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Official Course Outline


Course Webpage


Subject Description

This subject introduces the student to the X Window System. Students will learn how to plan, set up, troubleshoot, customize and use an X system. Particular attention will be paid to security and network issues with emphasis on the KDE and GNOME desktop environments.

Credit Status

1 credit in the LUX program


Meet admission requirements for LUX

Specific Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • Plan, implement, and administer an X System installation, taking into account network, security, and hardware issues
  • Understand display hardware issues and recommend a display hardware configuration to meet specified requirements
  • Identify the components of the X Window System and the purpose of each
  • Start an X server using the commands startx, xinit, X, and xdm/gdm/kdm
  • Start an X server with no session, local session management, and queried, broadcast, and indirect remote session management
  • Download, install, configure and use KDE (K Desktop Environment)
  • Download, install, configure and use the XFree86/Xouvert server software and utilities
  • Download, install, configure and use VNC (Virtual Network Computer)
  • Configure and use common X client applications
  • Download, install, configure and use the Gnome desktop environment

Topic Outline

  • Overview of X - 5%
         o What is X?
         o Client-Server Model
         o Terminology
         o History of X
  • Display and User Interface Hardware and Technology - 10%
         o Monitors - LCD, CRT - connection types, resolution, refresh rates
         o Video Cards - memory type and size, DACs, GPUs
         o Pointing devices - mice, touch screens, light pens, graphics tablets
         o Keyboards - connection types, scancodes, geometry, accessibility issues
         o Device standards and standard bodies, including VESA, DPMS, DDC, USB HID, and TCO99
         o Network transports: local (Unix domain sockets, STREAMS, named pipes, shared memory) and remote (TCP/IP and alternatives (IPX/SPX, DecNet))
  • Installing and Configuring the X Window Server - 15%
         o Installing XFree86/Xouvert - using tar files and rpm packages
         o Configuration - automatic, fully manual, and manual using GUI tools
         o Hardware Configuration - keyboard, pointer/mouse, monitor
         o The X Server - choosing the correct driver for your video card
         o Installing alternate (non-XFree86) X servers
         o Multi-head configuration
         o Xinerama
         o Fonts types and configuration
         o The X Font Server (xfs) and alternatives
  • Starting and Using the X Server - 10%
         o Starting X: startx, xinit, X
         o Display Managers: xdm/gdm/kdm/chooser
         o Query, Broadcast and Indirect methods of contacting display managers
  • Standard X Programs and Utilities - 5%
         o xset, xdpyinfo
         o xcalc, xclock, xeyes, xkill, xmag, xsetroot, xloadimage, xterm
         o xfd, xlsfonts, xfontsel, x11perf
         o KDE and Gnome equivalents of standard X utilities
  • Linux/X Toolkit Particulars - 5%
         o Xt, Gtk, Qt, Xforms, Motif/Lesstif
  • Runtime Application Configuration - 5%
         o X Resource Database
         o Common Resources and Command-Line Options
         o KDE and Gnome configuration systems
  • Runtime Environment Configuration - 5%
         o Window Managers
  • Integrated X Desktop Environments - 10%
         o KDE
         o GNOME
         o Others - CDE
  • X and Security - 15%
         o xhosts
         o xauth
         o ssh and X11 tunneling
  • X and Wide Area Networking - 15%
         o Low bandwidth X (LBX), Broadway
         o VNC

Modes of Instruction

2 hours interactive lecture per week, and 2 hours lab time per week

Prescribed Text

X Power Tools by Chris Tyler; ISBN 0-596-10195-3 published by O'Reilly

Reference Material




Promotion Policy

To obtain a credit in this subject, a student must:

   * Achieve a grade of 55% or better on the final exam
   * Satisfactorily complete all assignments
   * Achieve a weighted average of 55% or better for the tests and final exam
   * Achieve a grade of 55% or better on the overall course

Modes of Evaluation

Midterm Test 30% Final Exam 40% Assignments/Labs/Quizzes 30%

Academic Regulations

Students are responsible for being aware of college regulations in the Academic Policy Handbook.

Seneca Academic Policy - Cheating and Plagiarism Cheating and/or plagiarism are offences which will not be tolerated by the College. Such offences occur when a student violates the procedures governing the administration of examinations, tests or other means of evaluating student achievement in a subject or program.

Approved By: Evan Weaver, Chair

College Policy Accommodation for Students with Disabilities: The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counseling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 2900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Center for Equity and Human Rights at Ext. 2078 or via e-mail at Human.Rights@senecac.on.ca.

X-Windows Resources

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