What better way to demonstrate the capability of X to handle remote clients than by using its capabilities to produce this chapter. Although the OpenOffice.org file for this chapter resided on a Mac mini (running Xubuntu), the display and keyboard used were actually part of an Acer Ferrari notebook running Ubuntu 6.06, via an ethernet connection. Revisions were done using a Logitech keyboard and mouse of a desktop machine running Kubuntu, again connected to the Mac mini via X, but this time using a wireless connection.
Because X offers users a form of distributed processing, this means that Ubuntu can be used as a very cheap desktop platform for clients that connect to a powerful X server. The more powerful the X server, the larger the number of X-based clients that can be accommodated. This functionality can breathe new life into older hardware, pushing most of the graphical processing on to the server. A fast network is a must if you intend to run many X clients because X can become bandwidth-hungry. X is hugely popular in the UNIX and Linux world for a variety of reasons. The fact that it supports nearly every hardware graphics system is a strong point, as well as strong multiplatform programming standards give it a solid foundation of developers committed to X. Another key benefit of X is its networking capability, which plays a central point in administration of many desktops and can also assist in the deployment of a thin-client computing environment. Being able to launch applications on remote desktops and also standardize installations serve to highlight the versatility of this powerful application.
More recent versions of X have also included support for shaped windows (that is, non-rectangular), graphical login managers (also known as display managers), and compressed fonts. Each release of X brings more features designed to enhance the user experience, including being able to customize how X client applications appear, right down to buttons and windows. Most office and home environments run Linux and X on their local machines. The more enlightened companies and users harness the power of the networking features of X, enabling thin-client environments and allowing the use of customized desktops designed specifically for that company. Having applications launch from a single location makes the lives of system administrators a lot easier because they have to work on only one machine, rather than several.
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