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  1. Introduction
  2. About Linux
  3. Installation and getting started
  4. Logging in and out
  5. Basic Linux Commands
  6. Linux Files and File Permissions
  7. Linux Directory Structure
  8. Finding Files
  9. Linux Help
  10. Setting Time
  11. Devices
  12. Tips
  13. Accessing Other Filesystems
  14. Accessing Removable Media
  15. Making and Managing Filesystems
  16. Emergency Filesystems and Procedures
  17. LILO and Runlevels
  18. Init
  19. Environment, Shell Selection, and Startu
  20. Linux Kernel
  21. Package Installation and Printing
  22. Configuration, Logging and CRON
  23. Keys and Terminal Configuration
  24. Sound Configuration
  25. Managing Users
  26. Passwords
  27. Process Control
  28. Configuration and Diagnostic Tools
  29. Overall Configuration
  30. Using PAM
  31. Basic Network Setup
  32. Tools and Terms
  33. Novell and Printing
  34. Inetd Services
  35. Xinetd Services
  36. Other Network Services
  37. FTP and Telnet
  38. Samba
  39. Identd (auth)
  40. X Configuration
  41. X Use
  42. Using X Remotely
  43. X Documentation
  44. DNS
  45. DHCP and BOOTP
  46. Apache
  47. NFS
  48. PPP
  49. Mail
  50. Routing
  51. IP Masquerading
  52. Proxy Servers and ipchains
  53. UUCP
  54. News
  55. NIS
  56. Network Security
  57. Secure Shell
  58. Text Processing
  59. Shell Programming
  60. Emacs
  61. VI
  62. Recommended Reading
  63. Credits

Linux X Use

Entering and exiting Linux Xwindows

startx - To enter xwindows
CTRL-ALT-BS - To exit xwindows quickly
Depress the left mouse button on the desktop to get a menu to let you exit for some windows managers.

X windows is usually started by typing "startx". To find out where the startx script file is that is used for this process type "which startx". Then you can look at the script file using "less". In the script file there is a statement near the top like "sysclientrc=/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc" which tells you where the initrc file is. The user configuration file will be in /home/your user name/.xinitrc. At the bottom of the file /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc there is a statement like "exec fvwm" which tells the program to execute your windows manager. This may be inside an if statement to determine the existence of the users preferred window manager or the existence of a particular manager then trying others in series when the first listed is not available. To modify the x window manager for the user, you need to copy the xinitrc file to /home/your user name/xinitrc and modify it.

A current list of good windows managers:

  • fvwm95
  • wmaker - window maker
  • CDE
  • wm2
  • KDE - The K desktop environment
  • gnome
  • The program xfs is the xfont server
  • The program xdm is an X Display Manager

How to set up X managers for different users

To set your preferred windows manager, on Redhat and possibly other systems, make a file, /etc/sysconfig/desktop, and put the string "KDE" or "GNOME" in it depending on the preferred system wide X manager. However this will not allow users to select their own favorite window manager. Note: This is exclusive of users who are running remote X services such as VNC as explained in "The CTDP Linux User's Guide". To allow users to select their own manager independent of system settings do the following:

  1. Copy the file "/etc/X11/xinit/Xclients" to the users home directory, renaming it with a period as its first character

    cp /etc/X11/xinit/Xclients /home/username/.Xclients

  2. Modify the following lines in /home/username/.Xclients from:
    if [ -f /etc/sysconfig/desktop ]; then
        if [ -n "`grep -i GNOME /etc/sysconfig/desktop`" ]; then
        elif [ -n "`grep -i KDE /etc/sysconfig/desktop`" ]; then
        elif [ -n "`grep -i AnotherLevel /etc/sysconfig/desktop`" ]; then


    if [ -f $HOME/.desktop ]; then
        if [ -n "`grep -i GNOME $HOME/.desktop`" ]; then
        elif [ -n "`grep -i KDE $HOME/.desktop`" ]; then
        elif [ -n "`grep -i AnotherLevel $HOME/.desktop`" ]; then
  3. Make a file, $HOME/.desktop, and put the string "KDE" or "GNOME" in it depending on the user's preferred X manager. The user can do this step.

To remotely use Xwindows from Microsoft Windows

This section describes how to set this up for the MI/X server program to run on windows. I have not been able to get this server to run with KDE or gnome, and many graphic images do not seem to work with it. See the section on using X remotely for a better solution. This section is still here for anyone who wants to experiment with it.

  1. Get a copy of an X windows server program for windows such as MI/X for windows from MicroImages at
  2. Install the package according to instructions on your windows box.
  3. Set up a shortcut to MI/X to run XS.EXE on the windows box.
  4. Invoke the shortcut to begin the Xwindows server program.
  5. Telnet to your linux box from your windows box
  6. Type "fvwm –display mark:0 &" where "mark" is the name of your windows box


  • To exit X windows quickly or if the video is working improperly, use the <CTRL><ALT><BACKSPACE> key combination.
  • To increase or decrease graphic mode use <CTRL><ALT><+> or <-> respectively. This will toggle through video modes on the modes line in the screen section of the XF86Config file.
  • The command "X -showconfig" lists the video chip names known to the X server.
  • The command "X -probeonly > /tmp/test.out 2>&1" lists supported chipsets and other useful information.
  • The command "X > /tmp/test.out 2>&1" runs X bare. Use Ctrl-Alt-BS key combination, then examine the contents of the output file to help debug X startup problems.