The X Window System (X11) is an open source, cross platform, client-server computer software system that provides a GUI in a distributed network environment.
Used primarily on Unix variants, X versions are also available for other operating systems. Features of the X window system include network transparency, the ability to link to different networks, and customizable graphical capabilities. The X window system was first developed in 1984, as part of project Athena, a collaboration between Stanford University and MIT. X.Org Foundation, an open group, manages the development and standardization of the X window system.
Sometimes, the X window system is just referred to as X, or X11 (based on the current major version of 11).
The client/server model in X system works in reverse to typical client/server model, where the client runs on the local machine and asks for services from the server. In X system, the server runs on the local machine and provides its display and services to the client programs. The client programs may be local or remotely exist over different networks, but appear transparently.
X is used in networks of interconnected mainframes, minicomputers, workstations, and X Terminals. X window system consists of a number of interacting components, including:
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