Although it's possible to be quite productive using nothing but text-based Linux tools, most Linux workstations operate in graphics mode much of the time. A GUI environment is superior for tasks such as image editing, and many people prefer GUIs even for tasks such as text editing and web browsing. You can run text-mode programs from a GUI environment using the xterm program or one of its many competitors; therefore, a GUI provides you with the ability to run both GUI and text-based applications.

Since Linux's creation, its support for GUI environments has grown substantially. Linux relies on the X Window System (orXfor short), as implemented by the XFree86 package, for its GUI underpinnings. (Chapter 16, "Optimizing X Configuration," describes how to improve the low-level X configuration, such as video modes and fonts.) Atop X proper are several sets of programs—window managers, which handle the borders around windows; widget sets, which are programming tools that handle buttons, menus, and so on within windows; file managers, which provide GUI tools for manipulating files; and desktop environments, which combine window managers, file managers, and assorted smaller tools into one coherent whole.

This chapter is devoted to Linux desktop environments. Although you can use Linux without a desktop environment, these packages provide enough useful tools that many people would be lost without them. Several desktop environments are available for Linux, and the first step in using one to the fullest is in picking one. This chapter goes into further detail about two popular desktop environments, it looks at the possibility of building your own, and it discusses distribution-specific quirks of the standard desktop environments.

Photoshop Secrets

Photoshop Secrets

Are You Frustrated Because Your Graphics Are Not Looking Professional? Have You Been Slaving Over Your Projects, But Find Yourself Not Getting What You Want From Your Generic Graphic Software? Well, youre about to learn some of the secrets and tips to enhance your images, photos and other projects that you are trying to create and make look professional.

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