[sf-lug] Running "standard" X-windows in addition to Gnome / KDE?

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Feb 19 00:22:48 PST 2008

Quoting RBV (GoodWriter2548 at earthlink.net):

> I'm having problems getting "standards-based" X-windows (I'm not even  
> sure of the properly terminology) to run on my Ubuntu system as a  
> third GUI choice.

First, to be really picky, the correct name is "X" or "X Window System"
-- _not_ X-windows, nor xwindows, nor X Windows, etc.  Some of us say
"X11" for clarity's sake to avoid confusion with Apple's OS X (that "X"
being pronounced "ten", by the way).  (The X protocol _could_ progress
to major revision 12, some day, but that day seems distant.)

Second, what you really probably need first is an understanding of how
X11 works, how it starts up, and what the pieces are.

X server:           User machine's graphics engine software, "serves" its 
                    knowledge of how to draw graphics on the user's machine
                    X clients (applications).
X clients:          All graphical applications, which do hardware-independent
                    X transactions to an X server for all I/O.  Note:  The X 
                    protocol is network-transparent; any given X client may
                    be actually running on any TCP/IP machine the user wishes.
X window manager:   A special X client that determines the general appearance 
                    and behaviour of other X clients attached to a given 
                    X server.
X display manager:  (optional[1])  Provides a graphical login screen and
                    starts an X server only immediately after login.
X session manager:  (optional)  Keeps track of what X clients are running, 
                    so they can be relaunched at next login if X isn't 
                    shut down correctly.

> My Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty)system currently allows me to use the GUI login  
> panel to start either Gnome (preferred) or KDE (primarily for fun)  
> sessions.

That "GUI login panel" (unless I'm misreading badly) would be more
correctly termed your X display manager, which in your case is almost
certainly gdm (GNOME Display Manager).  

> My standard method of running these two GUI desktop  
> managers is to boot into Gnome, then create a virtual terminal....
I think this means "launch the Gnome Terminal application", but it's
not clear from your wording what you mean:  You could mean something
else entirely.

> and use the GUI to login into a KDE session in a virtual terminal.

I have no idea what you mean by the above.

> Now I'd like to add a standard X-Windows login choice but haven't been  
> able to identify what and how to install and configure the plumbing  
> necessary to do that.

My interpretation of the underlined phrase is "add an option to my X
display manager to start X using a lightweight X window manager, rather
than a rather severely more bloated GNOME or KDE session".

So, you'll want to consult documentation and config files for your X
display manager, to find out how to add addtional login options, and
maybe with those you might want to avoid starting an X session manager.

> My usual problem-solving approach -- Web  
> searches -- hasn't been all that helpful since the articles I've found  
> assume that X-windows has already been installed and is running  
> properly.
> Can anyone point me to the Ubuntu Repository resources and associated  
> configuration "how to" information that I can use to install and  
> configure a working X-windows GUI on my computer?

The above two paragraphs confuse me.  First, you say you have a working
graphical login screen (X display manager) and are able to start GNOME,
but now you talk as if X isn't running at all.  Sorry?  These two things
appear to be mutually contradictory.

[1] You may find it instructive to disable startup of your X display
manager, then kill its process.  You'll find that logging in at one of
the consoles and then running "startx" will start an X session, thus 
demonstrating that you don't actually need an X display manager at all.
(The "startx" script is a wrapper to xinit.  Therefore, you can, if
using that method to start X, determine what X window manager and other 
X clients will be started automatically by listing them in ~/.xinitrc .)

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