What Is X Window System?

What Is X Window System?
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.

The X Window System is a graphical windowing system that was developed at MIT in 1984. X was developed as part of Project Athena, a cooperative effort between MIT, IBM, and Digital Equipment Corporation to develop a network of heterogeneous engineering terminals that could be used for teaching purposes. The current version, X11, was released in 1987 and is now up to X11 release 6, known as X11R6.

One reason X Window System has had such staying power is that from the beginning it incorporated many of the windowing capabilities that we now take for granted. These capabilities include network transparency, graphical capability, the use of a mouse, and the ability to link together a heterogeneous network of workstations from different vendors.

In addition, X was intentionally designed to provide the low-level mechanism for managing the graphics display, but not to have any control over what is displayed. This means that X has never been locked into a single way of doing things; instead, it has the flexibility to be used in many different ways. Both the simplest window manager and the most complex desktop environment can, and do, use the X Window System to manage the display.

The responsibility and stewardship of X is currently in the hands of the X.Org Foundation; the X.Org implementation of the X Window System is included with most of the major Linux and free Unix distributions. Until 2004, the standard version of X was XFree86, developed by the XFree86 Project. New licensing restrictions imposed by XFree86 led to the switch to X.org.
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