Brief History Of The Graphical User Interface Computer Science Essay

Nowadays, it is difficult to conceive of a modern computing machine that doesnt have a Graphical User Interface. In fact, most of norm users have likely ne’er even had to cover with a computing machine in any other manner than utilizing a GUI.

The development of a system of Windowss, icons and the debut of a mouse has led to the development of a Graphical User Interface. Before, many operations required the Linux bid line to be used but the development of distributions designed for desktop computing machines has changed that.

The undermentioned study will seek to explicate what an existent Graphical User Interface is and touch on its brief history for Linux distributions. It will specify what a desktop environment is and lucubrate on the three most common 1s, which are KDE, GNOME and Xfce.

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Graphical User Interface

What is a Graphical User Interface?

The development of a system of Windowss, icons and the debut of a mouse has led to the development of a Graphical User Interface. A user can interact with the system utilizing a mouse and a keyboard by snaping on the graphical representation of text bids alternatively of really typing the bids on a keyboard. A mouse is responsible for the motion of the mouse arrow bespeaking the coveted place on the screen. Snaping buttons is linked to the country which holds the current pointer place. Typical GUI constituents are Windowss, bill of fares, buttons, coil bars, icons and checks. Programs written for a particular runing system utilize its GUI elements, for illustration colorss and the expression and feel of Windowss and buttons.


– Ease of usage thanks to a mouse, touchpad, trackball

– Easy installing of package

– Easy entree to files and booklets


– Happening of mistakes during operation

– High hardware demands

Brief history of the Graphical User Interface in Linux

X1 ( 1984 )

Ten becomes the first windowing system environment to offer true hardware and seller independency.

X9 ( 1985 )

Ten received color support. Released under the MIT license.

X10R3 ( 1986 )

First version that achieved broad deployment.

X11 ( 1987 )

Ten version that offered really powerfull functionality.

Xfree86 ( 1992 )

One of the taking and most popular executions of X. It can be considered the first offical GUI for Linux.

KDE Display Manager ( 1998 )

Powerful system for an easy to utilize and visually attractive desktop environment.

GNOME Display Manager ( 1999 )

GNOME is the default desktop environment for legion Linux distributions like Ubuntu or Fedora.

Xgl ( 2006 )

Ten waiter architecture which supports hardware acceleration of Xvideo, OpenGL and X applications and graphical effects by a compositing window manager.1

What is a desktop environment?

A desktop environment is a group of collaborating plans, used to execute basic computing machine operations in graphical manner. In Windows runing systems, merely one desktop environment is supported, which is usually run at computing machine start-up. Linux gives us a spot more freedom by back uping environments that vary in visual aspect, available applications and system demands. The three most common of these are:




A desktop environment usually consist of a window director, file director, plans and libraries for pull offing the desktop, and a set of subjects. A traditional GUI in Linux is based on a separate window director such as Fluxbox, FVWM, Enlightenment and WindowMaker. A window director allows the user to command the location and visual aspect of single application Windowss and to interact with the X Window System. The advantage of holding an independent window director is simpleness and dependability. In comparing to big desktop environments such as GNOME or KDE, independent directors use less difficult disc infinite and memory. One of the disadvantages of holding an independent window director is the trouble in obtaining a consistent interface for multiple applications that may utilize different keyboard cutoffs, have their transcript and paste mechanisms or bill of fares organised in a different manner.

For every Linux desktop environment there is a common sequence of events:

1. The X window system ( XFree86 or X.Org ) is loaded ( The X Window System creates Windowss within which a plan can make an image. It handles input devices like the mouse or keyboard. It can merely pull simple objects like polygons, ellipses ; or expose electronic images. The X window system does n’t supply an interface, so no buttons, pull-down bill of fare, coil bars, etc ; and does n’t supply any mechanisms for traveling, resizing, shuting Windowss ) .

2. Appropriate window director is loaded ( Metacity for GNOME, Kwin for KDE, Xfwm for Xfce ) . It allows the user to interact with the environment, run multiple applications at the same clip, controls Windowss, panels and practical desktops.

3. The existent desktop environment is loaded ( GNOME, KDE, Xfce ) . Provides the user with tools, applets and applications.2

2. KDE, GNOME and Xfce

2.1. K Desktop Environment ( KDE )

Initially called the Kool Desktop Environment, K Desktop Environment is a common pick for the inexperient users because of its visual aspect. It is modelled on the Windowss runing system, which makes it comparatively easy to utilize. KDE consists of the followers:

– a nice looking desktop

– an integrated aid system that provides easy entree to information about how to utilize the environment and its applications

– consistent expression and feel of all KDE applications

– criterion bill of fare, toolbars, keyboard cutoffs, coloring material strategies, etc.

