The X11 Window System

Developer(s) X.Org Foundation 
Initial release 6 April 2004; 13 years ago[1]
Stable release
1.19.3 / 15 March 2017; 2 months ago[2]
Repository, git://, git://
Written in C
Operating system Cross-platform
Size 3.7 MiB[3]
Available in English
Type Display server
License MIT License

The X Window System (commonly referred to as X or X11) is a network-transparent graphical windowing system based on a client/server model. Primarily used on Unix and Unix-like systems such as Linux, versions of X are also available for many other operating systems. Although it was developed in 1984, X is not only still viable but also is in fact the standard environment for Unix windowing systems. (src)In February 2004, with version 4.4.0, The XFree86 Project adopted a license change that the Free Software Foundation considered GPL incompatible.Most open source operating systems using XFree86 found this unacceptable and moved to a fork from before the license change.[3] The first fork was the abortive Xouvert, but X.Org Server soon became dominant.Most XFree86 developers also moved to X.Org.

Example configuration:

When using the MATE-Desktop  also runs very vell on Debian8 but also Suse12 and Centos7.


  • display server:

    • The X server manages the display hardware.
    • captures input events from the user via keyboard or mouse (or other input device) and passes the information to a client application that has requested it.
    • It also receives requests from the application to perform some graphical action. For example, if you use your mouse to move a window on the screen, the X server passes the information to the window manager, which responds by telling the server where to reposition the window, and the X server performs the action.
    • If the client is a calculator, such as xcalc, it might request that digits be displayed into the window as the user clicks on buttons to enter a number.
    • In any case, it is always the server that interacts with the hardware.
    • Thus only the server software has to be hardware-specific.
    • In fact, only the parts of the server that actually interact with the hardware need to be rewritten for X to be ported to new systems or to be usable with a new terminal or a new type of input device, for example. As long as the X clients are written to use the X Protocol, they can run on any system and communicate with the X server.
    • it is funny – just like any other server this thing communicates with other programs on the network-level – hence the ability of linux – to run a grafical program on a client (where it consumes RAM and ressources) and tunnel that grafical output encrypted over network (ssh) to the x-server that the user is sitting at.
    • credits: Shmuel Csaba Otto Traian

    • Package: xserver-xorg
      Source: xorg
      Version: 1:7.7+7
      Installed-Size: 298
      Maintainer: Debian X Strike Force <>
      Architecture: i386
      Provides: xserver
      Depends: xserver-xorg-core (>= 2:, xserver-xorg-video-all | xorg-driver-video, xserver-xorg-input-all | xorg-driver-input, xserver-xorg-input-evdev, libc6 (>= 2.7), xkb-data (>= 1.4), x11-xkb-utils
      Recommends: libgl1-mesa-dri
      Description-en: X.Org X server
      This package depends on the full suite of the server and drivers for the
      X.Org X server. It does not provide the actual server itself.
      Description-md5: 3d8c1d268e8af6b69f54d86fbd5a3939
      Tag: hardware::input, hardware::video, interface::daemon, network::server,
      role::metapackage, use::driver, x11::xserver
      Section: x11
      Priority: optional
      Filename: pool/main/x/xorg/xserver-xorg_7.7+7_i386.deb
      Size: 109252
    • examples: XQuartzXDarwin(OSX), Cygwin/XMir
  • display / login manager: lightdm

    • This is the first X program run by the system if the system (not the user) is starting X and allows you to log on to the local system, or network systems.
    • Version: 1.10.3-3
      Installed-Size: 524
      Maintainer: Debian Xfce Maintainers <>
      Provides: x-display-manager
      Depends: libc6 (>= 2.4), libgcrypt20 (>= 1.6.0), libglib2.0-0 (>= 2.37.3), libpam0g (>=, libxcb1, libxdmcp6, debconf (>= 0.5) | debconf-2.0, lightdm-gtk-greeter | lightdm-greeter, dbus, libpam-systemd | consolekit, adduser
      Recommends: xserver-xorg
      Suggests: accountsservice, upower
      Description-en: simple display manager
      An X display manager that:
      * Has a lightweight codebase
      * Is standards compliant (PAM, ConsoleKit, etc)
      * Has a well defined interface between the server and user interface
      * Fully themeable
      * Cross-desktop (greeters can be written in any toolkit)
      Description-md5: 1fd757fd0b15d99e160ffa78f0717022
      Tag: role::program
      Section: x11
      Priority: optional
      Filename: pool/main/l/lightdm/lightdm_1.10.3-3_i386.deb
      Size: 166.236
    • examples: LightDMGDMKDMLXDMWDM
    • screenshot of lightdm login screen under debian8:
      • screenshot of xdm login screen under debian8:
    • apt-get install wdm
  • window manager: marco

    • In the X Window System, the X Server itself does not give the user the capability of managing windows that have been opened. Instead, this job is delegated to a program called a window manager.

      The window manager gives windows a border and allows you to move them around and maximize/minimize them. The user interface for these functions is left up to its author. Often, the window manager is just one component of Desktop Environments suite. (src)

    • Version: 1.8.2+dfsg1-6
      Installed-Size: 679
      Maintainer: MATE Packaging Team <>
      Provides: x-window-manager
      Depends: libatk1.0-0 (>= 1.12.4), libc6 (>= 2.4), libcairo2 (>= 1.10.0), libcanberra-gtk0 (>= 0.2), libcanberra0 (>= 0.2), libfontconfig1 (>= 2.11), libfreetype6 (>= 2.2.1), libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0 (>= 2.22.0), libglib2.0-0 (>= 2.35.9), libgtk2.0-0 (>= 2.24.0), libgtop2-7 (>= 2.22.3), libice6 (>= 1:1.0.0), libmarco-private0 (= 1.8.2+dfsg1-6), libpango-1.0-0 (>= 1.14.0), libpangocairo-1.0-0 (>= 1.14.0), libpangoft2-1.0-0 (>= 1.14.0), libsm6, libstartup-notification0 (>= 0.7), libx11-6 (>= 2:, libxcomposite1 (>= 1:0.3-1), libxcursor1 (>> 1.1.2), libxdamage1 (>= 1:1.1), libxext6, libxfixes3, libxinerama1, libxrandr2, libxrender1, zenity, marco-common (= 1.8.2+dfsg1-6)
      Breaks: mate-window-manager (<= 1.0.0-2)
      Description-en: lightweight GTK+ window manager for MATE
      Marco is a small window manager, using GTK+ to do everything.
    • It is developed mainly for the MATE Desktop.
      Description-md5: 95519840e2380540cca6bbdf96f6395e
      Tag: uitoolkit::gtk
      Section: x11
      Filename: pool/main/m/marco/marco_1.8.2+dfsg1-6_i386.deb
      Size: 252.000
    • examples: FluxBox , Xfce, sawfish,