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1. Introduction

The X Window System is an advanced, network transparent, windowing, graphical environment, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and first released in 1984. This document assumes that you have installed X and it is functional. We intend to learn how to use X productively, not so much how to compile the programs; most Linux distributions come with X as an option during installation, compiled and ready to go.

1.1 Other Sources Of Information

If you are just starting out, you may find the XFree86 HOWTO and XFree86 Video Timings HOWTOs to be more helpful, and you should be able to find that in the same place you found this. At the end of the document you will also find a Bibliography And Resources section, to find even more information. Oh, and don't forget to read the man pages.

1.2 Versions Of This Document

New versions of this HOWTO may be periodically posted to They will also be uploaded to various Linux WWW and FTP sites, including Linux Documentation Project web site. The latest version can usually be found at, but the Metalab repository is the canonical distribution point.

Changes in version 1.1 include more coverage of rxvt, expanded coverage of X Resources, more trivial history of X, corrected references to SunSite to point to MetaLab, and instructions on using Type 1 fonts with X.

Changes in version 1.2 include much-requested coverage of using TrueType fonts in X, more details about setting up xdm, and a few more added resources. There is also a correction to my discussion of screen blanking features (thanks to Heinrich Langos for the correction!).

Changes in version 1.3 include some fixes, info for corrupted font paths in some recent distributions, and lots more info about basic X security. I've also added some tips about KDE and an e-mail address update.

Changes in version 1.4 include corrections and additions from Anthony J., and some very good security tips from Tomasz Motylewski.

Changes in this version (2.0) includes corrections from Guus Bosch, Brian J. Miller, and myself, as well as lots of new updates and info, and a plea for a new maintainer!

1.3 Feedback And Corrections

If you have questions or comments about this document, please feel free to email Ray Brigleb at my current ( or ``permanent'' ( address. I readily welcome any suggestions or criticisms. If you find any mistakes with this document, please let me know so I can correct them in the next revision. If you have information you would like to see in future revisions, or you would like to contribute to a future revision, drop me a line. I'm also looking for more resources to add to the sections and bibliography. While we're at it, I'm also looking for someone interested in taking over maintenance of this document, please let me know if you're interested. I think another maintainer might be able to breathe life into this project that I have not had as of late, and judging from the feedback I receive this is still a very viable and useful text.

1.4 Acknowledgments

A special thanks to the HOWTO coordinator Tim Bynum for help and suggestions, and the XFree86 Group for the man pages and help files that come with XFree86. I really need to thank all of those who have written documentation and descriptions of their offerings in the past, I have just gleaned a selection of the most relevant items from their material for this document. Also, thanks are due to Matt Chapman, author of the Window Managers Guide website, and Scott Scriven, for the FVWM2 Themes tips and tricks I stole from some of his hacks. Thanks are also due to Joe Croft for the Internet service, invaluable to the ongoing development of this HOWTO, and Claire Galper, for moral support and miscellaneous tips. Last but not least, thanks to the whole GNU/Linux community, for everything, and Mr. Stallman, for this text editor (and philosophy).

1.5 Copyright

Copyright (c) 1998, 1999 by Ray Brigleb.

Unless otherwise stated, Linux HOWTO documents are copyrighted by their respective authors. Linux HOWTO documents may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, in any medium physical or electronic, as long as this copyright notice is retained on all copies. Commercial redistribution is allowed and encouraged; however, the author would like to be notified of any such distributions.

All translations, derivative works, or aggregate works incorporating any Linux HOWTO documents must be covered under this copyright notice. That is, you may not produce a derivative work from a HOWTO and impose additional restrictions on its distribution. Exceptions to these rules may be granted under certain conditions; please contact the Linux HOWTO coordinator for more information.

In short, we wish to promote dissemination of this information through as many channels as possible. However, we do wish to retain copyright on the HOWTO documents, and would very much like to be notified of any plans to redistribute the HOWTOs, this one in particular!

Many of the terms mentioned in this document are trade names. Unless otherwise stated, all trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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