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1. Preface

This document aims to provide an overview of the X Window System's architecture, hoping to give people a better understanding of why it's designed the way it's designed, which components integrate with X and fit together to provide a working graphical environment and what choices are there regarding those components.

We explore several concepts that get mentioned a lot but might be a bit unclear for those without a technical background, such as widgets and toolkits, window managers and desktop environments. Some examples of how these components interact during day-to-day use of applications are provided.

This document is, deliberately, not too technically oriented. It's based on the author's (empirical) knowledge of the subject, and while it's primarily meant as a non-technical introduction, it can certainly benefit from any kind of comments, further examples and explanations, and technical corrections. The author welcomes all questions and comments regarding this document and can be reached at

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