The X Windows System

Before we dive into the details of working with the video display in Ubuntu, it helps to get a little background on how Linux generally handles video. If you run the Ubuntu server, or if you run your Ubuntu workstation in text mode, there's not much involved for Ubuntu to interact with the video card and monitor. By default Ubuntu can use just about any video card and monitor in text mode to display 25 lines of 80-column text. This feature is built into the Ubuntu Linux software so that it can directly send text to the monitor at all times.

However, when you use the graphical mode on your workstation, things are a bit different. Instead of directly sending text to the monitor, Ubuntu must be able to draw lines, shade colors, and manipulate images. To do that, Ubuntu makes use of a special type of software called X Windows to interface with the video card and monitor. This section walks through how Ubuntu deals with the special X Windows software to create your fancy desktop environment.

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