The Joy of X: Overview of the X Window System (2nd Edition)

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9780201565126: The Joy of X: Overview of the X Window System (2nd Edition)
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ARE YOU *A system manager who needs to understand X architecture tools and techniques? *An IT director or manager deciding whether your organization should go the X route? *A programmer who wants an overview of X before exploring the system in detail? *Involved in technical support and looking for an understanding of how X works? *Confused by the GUI wars between OPEN LOOK and Motif? *Involved in sales or marketing and need to understand your customers? THEN THE JOY OF X IS FOR YOU It provides an introduction to the X Window System, the de facto standard windowing system for workstations, minicomputers, mainframes and supercomputers running UNIX, MS and other operating systems. THE JOY OF X pulls together material from a wide range of sources to provide a complete picture of the system so that you can understand the important features and issues.F EATURES INCLUDE: *Topic coverage divided into three sections: X in a nutshell - a quick managers' overview How X works, in detail, and how the user sees it Using the system, system administration, performance and programming *Written in a clear, uncomplicated style, and containing over 200 illustrations for maximum accessibility *A flexibile, modular structure that makes it easy to skip to the sections that interest you and avoid technical details that don't

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About the Author:

Niall Mansfield graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with an MA in physics and maths. He has been working in a UNIX environment since 1987 and founded the European X window system User Group. In 1992 he founded UIT who specialize in UNIX tools, e-mail systems and Internet security. He is still very involved with training and consultancy, running tailored networking courses, designing and installing Ethernet and wireless networks and providing Internet security and firewall systems.



0201565129AB08062002

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The X Window System (X) has, over the last few years, becomeincreasingly important, and it is now accepted as THE windowingsystem for workstations, minicomputers, mainframes and computers. It has become the standard means of providing graphicalfacilities on these classes of computers, and is even availableon PCs, running instead of, or in conjunction with, MicrosoftWindows has revolutionalized the PC, X is doing the same for itsusers, for two reasons. First and most visibly, X allows thestandard graphical user interfaces to be provided on all thecomputers used by an organization, no matter which underlyinghardware or operating system is used. Second, X allowsapplications running on one computer to be used by people workingon other computers elsewhere on teh network; the applications are'network transparent', and all applications can be made availableto all the users, independent of what type of computing platformthey have. This is true Open Systems in action -- it gives usersand system managers the freedom to choose the best software andthe best hardware for their needs, with the confidence that itwill integrate simply and reliably into their overall computingenvironment.

X began in 1984 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) as a joint project between the Laboratory for ComputerScience and Project Athena, with much of the early work sponsoredby DEC and IBM. By 1986, X was becoming significant incommercial computing; and the system as we know it, X Version 11(X11), was released in 1987. Since then X has been considerablyenhanced, largely under the management of the MIT X Consortium,which defines the standards for the system and has ensured thatcurrent X11 implementations remain compatible with earlierreleases.

ABOUT THIS BOOK

A lot of information about X is available, but much of it isunpublished or difficult to find. We wanted to pull togethermaterial from different sources, and provide a book which gives acomplete view of the system so that you can understand theimportant features and issues, and see how the various aspects ofthe system fit into the overall picture. We hope this book willact as a springboard, and give you what you need to develop yourparticular interest in X, whether as a programmer, user or systemmanager.

Our aim was to write a small book about X, to make it moreaccessible, and to counter the view that some X books are sold byweight rather than the volume! As a result, we have sometimeshad to omit some low-level detail, in the interest of making thebook more readable. Even so, where it is essential for anunderstanding of the system, we include some fairly complexmaterial.

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

You don't need any special knowledge to read this book--it issuitable for anyone who is interested in X and has someexperience with computers. You will find the book particularlyuseful if:

  1. You have heard about X and want to find out more about it--for instance, what is special about it, and how it compares with other window systems.
  2. You are a system manager, and need to understand thearchitecture of X and the techniques and tools you will need touse when you are running an X system.
  3. You are an IT director or manager, deciding whether yourorganization should 'go the X route'; and you need to know whatthe implications of such a strategy are, and what developmentsare likely in the future.
  4. You are confused by the 'GUI' wars between OPEN LOOK andMotif, and want to see what these things really are, and theissues involved in choosing between them.
  5. You are involved in technical support, and need a goodunderstanding of how X works, and what your customers are likelyto be doing with X and why.
  6. You are a programmer and want to get an overview of the systembefore exploring X programming in depth.
  7. You are involved in sales or marketing and need to understandhow X can help your customers, where it can be applied, and howsome implementations have competitive advantages over others.