– centralised and consistent environment constellation

– legion utile applications.

The K Desktop Environment apart from its visual aspect offers the user a broad scope of utile applications, which have been grouped into the undermentioned classs or simpleness:

– KDE-Base – basic environment constituents.

– KDE-Network – networking applications.

– KDE-Pim ( Personal Information Managers ) – reference books, calendars, schedulers and organizers.

– KDE-Graphics – graphical applications.

– KDE-Multimedia – multimedia.

– KDE-Accessibility – contains mouse and keyboard scenes that can assist disable users.

– KDE-Utilities – digest of assorted desktop public-service corporations.

– KDE-Edu – educational plans.

– KDE-Games – simple games.

– KDE-Toys – includes applications for a universe clock, stages of the Moon, or the ability to track conditions Stationss. 3

KDE is a really efficent environment because of its low memory “ ingestion ” even when running applications like Konqueror, Firefox, Epiphany or OOWriter.

Illustration 1: Mageia 2 KDE desktop

2.2. GNOME ( GNU Network Object Model Environment )

GNOME is a desktop environment based on the X Window System and the GTK+ and GDK doodads. It is supported by the bulk of Unix systems and is used in many Linux distributions like Red Hat or Ubuntu.

GNOME is a portion of the GNU undertaking which was started in August 1997 by Miguel de Icaza. Its Godheads have put simpleness foremost therefore we wo n’t happen as many applications in GNOME as in KDE which does n’t needfully intend that the environment is less usefull. Gnome is a user-friendly environment that enables easy apparatus. In consists of a panel ( for get downing applications and exposing their position ) , a desktop ( where you can maintain informations and application cutoffs ) , a set of standard tools and applications, and a set of conventions to ease cooperation between applications and maintain common consistence. GNOME has a truly clear and orderly interface and a set of applications like:

– File director – Nautilus ( really easily to utilize with many characteristics )

– Web browser – Web

– Electronic mail client and organiser – Development

– Text Editor – Gedit and AbiWord

– Spreadsheet tool – Gnumeric

– Artworks editor – Lameness

– Totem – Media participant

and much more.4

Illustration 2: Mageia 2 GNOME desktop

2.3. Xfce ( Xforms Common Environment )

Xfce is a lightweight, modular and portable desktop environment for Unix systems, inspired by CDE. It uses the GTK+ library, and is n’t resource-hungry. All constellation files are written in XML, leting drastic alterations in the environment. Xfce is easy to utilize, nice looking and fast. It is composed of many complicated faculties like the Xfwm window director and Xffm file director ( presently replaced by Thunar ) . Combined, Xfwm and Xffm offer a to the full functional environment. Xfce can besides utilize faculties of other desktop environments. This environment is largely recommended for slower machines with memory restrictions as it aims to be fast and moo on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.5

Xfce offers a set of applications like:

– File director – Thunar

– Web browser – Midori

– Text editor – Mousepad

– Orage – calendar

and more.6

Features of Xfce are:

– simple and easy to utilize desktop

– possibility of executing constellations with the usage of a mouse

– retarding force and bead

– integrated window, file and sound directors

– Gnome conformity faculty

– possibility of utilizing subjects ( since it uses GTK+ )

– fast, visible radiation and efficent.

Illustration 3: Xfce desktop ( hypertext transfer protocol: // Xfce3.jpg )


An mean computing machine user used to MS Windows runing systems may non be cognizant of alternate runing systems that offer a assortment of desktop environments. In Linux we can make up one’s mind whether we want to work in an environment with a really rich characteristic set ( despite its resource use ) or one where simpleness is the chief property and a simple window director offers merely the necessary characteristics, such as entree to the application bill of fare or bookmarks of running plans.

KDE is directed more towards place users, while direction tools and multimedia applications are particularly popular among GNOME users and that environment additions its popularity in a more professional scene.

The pick between GNOME, KDE, Xfce or any other desktop environment is more a affair of pick of a distribution and personal penchants. Whether we prefer a simple and functional desktop or a more complicated, rich in characteristics one, desktop environments in Linux would appeal to everyone.