Chapter 5 The X Window System

Table of Contents
5.1 Synopsis
5.2 Understanding X
5.3 Installing X11
5.4 X11 Configuration
5.5 Using Fonts in X11
5.6 The X Display Manager
5.7 Desktop Environments
Updated for X.Org's X11 server by Ken Tom and Marc Fonvieille.

5.1 Synopsis

FreeBSD uses X11 to provide users with a powerful graphical user interface. X11 is a freely available version of the X Window System that is implemented in both Xorg and XFree86 (and other software packages not discussed here). FreeBSD versions up to and including FreeBSD 5.2.1-RELEASE will find the default installation to be XFree86, the X11 server released by The XFree86 Project, Inc. As of FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE, the default and official flavor of X11 was changed to Xorg, the X11 server developed by the X.Org Foundation under a license very similar to the one used by FreeBSD. Commercial X servers for FreeBSD are also available.

This chapter will cover the installation and configuration of X11 with emphasis on Xorg 7.3 release. For information about configuring XFree86 (i.e. on older releases of FreeBSD where XFree86 was the default X11 distribution) or previous releases of Xorg, it is always possible to refer to archived versions of the FreeBSD Handbook at

For more information on the video hardware that X11 supports, check the Xorg web site.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

Before reading this chapter, you should:

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