The X Window System, orXfor short, is the standard GUI environment for Linux. Most Linux systems use XFree86 (http://www.xfree86.org) as the default X software, so configuring XFree86 is important if you want to use Linux in GUI mode. Fortunately, most Linux systems ship with tools that help configure XFree86, and these tools generally run at system installation time, so X usually works as soon as you finish installing Linux. Sometimes, though, the automatic tools yield a nonworking or suboptimal configuration. In these cases, you may need to dig into XFree86's configuration to fix matters yourself. You may also want to do this in order to activate advanced or unusual X features. This chapter covers these topics. It begins with an overview of the X configuration file. Fonts are one of the specific topics that frequently cause consternation under Linux, so they're up next. Configuring specific video card features can also cause problems. This chapter concludes with a look at custom video modes—running a display at a nonstandard resolution or refresh rate to get the most out of your monitor.

Note This chapter emphasizes XFree86 4.x, which is the version that ships with most Linux distributions in 2003. XFree86 3.x used a somewhat different configuration file format, used a very different driver architecture, and supported fewer font features. As a result, if you're using XFree86 3.x, much of the information in this chapter will not apply directly or it will be implemented in a slightly different way in the configuration file. Unfortunately, a few video cards are supported better by XFree86 3.x than by 4.x, so you may need to use 3.x if you have one of these cards. Commercial X servers, such as those from MetroLink (http://www.metrolink.com) and Xi Graphics (http://www.xig.com), also use their own configuration file formats and support their own unique mixes of features.

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