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From Chad Leigh -- Shire.Net LLC <>
Subject Re: [users@httpd] Favorite Linux Distribution
Date Wed, 09 Feb 2005 06:27:11 GMT

On Feb 8, 2005, at 11:10 PM, Anthony G. Atkielski wrote:

> Chad Leigh -- Shire.Net LLC writes:
>> A GUI in and of itself does not reduce the relaibility and a
>> performance of a unix-type system.
> A GUI reduces the reliability and performance of _any_ operating 
> system,
> because it vastly increases the amount of code executed (slowing the
> machine down), and it vastly increases the complexity of the interface
> (reducing reliability).


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

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

> Additionally, on most systems, including UNIX, security and stability
> must be partially compromised in order to allow GUIs to run.  For
> example, you cannot run FreeBSD at higher security levels if you wish 
> to
> use a GUI on the machine (one reason why I don't use one).  GUIs
> generally require direct access to hardware, which bypasses system
> security, opening doors to system compromise and greatly increasing the
> chances of system failure.

see above

And installing X does not mean you have to run it. I can ssh into my 
FreeBSD servers (with X installed but not running) and display the 
results back on my OS X machine running an X server.

>> Loading the machine up with all sorts of stuff and using it as a
>> workstation at the same time might, but the GUI itself has no effect
>> on the server. I have X loaded on my servers, even though I don't run
>> it. I can run vnc and run some server metric apps that require X if I
>> need to. And Mac OS X, which has a GUI, works just fine as a server
>> with no loss of performance or reliability due to the GUI.
> A large percentage of the problems I see people asking and complaining
> about on UNIX systems is related to the GUI. They waste a lot of time
> trying to get pretty windows to work correctly on the screen.  It would
> help if they ran the server segment on a different machine (because
> that's the part that causes most of the problems), but it seems that
> many casual users of UNIX today want to pretend that it's Windows.

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.

> OS X has a very large and complex GUI bolted onto UNIX, and while it is
> much more coherent than most GUIs for UNIX, it still inevitably makes
> the system more fragile and vulnerable--there is no way to avoid this
> with a GUI.

BS.   Your opinion does not equal the facts.  OS X works very well as a 
server.  GUI not withstanding.   The system is not more fragile/

>> Sorry, but this is a bunch of BS.  The GUI has no effect on the server
>> functions unless you run a ton of GUI programs at the same time.
> See above.  For production systems, simple is good.  If you're not
> running GUI programs at the same time, you don't need the GUI.  And if
> you are making use of the GUI at the same time, you're destabilizing 
> the
> server.

No you are not.  If you are doing all kinds of GUI stuff you may be 
sucking resources, and if you have whiz-bang special graphics drivers 
installed you can increase stability problems, but that is not a GUI 
problem in general.  I can install server stuff that makes the system 
less stable as well.

I have X installed on my servers.  In general I do not have an X server 
running as I have no need.  But it does not  make the server less 
reliable or stable.

> Even in operating systems that depend on a GUI, such as recent versions
> of NT-based Microsoft Windows, the presence of the GUI has a
> destabilizing and slowing effect on the system.  A great deal of system
> resources are dedicated to the pretty pictures, and a great many
> vulnerabilities pass through the GUI.

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.  But that does not mean that GUIs in and of themselves do.  
Windows is a bad example.

> GUIs are also slower to use for many system administration functions.
> It's often much faster to type than it is to point and click.

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.

For normal admin of a server, the CLI is much faster and even if you 
have a GUI, you should be able to do all things with a CLI so you can 
easily do it remotely etc.

But the statement that a GUI necessarily destablizes the machine and 
makes it slower is false and wrong.


> -- 
> Anthony
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