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From "Anthony G. Atkielski" <>
Subject Re: [users@httpd] Favorite Linux Distribution
Date Wed, 09 Feb 2005 17:15:42 GMT
Chad Leigh -- Shire.Net LLC writes:

> The GUI is another userland program.  It is no different than apache in
> that regard.

Not true. GUIs have to have special access to the video hardware on the
vast majority of operating systems (including UNIX), either because they
can't run at all any other way or because performance is so poor without
such access that they cannot be practically used. This direct access is
a security breach on most modern operating systems and has a
destabilizing influence on the OS.

> It is possible to have specialized drivers that run at
> the kernel level but is not necessary for a GUI.  Typical X servers may
> have these special drivers but they are not required.

A GUI isn't necessary for a server, period.  Many servers run in dark
rooms mounted in racks.  They don't need GUIs because they aren't even
driving displays most of the time.  And when they are switched to a
display, simple CGA or EGA compatibility will do.

> Having X11 installed does not make your machine less reliable.

All GUIs destabilize the operating systems on which they run, just as
games do ... and for similar reasons, which I've already explained.

> And unless you are on it all the time, which I mentioned, it does not
> slow it down. An idling X Server puts no drain on your machine.

It requires more disk, more memory, more system resources, all of which
could be better used in running the other daemons on the machine.

> And installing X does not mean you have to run it.

If you aren't going to run it, you don't need to install it.

> The fact that setting up X is difficult has no bearing on the
> reliability of the machine for server use.  User problems are not the 
> same as the system being less reliable.

A GUI isn't just a user program; it inevitably puts hooks into the OS.

> I have X installed on my servers.  In general I do not have an X server
> running as I have no need.

Then why have X installed?

> Windows is a different matter.  There the GUI is inter-threaded in the
> rest of the system code and there it does have a destabilizing 
> influence.

It's no different than UNIX.  All GUIs work that way, for reasons of
performance and flexibility.

> Windows is a bad example.

Windows is a classic example, not a bad example.

> It depends.  Lots of interesting system metrics apps are GUI based as
> it is a lot more interesting to look at pretty graphics and graphical 
> representations of system metrics data than a list of numbers.

It depends on one's objectives.  And you can always move the numbers to
a different machine and generate the graphics there, away from your
mission-critical production server.

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