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK, AND HOW TO USE IT

The book is divided into three Parts:

  1. X IN A NUTSHELL. This is a quick 'management overview' ofthe system, its architectuer, and how using it can benefit yourorganization.
  2. HOW X WORKS, IN DETAIL, AND HOW THE USER SEES IT explains theoperation of the system, and describes the X server, clientapplication programs and how they are built, 'look and feel'issues, toolkits and window managers. There may be more detailhere tan you need; if so, just dip into the sections you needonce you have read Part 1.
  3. USING THE SYSTEM, SYSTEM ADMINISTRATION, PERFORMANCE AND PROGRAMMING covers what you need to start using an X system, howit is administered, managed and customized, what the performanceconsiderations are, and how you write X programs. (For moredetails about hands-on use of the system, see the companionvolume, THE X WINDOW SYSTEM: A USER'S GUIDE, Addison-Wesley1991, ISBN 0-201-51341-2).
  4. The book consists of 'Modules', each of which consists of twopages. The left-hand page of the two starts with a summary ofwhat the module is about, followed by the main text of themodule. The right-hand page usually contains diagrams, tables orscreen-shots. To make it easier for you to skip straight to thesections that interest you, we have tried as far as possible tomake each module a unit in itself. Because of this, there issome duplication in places, though you will often find thatdifferent perspectives are offered in different sections. Forexample, in Chapter 3 wedescribe how the server uses fonts todraw text, whereas in Chapter 11 we cover fonts from the systemmanagement point of view. Some modules are marked(If technical details aren't so relevant to you, you can skip over this module.)

    You can bypass these on your first reading of the book, or skipthem completely if you are not particularly interested in complextechnical issues.

    SOFTWARE USED

    The book deals with the standard MIT software which is broadlyrepresentative of many vendors' offerings) and other widelyavailable commercial software such as OPEN LOOK (we used Sun'sOpenWindows, Version 2) and Motif (we used Version 1.1). We alsoused the Motif version of the FrameMaker document preparationsystem, and the Motif version of IST's XDesigner user-interfacemanagemetn system. In some sections we have described softwarewhich is not yet widely used, but which illustrates someparticular point, or which is an indication of what may be becomecommonly available in the future.

    We prepared and wrote the book on a Sun SPARCstation runningSunOS 4.1.2, and the standard MIT Release 5 of X Version 11. Thetext was edited with GNE emacs from the Free Software Foundationand typeset with LaTeX using style-files prepared by Paul Davisat the University of Washington. The index was processed usingthe LaTeX Makeindex system, and the screen-shots were processedwith the pbmplus Extended Portable Bitmap Toolkit. We used makeand imake for configuration management and SCCS for source-codecontrol of the text.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Many people have been very helpful. Paul Davis kindly spent muchof his spare time developing the LaTeX style-files required forthe book's special format, and also helped with some LaTeXproblems. Steve Jamieson of NCD supplied information aboutserver configuration files. Tony Morris of AWM ComputerConsultants and the White Company, Cambridge, provided facilitiesfor scanning images. From the European X User Group, BobMcGonigle and Peter Whitehead helped with the printing of earlydrafts, and Bevis King and John Harvey provided much usefuldocumentation. Selwyn Castleden of TOP-LOG and Frame Technologyvery generously helped with the production of illustrations. The(anonymous) reviewers of early drafts of the manuscript made manyhelpful and constructive suggestions about content andpreentation. We are also grateful to SUN TECHNOLOGY magazine,for permission to include the illustration in Module 7.1.

    Others have been just as helpful, although more indirectly. First we must include all those people on the xpert mailing-listwho reply to queries for clarification and assistance, and theauthros of the X software itself, such as David Rosenthal of Sunwho published the 'Hello, World' programs, included in Chapter 5,as one ofthe first tutorials on X. Then there are the authors ofarticles and books which over the years have given muchbackgroumd information and offered different perspectives onaspects of X and the many people I have had discussions with, andwhose tutorial sessions I attended. In particular I recall JimGetty's ideas on customization. Doug Young's approach toconstructing X applications and Larry Maki's characterization ofbenchmarks. Finally, I owe a great debt to Oliver Jones for hiswonderfully generous encouragement and help when I thought thisbook would never be finished. This construtive and cooperativeatmosphere is what makes working in the field of computersoftware so satisfying and rewarding, and indeed contributes tothe joy of X.

    0201565129P04062001

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