nowadays). Read the wiki that someone linked above for more info on other implementations.




    That being said, maybe you are talking about "Desktop Environments" and not about different implementation of the X protocol. In such case, google for KDE, Gnome and XFCE, and also for "X window managers".

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    Quote Originally Posted by i92guboj View Post
    That being said, maybe you are talking about "Desktop Environments" and not about different implementation of the X protocol.
    No, I know what desktop enviroments are. Not an uber-noob, just...not familar with the inner workings of Linux yet.

    Reason I'm asking is because I want to create a system that is extremely lightweight (as in processing time and memory...sizewise if possible) but is still easy to use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulenmar View Post
    Reason I'm asking is because I want to create a system that is extremely lightweight (as in processing time and memory...sizewise if possible) but is still easy to use.
    The best way to do that, in my own opinion, is to work with a "command line only" setup and stay away from X altogether. Of course, that might not work for you and your particular needs.

    Do let us know what you come up with and how it works out for you.
    oz

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulenmar View Post
    No, I know what desktop enviroments are. Not an uber-noob, just...not familar with the inner workings of Linux yet.
    Nice. I had to make sure

    Reason I'm asking is because I want to create a system that is extremely lightweight (as in processing time and memory...sizewise if possible) but is still easy to use.
    Xorg has become very modular, so you really don't need to install everything to get it working. You can build only the things you need.

    Kdrive might be of interest to you. Since 7.1, the kdrive framework has been introduced into the Xorg codebase, you might as well be interested in that:

    freedesktop.org - Software/Xserver

    Depending on your real needs, you might as well ditch X completely and use a framebuffer based solution. It all depends on what do you exactly want to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ozar View Post
    The best way to do that, in my own opinion, is to work with a "command line only" setup and stay away from X altogether. Of course, that might not work for you and your particular needs.

    Do let us know what you come up with and how it works out for you.
    I don't mind learning "commandline only" -- in fact, that's part of why I'm building my own version of Linux. But I would like for my mother to be able to use it once I'm gone to college, and she is NOT very computer literate. Thus, an easily-configured graphical interface is, I'm afraid, an eventual neccessity.

    Quote Originally Posted by i92guboj
    Xorg has become very modular, so you really don't need to install everything to get it working. You can build only the things you need.
    That might be what I need, I'll check it out. Any difficulties in getting desktop enviroments that use X to use Xorg instead? Or the framebuffer, for that (interesting) matter?
    Last edited by Mulenmar; 09-17-2008 at 09:28 PM. Reason: Added question

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulenmar View Post
    That might be what I need, I'll check it out. Any difficulties in getting desktop enviroments that use X to use Xorg instead? Or the framebuffer, for that (interesting) matter?
    "X" is just a protocol. There are many servers that implements it. Most distros nowadays use the Xorg X server, some years ago the de-facto standard was XFree instead. Gentoo uses Xorg by default, and that's what you should be using if you don't have any special need. XFree is not going to be any lighter and I really don't recommend it for any purpose.

    So, any application for X will run under any X server (at least, it should theoretically), might it be xorg, xfree, kdrive or whatever. On the other side, apps depending on an x server will not run under framebuffer at all.

    In Gentoo is particularly easy to create a minimal X server, because you don't have to read tons of documents and compile yourself using obscure flags. That's what USE flags are for. To get a minimal server you just need to emerge xorg-server, make sure you set the correct INPUT_DEVICES and VIDEO_CARDS in your make.conf, and use emerge -pv xorg-server to see what it will do if you emerge that package.

    Two interesting use flags to look at are "kdrive" and "minimal". But I want to warn you that "minimal" means really minimal. As said, if you remove weight, you remove features. Expect some fuzz if you use those flags. Minimal is mostly intended for very specific uses, like embedded devices that lack the power to run some things and servers where only basic support is needed for some odd reason. I really can't imagine how these would help in a desktop machine that your mother is going to use.

    However, feel free to experiment. If you miss something you can just change your use flags and re-emerge whatever is needed. The true power of Gentoo

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    Ok, my comments here are based only on what I'm reading on Wikipedia, so...

    Quote Originally Posted by i92guboj View Post
    some years ago the de-facto standard was XFree instead. . . .XFree is not going to be any lighter and I really don't recommend it for any purpose.
    Yeah, didn't they change the license or something? Thanks for the tip.

    Quote Originally Posted by i92guboj View Post
    So, any application for X will run under any X server (at least, it should theoretically), might it be xorg, xfree, kdrive or whatever. On the other side, apps depending on an x server will not run under framebuffer at all.
    No way to make them run on both?

    Quote Originally Posted by i92guboj View Post
    However, feel free to experiment. If you miss something you can just change your use flags and re-emerge whatever is needed. The true power of Gentoo
    Amen! Love the freedom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulenmar View Post
    Yeah, didn't they change the license or something? Thanks for the tip.
    Yes. Xorg was forked from Xfree at one point because of internal disagreements.

    No way to make them run on both?
    I don't know what do you mean. As I said, it is not "X vs. Xorg", no. It's "Xorg: one concrete implementation of the X-protocol". Xfree is another, and there are many more. There is no "both". Applications requiring an X server will run under Xorg, Xfree or any other.

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