October 10, 2010

Linux Display - Introduction Part 1

THE LINUX DISPLAY ANATOMY

Preamble
This is the first in a collaborative series of articles written by members of the Linux.com community, empowering user knowledge, to detail the physical and logical structure of the Linux display/Video system as well as configuration to optimize the display, customize various display modes and configure various window managers to run on your Linux and Unix-based systems.

The members at Linux.com have an obligation to provide all users of the Linux realm essential information that will make their experience with GNU/Linux joyful and educational. Not only will you be given what you need to know, in easy to understand terminology, yet fresh imagination to implement Linux in your everyday lives.

Linux is a new system to learn for those who are converting from windows or Mac OS, or the curios. When it come to learning a new entity, it will time and lot of trial and error before you can safely assume you can manage on your own. Why go through frustration? The members at linux.com are obligated to help ease the learning transition. Lets be honest, administration will be managed by you. It will be a lot easier understanding how the system works, its make-up architechure, and troubleshooting when you have reliable informants. More importantly, you will know how to use it. Learning linux will be easy and fun, so lets get started.

The Linux Display System
The display system in Linux is straight forward. It is a system program that allows the Linux OS to display output to the screen in either graphic interfaces(GUI) or CLI(command line interface). The display system runs on top of the Linux kernel in user space which allows the kernel(the heart of a linux OS) to continue to function if the display system crashes. The display system is flexible allowing the user to configure it to suite their needs. Lets briefly dig deeper into the display structure.

Linux Display Modes
There are two different video modes that an administrator must be aware of:
* VGA video mode  - Used for CLI (Command Line Interface) modes
* X server mode - Used to display GUI (Graphical User Interface) base windows managers and applications

Current Linux and Unix-Like systems all have the capability for Video output, although some customized systems rarely use video.

VGA modes
THE VGA modes are used to choose the resolution used to display the CLI, bootloader and bootsplash screens that you are presented with prior to loading a desktop manager and a system booting up. The current VGA modes are quite limited compared to the available options for the X server Modes, but the use is quite different, so the resolution limitations are acceptable.
The various VGA modes and instructions for configuring them will be covered in a later post in this series.

X Server Modes

The X Server modes are used to display the window manager and GUI applications. The X Server Modes allow you to configure and use any resolutions that are natively supported by both your video card and monitor. To use and Configure the X Server Video Modes you must use the X Server to set the initial limitations, then you can use various applications to modify the way it interacts with your monitor(s). Commonly today, customized Linux distros are utilizing the X window server which is making Linux far more easier to use.

The Initial introduction to the X server and explanations of the various tools will be covered in later posts in this series.

X Server Configuration Utilities
Once the X server has the base configuration you may think that your work is done, this can be true, or you may want to change resolutions, setup dual monitors or hook up your system to a projector. In those cases you will need another utility to make the necessary changes to your system in the running X instance. As you can see, the X server speaks loudly to visual ability.

Several posts will be made introducing you to these utilities, various options and benefits.

I look forward to using the various tools to build useful information and also to working with the community to give you the best information possible.

If you would like to join our group and assist with future collaborative series please visit the Linux.com Bloggers group and offer your assistance.

http://www.linux.com/community/groups/viewgroup/1303-Linuxcom+Bloggers - Linux Bloggers Group

This document was written and edited by mfillpot, Istimsak and Robin.
http://www.linux.com/community/profile?userid=198 - mfillpot
http://www.linux.com/community/profile?userid=13985 - Istimsak
http://www.linux.com/community/profile?userid=4402 - Robin

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